Mindfulness in the prevention of relapse of depression

A session at Mind and Life Europe Symposium for Contemplative Studies

  • Mark Williams

Friday 11th October, 2013

10:45am to 11:30am (CET)

Depression is one of the highest burdens of illnesses that individuals, families and societies have to bear throughout the world, and changes in the pattern of its presentation calls for new approaches. The most pressing problem is the high risk of relapse and recurrence in patients. Once an episode has recurred, the risk of a further episode is substantially increased. There is accumulating evidence to suggest that this risk of recurrence is highest for those people who react to small shifts in negative mood with re-triggering of old habits of negative thinking formed during previous episodes.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines Buddhist practice with psycho-education about depression. Specifically, it combines Jon Kabat Zinn’s MBSR program with carefully chosen elements from Cognitive Therapy, and is offered in an eight-week ‘class’ format for patients who are currently in remission. It aims to teach participants how to become aware of early warning signs of relapse, and to reduce tendencies to avoid these early signs. It includes breathing meditation and mindful movement to help participants become more aware of moment-to-moment changes in the mind and the body. The exercises from cognitive therapy emphasize the links between thinking and feeling.

This paper will summarize the current evidence suggesting that MBCT can be effective in reducing risk of relapse in patients, especially in those who are more vulnerable, that it is equivalent to long-term antidepressant use for those who stop taking medication under supervision, and can help those with treatment-resistant depression.

About the speaker

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Mark Williams

Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford

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Time 10:45am11:30am CET

Date Fri 11th October 2013

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