MBCT for Depression on the NHS

A recent study – the largest ever analysis of research on the subject – demonstrated that Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) helps people just as much as commonly prescribed anti-depressant drugs… and yet there was no evidence of any harmful effects.

The study showed that people suffering from depression who received MBCT were 31 per cent less likely to suffer a relapse during the next 60 weeks – it was reported in a paper in the JAMA Psychiatry journal.

Lead author, Professor Willem Kuyken, said: “This new evidence for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy … is very heartening. While MBCT is not a panacea, it does clearly offer those with a substantial history of depression a new approach to learning skills to stay well in the long-term.”

For once the UK is “on it”. The NICE guidance for the treatment of depression recommends the use of MBCT – and indeed the NHS runs its own MBCT courses. Here.

I have written before about the journalist Sarah Vine who said that while antidepressants medicines worked well for her, she had found it very difficult to come of the drugs: https://carinasciences.com/2019/05/30/the-drugs-do-work-but-are-hard-to-give-up/.  MBCT has no such addiction legacy – other than the positive benefits of mindfulness.

An article on the website stylist.co.uk related the experience of journalist Alice Purkiss who was advised to try an NHS MBCT course: “During the course, I’ve realised just how much my brain has held me hostage in the past… I am so very, very grateful that my local NHS psychological service has offered me this incredible opportunity to tune back in with my life and take control of the way my brain has terrorised me in the past. https://www.stylist.co.uk/health/mental-health/depression-treatment-mindful-cognitive-behavioural-therapy-nhs-course-health/182010

The benefits of MBCT for those with either anxiety and depression are very well researched: For example, this paper from the Journal Consulting and Clinical Psychology (April 2010) “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review” (by Stefan G. Hofmann, Alice T. Sawyer, Ashley A. Witt, and Diana Oh).

This review of many MBCT trials showed that improvements on depression scores and anxiety scores were robust (repeatable and consistent) and significant; both for those with the conditions and for those without these conditions. – i.e. Even for those who were not suffering from depression or anxiety their mood was raised and worry was lowered – it’s not about a return to the normal – it is an elevation in mood and ability to avoid worry.  The researchers said that “[MBCT] improves symptoms of anxiety and depression across a relatively wide range of severity.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2848393/

Our Rezl app uses this same Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to build resilience… and more.

We chose to work with MBCT for two big reasons: –

  1. It is a formalised programme – an eight-step programme – as we knew that many people using mindfulness apps find them a little open-ended and so while these apps are relaxing… they can lack a sense of progress.
  2. The impacts of MBCT have been extremely well researched over the last 25 years.  It was clear that the benefits were very significant.

In summary, from the user’s perspective, then working with Rezl’s MBCT programme will:

  • increase your resilience – the signs that your resilience may be getting low include difficulty sleeping, irritability and mood swings, poor levels of concentration and restlessness
  • improve ability deal with stress, pressure, challenges and uncertainty.
  • make you more empathetic open to the views of others
  • increase positivity and self-esteem – increase self confidence
  • teams with mindful team-members are more effective and more likely to collaborate towards achieving team goals.
  • increase job satisfaction and life satisfaction
  • reduce absenteeism and staff turnover
  • US special forces use mindfulness to help them to improve their decision making in high pressure situations
  • boost your performance at work or in sport, increase your focus, your engagement and your ‘flow’.
  • enable you to develop the skills to manage in challenging and disruptive business environments and to attain the objectivity, focus and emotional stability that are required.

There are a lot of benefits there – but it is important to stress that Rezl isn’t just about helping those with mental wellbeing issues – Rezl can help all of us to achieve more in our lives. It’s for everyone!

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