Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy vs cognitive behaviour therapy as a treatment for non-melancholic depression

J Affect Disord. 2011 Apr;130(1-2):138-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.09.027. Epub 2010 Nov 20.


Aim: To examine the comparative effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) as treatments for non-melancholic depression.

Method: Participants who met criteria for a current episode of major depressive disorder were randomly assigned to either an 8-week MBCT (n=19) or CBT (n=26) group therapy condition. They were assessed at pre-treatment, 8-week post-group, and 6- and 12-month follow-ups.

Results: There were significant improvements in pre- to post-group depression and anxiety scores in both treatment conditions and no significant differences between the two treatment conditions. However, significant differences were found when participants in the two treatment conditions were dichotomized into those with a history of four or more episodes of depression vs those with less than four. In the CBT condition, participants with four or more previous episodes of depression demonstrated greater improvements in depression than those with less than four previous episodes. No such differences were found in the MBCT treatment condition. No significant differences in depression or anxiety were found between the two treatment conditions at 6- and 12-month follow-ups.

Limitations: Small sample sizes in each treatment condition, especially at follow-up.

Conclusions: MBCT appears to be as effective as CBT in the treatment of current depression. However, CBT participants with four or more previous episodes of depression derived greater benefits at 8-week post-treatment than those with less than four episodes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods
  • Meditation / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods
  • Mind-Body Therapies / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome