Mindfulness and Depressive Symptomatology, and the Potential Mediating Role of Self-regulation


  • Ekin Velioglu Eötvös Loránd University


Exploring the relationship between depression and executive functions is crucial, as these cognitive domains play a crucial role in the day-to-day functioning of individuals. On top of this, the relationship depression and cognitive functions share has been shown in the literature to be one with a bidirectional nature as depression could lead to the manifestation of symptoms that arise as deficits in executive functioning, anomalies in executive functioning could influence the severity of an existing depressive disorder, affecting the responsiveness to the treatment process [1]. Furthermore, mindfulness, a cognitive process that enhances awareness and attention regulation, has emerged as a promising therapeutic tool that might modulate these functions and offer new avenues for treatment. Thus, understanding the relationships among depression, executive functions, and mindfulness not only enriches our theoretical knowledge of the disorder but also has direct implications for developing more effective, targeted interventions. This study aims to dissect these complex interactions, providing insights that could lead to more nuanced and effective therapeutic approaches. It was expected that mindfulness would be associated with reduced depressive symptomatology, and that this relationship would be mediated by the electrophysiological correlate of self-regulation. Thus, the present study investigated two research questions. Firstly, the correlation between mindfulness and depression is investigated to see whether there is any significant correlation between the two mental phenomena. Secondly, in the case that a significant correlation is found, it is investigated whether self-regulation, indexed by frontal alpha asymmetry, is a mediator within this correlation. Mindfulness and depression was measured through self-report questionnaires, The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) [2], and The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS21) [3]. Self-regulation was indexed through Frontal Alpha Assymmetry calculated through EEG data that was collected. Frontal asymmetry was computed by subtracting the log-transformed alpha power at left frontal electrode sites from those at the right (e.g., F4-F3 and F8-F7), facilitating the quantitative assessment of self-regulation.  However, the results of this particular sample indicate that self-regulation, mindfulness, and depression are not significantly correlated, hence it was not possible to look into the mediation of self-regulation due to lack of correlation. This prompts a reevaluation of the theoretical assumptions and points to the necessity for further research to explore these dynamics more deeply.


[1] Mohlman, J. (2005). Does executive dysfunction affect treatment outcome in Late-Life mood and anxiety disorders? Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 18(2), 97–108. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891988705276061

[2] Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822

[3] Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995a). The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33(3), 335–343. https://doi.org/10.1016/0005-7967(94)00075-u