“Our emotional reactions depend on the story we tell ourselves, the running commentary in the mind that interprets the data we receive through our senses.” ― Mark Williams,
Depression is widespread and debilitating. It is the most common mental illness affecting about 4% of the population worldwide. There are a number of treatments for depression the most common of which is antidepressant medication. But the drugs do not always work and can become ineffective over time. They can also have troublesome side effects. So, there is a need to discover safe and effective alternative treatments.
Mindfulness training has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/research-news/depression/). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective for depression by altering the ways people think about and process events that occur in their lives. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT) adds mindfulness training to CBT. It was designed specifically to treat depression and has been shown to be effective even with people who do not respond to antidepressant medications (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/07/17/dealing-with-major-depression-when-drugs-fail/). MBCT has been so effective that the British Medical Service considers it a treatment of choice for depression.
MBCT can be delivered either individually or in groups. But, it requires that a highly trained therapist lead the process and it can be delivered to only a limited number of people at a time. Hence, it is relatively expensive to deliver. Also, it requires the patients to come to a practitioner’s facility on a regular basis over 8 to 12 weeks. This can be inconvenient for many and impossible for others. In addition, depressed individuals lack energy and motivation and many simply can’t find the strength to attend regular sessions. So, there is a need to develop better ways to deliver therapy. The internet provides a mechanism that could potentially overcome many of these drawbacks to face-to-face delivery of MBCT. It’s low cost and widely available and can be accessed when the patient feels up to it.
In today’s Research News article “PS2-43: Internet Delivered Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Reducing Residual Depressive Symptoms: An Open Trial and Quasi-experimental Comparison to Propensity Matched Controls”
Beck and colleagues developed and tested an 8-session MBCT program delivered over the internet to recurrently depressed patients. Compared to treatment as usual for depression internet based MBCT produced a clinically significant decrease in depression with large effect size.
These are very exciting results. The cyber MBCT program is highly scalable and can be delivered to large numbers of depression sufferers at low cost. Because it’s delivered over the internet, it is convenient and available to patients who live in areas without access to clinics. The program needs to be compared to face-to-face MBCT. But, these results suggest that its effectiveness is comparable. Further research is definitely called for.
So, reduce depression with cyber-mindfulness.
“Unhappiness itself is not the problem—it is an inherent and unavoidable part of being alive. Rather, it’s the harshly negative views of ourselves that can be switched on by unhappy moods that entangle us. It is these views that transform passing sadness into persistent unhappiness and depression. Once these harsh, negative views of ourselves are activated, not only do they affect our mind, they also have profound effects on our body—and then the body in turn has profound effects on the mind and emotions.” ― Mark Williams
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies