Mindfulness Meditation to Treat Depression

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Mindfulness Meditation to Treat Depression Key Points

Considering Treatment with Mindfulness Meditation

Recommended Books

More Information

Key Points

  • The amount of research on mindfulness meditation for the treatment of depression is small when compared to the large amount of information on the use of prescription medication and psychotherapy for the same problem. Therefore, conclusions about mindfulness meditation are more uncertain.
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which are structured eight-week programs with manuals, have been the most extensively studied.
  • Existing research indicates that mindfulness-based interventions may enhance well-being and may be as effective as medication or psychotherapy in the treatment of depression.
  • The positive effects of mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to last for up to one year. More practice is associated with better outcome.
  • Mindfulness meditation might be particularly useful to prevent a relapse of depression and preliminary research suggests MBCT may be particularly helpful for people with a history of multiple depressive episodes.
  • Because of the limited amount of high quality research support, some experts have suggested that mindfulness-based interventions should be used together with other (better-established) psychological or medication treatments.

Considering Treatment with Mindfulness Meditation

  • If you are considering treatment with meditation it would be helpful to discuss this with your family doctor.
  • If your doctor is not familiar with meditation, he or she may be able to refer you to a specialist who can advise you.
  • Many research findings are based on studies in which participants attended group classes for 8 to 10 weeks and, in addition, were asked to practice at home, building up to 45 to 60 minutes each day.
  • In order to be helpful, mindfulness meditation requires daily practice and more practice is associated with better outcomes.
  • It is recommended that you work with a qualified instructor or therapist to make sure mindfulness meditation is suitable for you.
  • Despite the promise of meditation for the treatment of depression, more high quality research is needed to be sure of how helpful it is in treatment.
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Recommended Books

These books may be available in your local library or bookstore and may be ordered through internet book sellers:

  • Teasdale, J.D., & Segal, Z.V. (2007). The mindful way through depression: Freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Bantam Dell.

For More Information Please See:


  • Edenfield, T. M., & Saeed, A. (2012). An update on mindfulness meditation as a self-help treatment for anxiety and depression. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 5, 131-141. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S34937
  • Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E.M., Gould, N.F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R.,  . . . Haythornwaite, J.A. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. 74(3), 357-68. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018
  • Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., . . . Hofmann, S.G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 763-771. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2013.05.005
  • Luberto, C. M., White, C., Sears, R. W., & Cotton, S. (2013). Integrative medicine for treating depression: An update on the latest evidence. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(391). doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0391-2
  • Marchand, W. R. (2013). Mindfulness meditation practices as adjunctive treatments for psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 36(1),141-152. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2013.01.002
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Download: Fact Sheet: Mindfulness Meditation for Depression

Last Updated: January 10, 2014