People who suffer from some forms of depression may be able to get non-pharmaceutical relief for their symptoms from mindfulness meditation training.

A study appearing in the Annals of Family Medicine looked at primary care patients with subthreshold depression – something less than severe depression but more than ordinary feelings of sadness. The researchers found that in such patients, mindfulness mediation proved to be a feasible method of preventing major depression.

Intervention participants were invited to attend weekly two-hour mindfulness training sessions for eight consecutive weeks. At 12 months, there was a statistically significant difference in the incidence of major depressive disorder between the intervention group and a usual care group (11 percent in the mindfulness group compared to 27 percent in usual care).  Mindfulness training also had a small effect in reducing depression symptoms (between-group mean difference = 3.85).

The authors plan future research into the cost-effectiveness, health service use implications, and acceptability of mindfulness training.

Treating Subthreshold Depression in Primary Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Behavioural Activation With Mindfulness
Samuel Y.S. Wong, MD, et al
The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong
Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong