Could mindfulness really work for me?

The word on everyone's lips

Mindfulness seems to be everywhere – TV, radio and in every Sunday newspaper. It promises to be everything from a cure for depression to a way to improve your sex life.

Put simply, mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. It draws on eastern meditation traditions and was introduced as a clinical therapy in the 1970s by American professor Jon Kabat-Zinn. Therapeutically, it trains people to focus their minds and understand that negative thoughts may come and go.

But does science back up the claims and is mindfulness worth a try?

Effectiveness in depression

Adapted from Kuyken et al., Lancet 2015.

Participants in this study had a history of depression (three or more previous episodes) and were at risk of it recurring. They were not clinically depressed at the start of the study. The lines show the proportions who remained depression-free while on treatment.

WATCH: How to do it

The clinical form of mindfulness-based therapy is led by professionals. It's usually an eight week course. But most of us can incorporate mindfulness techniques into our everyday lives. Prof Willem Kuyken suggests how you could give it a try.

People with current depression, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance dependence should speak to a healthcare professional before trying mindfulness.

Learn more about this topic:

Why do Buddhists meditate?
My Troubled Mind - Stories about teenage mental health
The Growth Mindset and Wellbeing Lesson - Live