Stuck With Leftover Depression Symptoms?

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy shown to improve lingering feelings of depression

(RxWiki News) Often, serious depression occurs in episodes, it can come and go. But what happens when some depression symptoms stick around, even if the episode is lifting?

Lingering depressive symptoms can be harmful in the short-term and also increase the risk of a relapse into another episode of depression.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was originally developed to help those with depressive symptoms from relapsing.

"Talk to a therapist about all depression symptoms"

Nicole Geschwind, PhD in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University Medical Centre in The Netherlands led a study of adults experiencing leftover symptoms of depression after an episode of depression.

Participants were recruited through outpatient clinics and were randomly placed in either the treatment group for Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or in a waiting list control group.

The researchers separated the participants into groups based on the number of depressive episodes they had experienced in order to compare the effectiveness of MBCT for each group.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy combines the meditative aspects of mindfulness training with parts of cognitive therapy for depression. Participants in the treatment group attended 8 weekly meetings that included guided meditation, experiential exercises and discussions.

The participants were also required to practice at home for 30-60 minutes a day.

The study found that the effect of MBCT does not depend on the number of depressive episodes a person experienced; it was equally effective for everyone.

Across all the groups, Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy showed to reduce lingering depression symptoms by 30 to 35 percent. The waiting list group saw only a 10 percent reduction in symptoms.

The researchers also found that the participants in the MBCT group continued to experience lower levels of depressive symptoms at the 6-month and 12-month follow up periods.

The study suggests that Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may be helpful for those people who continue to feel depression symptoms after a depressive episode, no matter how many previous episodes they have had.

This study was published in August in the British Journal of Psychiatry and was funded by grants through the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research and Servier. The authors report that author Frank Peeters received financial compensation as an independent symposium speaker for GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Astra Zeneca, Lundbeck, Eli Lilly, Servier and Janssen-Cilag. Author Jim van Os is an unrestricted grant holder and symposium speaker for Eli Lilly, BMS, Lundbeck, Organon, Janssen-Cilag, GlaxoSmithKline, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer and Servier. No other reports of conflicts of interest were made.

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Review Date: 
October 4, 2012