HERSTEL-study (English)

HERSTEL is the Dutch word for recovery, which is the aim of this study: to reach full recovery from depression. To reach this goal, brain training will be added to a relapse prevention training. A short overview including the importance of the study, what participating consists of, and who can participate is presented below.


Depression is a serious disease that affects many people. As an example: around 19% of Dutch people will experience at least one depressive episode in their life. 32-45% of these people only partially respond to treatment, leaving residual depressive symptoms (i.e. partial recovery). People who are partially recovered from a depression, have a higher risk to relapse and lower quality of life. It is therefore essential to treat partial recovery of depression. The HERSTEL-study investigates a new approach to treat partially recover depressed patients.

Residual symptoms of depression are currently treated with the continuation of current treatment, or a switch in medication or psychological treatment. Recent research has indicated that a psychological training could reduce the residual depressive symptoms and protect against relapse. This psychological treatment was developed as a relapse prevention training. During the training, people learn what they can do to prevent a relapse. In addition, the training focusses on positive experiences, thoughts and emotions, and how to remember these. The third aim of the training is to reduce limiting thinking patterns, and enhance positive thinking patterns.

Combining relapse prevention training with online serious games to train your brain might enhance the effect of training and result in full recovery. However, this had not been studied yet with people who are partially recovered from a depression – until now.

Study overview

Participation in the HERSTEL-study consists of several questionnaires, tests and interviews, besides the relapse prevention training and potentially brain training. All study elements, including the training, will be completed online.

Screening. First, a screening will be completed to check if the study is suitable for you.

Questionnaires and Tests. People eligible for the study will continue with completing online questionnaires and tests.

Treatment. After completion of the questionnaires and tests, participants will randomly be assigned to either follow 1) a relapse prevention training or 2) a relapse prevention training and a brain training. Both groups will follow this treatment for 8 weeks.

Interview, questionnaire and tests. When the treatment is completed, participants will complete online questionnaire, an interview and tests again.

Online questionnaires. Participants receive a questionnaire every month.

Final assessment. Participation finishes one year after start of the study, with an interview and online questionnaires.

Who can participate?

Do you still experience depressive symptoms? We are looking for you! Adults who are partially recovered from a depression can participate in the HERSTEL-study.

The study starts with a screening, to see if you can be included in the study. Participation is not possible when you had electroconvulsive therapy in the past year or do not speak Dutch or English.

Do you think you are a match with the HERSTEL-study? Or are you not sure if you can participate? Contact us via the contact details below!


To contact the Herstelpolikliniek Depressie: mail to stemming-amc@amsterdamumc.nl

The HERSTEL-study: Please contact us if you are interested in participation, if you want more information, or if you have any questions! Mail to herstelstudie@amsterdamumc.nl or complete the contact form.

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