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Mindfulness Interventions for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Substance Use Disorders: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines

Last updated: June 19, 2015
Project Number: RC0669-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Devices and Systems
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report

Question

  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of mindfulness interventions for the treatment of adults with PTSD, GAD, depression, or substance use disorders?
  2. What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of mindfulness interventions for the treatment of adults with PTSD, GAD, depression, or substance use disorders?

Key Message

There is evidence to suggest that mindfulness may be beneficial as a monotherapy or adjunctive therapy for treating depression. The effectiveness of mindfulness for treating PTSD, and GAD is unclear. One RCT of low methodological quality suggested that mindfulness intervention is more effective than treatment as usual in lowering risk of relapse to substance use and heavy drinking. Six evidence based guideline documents considered the use of mindfulness in clinical practice. Four guidelines for depression suggested that mindfulness may be useful in reducing relapse in patients with depression, to be used in the maintenance phase of major depression, or used during the continuation phase of treatment with patients at high risk for relapse. One guideline suggested that mindfulness may be considered for adjunctive treatment of hyperarousal symptoms, although there is no evidence that these are more effective than standard stress inoculation techniques. Another guideline suggested that mindfulness can be used to treat problematic drug and alcohol use problems by suitably trained and experienced drug and alcohol professionals.