Mindfulness at school reduces likelihood of depression-related symptoms in adolescents

March 15, 2013, KU Leuven

Secondary school students who follow an in-class mindfulness program report reduced indications of depression, anxiety and stress up to six months later. Moreover, these students were less likely to develop pronounced depression-like symptoms. The study, conducted by Professor Filip Raes (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven), is the first to examine mindfulness in a large sample of adolescents in a school-based setting.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation therapy focused on exercising 'attentiveness'. Depression is often rooted in a downward spiral of and worries. Once a person learns to more quickly recognise these feelings and thoughts, he or she can intervene before depression sinks in.

While mindfulness has already been widely tested and applied in patients with depression, this is the first time the method has been studied in a large group of in a school-based setting, using a randomised controlled design. The study was carried out at five in Flanders, Belgium. About 400 students between the ages of 13 and 20 took part. The students were divided into a test group and a control group. The test group received mindfulness training, and the control group received no training. Before the study, both groups completed a with questions indicative of depression, stress or . Both groups completed the questionnaire again directly after the training, and then a third time six months later.

Before the start of the training, both the test group (21%) and the control group (24%) had a similar percentage of students reporting evidence of depression. After the mindfulness training, that number was significantly lower in the test group: 15% versus 27% in the control group. This difference persisted six months after the training: 16% of the test group versus 31% of the reported evidence of depression. The results suggest that mindfulness can lead to a decrease in symptoms associated with depression and, moreover, that it protects against the later development of depression-like symptoms.

The study was carried out in cooperation with the Belgian not-for-profit Mindfulness and with support from the Go for Happiness Foundation.

Explore further: Mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression in cancer patients

More information: School-Based Prevention and Reduction of Depression in Adolescents: a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness Group Program, Filip Raes, James W. Griffith, Katleen Van der Gucht, J. Mark G. Williams, Springer, March 2013, DOI 10.1007/s12671-013-0202-1

Related Stories

Mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression in cancer patients

June 11, 2012
When being diagnosed with cancer, people will naturally worry about their future, their family and about dying. Actually, no less than 35-40% of cancer patients suffer from significant anxiety and depression symptoms. An ...

Improving memory for specific events can alleviate symptoms of depression

September 17, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Hear the word "party" and memories of your 8th birthday sleepover or the big bash you attended last New Year's may come rushing to mind. But it's exactly these kinds of memories, embedded in a specific ...

Almost half of depression in adults starts in adolesence

February 29, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study by research psychologists at Bangor and Oxford Universities show that half of adults who experience clinical depression had their first episode start in adolescence. In fact, the most common ...

Recommended for you

High-dose antipsychotics place children at increased risk of unexpected death

December 12, 2018
Children and young adults without psychosis who are prescribed high-dose antipsychotic medications are at increased risk of unexpected death, despite the availability of other medications to treat their conditions, according ...

How bullying affects the brain

December 12, 2018
New research from King's College London identifies a possible mechanism that shows how bullying may influence the structure of the adolescent brain, suggesting the effects of constantly being bullied are more than just psychological.

What social stress in monkeys can tell us about human health

December 11, 2018
Research in recent years has linked a person's physical or social environment to their well-being. Stress wears down the body and compromises the immune system, leaving a person more vulnerable to illnesses and other conditions. ...

Trying to get people to agree? Skip the French restaurant and go out for Chinese food

December 11, 2018
Here's a new negotiating tactic: enjoy a family-style meal with your counterpart before making your opening bid.

You make decisions quicker and based on less information than you think

December 11, 2018
We live in an age of information. In theory, we can learn everything about anyone or anything at the touch of a button. All this information should allow us to make super-informed, data-driven decisions all the time.

Using neurofeedback to prevent PTSD in soldiers

December 11, 2018
A team of researchers from Israel, the U.S. and the U.K. has found that using neurofeedback could prevent soldiers from experiencing PTSD after engaging in emotionally difficult situations. In their paper published in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.