Background: Evidence shows high prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among university students. This study investigated whether a meditation-based program would help reducing these symptoms in this population.
Methods: Non-randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of a six-week focused meditation training on depression (Beck Depression Inventory) and anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory) outcomes among university students. Participants were allocated into a meditation or waiting list control group. Assessment occurred pre and post intervention and only for the meditation group at 6 and 12 months follow-up. General linear model for repeated measures evaluated the intervention effect considering group and time factors, controlling for minor psychiatric disorders, gender and absence at meetings.
Results: The meditation group presented a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms after intervention compared to controls. Among the meditation group, depression (at 6 months follow-up) and anxiety (at 6 and 12 months follow-up) scores were lower for those who continued practicing.
Limitations: Non-randomization and absence of daily practice record (precluding dose-response gradient evaluation).
Conclusion: The meditation training was effective in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, but the maintanance of these reductions only occurred for those who continued meditating. Permanent meditation programs may be an alternative for promoting mental health for university students.
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