Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 31–40 | Cite as

Metacognitions and Thought Control Strategies in Unipolar Major Depression: A Comparison of Currently Depressed, Previously Depressed, and Never-Depressed Individuals

  • Marianne Halvorsen
  • Roger Hagen
  • Odin Hjemdal
  • Marianne S. Eriksen
  • Åse J. Sørli
  • Knut Waterloo
  • Martin Eisemann
  • Catharina E. A. Wang
Original Article


Few studies have explored the importance of worry-related metacognitions and thought control strategies in major depressive disorder. The present study explored how metacognitions and thought control strategies differentiated currently depressed (n = 37), previously depressed (n = 81) and never-depressed individuals (n = 50). Discriminant function analysis was performed to investigate group differences on the Metacognitions Questionnaire-30, Thought Control Questionnaire, and Ruminative Response Scale. The analysis revealed that currently depressed participants scored significantly higher than previously depressed participants and that previously depressed participants scored higher than never-depressed participants on negative metacognitive beliefs, rumination, worry and the use of punishment as a thought control strategy. The discriminant function analysis further showed that previously depressed participants had a higher use of the thought control strategy reappraisal, along with lower dysfunctional metacognitions concerning the need to control their thoughts, higher confidence in their cognitive function and lower levels about the need to worry, compared to both the currently and never-depressed groups. The results indicate that metacognitions and thought control strategies could be promising vulnerability markers for depression.


Major depressive disorder Metacognition Thought control strategies Rumination 



This study was supported by “The National Program for Integrated Clinical Specialist and PhD-training for Psychologists” in Norway. This program is a joint cooperation between the Universities of Bergen, Oslo, Tromsø, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim), the Regional Health Authorities, and the Norwegian Psychological Association. The program is funded jointly by The Ministry of Education and Research and The Ministry of Health and Care Services. The study was also supported in part by the Psychiatric Research Centre of Northern Norway. The authors would like to thank the participants and the research assistants who contributed to the data collection. We would also like to thank Professor Adrian Wells for commenting on an early draft of the manuscript. Last but not least, we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions, which contributed to the improvement of this paper.

Conflict of Interest

Marianne Halvorsen, Roger Hagen, Odin Hjemdal, Marianne S. Eriksen, Åse J. Sørli, Knut Waterloo, Martin Eisemann and Catharina E. A. Wang do not have any commercial association that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the manuscript.

Informed Consent

All of the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients before entering the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianne Halvorsen
    • 1
  • Roger Hagen
    • 2
  • Odin Hjemdal
    • 2
  • Marianne S. Eriksen
    • 3
  • Åse J. Sørli
    • 3
  • Knut Waterloo
    • 3
  • Martin Eisemann
    • 3
  • Catharina E. A. Wang
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Pediatric RehabilitationUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health SciencesUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway

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