Predictors of Depression and PTSD Treatment Response Among Veterans Participating in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression are prevalent and often co-occur among veterans. There is growing interest in the effects of mindfulness-based interventions among veterans. This study examined PTSD and depression outcomes, and baseline predictors of response, among veterans who participated in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Participants included 116 veterans with PTSD before and after MBSR. Multilevel modeling assessed baseline predictors of change in PTSD and depressive symptoms. There were clinically significant reductions in PTSD and depression symptoms posttreatment and at 4 months follow-up. For PTSD, effect sizes were in the medium range posttreatment (d = −.63) and at follow-up (d = −.69), and for depression posttreatment (d = −.58) and at follow-up (d = −.70). Baseline PTSD was a significant predictor of slope (β = .03, p = .04) on PTSD outcomes; higher baseline PTSD predicted greater rate of reduction in symptoms. For depression (β = .04, p < .01,), those with severe or moderately severe depression exhibited the greatest rate of improvement. However, veterans with high symptom severity did remain symptomatic post-MBSR. These findings show preliminary support for MBSR in facilitating symptom reduction for veterans with severe PTSD and co-occurring depression.

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Acknowledgments

This material is the result of work supported by resources from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA. We would also like to thank the Veterans involved in this study at VA Puget sound for their willingness to participate in this research. Thank you to Amy Mezulis, Ph.D., for her thoughtful feedback and guidance with statistical analyses.

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Correspondence to Benjamin I. Felleman.

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Felleman, B.I., Stewart, D.G., Simpson, T.L. et al. Predictors of Depression and PTSD Treatment Response Among Veterans Participating in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Mindfulness 7, 886–895 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0527-7

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Treatment