Purpose: Although cognitive-behavioral interventions have been successful in treating depression, no studies were found that focused solely on reducing negative thinking via group intervention as a means of preventing depression in at-risk groups. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to test the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioral group intervention in reducing depressive symptoms, decreasing negative thinking, and enhancing self-esteem in young women at risk for depression.
Design: A randomized controlled trial with 92 college women ages 18 to 24 who were at risk for depression was conducted.
Method: Participants were randomly assigned to either the control or experimental group. The experimental group participated in a 6-week cognitive-behavioral group intervention. Data on self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and negative thinking were collected via self-report questionnaires from control and experimental groups at baseline, 1 month after the intervention, and at 6-month follow-up. Data were analyzed using mixed-model methodology and the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel chi-square test.
Findings: Compared to those in the control group, women who received the intervention had a greater decrease in depressive symptoms and negative thinking and a greater increase in self-esteem, and these beneficial effects were maintained over 6-months.
Conclusions: The findings document the effectiveness of this cognitive-behavioral group intervention and indicate empirical support for the beneficial effects of reducing negative thinking by the use of affirmations and thought-stopping techniques on women's mental health.