Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a new psychotherapeutic method disigned specifically for the preventing relapse depression in patients with more than tree episodes of depression in their life. It is an 8 week program based on group sessions once a week. Each session goes on for 1 – 2 hours. Between the group sessions the patients does meditation training and other exercises at home.
MBCT is an accredited, evidence-based method, recommended in treating patients with major depressive disorder who are in remission phase. This means that they normally don´t have an ongoing depression when the therapy starts.
The preventive effect of MBCT against new depressions is proven to be at least as good as with antidepressant drugs, when given to patient´s with a history of more than tree earlier depressions.
MBCT combines Mindfulness Meditation with Cognitive-behavior therapy. An MBCT-group typically includes 8 to 15 participants. The group is managed by a trained instructor who has his own mindfulness practice.
MBCT as a treatment for depression
Mindfulness is a method of meditation from buddhism. In MBCT it means to pay attention to the present moment, thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment or reaction. Look at them. Be aware of them. They are not facts but only mental events passing through your awareness for a moment and then go away.
This approach helps you to see your experiences from a new perspective and coming out of an automatically functioning mode which maintains depressed mood. Depressed patients learn through mindfulness to recognize dysfunctional thinking, feeling and sensations which accompanied them and become an “observer”. Accept and observe in a detached but gentle manner (decentered). All present experiences are allowed and welcomed.
MBCT requires the ability to participate in group and reflect on experiences and difficulties. It takes time for daily meditation and homework, such as listening to CD:s, recording pleasant or unpleasant experiences, recording bodily sensations, mindful walking, recording negative thoughts, paying attention to daily customs such as take a shower, brush teeth, eat and clean.
To act mindfully means to pay attention to thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations in a decentered way. The meditation training has special exercises such as breathing meditation, sitting meditation, body scan, yoga training and mindful walking. CD and audiotaped are used individually to do the homework. Even if MBCT was designed for between depression episodes treatment and preventing of new depresions in patients with a relapsing disorder, there are studies successfully published on acute, ongoing depression and MBCT's effect.
There are also some experiences in treating bipolar disorders with MBCT.