Exploratory study of imagery rescripting without focusing on early traumatic memories for major depressive disorder

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Mental imagery has a more powerful impact on our emotions than thinking in words about the same material. Treating intrusive images with imagery rescripting (IR) has been reported for various disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. There has been less research about IR as a major depressive disorder (MDD).


We examined whether IR without focusing on early traumatic memories is effective in MDD.


We enrolled 19 participants with MDD, who received 15 weekly sessions of full CBT, including two sessions for IR of intrusive images and, separately, for memory rescripting. Before and after the IR intervention, participants were asked to rate the intrusive images they experienced against, an intrusion index that included difficulty (interference with daily life), uncontrollability, distress caused by the negative image, and vividness. We recorded the contents of each participant's negative and positive imagery to classify these.


The intrusion index scores decreased after the IR sessions. Negative images experienced by the participants while in a depressive mood were categorized into three different types: blame, social exclusion, and loneliness. The rescripted positive images were categorized into good relations and worthy self (competent self).


These results suggest that IR of intrusive images without focusing on early traumatic memories may usefully be incorporated into routine CBT sessions for MDD.

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