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Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: A sure antidepressant

“This meds merry-go-round is wearing me down. It’s a crap-shoot, at best. I’m tired of wasting my time trying new ones and monitoring side effects…”

So stay on your current meds regimen and use your time for a known effective treatment – Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.

I began a series on the new antidepressant Viibryd (vilazodone) this past March. It hit pharmacy shelves several weeks ago and the response from chipur readers in this update article has been tremendous.

I’ve been encouraged by the comments. However, I’m troubled over the amount of time many of the participants have to spend on finding their therapeutic dose and enduring the side effects.

So I made it my business to search for some sort of therapeutic diversionary “time-filler.” And I believe mindfulness based cognitive therapy may be just the ticket.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

This past December I ran a piece entitled Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: A Great Maintenance Antidepressant!. I cited a Canadian study that discovered MBCT was just as effective as a traditional antidepressant regimen in addressing depression relapse.

Furthermore, the study emphasized that those enduring depression with any degree of unstable remission need to stay involved with at least one long-term treatment program.

MBCT was designed to help those who experience repeated bouts of depression and chronic unhappiness. It brings together cognitive therapy and mindfulness. Simply, mindfulness is paying attention to one’s circumstances, in-the-moment, in a non-judgmental manner.

At its foundation, MBCT is all about becoming acquainted with the modes of mind that so often characterize depression. And then it’s a matter of learning how to develop a new relationship with them.

MBCT was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale. Their work was based upon Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program.

“And MBCT will work because?”

Great question! According to the MBCT website, it will work because…

  • It helps you understand what depression really is.
  • It helps you discover what makes you vulnerable to downward mood spirals, and why you get stuck at the bottom of the spiral.
  • It helps you see the connection between downward spirals and – the high standards that oppress you or feelings that you’re simply “not good enough,” ways you put pressure on yourself or make yourself miserable with overwork, and ways you lose touch with what makes life worth living.

MBCT takes into account why people remain vulnerable to depression. And you know all too well it’s a troublesome cycle…

During a major depressive episode, negative mood presents with negative thinking – along with physical sensations such as sluggishness and fatigue.

Okay, so the episode passes and all seems to be stable. But during the episode some unhealthy and clingy connections have been made – particularly between the mood experience at the time and the negative thinking patterns.

You guessed it – when even a hint of negative mood strikes, on come the negative thinking patterns. And before you know it, you’re consumed with “What went wrong?” “Why is this happening to me?” “Where and when will it all end?”

Naturally, you have no answers; and you find yourself in the midst of a major depressive episode once again.

“How does MBCT work?”

Should you choose to go forward with MBCT, the bulk of your work will be done at home using CDs with guided meditations. You’ll attend eight weekly two-hour classes, and one full day session, to discuss your progress and solutions to problems encountered.

Here’s a listing of the themes addressed in the program work…

Dealing with Barriers, Mindfulness of the Breath, Staying Present, Allowing and Letting Be, Thoughts are Not Facts, How Can I Best Take Care of Myself, Using What’s Been Learned to Deal with Future Moods.

And it’s all designed to help you accomplish things such as…

  • Becoming familiar with the workings of your mind.
  • Noticing the times when you’re at risk of getting caught in old habits of mind that re-activate downward mood spirals.
  • Exploring ways of releasing yourself from those old habits and, if you choose, enter a different way of being.
  • Being kind to yourself instead of wishing things were different all the time, or driving yourself to meet impossible goals.
  • Accepting yourself as you are, rather than judging yourself all the time.

The Close

If you’re enduring depression, you’re likely spending so much time on your meds regimen and its fallout. Why not use that time more productively by getting involved with a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy program?

Don’t know how to find one?

Head over to Psychology Today’s website – here’s the link. Look at the top right of the home page and you’ll see the Find a Therapist box. Load in your zip code and hit enter. In the left column you’ll see Treatment Orientation. Click on “more.” You’ll likely find Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Click on it and you’re on your way.

To take a look at the 270-some chipur articles on the psychology of the mood and anxiety disorders, please click here