Devon researchers investigating whether mindfulness can help young people with depression

Young people with depression and their parents, or carers, are being invited to take part in a new mindfulness research study being run by specially trained clinicians from Child and Family Health Devon and Devon Partnership NHS Trust.

The NIHR-funded ATTEND study (Adolescents and carers using mindfulness Therapy To END depression) will investigate whether mindfulness can help young people aged 14-17 and their families to learn to recognise unhelpful thoughts and feelings, and to find new ways of dealing with stress, so that symptoms of depression improve and are less likely to come back in the future.

This study is being led by the University of Cambridge, University of Exeter Medical School (UEMS), University of Sussex and Kings College London. It is being run locally by clinicians within Children and Family Health Devon and is supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula.

Depressive disorders are increasingly common among young people and frequently go hand in hand with anxiety, with a prevalence of 9% among 11-16-year-olds and 15% among 17-19-year-olds in the most recent national survey.

Depression in teenagers can knock normal development off course and disrupt family relationships. Even after treatment, many young people still have symptoms, and clinicians recognise more treatment options are needed for this group who suffer greatly.

Dr Rachel Hayes, trial manager at the University of Exeter for the ATTEND study said: “This work has been developed over a number of years through collaboration between Devon and London and it is really exciting to see the project develop to its next stage. We are looking forward to hearing from young people, parents and clinicians and to hear what they think of this treatment.”

Psychological treatments for depression in young people improve symptoms but gains are often not maintained, and between 34% and 75% of young people relapse within one to five years. A significant number of young people attending Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are at risk for a lifetime of recurrent emotional disorder. Studies with adults with recurrent depression have found mindfulness practice helps prevent relapse. It is hoped the ATTEND study will prove successful in identifying new ways of treating recurrent depression in young people.

The study is the first randomised controlled trial of a new treatment called Mindfulness for Adolescents and parents or Carers (MAC) and will involve 40 young people and their parents or carers in Devon and London, 20 in each area. Half of the young people will be offered MAC and half will continue with treatment as usual. This is a small pilot study to test if young people are willing to take part in this research and are open to randomisation. The teams hope to run a much larger study in the future with many more young people from different geographical areas.

Eligible young people and their families will be contacted through CAMHS and offered the chance to participate.

For more information contact:

Dr Ruth Newman, Senior Research Practitioner, Devon Partnership NHS Trust [email protected]

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