The impact of personality disorder pathology on the effectiveness of cognitive therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy for major depressive disorder

Suzanne C van Bronswijk*, Lotte H J M Lemmens, Wolfgang Viechtbauer, Marcus J H Huibers, Arnoud Arntz, Frank (Frenk P.M.L.) Peeters

*Corresponding author for this work

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BACKGROUND: Despite extensive research, there is no consensus how Personality Disorders (PD) and PD features affect outcome for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The present study evaluated the effects of PD (features) on treatment continuation and effectiveness in Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for MDD.

METHODS: Depressed outpatients were randomized to CT (n=72) and IPT (n=74). Primary outcome was depression severity measured repeatedly with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) at baseline, three months, at the start of each therapy session, at post-treatment and monthly during five months follow-up.

RESULTS: Comorbid PD and PD features did not affect dropout. Multilevel and Cox regression models indicated no negative effect of PD on BDI-II change and remission rates during treatment and follow-up, irrespective of the treatment received. For both therapies, higher dependent PD features predicted overall lower BDI-II scores during treatment, however this effect did not sustain through follow-up. Cluster A PD features moderated treatment outcome during treatment and follow-up: individuals with high cluster A PD features had greater BDI-II reductions over time in CT as compared to IPT.

LIMITATIONS: Not all therapists and participants were blind to the assessment of PD (features), and assessments were performed by one rater. Further research must investigate the state and trait dependent changes of PD and MDD over time.

CONCLUSIONS: We found no negative impact of PD on the effectiveness and treatment retention of CT and IPT for MDD during treatment and follow-up. If replicated, cluster A PD features can be used to optimize treatment selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-538
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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