Objectives: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a new group-based intervention for prevention of relapse in recurrent depression which has not been scientifically evaluated regarding its clinical effectiveness for ameliorating residual depressive symptoms following a depressive episode. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of MBCT in reducing residual depressive symptoms in psychiatric outpatients with recurrent depression, and to particularly explore the effects of mindfulness techniques on rumination.
Design: The design of this study was a mixed model complex design. Design 1 consisted of a consecutive series of patients. They were assigned to either MBCT or TAU. The independent variables were time and group allocation, and dependent variables were Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Rumination Scale. In Design 2, the TAU group proceeded to complete an MBCT group, and the BDI and Rumination Scale results of the two groups were collapsed.
Method: Nineteen patients with residual depressive symptoms following a depressive episode, and who were attending outpatient clinic, were assigned to either MBCT or treatment as usual (TAU), with the TAU group then proceeding to complete an MBCT group. Depressive and ruminative symptoms were assessed before, during, and after treatment, and at one-month follow-up.
Results: A significant reduction in depressive symptoms was found at the end of MBCT, with a further reduction at one-month follow-up. A trend towards a reduction in rumination scores was also observed.
Conclusions: Group MBCT has a marked effect on residual depressive symptoms, which may be mediated through the mindfulness-based cognitive approach towards excessive negative ruminations in patients with residual depressive symptoms following a depressive episode.