Transdiagnostic Avoidance in the Treatment of Anxiety and Depression

1 September 2019 until 31 December 2024
Project member(s)
J. Klein Breteler (Joppe) , Prof. J. Spijker (Jan) Prof. G.J. Hendriks (Gert Jan) , dr. N. Ikani (co-promotor) , dr. W. Burke (co-promotor)
Project type

Anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are highly comorbid disorders, with nearly half of the patients concurrently suffering from an anxiety disorder and depressive disorder. However, current protocols for anxiety and depression provide unspecific suggestions on how to deal with comorbidity using psychological treatments. Therefore, it is important to focus on transdiagnostic factors – processes that are shared across disorders and relevant for the development and maintenance across disorders – and determine processes that anxiety and depression have in common, instead of how they differ.

Research suggests that avoidance might be an important transdiagnostic process in both anxiety and depression: Avoidance of aversive stimuli (e.g., thoughts, emotions, sensations, situations) leads to short-term relief for the individual, but maintains symptoms in the long-term, often leading to further deterioration of symptoms. Our project aims to investigate how different types of avoidance relate to comorbid anxiety and depression in a clinical sample, and examine the contribution of these avoidance types to the maintenance of the disorders. Thereby, we aim to provide a foundation by identifying potential targets for add-on treatments and contribute to more specific and personalized interventions for individuals with comorbid anxiety and depression.

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