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Taipei City Hospital


Fostering Mindfulness to Avoid Depression

Many people who have suffered from depression would say they fear the recurrence of depression. The recurrence rate of depression follows the principle of “50%, 70% and 90%,” which means that 50% of patients will suffer from it again after the first recovery, 70% after the second recovery and over 90% after the third recovery. The more frequent the recurrence, the poorer the treatment effect.

Clinical studies show that the effective methods for preventing depression recurrence are antidepressants and cognitive therapy. Antidepressants have many side effects, such as sexual dysfunction, fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort and so on. There are also concerns about taking psychoactive drugs over a long time period. Besides, it is not easy to find an appropriate psychotherapist and to fit regular visits into a busy schedule.

Hong Jing-Lun, attending physician of the Department of General Psychiatry in the Songde Branch of Taipei City Hospital, says that the prevalence of “mindfulness” recently emerging in Taiwan refers to the awareness of one’s experience of the moment, so we should be conscious of our own breathing or physical sensations.

How can we foster mindfulness in order to avoid depression? Depressive patients are still especially sensitive to negative emotions even after they have recovered. Mindfulness therapy encourages us to face and accept all emotions with concentration and calmness.
How to get started at fostering mindfulness? Let us examine the exercise of “Breathing Space”:
1. Sit on a mat or chair. Keep your back straight and your shoulders down, and breathe normally.
2. Pay attention to your breathing and each breath. Do not change the breathing rhythm. Focus on the feeling of the air going in and out of the nasal cavity.

3. Try to bring your attention back to each breath if you are thinking of other things.
4. Do not be so hard on yourself. Do not deny distraction. Your only task is to bring your attention back to each breath when your mind is wandering.

5. Feel the difference in your physical and mental state before and after the exercise.
6. Do the exercise 10 minutes a day. You will find that more regular exercise can help your concentration and keep you more focused and calm.