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Finding Your Way Through Depression with Mindfulness: About Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Designed specifically to help people who are prone to recurrent depression

What is MBCT?

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an established program for people with depression. MBCT combines the practice and clinical application of mindfulness meditation with the tools of cognitive therapy to break the cycle of recurrent depression, and is based on the research of Drs. Zindel Segal, John Teasdale and Mark Williams, and documented in their book Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, a New Approach to Preventing Relapse.

What are the benefits of this mindful way through depression?

  • Clinically proven for reducing symptoms of depression
  • Helps prevent future episodes for those who suffer from recurrent depression
  • Can be used together with medication, but with continued practice can help reduce the need for medication

How does it work?

The 8-week MBCT program is a group intervention that allows participants to become aware of how conditioned patterns of mind and mood can trigger depression relapse and sustain current symptoms of depression.  Through the practice of mindful awareness, they develop the capacity to mindfully disengage from distressing moods and negative thoughts.

For those who have suffered from recurrent depression, being able to recognize the early signs of relapse allows for skillful intervention before mood symptoms and negative thought patterns become severe.

MBCT: Evidence links MBCT with reduced rates of relapse in depression

Findings from a report commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation linking MBCT with reduced rates of relapse into depression is so strong in fact that the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends MBCT for people who have had three or more depressive episodes.

  • MBCT is as effective as maintenance doses of antidepressants in preventing a relapse in depression, reducing the risk of future depression by half.
  • Many people who take an MBCT course are able to come off their antidepressant medication eventually under the guidance of their physician.
  • MBCT can also reduce the severity of symptoms for people who are experiencing an episode of depression.
  • People who are more mindful have greater self-esteem and well-being.

Why is the Center for Mindfulness offering MBCT?

Depression is very common and is a leading cause of disability. Nearly 1 in 5 people in the U.S. will suffer an episode of depression in their lifetime and with each episode the chances of recurrence are higher – after 3 episodes the chances are 70-80%.  Depression is even more common in people with other conditions, e.g. over one-third of people with chronic medical conditions also have depression. The illness not only affects mood, it affects one’s ability to think clearly, saps one’s energy and motivation, and leaves one feeling hopeless and worthless.

Medications can be effective, but not for everyone and many people experience side effects such as weight gain and diminished libido. For people who have been advised to remain on antidepressant medication for the rest of their life to prevent a recurrence. MBCT offers a welcome alternative.

MBCT expands the mission of the CFM to offer an evidence-based program designed specifically for people who struggle with depression. It offers participants an opportunity to learn a new way of relating to unwanted thoughts and feelings and powerful skills for responding to them in an intentional and skillful manner. Participants report feeling a sense of freedom from the trap of emotional suffering that may have been present for many years. While people with a history of depression can benefit from MBSR, MBCT is specifically designed to reveal how depression operates and provide specific tools for this condition.

How do I know if MBCT is for me?

Orientation sessions are free of charge and are required of all participants prior to beginning the program.  Registration for Orientation is required.

This program is most beneficial:

  • For those who have suffered from recurrent depression
  • For those who have been advised to remain on antidepressant medication for the rest of their life to prevent a recurrence, as MBCT may be a welcome alternative
  • For those interested in an opportunity to learn a new way of relating to unwanted thoughts and feelings and powerful skills for responding to them in an intentional and skillful manner

Please consider waiting to attend this program if you are currently suffering severe symptoms of depression or experiencing symptoms that would prevent you from fully participating in the group and the daily meditation practices and other exercises. It is better to wait until your concentration and energy are improved enough to support new learning and the effort needed to realize these benefits.

How do I get started?

  1. Determine if you will participate in the MBCT course at the Center for Mindfulness, or in the MBCT Online course (via videoconferencing).
  2. Check the Orientation Schedule. Register for Orientation (required to enroll in MBCT)
  3. Attend the Orientation session to determine if MBCT is right for you