Background. The response styles theory suggests that rumination in response to depressed mood
exacerbates and prolongs depression, while distraction ameliorates and shortens it. Gender
differences in response styles are said to contribute to the observed gender differences in the
prevalence of unipolar depression. While empirical support for the theory has been found from a
variety of non-clinical studies, its generalizability to clinically depressed patient populations remains
Methods. A cohort of 52 unipolar depressed in-patients was assessed with the Response Styles
Questionnaire during in-patient stay (T1) and 4 weeks after discharge (T2). The patients were
followed up 4 months after discharge (T3). Clinical assessment included the SCAN-PSE-10.
Results. Moderate and statistically significant retest-stabilities for rumination and distraction were
found, comparable for patients with stable and changing depression status from T1 to T2. A cross-sectional diagnosis of a major depressive episode was associated with rumination, while gender was
not. Post-discharge baseline rumination (T2), adjusted for concurrent depression, predicted follow-up levels of depression (T3), and, in patients who were non-remitted at post-discharge baseline, it
predicted presence of a major depressive episode at follow-up (T3). Results on distraction were
Conclusions. Our results suggest that rumination is likely to have a deteriorating impact on the
course of clinical episodes of depression in unipolar depressed patients. Larger longitudinal patient
studies are needed to validate these findings.