Feasibility Study of Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder

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Objective: Stress is associated with the onset, maintenance, and recurrence of depression. This study investigated the feasibility of stress management and resiliency training (SMART) for enhancing resiliency in a group of patients with major depressive disorder.

Methods: In an open-label study, patients with major depressive disorder were invited to participate in an adjunctive 8-week group therapy of SMART (from June 2017 to June 2018) that encompassed attention training and practice of gratitude, compassion, higher meaning, acceptance, and forgiveness. The primary outcome measure was baseline-to-endpoint change in resilience as measured by the Connor Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Secondary outcome measures included baseline-to-endpoint change in stress using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and in depression using the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17) and 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).

Results: Twenty-three participants enrolled in the study (mean ± SD age = 46 ± 13 years, female = 91%). Baseline ratings of mood were of mild-to-moderate symptom severity (mean HDRS-17 score = 14.5 and PHQ-9 score = 12), resilience (mean CD-RISC score = 53.8), and perceived stress (mean PSS score = 23.5). Of the participants, 74% were study completers (attended ≥ 6 sessions). In an intention-to-treat analysis, at study endpoint there was a significant improvement in resilience (mean CD-RISC score = 61.1, P = .03), reduction in perceived stress (mean PSS score = 19.4, P = .002), and improvement in depression (mean HDRS-17 score = 9.1 and PHQ-9 score = 7.6, both P < .001).

Conclusions: A resilience training program focused on wellness is feasible for patients who are currently symptomatic with major depressive disorder. A larger randomized controlled trial is needed to establish efficacy of this intervention and explore the long-term impact of stress management and resilience training in depression.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03275961

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2020;22(3):19m02556