Mindfulness Based Approach in Dealing Depression


According WHO, depression is one of the leading conditions in terms of burden of disease. Number of people being diagnosed with depression is rising. It is a state of experience that is characterized by being extremely sad.

Being sad is a common life experience, however when sadness becomes much or out of proportion to a situation, it could impair one’s life and could take a form of the disorder. Individuals with depression become hopeless and develop negative outlook of themselves, other, and world. They are vulnerable to self-harm. The rate of suicide among people with depression is extremely high. Other symptoms include, lack of motivation, lack of energy, distancing self from social interactions, change in sleeping, change in eating pattern etc. Headache, constipation, or other issues related with digestive system, body aches etc. are physical symptoms of depression. Not all cases of depression are noticeable. Many people with mild to moderate level of depression appear to be continuing their daily chores and sometimes it is difficult to notice their sorrow by a layperson. There are several perspectives to understand depression. One of the common approaches to understand depression is called cognitive-behavioral (CB) approach. According to this perspective, depression is caused by negative thought patterns of an individual. While growing up, an individual develops a core belief and schemas of life. These ideas and believes are broadly related to oneself, other people, and the world. These belief and schemas shape one’s assumptions and become their principle. These core belief and assumptions are not always helpful. Many people may have developed negative pattern of assumptions over the period. It is this negative pattern of assumption that could become activated during significant life events leading to negative automatic thoughts. When one constantly indulges in negative automatic thought, the outcome is negative feeling (sadness), negative thinking, and behaviors supporting to these negative thinking and feeling. These outcomes are the symptoms that were described earlier. It must be noted that when one finds in such situation, it triggers vicious cycle. They now start having thoughts about having these experiences adding to the already existing miserable experience. Treatment of depression involves counselling and therapy, and medicine. In fact, many studies have shown psychotherapy and counselling alone to be effective for mild to moderate level of depression. These days, mindfulness-based approaches are gaining popularity. One among these mindfulness-based approach is called Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Treatment process includes the practice of 7-8 weeks (about 2 months) of mindfulness cultivation, and educating patient about cognitive aspect of depression, and how one develops depression. In mainstream cognitive behavioral model of treatment, therapists/doctor supportively challenge negative thoughts, and have their patients to reorient with new adaptive and functional thought pattern. The process is to gain a new perspective and start looking world from new helpful thoughts. However, MBCT departs in this aspect. MBCT does not ask patients to change the thoughts. Instead, it requires patients to observe and be aware of experience (thoughts, feelings, and behavior). By using the acceptance, non-judgmental, and self-compassion that is cultivated through mindfulness practice, patients observe the nature of ever-changing thoughts and feelings. They notice the impermanent nature of these racing thoughts and feelings and develop non-reaction approach.