Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for prevention of perinatal depression

Grant Details

Funder: NIMH

Grant Number: R34MH083866

Grant Period: 9/17/2008 – 7/31/2012

Brief Narrative: This study will investigate the feasibility, safety, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a brief, group intervention designed to prevent perinatal depression (PD). We will develop and evaluate a behavioral preventive intervention based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which has been found to significantly reduce rates of relapse of recurrent depression among general adult samples and has high relevance to the prevention of PD. MBCT is non-pharmacological, offers an alternative to traditional one-on-one care models, and is based on a clear conceptual and empirical relationship between the specific intervention strategies and the most robust risk factor for perinatal depression, namely depressive history. The project will involve 3 phases, implemented in 2 obstetric settings: 1) conceptualizing the intervention based on theory and empirical research (MBCT for perinatal depression; MBCT-PD), 2) developing and standardizing MBCT-PD, and 3) pilot testing its efficacy in preventing relapse and recurrence among perinatal women with histories of depression. Phase 1 work is already under way. In Phase 2, we propose an open-trial to develop the MBCT-PD program (N=20). Based on an iterative process, we will finalize a participant- and expert informed manual for MBCT-PD that is sensitive and specific to the developmental factors associated with PD. In Phase 3, we propose to test MBCT-PD in a pilot randomized controlled trial comparing MBCT-PD to Treatment-as-Usual (TAU) (N=160). We will test the primary hypothesis that participants receiving MBCT-PD will experience improved depressive outcomes compared to participants receiving TAU, including testing group differences in rates of relapse/recurrence and exploring group differences in depressive symptom severity. We will also explore group differences in secondary outcomes, including anxiety and stress and obstetrical complications, and will explore potential moderators and mediators of depression outcomes. Finally, we will train and evaluate the ability of behavioral health care providers to administer the MBCT-PD program with fidelity. Given the negative and enduring consequences of untreated perinatal depression for women and their children, low rates of treatment seeking, and concerns associated with pharmacological approaches, the development and ongoing investigation of MBCT-PD may have significant benefits for women, children, and society at large

Lead Site: University of Colorado (PI Sona Dimidjian)

Participating Sites: KPCO, Emory University

Current Status

Summary of Findings


  1. Dimidjian, Sona; Goodman, Sherryl H; Felder, Jennifer N; Gallop, Robert; Brown, Amanda P; Beck, Arne. Staying Well during Pregnancy and the Postpartum: A Pilot Randomized Trial of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for the Prevention of Depressive Relapse/Recurrence. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology 2016 Feb; 84 (2) 134-45          
  2. Dimidjian, Sona; Segal, Zindel V. Prospects for a clinical science of mindfulness-based intervention. The American psychologist 2015 Oct; 70 (7) 593-620       
  3. Dimidjian, Sona; Goodman, Sherryl H; Felder, Jennifer N; Gallop, Robert; Brown, Amanda P; Beck, Arne. An open trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for the prevention of perinatal depressive relapse/recurrence. Archives of women’s mental health 2015 Feb; 18 (1) 85-94         
  4. Goodman, Sherryl H; Dimidjian, Sona. The developmental psychopathology of perinatal depression: implications for psychosocial treatment development and delivery in pregnancy. Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie 2012 Sep; 57 (9) 530-6