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Training for Awareness Resilience and Action (TARA)

Research project We are evaluating a new treatment paradigm for depression in adolescents and young adults. The treatment is called Training for Awareness Resilience and Action, abbreviated to TARA, and it is based on MR-studies of the brain in depressed youth.

Traditional treatment of depression in adolescents and young adults has limited evidence of efficacy. Therefore, we have developed a novel treatment paradigm, based on the neuro-mechanisms characterizing depression in the developing brain. TARA will be tested in a randomized controlled trial compared to treatment as usual. The effects will be evaluated using self-report questionnaires, clinician rating of depressive symptoms, qualitative interviews and bio-indicators of depression.

Head of project

Eva Henje
Professor, senior consultant (attending) physician

Project overview

Project period:

2019-09-01 2024-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Clinical Sciences

Research area

Clinical medicine, Neurosciences

External funding

Region Västerbotten, Swedish Research Council

Project description

Depression is a predominant global cause of illness, disability and mortality in youth, especially in young women, and traditional treatments, including antidepressant medication (SSRI) and individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), have limited or no evidence of efficacy or effectiveness, especially long term. 

Training for Awareness Resilience and Action is 12-week group intervention, based on the neuroscience of adolescent depression. TARA is a manualized, progressive, group program and includes training of breathing, yoga-based techniques, interoceptive attention, relational mindfulness and behavioral activation based on core-values.

The theoretical framework is developed based on the neuro-mechanisms characterizing teenage depression with a focus on emotion regulation. Preliminary studies at University of California San Francisco show feasibility, acceptability and efficacy in reducing symptoms of depression and social and generalized anxiety in both clinically and sub-clinically depressed adolescents.

At Umeå University we have conducted a feasibility pilot study with a mixed sample N=26 of young adults, which was well recived in terms of treatment content and implementation. A clinical pilot-study to test feasibility and preliminary efficacy of TARA was conducted at the CAP-clinic in Umeå, Örnsköldsvik, Sundsvall and primary care clinics in Umeå and Skellefteå (N=35). Next step is to do a randomized controlled trail and compare TARA to treatment as usual. All assessments including self-report questionnaires and systemic biomarkers will be done before and after TARA and at 6 months follow up from baseline.

The overall aim of this study is to contribute to the improvement of treatment of depression. A more effective treatment paradigm would contribute with substantial benefits for the patients and their families and potentially also in slowing down the increase of prevalence of adolescent depression. In addition, the side effects of pharmacological treatment will decrease. We hope that TARA will decrease the risk of recurrent episodes of depression since it is building on acquired skills that can be used after treatment. 

If you are interested in participating in the study please contact our study coordinator at tara@umu.se. 

This project is conducted in close collaboration with the BrainChange Lab at the University of California San Francisco, Principal Investigator Olga Tymofiyeva, PhD, Dept. of Radiology.

The Swedish part of the TARA-project has been funded by the Swedish Research Council, intramural funding from Umeå University, the County Council of the Region Västerbotten, the County Council of the Region Västernorrland, municipality of Örnsköldsvik and the Kempe foundation under Grant, Lars Jacob Boëthius foundation, the Oskar foundation and the Swedish society of medicine.

The UCSF part of the TARA project has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 

External funding

Latest publications

Frontiers in Psychiatry, Frontiers Media S.A. 2023, Vol. 14
Ekbäck, Erik; Rådmark, Lina; Granåsen, Gabriel; et al.
Frontiers in Psychiatry, Frontiers Media S.A. 2022, Vol. 13
Tymofiyeva, Olga; Hu, Melody Y.; Sipes, Benjamin S.; et al.
Latest update: 2023-02-28