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The effectiveness of a community-based, mind-body group for symptoms of depression and anxiety

Jolene Jacquart, Kathleen M Miller, Andrea Radossi, Vivian Haime, Eric Macklin, Dinah Gilburd, Miriam Nelson Oliver, Darshan H Mehta, Albert Yeung, Gregory L Fricchione, Herbert Benson, John W Denninger
Advances in Mind-body Medicine 2014, 28 (3): 6-13
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CONTEXT: The prevalence of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise, with an estimated 350 million people affected. Populations with lower socioeconomic status are at higher risk for mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Community health centers (CHCs) often have wait lists for individual counseling. Group mind-body interventions (MBIs) that are based on the relaxation response (RR) are plausible options for treating mental health conditions at CHCs.

OBJECTIVE: The study examined the feasibility and effectiveness of an 8-wk MBI developed at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine (BHI) for treatment of symptoms of depression and anxiety in a community-based population.

DESIGN: The research team designed a retrospective, open-label study of 124 patients with symptoms of depression or anxiety enrolled in an MBI as a group.

SETTING: The setting for the study was 2 CHCs at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, MA, USA.

PARTICIPANTS: Participants were adult patients at MGH with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The program was billed as treatment related to behavioral health and accessible to people with all levels of education.

INTERVENTION: The MBI for depression and/or anxiety in the current study teaches techniques that elicit a relaxation response (RR), in combination with additional resiliencyenhancing components.

OUTCOME MEASURES: To examine effects of the program, self-report clinical measures were administered pre- and postintervention: (1) for depression, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D10); (2) for anxiety, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-State Subscale (STAI-State); and (3) for perceived stress, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10).

RESULTS: The intervention was associated with a significant decrease in depressive symptoms: 95% CI, -6.0 to -2.6 (P < .001); anxiety--95% CI -12.6 to -2.2 (P = .007); and perceived stress--95% CI -7.6 to -2.0 (P = .001). Approximately 52.4% of the participants completed at least 75% of the 8 sessions, with 5 sessions attended on average.

CONCLUSIONS: Participation in this MBI was associated with an improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as decreases in perceived stress among CHC patients.

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