Comparative effects of group metacognitive therapy versus behavioural activation in moderately depressed students

Mehdi Zemestani, Iran Davoodi, Mahnaz Mehrabizadeh Honarmand, Yadollah Zargar, Cristina Ottaviani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The high incidence and prevalence rates of depression among students identify them as a vulnerable population and make the case for the development of cost-effective treatments. Aims: We aimed to examine the comparative effects of brief group metacognitive therapy (MCT) versus behavioural activation (BA) treatments for depression, anxiety, and emotion regulation in university students. Method: All participants (25 women, 16 men; age range: 18–30 years) fulfilled criteria for major depression and were randomly assigned to MCT (n = 15), BA (n = 15), or a wait-list control group (n = 15). The treatment groups received 8 weekly MCT or BA sessions. Scores on the Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire were used as outcome measures. Results: This pilot study showed that both treatments were equally effective for depressive and anxiety symptoms. However, therapeutic techniques differed with regards to their effects on specific facets of emotion regulation, such as Positive Reappraisal and Catastrophizing, with MCT being more effective compared to BA. BA also showed a stronger relapse at follow-up with regards to Acceptance and Refocus on Planning. Conclusions: Results suggest that groups MCT and BA may be implemented as cost-effective treatments for students with moderate depression.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 5 2015


  • Anxiety
  • behavioural activation
  • depression
  • emotion
  • regulation metacognitive therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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