A QUALITATIVE STUDY - JANUARY 2019
Depression doesn’t only affect adults. It’s a major issue impacting all age ranges. Thus, the existence of depression in the younger generations is a considerable matter that requires intervention. So, what does it mean to be less depressed?
Simply, depression is constantly feeling down and losing interest in everything. Failing to address similar problems can lead to consequences like low self-esteem, academic regression, substance abuse, increased risks of suicide (in severe depression cases), etc.
As a response, the Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine (CINIM) designed an intervention program. The LEAP project uses a spirituality-informed e-mental health tool as an intervention for major depressive disorder in adolescents and young adults.
This article concludes a study on the application of the LEAP project and how it participated in reducing depression. Read on to learn more about the program.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, over a quarter million Canadian youth suffer from clinical depression. That’s almost 6.5% of people aged 15–24. Such an illness can be hard to recognize, as it’s often mistaken for the common teens’ mood swings.
Addressing major depression issues in the youth is important for avoiding the long-term effects. Furthermore, the probability of developing depression as an adult increases when having it as a young person.
With limited care and resources available for many young people, there had to be an accessible and acceptable intervention. This led the Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine (CINIM) to create an innovative tool called the LEAP project.
CINIM is a non-profit mental health research care center that makes programs supporting individual wellness available. The center develops and evaluates such programs to serve the wider community.
The LEAP project, currently known as BreathingRoom, is a clinical trial of that 8-week e-mental health intervention. It aims specifically towards helping adolescents (ages 13–18) and young adults (ages 19–24).
This tool utilizes spirituality-informed methods that consist of eight modules (each focused on a specific theme), which are:
The age range of adolescents and young adults is more into technology than others. That’s why an internet-based intervention method for depression can be appealing to them. However, many online programs lack sufficient evidence of their effectiveness.
Probably, the LEAP intervention is the first of its kind to evaluate and report an intervention of this kind. The clinical trial is all about presenting each module to the participants using music, videos, true stories, visualizations, and life practices.
These modules are based on spiritual factors that may have great effects in reducing common symptoms of depression in this particular age range.
The study conductors initiated participant recruitment, utilizing a specific sampling strategy. At the end of the project, they conducted a final assessment through individual interviews (the interviews were non-mandatory).
All participants completed one in-person interview within four weeks of finishing the trial. The interviews aimed to explore how the LEAP impacted the participants’ lives, depression-wise and in general.
Comparing the two interviews, study team members collected and analyzed data in response to the study objectives. After that, all interview transcripts were re-analyzed, applying the code of the final framework created by feedback from a few research members.
The participants who enrolled in and completed the LEAP trial were 62. However, in the end, only 18 approved going through with the final interview.
The following table reveals some characteristics of the participants.
According to the trial analysis, all interview participants showed decreased depression symptoms after the LEAP project.
Results were measured by Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS-Revised) for adolescents and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) for young adults.
The study concluded with a thematic finding with three inclusive themes.
The majority of participants described depression as general heaviness. It’s commonly associated with sadness, disconnect, being lost, loneliness, helplessness, shame, guilt, fear, worry, and a sense of feeling awful, among other major depression symptoms.
After working through the LEAP modules, participants reported a positive shift in emotion and having a less depressed mood.
Despite the passive viewing occurrences, many participants started taking action to address their depressive symptoms after the LEAP program. They learned to change their attitude and behavior by utilizing specific acts to shift their focus away from their depressive episodes.
These distractions ranged from doing fun, creative, or social activities to revisiting a specific LEAP content, such as a video in one of the modules.
Almost all participants stated how their perceptions of themselves and depression changed. They gained clarity of what causes their feelings and why it happens, creating a recognition of their emotional state.
Even with still having major depression, some participants reported that it didn’t prevent them from experiencing positive emotions.
Despite the positive results reported by participants of the LEAP program, some stated that the intervention didn’t have an impact on their depression. Some participants were already exposed to the ideas presented by LEAP through other sources, such as counseling.
They acknowledge that LEAP acted as a refresher. However, these concepts and ideas did nothing to them as they didn’t add anything new to their experience.
Depression is a severe illness that affects many people’s lives, but what does it mean to be less depressed?
The LEAP program utilized a spirituality-informed e-mental health tool as an intervention for major depressive disorder in adolescents and young adults. The study conducted on this eight-moduled program has shown great promise in overcoming depressive symptoms.
Although it didn’t work with all study participants, most of them reported decreased negative feelings. Additionally, participants also improved perceptions, better actions, and enhanced feelings.
As a web-based resource presented by a non-profit organization, the LEAP provides an easily accessible solution to help the young.
Take a look at the full study here.