A Comparative Study of Group Behavioral Activation and Cognitive Therapy in Reducing Subsyndromal Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms

  • Mehdi Soleimani Department of Psychiatry, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Parvaneh Mohammadkhani University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Behroz Dolatshahi University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Hamid Alizadeh Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran
  • Karenleigh A Overmann Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA
  • Frederick L Coolidge Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA
Keywords: Behavioral Activation Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Subsyndromal Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms, Functional Impairment


Objective: This study compared the effectiveness of two group treatments, behavioral activation (BA) and cognitive therapy (CT), in reducing subsyndromal anxiety and depressive symptoms in a sample of Iranian university students.Method: Twenty-seven Iranian university students who scored 18 or higher on the depression subscale and 16 or higher on the anxiety subscale of the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-42) were randomly assigned into treatment groups. One group received 8 sessions of BA (n = 14), and the other received 8 sessions of group CT (n = 13).Result: Analysis of covariance revealed that the BA group had a significantly greater reduction in depressive symptoms than the CT group. However, there were no significant differences between the two groups in the levels of anxiety, stress symptoms or functional impairment after treatment.Conclusion: This study found evidence for the effectiveness of BA in reducing anxiety, depressive and stress symptoms and functional impairment compared to CT. BA was more effective than CT in improving depressive symptoms and was as effective as CT in decreasing anxiety, stress and functional impairment. BA is also a cost-effective intervention, particularly in group formats.


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How to Cite
Soleimani M, Mohammadkhani P, Dolatshahi B, Alizadeh H, Overmann K, Coolidge F. A Comparative Study of Group Behavioral Activation and Cognitive Therapy in Reducing Subsyndromal Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms. Iran J Psychiatry. 10(2):71-78.
Original Article(s)