Previous studies indicate that mindfulness interventions and physical activities can produce positive effects on mood disorders; such activities may be options for individuals who search for non-traditional therapies, or whenever mainstream psychological treatments are not effective.
We explored the effects of tango dance, meditation, and exercise (circuit training) in individuals with self-reported depression. Participants were randomly placed into meditation, exercise, tango dance, or control-wait-list groups. Sixty-four participants completed the 8-week program and were assessed before, after, and at 1-month follow-up.
The dependent variables were depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and insomnia (symptoms measures), and self-efficacy, satisfaction with life, and mindfulness (positive psychology measures). Treatment scores were compared with the control group scores.
The meditation group showed benefits at follow-up for depression, stress, and satisfaction with life.
The exercise group showed decreased depression and increased self-efficacy at post-test, but only self-efficacy was persistent at follow-up, whereas stress was just significant at follow-up.
The tango group showed decreased depression and insomnia and increased satisfaction with life and mindfulness at post-test. All, except for satisfaction with life, were persistent at follow-up, while stress and anxiety improved only at follow-up.
As expected, the control group maintained similar scores across pre-test and post-test, and at follow-up.
Tango dance was shown to induce a broader and more persistent range of benefits. Meditation produced lasting benefits only when well-learned and practiced, whereas exercise generated rapid benefits, but, except for self-efficacy, temporary. Such differences may provide valuable information when promoting these activities to best match the individual needs within this population.
Einar B Thorsteinsson