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Tai Chi for Treating Youth with Subthreshold Depression

October 25, 2018 - The incidence of subthreshold depression (StD) in adolescents is growing rapidly and is known to impair functioning and increase the risk of major depression.

StD means two or more simultaneous symptoms of depression, present for most or all of the time, at least 2 weeks in duration, associated with evidence of social dysfunction, occurring in individuals who do not meet criteria for diagnoses of minor depression, major depression, and/or dysthymia. It is therefore important to provide effective intervention to prevent the transition from StD to major depression. Researchers have shown the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapy on depression; however, for the StD youth, there have been no studies to investigate whether mindfulness-based Tai Chi can be recommended as an effective exercise for improving their psychological state.

The journal Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment recently reported a Chinese study that aimed to evaluate the effect of Tai Chi on psychological outcomes of StD adolescents including the depression levels and mindfulness state in a randomized controlled trial (RCT).

In this RCT, a sample of 64 participants who meet the inclusion criteria agreed to be arranged randomly to either the Tai Chi group or the control group. Participants of the Tai Chi group received an 8-week, 2 days per week, 90-minute Tai Chi intervention for each session. Usual physical curriculum was administered to the participants in the control group. The effectiveness of Tai Chi training was measured by blinded evaluators through validated scales, which included depressive symptoms, stress, and mindfulness level before and after the intervention.

Significant improvements in psychological health were observed from the Tai Chi group. After 8-week intervention, superior outcomes were also observed for Tai Chi when compared with control group for decrease in depression and stress level and increase in mindfulness.

The findings of this preliminary study indicated the effects of the Tai Chi on depression level among StD youngsters. This study provides preliminary evidence that Tai Chi may be suitable for adolescents and is effective in decreasing depression level.

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