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Training for Awareness Resilience and Action (TARA)

Research project We are testing a new treatment paradigm for adolescent depression - TARA- based on MR-studies of the brain in depressed teenagers.

Traditional treatment of adolescent depression has limited evidence of efficacy. Therefore, we have developed a novel treatment paradigm, based on the neuro-mechanisms characterizing teenage depression: Training for Awareness Resilience and Action (TARA), a 12-week manualized group intervention. TARA will be tested in a randomized controlled trial vs treatment as usual. It includes training of breathing- and yoga techniques, interoceptive attention, relational mindfulness and behavioral activation based on core-values. The effect will be studied with self-report questionnaires and biomarkers.

Head of project

Eva Henje
Associate professor, senior consultant (attending) physician

Project overview

Project period:

2019-09-01 2022-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Clinical Sciences

Research subject

Clinical medicine, Neurosciences

External funding

Region Västerbotten

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. 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. We are now recruiting 15-19-year-old adolescents with depression for a clinical pilot study at the CAP-clinic in Umeå to test feasibility and preliminary efficacy. Next step is to do a randomized controlled trail and compare TARA to treatment as usual. All assessments including self-report questionnaires and systemic bio-markers will be done before and after TARA and at 6 months follow up from base-line.

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. 

External funding