Mindfulness shown to reduce depression

Mindfulness is an approach which I use as a counsellor and psychotherapist in Hastings with clients who want to deal with depression,  anxiety or other emotional issues.

Mindfulness just means learning to pay attention to what’s going on right now for us, in this present moment. It is a compassionate and non-judgmental moment-to-moment awareness of our experiences.

Now research from Belgium shows that mindfulness training in schools has been found to reduce and even prevent depression in adolescents.

The finding comes from research carried out in 408 students between the ages of 13 and 20 who were studying at five schools in Flanders (Raes et al., 2013).

In this research project, matched classes were assigned either to mindfulness training or to a control condition who simply continued with their other classes as normal. Their depression, anxiety and stress levels were measured before and after the intervention, as well as six months later.

The results showed similar levels of depression when they started the study: 21% of those in the mindfulness group were depressed, and 24% in the control group.

After the mindfulness training, the percentage of pupils who were clinically depressed had dropped to 15%, and after six months it remained lower than baseline at 16%.

Meanwhile, in the control group, levels of depression had actually increased, up to 27% and after six months up to 31%.

The study’s results, therefore, suggest that mindfulness training can lead to reductions in depression. These gains are also likely to be maintained for at least six months after the intervention.

The mindfulness training used in the study had been specially adapted for adolescents, although the principles of mindfulness are the same for everyone.

To help the students to benefit from mindfulness across the sessions they were encouraged to focus on:

“attention to the breath and the moment” (session 1), “attention to the body and pleasant moments” (session 2), “attention to your inner boundaries and to unpleasant moments” (session 3), “attention to stress and space” (session 4), “attention to thoughts and emotion” (session 5), “attention to interpretations and communication” (session 6), “attention to your attitudes and your moods” (session 7), and “attention to yourself and your heartfulness (session 8)” (Raes et al., 2013).

The researchers believe that, once taught, students could continue to benefit from these early lessons for a lifetime, with the hope of perhaps immeasurably improving their lives.

Therapists have often found that mindfulness has been a useful approach for clients to get moment-to moment awareness of their experiences, and thus to relieve their depression or anxiety.


added at 12:01am on 27th January 2014

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