Two psychologists writing for Scientific American Mind review some of the evidence base for the impacts of mindfulness meditation on problematic psychological states. They conclude that the ancient techniques “hold promise as remedies for depression and possibly anxiety” and are actually “potent” in preventing relapses in the chronically depressed.
“Mindfulness seems to be particularly potent as a preventive in patients who have relapsed three or more times,” they write. “In a pioneering study of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression recurrence, published in 2000, psychologist John Teasdale, then at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Cambridge, England, and his colleagues compared individuals receiving treatment as usual, such as visits to family doctors, psychiatrists and therapists, with those who also received mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Subjects were followed for more than a year. Among those who had experienced three or more episodes of depression, mindfulness therapy significantly reduced relapse rates compared with the usual treatment. No difference between the groups emerged, however, for people who had experienced two or fewer depressive episodes. These surprising results have been replicated in several studies.”
Is Mindfulness Good Medicine? (Scientific American, August 14, 2014)