Relapse prevention is one of the most pressing public health problems involving those with recurrent and chronic depression. To date, antidepressant medication is the first-line treatment to prevent relapse. However, recent efforts to find a non-pharmacological intervention have seen important developments, culminating in a 2016 meta analysis of data collected on 1,258 patients. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The authors found that, compared to usual care, those who received mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) had a significantly reduced risk of relapse over a 60-week follow-up period. The findings held up regardless of sociodemographic and psychiatric factors (i.e., age, sex, education, relationship status; age at onset, number of previous episodes of depression). The greater the severity of depressive symptoms prior to treatment, the larger the effect size of MBCT compared to other treatments.
MBCT combines mindfulness training (meditation, body scanning, and breathing exercises) with cognitive therapy elements to teach psychological skills to address negative thought patterns associated with depression relapse. This study provides a potential avenue for future non-pharmacological depression intervention research.