Habits in Depression: Understanding and Intervention

  • Ed WatkinsEmail author
  • Matt Owens
  • Lorna Cook


Major depression is a major global health challenge (Collins et al., Nature 475(7354):27–30, 2011). Although interventions for depression are effective, only approximately 1/3 of patients remit and have sustained recovery. Research therefore needs to investigate mechanisms that contribute to vulnerability to relapse/recurrence and to the long-term efficacy of interventions. We hypothesize that considering key depressogenic behaviours as habits informs this issue and review data pertinent to this, considering specific examples of rumination-as-a-mental-habit (Watkins & Nolen-Hoeksema, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 123(1):24–34, 2014) and healthy and unhealthy lifestyle habits relevant to depression.


Depression Rumination Rumination-as-a-mental-habit Psychological treatment Lifestyle Diet Exercise 



Partial funding for research reported in this chapter was provided by the European Union FP7 MooDFOODProject “Multi-country cOllaborative project on the rOle of Diet, FOod-related behaviour, and Obesity in the prevention of Depression” (grant agreement no.613598) and supported in the UK by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), through the Primary Care Research Network, and the NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SMART Lab, School of PsychologyUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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