Mindfulness-Based Interventions to Depressive Symptomatology I: Introduction, Background and Critical Analysis

Mindfulness-Based Interventions to Depressive Symptomatology I: Introduction, Background and Critical Analysis

Statement of the Problem Context

The goal of this review was to hone a better understanding of mindfulness-based intervention application to depression. The present review focused on the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions for individuals with depression. Research has focused on examining individuals who have experienced multiple depressive episodes. Research pertaining to mindfulness and depression has tended to focus on using mindfulness to prevent relapse in depression. Subjects used in most studies pertaining to mindfulness-intervention and depression are in remission in their symptoms. These studies therefore examine the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing relapse for depression. This review drew upon these studies for analysis purpose but also examined studies in which the participants were currently depressed. Studying effects of mindfulness on individuals with current depression and psychopathology has been minimally researched. Also, most of the studies on subjects experiencing current depressive episodes are meta-analysis reviews as opposed to empirical studies. Therefore, this review was undertaken to clarify the results of these studies as well as to fill in gaps in the literature through proposing a future study.  Overall, this review sought to augment understanding of this area by creating a resource where this information could be accessed. This review discusses mindfulness etiology in Eastern philosophy. Namely, the researcher thought that it is important to understand its etiological origins in order to understand how it has come to be applied to psychological phenomena.

This study also examined research that describes criticisms affiliated with mindfulness usage in psychopathology. Studies that find negligible effects affiliated with mindfulness application to depression will also be examined in this study. Also, a discussion surrounding the divorce of clinical mindfulness applications from its etiology in eastern philosophy will be examined.

Purpose of the Review

Hence, the purpose of this review is to determine the efficacy of using mindfulness applications in treating depression. With a better understanding of usefulness or lack of effectiveness of mindfulness interventions to depression, clinicians may be able to make more informed decisions about using this modality with clientele. As well, this review can permit for individuals to access more information about this topic area so that they can make more informed decisions about using mindfulness-based interventions on themselves when depressed. With a thorough understanding of the literature available, gaps in literature were determined in order to devise the proposed study. Thus, overall the purpose of this study was to clarify how useful mindfulness applications are in relation to treating depressive phenomena.

Empirical Questions

This review examined questions pertaining to mindfulness applications to depression. These questions were used as a guiding force in the research process in terms of helping to inform which areas of query were focused on.

The broadest question that was used to guide this research project was, “are mindfulness-based interventions beneficial in treatment of depression?” Another question examined was, “how useful is mindfulness-based intervention in treating individuals based on the frequency of their depression?” An additional question was, “how effective is mindfulness-based intervention at preventing depressive symptom relapse for individuals who experience recurring, pervasive depression?” Another question examined was, “how have mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) been effective at treating depression?” An additional question based on subdivisions in literature on depression was, “how effective is mindfulness at treating individuals who have experienced three or more episodes of depression compared to those who have experienced two or fewer episodes?” An additional question was, “how does existing literature describe mindfulness as being effective for treatment of individuals experiencing current episodes of depression?” A further question was, “how can a study be proposed to expand upon gaps in the literature?”

This review was also undertaken with the question, “how are clinical applications of mindfulness used in psychology currently derived from Eastern philosophy?” As well, the researcher wanted to understand how the mindfulness-based modalities of MBSR and MBCT have been derived from Buddhist ideology. Furthermore, the researcher sought to discover, “how has traditional mindfulness practice from Buddhism been used or changed in integration into psychology?” Another question the research desired to explore was, “What criticisms are present in the literature about mindfulness-based interventions to depression?”


Overall, research pertaining to depression as a phenomenon is important to examine because of its frequency and severity in society. The researcher sought to discuss existing literature pertaining to mindfulness treatment and depression. Ideally, this review will be able to provide another resource for mental health professionals and individuals coping with depression to refer to. This research review was undertaken with a focus on examining mindfulness bases in Buddhism. The researcher thought this discussion would be useful since there have been many arguments in the literature that mindfulness in psychology has been divorced from its traditional roots.

This review is also an important area of enquiry to examine given the recent popularity of mindfulness interventions. It is obvious for one to observe that mindfulness, as a treatment tool for psychopathology, including its usage in stress reduction, is widespread currently in the field of psychology. Hence, given its prevalence, it is important to examine if it is actually a clinically useful tool for treatment of depression. Therefore, mental health practitioners currently treating individuals suffering from past or current depression may be interested in examining the results of this critical analysis in order to make informed decisions on client care.

The specific effective components of mindfulness that have been outlined in this review pertaining to treatment of depression may come to be incorporated into other modalities. Components of mindfulness such as metacognitive awareness and self-compassion are an integral part of depressive treatment from a mindfulness-based perspective. The researcher desired to demonstrate how these components of mindfulness have been shown to be effective so that they can be incorporated into other treatment methods.

Scope and Limitations of the Review

The research questions posed by the researcher guided this research process. The research was conducted with specific aims of understanding effectiveness and criticisms of mindfulness-based interventions to depression. As well, the research was conducted with providing the general populace with an understanding of mindfulness basis in Eastern philosophy.

As well, the general topic of this review is very specific in that it focused merely on mindfulness-based interventions to depression. Namely, therefore, other psychological issues that mindfulness has been used to treat are not discussed in this review. For instance, mindfulness applications have been used frequently for treatment of anxiety. Originally, the researcher planned to discuss mindfulness-based applications to both anxiety and depression. However, the researcher recognized that there was an abundance of information pertaining solely to its application to depression that could be discussed. Hence, the researcher thought that it would be more useful to clearly examine mindfulness in application to depression as opposed to providing a general overview of applying this modality to many psychological issues.

A potential limitation of this review may be noted in potential biases held by the researcher. Namely, the researcher of this review is an avid mindfulness practitioner, which can potentially influence the proclivity to perceive this practice in a positive light. However, potential biases were mitigated by the exploration of criticisms cited in relation to mindfulness applications in psychology in general and specifically in relation to depressive phenomena. Another limitation of this review is that there is a limited amount of research that exists in relation to mindfulness applications to current depressive phenomena, which in turn created a limited amount of data in this review. Moreover, research on this subject area tended to be primarily meta-analytic or qualitative in nature. Hence, this is the research base that the researcher had to draw upon as opposed to being able to use more empirically based studies.

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