Exploring sudden gains in behavioral activation therapy for Major Depressive Disorder

Kallio Hunnicutt-Ferguson*, Denada Hoxha, Jackie Gollan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Understanding the onset and course of sudden gains in treatment provides clinical information to the patient and clinician, and encourages clinicians to strive for these sudden clinical gains with their patients. This study characterizes the occurrence of sudden gains with Behavioral Activation (BA; Martell, Addis, & Jacobson, 2001), and the extent to which pre-treatment dysfunctional depressive thinking predicts sudden gains during treatment. We enrolled a sample of adults (n = 42) between ages 18-65 diagnosed with primary Major Depressive Disorder. All participants completed a 16-week course of BA, with clinical and self-report assessments at pre-, mid- and post-treatment. Results indicated that sudden gain and non-sudden gain participants showed differential improvement across treatment. No significant effects emerged for the dysfunctional cognitive style as a predictor of sudden gain status. Sudden gains may result from interaction of non-specific factors with the BA techniques implemented during early phases of therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-230
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Behavioral activation
  • Major depression
  • Sudden gains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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