School Mindfulness Program Reduces Depression in Adolescents
Researchers found that school-based mindfulness program could reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in adolescents. Professor Filip Raes, author and member of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, says that the study is the first to examine the effects of mindfulness in a large number of adolescents in a school-based setting.
The study looked into the effects of mindfulness, which is a form of meditation therapy that focuses on practicing ‘attentiveness’ to one’s feeling and thoughts. People who are depressed often experience negative thoughts and worsening feelings. Learning to recognize these thoughts and feelings can help intervene before true depression sets in.
While this form of therapy is widely used in patients with depression, this randomized, controlled study is the first to look into a large group of middle-school students. The study involved about 400 students in five middle schools in Flanders, Belgium, with ages 13 to 20. The students were randomly divided into a test group, which received mindfulness training, and the control group, which received no training. Both groups completed a questionnaire about depression, stress or anxiety symptoms before and after the study.
Results showed that students in both the test group and the control group had similar percentage of students with signs of depression before the study. After students underwent mindfulness training, depression was significantly lower in the test group (15%) than in the control group (27%). This difference (15% vs. 31%) was found to persist six months after the training. These findings suggest that mindfulness can reduce symptoms associated with depression and that it may protect against the development of depression-like symptoms.
KU Leuven. Mindfulness at school reduces (likelihood of) depression-related symptoms in adolescents. ScienceDaily.