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Abstract: In recent years, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments have increased in popularity. This is especially true for treatments that are related to exercise and mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in the treatment of both mental and physical illness. MBIs, such as Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which are derived from ancient Buddhist and Yoga philosophies, have become popular treatments in contemporary psychotherapy.
While there is growing evidence that supports the role of these interventions in relapse prevention, little is known about the role that MBIs play in the treatment of acute symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even less is known about the importance of specific components of MBIs (eg, mindfulness meditation [MM]) and the overall impact that these interventions have on the experience or expression of psychological distress. Moreover, few studies have rigorously evaluated the dose-response relationship that is required to effect positive symptom change and the mechanisms of change that are responsible for observed improvements.
This review will define meditation and mindfulness, discuss the relationship between stress and health and how MM relates to therapeutically engaging the relaxation response, and review the empirical findings that are related to the efficacy of MM in the treatment of depression and anxiety symptoms. Given the paucity of research that examines the applications of these treatments in clinical populations, the limitations of applying these findings to clinical samples will be mentioned.
A brief review of the issues related to the possible mechanisms of change and the dose-response relationship regarding MBIs, particularly MM, will be provided. Finally, limitations of the extant literature and future directions for further exploration of this topic will be offered.