An everyday activity as a treatment for depression: the benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorder

Katherine M Krpan, Ethan Kross, Marc G Berman, Patricia J Deldin, Mary K Askren, John Jonides
Journal of Affective Disorders 2013 September 25, 150 (3): 1148-51

BACKGROUND: The benefits of expressive writing have been well documented among several populations, but particularly among those who report feelings of dysphoria. It is not known, however, if those diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) would also benefit from expressive writing.

METHODS: Forty people diagnosed with current MDD by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV participated in the study. On day 1 of testing, participants completed a series of questionnaires and cognitive tasks. Participants were then randomly assigned to either an expressive writing condition in which they wrote for 20 min over three consecutive days about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding an emotional event (n=20), or to a control condition (n=20) in which they wrote about non-emotional daily events each day. On day 5 of testing, participants completed another series of questionnaires and cognitive measures. These measures were repeated again 4 weeks later.

RESULTS: People diagnosed with MDD in the expressive writing condition showed significant decreases in depression scores (Beck Depression Inventory and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores) immediately after the experimental manipulation (Day 5). These benefits persisted at the 4-week follow-up.

LIMITATIONS: Self-selected sample.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of expressive writing among people formally diagnosed with current MDD. These data suggest that expressive writing may be a useful supplement to existing interventions for depression.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"