Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has become an accepted and popular form of treatment for clinical depression. The goal of mindfulness is to increase a client’s ability to accept his or her feelings nonjudgmentally and involves the use of techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation. Data on MBCT shows that this approach is highly effective at reducing the deleterious symptoms of depression in people who have experienced previous episodes. Specifically, MBCT has been shown to help people decrease their worry, rumination, and negative affect. This therapeutic approach entails 8 weeks of sessions in which clients use focus, attention, and skill building in order to develop the tools to continue MBCT on their own. Current research on MBCT demonstrates efficacy for people in remission from depression, but little research supports its viability for those currently experiencing depression, as their cognitive resources may be impaired, thus preventing them from being able to fully benefit from the treatment.
Because the success rate of MBCT is so promising for clients in remission, exploring the efficacy of this treatment for those currently experiencing depressive symptoms could perhaps provide an opportunity to improve the mental health and overall quality of life of many individuals. Therefore, J.R. van Aalderen of the Department of Psychiatry at Radboud University at the Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands chose to measure the effectiveness of MBCT in people currently in and out of remission for a recent study.
Van Aalderen enrolled 102 participants in an MBCT plus treatment as usual (TAU) condition and 103 participants in a TAU condition. The participants comprised individuals with three previous episodes of depression who were either in or out of remission. The results revealed that the presence of current depressive symptoms did not significantly reduce the effectiveness of MBCT. More specifically, all of the participants in the MBCT condition realized reductions in symptoms of depression, rumination, and worry compared to the TAU group. In addition, those in the MCBT group had lower rates of relapse than those in the control group. Another caveat of this research was the finding that the skills developed during the MBCT, such as acceptance, were equally as robust in those with and without current depressive symptoms, providing evidence that MBCT may be an effective approach for most individuals with a history of depression, regardless of their current psychological state. Van Aalderen added, “The greatest merit of this study is that it shows that MBCT is also efficacious in recurrent depressive patients with a current depressive episode.”
Van Aalderen, J.R., Donders, A.R.T., Giommi, F., Spinhoven, P., Barendregt, H. P. (2012). The efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in recurrent depressed patients with and without a current depressive episode: A randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 42.5, 989-1001.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.