Mindfulness for Depression
What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is an adapted version of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. It combines mindfulness meditation and non-judgmental awareness skills with cognitive therapy. It is most effective for those who are vulnerable to episodes of recurrent depression because it addresses processes of rumination. The tendency to get stuck in a loop of negative thought patterns is what triggers and maintains an episode of depression.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive therapy has specific efficacy in treating people who experience recurrent bouts of depression. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) Guidelines recommend MBCT as treatment of choice for relapse prevention from recurrent depression.
Someone who is prone to recurrent depression will notice that even a mild low mood can quickly lead to a large amount of negative thoughts. These negative thoughts include trying to figure out why you are feeling a particular way which often results self-criticism and your perceived personal failings. These thoughts could include ‘I’m useless’ or ‘I’m a failure’, or ‘why does this always keep happening to me’ or ‘what is wrong with me for feeling this way’? These can trigger difficult emotions such as sadness and hopelessness and reduced motivation and fatigue thus leading to a new episode of depression.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive therapy aims to help you become more aware moment to moment of your experience, of your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations inside the body and the world around you, and in a way that is non-judgemental. By stepping back and becoming the observer of your experience you can start to notice when you are ruminating and how it is making you feel. This gives you the opportunity to respond in helpful ways to cope with the difficult emotions and thoughts you experience. We start to realize that for example that thoughts are simply mental events that come and go, thoughts are not facts, they are just thoughts. In fact, we are not our thoughts, not even the negative ones. They do not need to overwhelm us or define us in any way.
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