Depression is a widespread condition that is a significant cause of disability. Nearly one in every five persons in the United States will experience a depressive episode at some point in their lives and the risks of recurrence increase with each episode. Medications can be helpful, but they are not for everyone, and many people endure adverse effects such as weight gain and decreased libido.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Treatment (MBCT) is an integrative form of therapy that draws from both CBT and mindfulness.
Research shows MBCT is effective in reducing the risk of relapse in depression.
MBCT can improve a person's quality of life and overall well-being.
When practiced regularly, it can reduce anxiety and stress.
MBCT can improve cognitive function and emotional regulation.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a method of treatment that aims to assist people in managing the symptoms of depression.
What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a method of psychotherapy that integrates components of mindfulness meditation with cognitive therapy. It is used to help people with a history of depression regulate their thoughts and emotions more effectively and prevent a relapse into depression.
Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale created MBCT to expand upon cognitive therapy. They believed that by combining cognitive therapy with Jon Kabat-1979 Zinn's program of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), treatment could become more effective.
The core premise of MBCT is that our thoughts and emotions play an important role in the development and maintenance of depression. By becoming more aware of these thoughts and feelings using mindfulness techniques like meditation and yoga, people will be better able to identify negative thought patterns and respond in a more balanced and healthy manner.
Research behind MBCT
MBCT has been shown to reduce depression relapse rates. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends MBCT for people who have experienced three or more depressive episodes based on the findings of research commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation.
MBCT is equally effective as antidepressants in reducing depression relapse, thereby halving the risk of recurrent depression. Many people who complete an MBCT course are eventually able to discontinue the antidepressant medication. However, this must only be done under the care of a physician.
MBCT can help lessen the intensity of symptoms for those experiencing a depressive episode. A review of 12 randomized controlled trials found that MBCT was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress.
How does the treatment work?
MBCT is offered over an eight week period in a group setting, under the direction of a competent therapist.
It is often prescribed to those who have experienced at least one episode of depression in the past and are at risk of developing another episode. While the group component of MBCT is essential, the majority of the work is completed outside of class.
Participants are given homework that consists of listening to recorded guided meditations and attempting to cultivate mindfulness in daily life. Being mindful of your daily tasks, such as walking, brushing your teeth, cleaning the dishes, exercising, and making your bed, can help to achieve this.
Is it suitable for self-help?
Yes, MBCT can be used as a self-help strategy. There are several resources, such as books, apps, and online courses, that can assist you in learning the MBCT concepts and practicing mindfulness on your own.
MBCT can be a useful adjunct to professional therapy, and practicing mindfulness techniques on your own can be good for managing stress, anxiety, and other difficulties.
If you are interested in using MBCT as a self-help method, it might be beneficial to work with a mental health professional to design an appropriate strategy and verify that you are using MBCT safely and successfully.
The goal of MBCT
Accepting your thoughts is a key component of the treatment. In MBCT, you are taught to accept your thoughts and to watch them without judging them or getting caught up in them.
The goal of MBCT is not to get rid of negative thoughts, but to change how you interact with them. By accepting thoughts without reacting to them, people can learn to let go of harmful thought patterns and respond to their thoughts and emotions in a more balanced and healthy manner.
You can practice accepting your thoughts by doing the following:
- Observe. Watch your thoughts as they arise, without attempting to change or suppress them. Observe them without reacting to them.
- Don't control. Let go of the need to control your thoughts. Recognize that you cannot control your thoughts, but you can choose how you respond to them.
- Practice self-compassion. Be kind and understanding toward yourself when negative thoughts arise. Remember that everyone has negative thoughts from time to time, and it is normal to experience difficult emotions.
- Take a break. If your thoughts become overwhelming, take a break and engage in a mindfulness activity, such as deep breathing or a body scan.
- Acceptance. Remember, the goal of MBCT is not to eliminate negative thoughts but rather to change the way you relate to them. By practicing acceptance, you can learn to respond to your thoughts and emotions in a more balanced and healthy way.
10 benefits of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
- Reduces the risk of relapse for people with a history of depression. MBCT has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of relapse for people who have experienced multiple episodes of depression in the past.
- Improving mood and quality of life. MBCT can help people manage their mood and improve their overall quality of life.
- Managing anxiety and stress. MBCT can also be helpful in managing anxiety and stress.
- Non-pharmacological treatment option. MBCT is a non-pharmacological treatment option, which means it does not involve the use of medication. This may be appealing to some people who prefer not to take medication or who have experienced side effects from antidepressants.
- Improving physical health. MBCT may also have physical health benefits. Research suggests that mindfulness practices may be associated with improved immune function and reduced inflammation.
- Improving sleep. MBCT is helpful in improving sleep quality.
- Increasing social connections. MBCT is typically delivered in a group format, which is helpful for people to connect with others and feel a sense of social support.
- Enhancing self-awareness. MBCT facilitates increased self-awareness, which can be beneficial for regulating emotions and making healthier choices.
- Higher self esteem. People who regularly practice mindfulness have higher self-esteem and a greater sense of wellbeing.
- Self compassion. MBCT emphasizes the importance of self-compassion, or being kind and understanding toward oneself when negative thoughts and emotions arise.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be effective at reducing the risk of relapse in people with depression, improving quality of life and overall well-being, and reducing anxiety, stress, and negative thought patterns. It can also improve cognitive function and emotional regulation, a helpful coping mechanism for managing stress and other challenges.
- Mindfulness. The implementation of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
- HHS Author Manuscripts. A Randomized Controlled Trial of MBCT for Treatment-Resistant Depression.
- APA Psychnet. Mindfulness based stress reduction.