Protocol for a mechanistic study of mindfulness based cognitive therapy during pregnancy

Kristen L. Mackiewicz Seghete, Alice M. Graham, Jodi A. Lapidus, Evelyn L.A. Jackson, Olivia J. Doyle, Alicia B. Feryn, Lucille A. Moore, Sherryl H. Goodman, Sona Dimidjian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Preventive interventions for postpartum depression (PPD) are critical for women at elevated risk of PPD. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy-perinatal depression (MBCT-PD) is a preventive intervention that has been shown to reduce risk for PPD in women with a prior history of depression. The objective of this clinical trial is to examine two potential mechanisms of action of MBCT-PD, emotion regulation and cognitive control, using behavioral and neuroimaging methods. Method: This baseline protocol describes a randomized control trial (RCT) with two arms, MBCT-PD and treatment as usual (TAU). We plan on enrolling 74 females with a prior history of a major depressive episode, with 37 participants randomized to each arm. Participants in the MBCT-PD arm will receive MBCT-PD during pregnancy, and the TAU group will receive standard prenatal care. All participants will complete the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale-Revised (CESD-R), Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ), and classic Stroop task at multiple points from pregnancy through six months postpartum. Participants will also complete an fMRI scan at six weeks postpartum. Results: All primary outcomes are collected at six weeks postpartum. Primary behavioral outcomes include: depressive symptoms on the CESD-R, cognitive reappraisal on the ERQ, and Stroop task performance. In parallel, the primary neurobiological outcomes include whole-brain activation during fMRI tasks when participants 1) regulate emotional responding and 2) engage cognitive control. Conclusions: This results of this innovative RCT will help identify potential behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms of action of preventive interventions for PPD for in-depth examination in larger scale RCTs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-766
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Postpartum
  • Postpartum depression
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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