After eight weeks of meditation, symptoms of depression and stress scores had reduced in 31 people with either or both conditions, and their general sense of well-being—and a recognition of stressful triggers—had increased.
The participants were African-American women from a low socio-economic background, and who would not normally seek out help from doctors or therapists.
The findings show that “there are alternatives to traditional mental health treatment, such as mind-body approaches, that effectively alleviate symptoms and can be done in the comfort of the home,” said lead researcher Inger Burnett-Zeigler from the North-Western University Feinberg school of medicine.
During the study, the participants practised meditation and yoga four days a week, and for an average of 150 minutes a week. Before starting, 45 per cent of the women said they had had no experience of meditating, and 71 per cent had never tried yoga. Almost all of the women had done nothing to help deal with their depression or stress in the previous 12 months.