Augmenting antidepressant medication treatment of depressed women with emotionally focused therapy for couples: a randomized pilot study

J Marital Fam Ther. 2012 Jun;38 Suppl 1(0 1):23-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00291.x. Epub 2012 May 15.


This is the first study to evaluate adding emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT) to antidepressant medication in the treatment of women with major depressive disorder and comorbid relationship discord. Twenty-four women and their male partners were randomized to 6 months of medication management alone (MM) or MM augmented with EFT (MM + EFT). MM followed the Texas Medication Algorithm Project guidelines. Fifteen EFT sessions were delivered following the EFT treatment manual. The primary outcome was severity of depressive symptoms (assessed by the 30-item Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Clinician Rated version [IDS-C(30) ] administrated by evaluators blinded to cell assignment). Secondary outcome was relationship quality as assessed by the Quality of Marriage Index. Results from assessments at intake, termination, and two posttreatment follow-ups were analyzed using growth analysis techniques. IDS-C(30) scores improved over 6 months of treatment, regardless of the treatment assignment, and women receiving MM + EFT experienced significantly more improvement in relationship quality compared with women in MM. Because relationship discord after depression treatment predicts worse outcome, interventions improving relationship quality may reduce depression relapse and recurrence. Testing this hypothesis in larger samples with longer follow-up could contribute to knowledge on the mechanisms involved in determining the course of depressive illness.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy / methods*
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Young Adult