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Ein Forscher träufelt aus einer kleinen Pipette eine Flüssigkeit in ein Reagenzglas. Mehrere Reagenzgläser und ein Erlenmeyerkolben vorn rechts sind mit einer hellblauen, klaren Flüssigkeit gefüllt. Kopf und Schultern des Forschers sind nur unscharf im Hintergrund zu erkennen.

Chronic Depression Research Group

Chronic depression is a severely debilitating mental disorder that often originates in childhood following a traumatizing relationship experience. Its resistance to treatment poses a significant challenge. Most patients presenting with chronic depression report feeling depressed for many years or even since childhood. Currently, an estimated 1.2 million chronically depressed patients are living in Germany. Altogether, 25-30% of unipolar depressive disorders are classified as chronic.

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Chronic Depression research group and CBASP clinical research

Symptoms of chronic depression differ from episodic depression in the following respects:

  • They involve a recurring presentation of helplessness and misery
  • Submissive behavior
  • A significant distrust in human relationships
  • An almost irrevocable belief that depression cannot be controlled
  • A rigid and consolidated pattern of behavior which seems unaffected by either positive or negative events

Patients suffering from chronic depression often report past emotional neglect and abuse as well as physical abuse and neglect during childhood. As a consequence, patients socially withdraw from their environment. Due to their detrimental, traumatizing social learning experiences, their perception disconnects from the environment. This hinders learning from positive experiences. It is thus that in the course of life of the chronically depressed, experiences of difficult relationships are repeated.


Current research projects:

  • Ongoing evaluation of the inpatient CBASP treatment program and its long-term outcomes
  • Study of empathic deficiencies in chronically depressed patients compared to healthy controls and episodically depressed patients under specific emotional activation
  • Influence of personality disorders on CBASP treatment outcomes
  • Evaluation of different treatment components such as interpersonal training
  • Significance of a “refresher treatment” on long-term response
  • Implementation of self-help groups and their evaluation
  • The “Sequential approach” project: A combination of CBASP treatment and several biological treatments
  • Assessment of cost effectiveness of inpatient psychotherapy programs compared to treatment as usual

In co-operation with:

Prof. Dr. Eva-Lotta Brakemeier
University of Greifswald


The Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) is the first disorder-specific psychotherapy program for the treatment of patients with chronic depression. CBASP was developed by James P. McCollough and integrates cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal and psychodynamic-psychoanalytic strategies to directly address the specific psychopathology of chronically depressed patients.

Group Leaders

Prof. Dr. med. Stephan Köhler, MBA

Deputy Medical Director (clinics), Professor for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Research group Affective Disorders, Treatment-resistant and chronic depression

Psychiatrische Klinik - Portrait Oberarzt Prof. Sterzer
Prof. Dr. med. Philipp Sterzer

Head of research division Computational Neuroimaging, Head of Visual Perception Lab


Dr. rer. nat. Anne Guhn

Deputy head psychologist and psychotherapist, ward 152a, CBASP therapist and trainer

Standard-Porträt "Person, neutral"
M.Sc. Luisa Daldrup

Research fellow; Research group Chronic Depression