Depressed individuals show maintained attention to negative information and reduced attention for positive information. Selective biases in information processing are considered to have an important role in the origin, maintenance and recurrence of depressive episodes. In two experiments we investigated the effects of attentional bias manipulation on mood and depressive symptoms. In experiment 1 we investigated the effects of attentional bias manipulation compared to a control procedure in a sample of dysphoric students (N = 48) showing mild to severe levels of depressive symptoms. In experiment 2 we investigated the same attentional training procedure in a sample of depressed in- and outpatients (N = 35). Mild improvements on symptom severity were observed in students showing mild depressive symptoms. However, in students showing moderate to severe depressive symptoms, depressive symptoms increased after the training. No beneficial effects of training on top of therapy and/or medication were found in depressed patients. These results indicate that therapeutic effects of attentional bias modification might be dependent on depression severity.
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