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BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent physical distancing has made it difficult to provide care for those with Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD). As a secondary analysis of a clinical trial, the aim of this study was to explore potential mechanisms through which three online-delivered approaches, added to treatment as usual, improve depressive symptoms in TRD patients. METHODS: The three approaches included (a) Minimal Lifestyle Intervention (MLI), (b) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and (c) Lifestyle Modification Program (LMP). Sixty-six participants with TRD completed assessments pre-post intervention (mindfulness skills [FFMQ]; self-compassion [SCS]; and experiential avoidance [AAQ-II]) and pre-intervention to follow-up (depressive symptoms [BDI-II]). Data were analyzed using within-subjects regression models to test mediation. RESULTS: Mindfulness skills mediated the effect of MBCT on depressive symptoms (ab = -4.69, 95% CI = -12.93 to-0.32), whereas the lack of experiential avoidance mediated the effect of LMP on depressive symptoms (ab = -3.22, 95% CI = -7.03 to-0.14). CONCLUSION: Strengthening mindfulness skills and decreasing experiential avoidance may promote recovery in patients with TRD, MBCT, and LMP have demonstrated that they may help increase mindfulness skills and decrease experiential avoidance, respectively. Future work will need to unpick the components of these interventions to help isolate active ingredients and increase optimization.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Psychol

Publication Date





MBCT, intervention, lifestyle modification, major depressive disorder, mediation