Aim: Naikan Therapy, which has been applied to treating patients with various mental difficulties, can be classified into two major categories: intensive Naikan therapy, which lasts for seven days in a Naikan center or a clinical institute secluded from the outside world for the purpose of deep introspection, and daily Naikan therapy, which can be integrated into regular daily activities. The aim of this research is to evaluate daily Naikan therapy as a maintenance treatment for depression.
Methods: Forty-seven patients, who were diagnosed as having major depressive disorder using DSM-IV criteria and who practiced intensive Naikan therapy participated in the present study. Two groups of patients were compared: 24 patients who conducted daily Naikan therapy and 23 patients who did not, after practicing intensive Naikan therapy. To evaluate efficacy, the Beck Depression Inventory was used as a primary outcome measure for the assessment of depression. The State–Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Cornell Medical Index were also used as secondary outcome measures to evaluate anxiety and psychosomatic conditions before, immediately after and three months after intensive Naikan therapy.
Results: Significant between-group differences were obtained in the time course change of depression, anxiety and psychosomatic scores within three months following the completion of intensive Naikan therapy.
Conclusion: The current study indicates that conducting daily Naikan therapy is effective for maintaining the psychological and psychosomatic state at 3 months following the intensive Naikan therapy, while a lack of therapy may allow the patients to exacerbate their conditions to the level they held before practicing intensive Naikan therapy.