Experiential avoidance (EA) appears to be a predictor of major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptomatology in older adolescents, according to results published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

The longitudinal study (NCT02147184​) gathered data from adolescents ages 15 to 20 years (N=183) who were followed for 2 years using a comprehensive assessment battery. Using weekly evaluation of EA, depressive, and anxiety symptoms, investigators identified 4 combined MDD/GAD trajectory groups: persistent (n=81), high-decreasing (n=44), normal-increasing (n=37), and minimal (n=21).

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Adolescents in the persistent group had higher EA than other groups (P ≤.001), with greater EA stability compared with adolescents in the high-decreasing group (P =.008). Experiential avoidance predicted both depressive and anxiety symptoms (P ≤.005); however, these symptoms did not predict EA (P ≥.188).

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“The findings of the current study suggest that an intervention targeting EA in adolescents may lead to valuable outcomes,” investigators wrote. As a possible intervention, investigators noted that acceptance and commitment therapy is an effective therapy for EA and an empirically supported treatment for MDD and anxiety.

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Mellick WH, Mills JA, Kroska EB, Calarge CA, Sharp C, Dindo LN. Experiential avoidance predicts persistence of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in late adolescence. J Clin Psychiatry. 2019;80(6):18m12265.