A journey through chaos and calmness: experiences of mindfulness training in patients with depressive symptoms after a recent coronary event - a qualitative diary content analysis

Published on 2018-09-13T05:00:00Z (GMT) by
Abstract Background Psychological distress with symptoms of depression and anxiety is common and unrecognized in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Efforts have been made to treat psychological distress in CAD with both conventional methods, such as antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy, and non-conventional methods, such as stress management courses. However, studies focusing on the experiences of mindfulness training in this population are still scarce. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore immediate experiences of mindfulness practice among CAD patients with depressive symptoms. Methods A qualitative content analysis of diary entries, written immediately after practice sessions and continuously during an 8-week long Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR), was applied. Results Twelve respondents participated in the study. The main category: a journey through chaos and calmness captured the participants’ concurrent experiences of challenges and rewards over time. This journey appears to reflect a progressive development culminating in the harvesting of the fruits of practice at the end of the mindfulness training. Descriptions of various challenging facets of mindfulness practice – both physical and psychological - commonly occurred during the whole course, although distressing experiences were more predominant during the first half. Furthermore, the diary entries showed a wide variety of ways of dealing with these struggles, including both constructive and less constructive strategies of facing difficult experiences. As the weeks passed, participants more frequently described an enhanced ability to concentrate, relax and deal with distractions. They also developed their capacity to observe the content of their mind and described how the practice began to yield rewards in the form of well-being and a sense of mastery. Conclusions Introducing MBSR in the aftermath of a cardiac event, when depressive symptoms are present, is a complex and delicate challenge in clinical practice. More nuanced information about what to expect as well as the addition of motivational support and skillful guidance during the course should be given in accordance with the participants’ experiences and needs. Trial registration The trial was retrospectively registered in clinicaltrials.gov (registration number: NCT03340948 ).

Cite this collection

Lundgren, Oskar; Garvin, Peter; Kristenson, Margareta; Jonasson, Lena; Thylén, Ingela (2018): A journey through chaos and calmness: experiences of mindfulness training in patients with depressive symptoms after a recent coronary event - a qualitative diary content analysis. figshare. Collection.