Does mindfulness work for mental health problems?
Studies show that practicing mindfulness can help you manage mild depression, anxiety and other common mental health problems. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in health care – recommends:
- using mindfulness, including MBCT, to treat mild depression and to help prevent further episodes of depression
- not using mindfulness, including MBCT and MBSR, to treat social anxiety
Mindfulness does help me with my mental health issues. It's not the cure and it won't work every single time, but it has helped me to alleviate anxiety and depression by centring my thoughts.
Research into whether mindfulness could help more complex conditions, such as psychosis and bipolar disorder, is still in the early stages – so it is not clear how beneficial mindfulness could be in helping people to manage these conditions. In some cases, mindfulness has made the symptoms worse for people suffering from trauma.
For more information on deciding whether to try mindfulness, see Is mindfulness right for me?
When I'm in a particularly unwell state mindfulness is not beneficial, as I cannot bring myself into the present at all.
This information was published in April 2016. We will revise it in 2019.