Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a style of psychotherapy that combines cognitive therapy, meditation, and the development of a present-oriented, nonjudgmental attitude known as “mindfulness.” Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy can help increase self-kindness in people with a history of depression, putting their bodies in a condition of safety and relaxation, according to new research.
Sixty percent of those who have one episode of depression are likely to have another. Ninety percent of persons who experience three episodes of depression will most likely have a fourth. However, assistance is available: The Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program of eight weeks has been found to minimize the probability of recurrence.
The study, headed by the University of Exeter with assistance from the Universities of Oxford and Magdeburg, suggests that MBCT may help interrupt the loop of highly critical thoughts and feelings of worthlessness that frequently contribute to relapse in persons suffering from depression.
Participants who received MBCT demonstrated a pattern of self-kindness, as well as physical responses of reduced threat response, a sensation of safety, and relaxation, all of which are crucial for regeneration and healing. The study’s authors believe it contributes to a better understanding of how MBCT reduces recurrence. MBCT is a group-based psychological treatment that helps patients modify how they think and feel about their experiences and learn skills that lower the chance of future bouts of depression.
This study extends our previous research that found that a brief self-compassion exercise can temporarily activate a pattern of self-kindness and feeling safe in healthy individuals, but in individuals with recurrent depression this is unlikely to happen without going through an effective psychological therapy that we know addresses vulnerability to relapse.Professor Anke Karl
Previous study has indicated that people who suffer from recurrent depression benefit the most from MBCT when they learn to be more sympathetic to themselves. This improved self-compassion has been defined as the ability to be compassionate to oneself during difficult situations. The researchers looked at 50 participants who were in remission from depression but were at risk of relapsing. This group of 25 adults with recurrent depression was tested before and after an eight-week MBCT treatment and compared to an untreated control group of 25 patients with recurrent depression.
The study’s first author, Dr. Hans Kirschner of the University of Magdeburg, stated: “It’s reassuring to learn that an evidence-based treatment like MBCT can assist those suffering from recurrent depression in developing a kinder self-image and an associated body condition of safety. We expect that this will boost people’s resilience and help them avoid relapsing into depression. However, this hypothesis must be formalized in future research.”
When the untreated control group participated in the self-compassion meditation a second time, their body responses indicated a greater negative response. The study expands on prior research by the researchers, which discovered that a brief self-compassion exercise can briefly activate a pattern of self-kindness and feeling safe in healthy adults.
The researchers wanted to investigate this impact in persons suffering from depression and discovered that the self-compassion exercise alone was insufficient to induce a sense of safety, but that MCBT did so efficiently.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy expands on cognitive therapy principles by teaching people to consciously pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without passing judgment on them. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation are used to teach people to consciously pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without passing judgment on them. As part of MBCT, a variety of mindfulness practices and activities are employed.
“This study extends our previous research that found that a brief self-compassion exercise can temporarily activate a pattern of self-kindness and feeling safe in healthy individuals, but in individuals with recurrent depression this is unlikely to happen without going through an effective psychological therapy that we know addresses vulnerability to relapse,” said lead author Professor Anke Karl of the University of Exeter.
Many participants stated that the benefits of MBCT pervaded their entire life over time. “By responding consciously to their own experiences and those of others, individuals felt more confident and were engaging in a wider range of social engagement and involvement,” the authors wrote.
According to the researchers, future therapies could include a more explicit emphasis on approaching relationships with mindfulness. This approach could reinforce the benefits of MBCT and possibly lead to even better outcomes in minimizing the likelihood of relapse in persons suffering from chronic depression.