Sudden gains in Cognitive Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy for adult depression

L.H.J.M. Lemmens*, R.J. DeRubeis, A. Arntz, Frank Peeters, M.J.H. Huibers

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVE: We examined the rates, baseline predictors and clinical impact of sudden gains in a randomized comparison of individual Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for adult depression. METHOD: 117 depressed outpatients received 16-20 sessions of either CT or IPT. Session-by-session symptom severity was assessed using the BDI-II. Sudden gains were examined using the original criteria as defined by Tang and DeRubeis (1999b). Furthermore, we examined whether the duration of the between-session interval at which sudden gains were recorded affected the results. RESULTS: There were significantly more patients with sudden gains in CT (42.2%) as compared to IPT (24.5%). The difference appeared to be driven by the criterion representing the stability of the gain. No between-group differences were found with regard to the magnitude, timing and predictors of the gains. Those with sudden gains were less depressed at post-treatment and follow-up. After controlling for the duration of the between-session interval, the difference in rates between the two conditions became a non-significant trend. Other sudden gains characteristics were similar to those observed when allowing for longer intervals as well. CONCLUSIONS: The current study indicates differences in occurrence of sudden gains in two treatment modalities that overall showed similar results, which might reflect different mechanisms of change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Sudden gains
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy
  • Depression
  • RCT

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