For many, getting well is often only half the battle with depression. Staying well is what proves to be the real challenge.

Depression is all too common, especially in those struggling with medical illness or their caregivers. When it does occur, it can be episodic and recurrent. Mindful-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a psychological therapy designed to reduce the risk of relapse in patients with recurrent depression. It combines traditional cognitive behavioural therapy methods with newer mindfulness meditation technics. The latter teaches enhanced awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings. This allows for disengagement from self-criticism and ruminations of despair, changing the cycle of negative thoughts and beliefs.

Dr. William Kuyken and his colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital (Oxford, UK) conducted a meta-analysis of 1258 patients with recurrent depression to examine the efficacy of MBCT compared to usual care and other active treatments, including antidepressants. They found that patients receiving MBCT had a significantly reduced risk of depressive relapse within a 60-week follow-up period compared with those who did not receive MBCT.There was also evidence suggesting that a greater severity of depressive symptoms prior to any treatment was associated with a larger benefit of MBCT compared with other treatments.

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1 Kuyken W, Warren FC, Taylor RS, et al. “Efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in prevention of depressive relapse: an individual patient data meta-analysis from randomized trials” [published online April 27, 2016]. JAMA Psychiatry.