MemFlex to Prevent Depressive Relapse


Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Status and phase

Phase 2


Major Depressive Disorder


Behavioral: Autobiographical Memory Flexibility (MemFlex) training
Behavioral: Psychoeducation

Study type


Funder types



MemFlex to prevent relapse

Details and patient eligibility


A wealth of research has demonstrated that they way in which the investigators recall our personal, autobiographical memories is influential in the course of depression. Biases in the recall of autobiographical memory occur in the midst of a depressive episode, and are shown to prolong symptoms, however these biases also remain when depression remits, and may predispose the individual towards relapse. A novel cognitive intervention, MemFlex, aims to train individuals to be flexible in their retrieval of autobiographical memories, and thereby reduce depressive relapse. Changes in memory bias may also have an effect on intermediate processes that increase risk of depression, such as rumination, impaired problem solving, and cognitive avoidance. This feasibility trial compares the effects of MemFlex and Psychoeducation in their ability to reduce memory bias and intermediate cognitive risk factors, and thereby depressive relapse, in individuals remitted from Major Depressive Disorder. Clinical outcome and process measures will be assessed immediately following completion of the intervention, at 6 months post-intervention, and at 12 months post-intervention. If encouraging, the results of this pilot trial may provide a foundation for a later phase trial.


70 estimated patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Meets criteria for Major Depressive Disorder but is currently in remission, indexed on the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM (SCID; First et al., 1996)
  • 18 years of age or older

Exclusion criteria

  • Meets criteria for a current Major Depressive Episode, indexed on the SCID
  • Meets criteria for another mood disorder (e.g., Bipolar disorder), indexed on the SCID
  • Current alcohol or substance dependence, or currently experiencing psychotic symptoms, indexed on the SCID
  • Experience of intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, or other neurological condition which may impact memory recall, assessed via self-report

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

70 participants in 2 patient groups, including a placebo group

Memory Flexibility (MemFlex) Training
Experimental group
MemFlex training draws on cognitive bias modification and memory specificity training techniques (Raes et al., 2009; Dalgleish et al., 2014). MemFlex is primarily self-guided and aims to reduce autobiographical memory biases associated with depression. The training is presented over one face-to-face session and eight self-guided sessions. In the initial session, the researcher introduces cued-recall tasks used throughout the workbook, and guides the participant in completion of the tasks. When understanding of the basic principles is satisfactory, the researcher assists the participant to set a schedule for completion of the workbook over the following four weeks. The participant will receive a phone call at the beginning of week three to check progress, and clarify any difficulties.
Behavioral: Autobiographical Memory Flexibility (MemFlex) training
Placebo Comparator group
The psychoeducation condition will also complete an initial face-to-face session. This session will cover the symptoms and causes of depression, and the workbook will be introduced. The workbook will consist of eight self-guided sessions that the individual will be required to complete over four weeks. The workbook content will cover the presentation of depression and basic information on factors associated with depression, such as worry, procrastination, and sleep difficulties. Each session consists of psychological theories of the topic, followed by a series of questions about the material to ensure participant engagement. The participant will receive a phone call from a team member at the beginning of week three to check progress, and clarify any difficulties.
Behavioral: Psychoeducation

Trial contacts and locations



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