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UMCG starts new study into worrying among those sensitive to depression

09 June 2020

The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) is starting a new study into the effect of different therapeutic techniques on repeated negative thoughts that play an important role in a person’s sensitivity to depressive relapse.

People who are sensitive to depression often suffer from persistent negative thoughts, even when their depressive period is over. This can be experienced as worrying. These individuals repeatedly and almost automatically think negative thoughts about themselves, their future and the world. Therapy often focuses on dealing with these thoughts. This can be done in several ways: Patients can practice mindfulness, or learn to edit the content of their thoughts. These techniques probably work differently for everyone and are not suitable for all patients. The UMCG MINDCOG study is investigating how thoughts can be positively influenced.

Two forms of therapy

The study is looking into two techniques: mindfulness and fantasizing. Mindfulness focuses on accepting and letting go of (negative) thoughts, while fantasizing focuses more on stimulating positive thinking. Previous research has shown that therapies that include these techniques can reduce depression. How these techniques work exactly, and for who which technique is most suitable, has not yet been extensively investigated. The MINDCOG researchers expect to learn a lot about sensitivity to depression and how to influence it best.

New combination of measurements

To map out the mechanisms of action of these techniques on negative thoughts, the researchers are applying a new combination of measurements. They will use the daily reporting of the participants on their thoughts, feelings, ability to focus their attention, physical activity, heart rate and brain activity. This will make it possible to get detailed mechanistic insights into the effect of the techniques on the thoughts of people with different sensitivities to depression.

Individual characteristics of the participants

The research participants will practice both techniques, i.e. mindfulness and positive fantasizing. This will make it possible to investigate which technique works best for whom. This is also why the individual characteristics of the participants will be mapped out. On the basis of this information, the researchers hope to learn which personal characteristics can predict the technique that works best for which patients.


People aged between 18 and 60 who have experienced two or more depressive episodes over the past 10 years and who currently do not use daily antidepressants can participate in the study. The researchers are also looking for participants who have never been depressed. In these times of restrictions due to the coronavirus, all research appointments can be performed online or at a safe distance.

More information

If you are interested in participating in this study or would like to receive more information, please send an email to or visit the website.

Last modified:22 January 2021 10.29 a.m.
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