UWB Crest

Staying Well after Depression


Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

What is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?

MBCT is a new treatment. It combines mindfulness meditation with cognitive therapy techniques. Previous research has shown that MBCT can reduce the risk of recurrence of depression in people who have suffered several episodes of depression in the past. We are now exploring whether people who have experienced suicidal thoughts with their depression can benefit from this treatment. People randomised to MBCT will take part in eight weekly classes given by an experienced teacher to small groups of about 12 people. There they will learn the practice of mindfulness meditation. MBCT includes practices to develop awareness of experience and homework activities to help you become more aware of the present moment, including getting in touch with moment-to-moment changes in the mind and the body.  It also includes basic education about depression and suicidal thoughts, and several exercises from cognitive therapy that show the links between thinking and feeling and how best to look after yourself when your moods threaten to overwhelm you.

Please be aware that MBCT involves homework practices which can take up to an hour per day.  It can be difficult to make time for this, so you must think carefully about whether you are able to make this commitment, before agreeing to take part.

Quotes from the MBCT pilot class

Opening remarks

It has given me the tools that have helped me get my life back together.

It should be more widely available, I don’t like the idea of people missing out on the opportunity to do it.

Things that you found particularly helpful

Being able to slow down the process and observe what is going on in my mind rather than being caught up in automatic ways of thinking

The fundamentals of it, that I can opt out of the negative thought patterns and there is nothing outside myself that I need.

An overriding sense of hope from realising that there is something that really does work and it’s just a matter of putting it into practice.

What really sank in for me this time was that this class is not about relaxation and that the object is not to feel different after the mediation but to realise how you are actually feeling.

Before I had always expected that I would do the meditation and feel better immediately. I find now that when things are stressful I do the practice just to see what’s going on and not having a target really helps.

Having the discipline of doing the homework gave me motivation
I got up and practiced on days that otherwise I would not have got out of bed.

Things you liked about the group

I went from being a separate person with an illness to realising I was part of a bigger community of people with similar problems all practicing in the same way. Finding this peer group that you did not think existed and going from feeling that the problem was exclusively yours to the exact opposite was amazing.

To be honest I felt a little awkward and embarrassed to open up to the group at first but finding out that everyone is in the same boat and their positive attitude helped me relax.

The teachers dealt with the group in a very sensitive way if people were going of point or talking too much. That’s important in a group, anyone can ask a group to come together but not everyone can string things along.

Things you disliked about the group

I had an initial reluctance to disclose at the start but this did not last long.
No, once the hurdle of the embarrassment was over I found it really helpful being in a group situation

Were there times you felt like dropping out

No not at all, I was ill for one of the sessions but felt guilty that I had missed it, and regretted it even though it could not be helped.

No, I was hungry for it right from the start and was trying to apply it and put it into practice straight away and then just kept wanting more. When I missed a session I felt that I had really missed out

What helped you keep going with it

The course was well presented I think this helped prevent people dropping out.

Seeing everyone coming back week after week was inspiring and also infected me with motivation.

The home work practice helped me to keep going that is when you realise how effective it is and want to practice more

One participant put it very nicely
“When you come into the room you were in a safe haven and you knew that every Monday you came to the group would could a have a breather”