Background Relapse prevention strategies include continuation of antidepressant medication and preventive psychological interventions. This study aims to gain understanding that may inform tailoring of relapse prevention to individual differences, to improve their effects. Such treatment personalization may be based on repeated assessments within one individual, using experience sampling methodology. As a first step towards informing decisions based on this methodology, insight is needed in individual differences in risk of relapse and response to treatment, and how relapse prevention strategies may differentially target vulnerability for relapse. Methods The smartphone application ‘Imagine your mood’ has been developed specifically for this study to assess emotions, imagery, cognitions, and behaviors in daily life. Parallel to the randomized controlled trial ‘Disrupting the rhythm of depression’, 45 remitted recurrently depressed individuals taking continuation antidepressant medication will be randomly assigned to either continuing antidepressant medication (n = 15), continuing antidepressant medication combined with an eight-session preventive cognitive therapy (n = 15), or tapering of antidepressant medication in combination with preventive cognitive therapy (n = 15). Relapse and return of depressive symptomatology over a 24-month follow-up will be assessed. Additionally, matched never depressed individuals (n = 15) will be recruited as controls. Discussion This innovative study combines the strengths of a randomized controlled trial and experience sampling methodology in a micro-trial to explore individual differences in risk of relapse and what works for whom to prevent relapse. Results may ultimately pave the way for therapists to tailor relapse prevention strategies to individual (affective) vulnerability. Trial registration ISRCTN15472145, retrospectively registered.
- Antidepressant medication
- Experience sampling methodology
- Psychological interventions
- Recurrent MDD
- Relapse prevention