Can Mindfulness Help With Depression?
- 1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
A study that was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology a few years ago found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy could help people with depression keep away from a relapse.
In other words, mindfulness therapy may have the power of anti-depressant drugs – and we know how powerful those drugs can be. This is wonderful news for those who have struggled with years of habit-forming antidepressant use.
More recently, Dr. William Kuyken and his team who conducted the earlier research, published yet another paper in The Lancet to study how cost-effective mindfulness therapy could work in comparison with the typical 2-year antidepressant routine that doctors recommend to prevent relapse.
The studies have these optimistic results to share: that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is not more expensive than having to take anti-depressants for two years. People who were on the trial for these studies depended less on their anti-depressants when they were also receiving mindfulness therapy.
Is Mindfulness the Best Solution We Have Against Depression?
The studies don’t necessarily mean that mindfulness works better than antidepressants.
But they do suggest that you can slowly wean yourself off of habit-forming drugs and bring wholesome, alternative therapy into your life. A therapy without the long list of negative side effects!
Those of us who have been practicing mindfulness for some time know that from time to time critics raise their heads and point out how it can't be that simple. It seems to me that with more and more research on mindfulness, and the profound effects this simple practice has on us....it may put some of those arguments to rest.
According to Dr. Kuyken, who is an authority on the subject and has been studying it for years, different people need different treatments. Mindfulness is one of the options that you can consider along with other alternatives.
When it was used for the clinical trials, mindfulness therapy had less to do with Buddhism like the practices most of us are used to, and more secular in nature.
It was used as a kind of mental training tool, to allow people to see their negative thoughts, identify their negative feelings and recognize the early signs of a possible relapse. With mindfulness cognitive therapy, people could learn to develop the skills to fight against these feelings.
For instance, there was a woman in one of Dr. Kuyken’s classes who felt that she was no good and would make her children suffer. But after the training, she was able to recognize that these thoughts of hers are not facts but only her negativity. She was taught to devise a wrecking ball metaphor, which she would allow to swing through her head and crash into her negative thoughts.
Another Recent Mindfulness Update (Among Many!)
Meanwhile, in Chicago, a huge study is taking place over the next 4 years. A research team received $3 million, most of it from the U.S. Education Department, to study what is known as “mindfulness” in more than 30 high-poverty Chicago public schools over the course of four years - and the initial results are promising!
There are so many studies going on worldwide that are taking place in schools, prisons, and other large social settings. Super exciting!
PS - We could all benefit from a lot more connectivity with ourselves and our lives, and less connectivity with machines.