Mindfulness, the practice of paying attention to the present moment, purposefully and nonjudgmentally, has been gaining popularity as adjunct treatment for adolescents with a range of physical and mental health problems. Research conducted in adults and emerging research conducted in adolescents has shown that mindfulness-based interventions can improve outcomes in several areas. The purpose of this review is to discuss recent research on the effects of mindfulness and suggest exercises that primary care clinicians can offer to their adolescent patients.
Research has shown positive effects of mindfulness across several health conditions commonly encountered during adolescence. Mindfulness-based Interventions can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. The application of mindfulness can help with the prevention and treatment of binge eating, over-eating, and restrictive eating disorders. In the treatment of substance use disorders, mindfulness can improve emotion regulation and reduce symptoms of withdrawal and craving. Mindfulness can also lead to improvement in overall quality of life for patients suffering from chronic pain. Lastly, mindfulness can be useful for adolescents with ADHD, sleep problems, chronic illness, and stress related to performance sports.
Although research in adolescents remains limited, mindfulness holds promise in the treatment of a range of health conditions in adolescents.
aDivision of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine
bAdolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
Correspondence to Jessica Lin, MD, Adolescent Medicine Fellow, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Tel: +1 617 355 7181; e-mail: Jessica.Lin2@childrens.harvard.edu