Effects of Engaging in Repeated Mental Imagery of Future Positive Events on Behavioural Activation in Individuals with Major Depressive Disorder
Renner F., Ji JL., Pictet A., Holmes EA., Blackwell SE.
© 2016 The Author(s) Depression is associated with decreased engagement in behavioural activities. A wide range of activities can be promoted by simulating them via mental imagery. Mental imagery of positive events could thus provide a route to increasing adaptive behaviour in depression. The current study tested whether repeated engagement in positive mental imagery led to increases in behavioural activation in participants with depression, using data from a randomized controlled trial (Blackwell et al. in Clin Psychol Sci 3(1):91–111, 2015. doi:10.1177/2167702614560746). Participants (N = 150) were randomized to a 4-week positive imagery intervention or an active non-imagery control condition, completed via the internet. Behavioural activation was assessed five times up to 6 months follow-up using the Behavioural Activation for Depression Scale (BADS). While BADS scores increased over time in both groups, there was an initial greater increase in the imagery condition. Investigating mental imagery simulation of positive activities as a means to promote behavioural activation in depression could provide a fruitful line of enquiry for future research.