Treating depressive disorders with the Unified Protocol: A preliminary randomized evaluation

Shannon Sauer-Zavala, Kate H. Bentley, Stephanie Jarvi Steele, Julianne Wilner Tirpak, Amantia A. Ametaj, Maya Nauphal, Nicole Cardona, Mengxing Wang, Todd J. Farchione, David H. Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study aims to examine the efficacy of the Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders (UP) for individuals diagnosed with a depressive disorder. Method: Participants included 44 adults who met criteria for major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, or another specified depressive disorder according to the Anxiety Disorder Interview Schedule (ADIS). These individuals represent a subset of patients from a larger clinical trial comparing the UP to single-disorder protocols (SDPs) for discrete anxiety disorders and a waitlist control (WLC) condition (Barlow et al., 2017); inclusion criteria for the parent study required participants to have a principal anxiety disorder. Results: Significant reductions in depressive symptoms were observed within the UP condition across clinician-rated and self-report measures of depression from baseline to post-treatment, as well as to the 12-month follow-up assessment. Compared to the WLC group, individuals in the UP condition demonstrated significantly lower levels on our continuous, clinician-rated measure of depressive symptoms at post-treatment. There were no differences between the UP and SDP conditions on depressive symptoms at post-treatment or at the 12-month follow-up timepoint. Conclusions: In this exploratory set of analyses, the UP evidenced efficacy for reduction of depressive symptoms, adding to the growing support for its utility in treating depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-445
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was awarded to Dr. David Barlow, PI, from the National Institute of Mental Health ( R01MH090053 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Depression
  • Transdiagnostic treatment
  • Unified Protocol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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