Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) combines mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching with elements from cognitive behaviour therapy to help break the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression.

It's recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression. Evidence shows that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy can, on average, reduce the risk of relapse for people who experience recurrent depression by 43%. Research also suggests that it's particularly effective for vulnerable groups who are more likely to relapse. As a psycho-social approach to staying well, it's a cost-effective and accessible treatment for individuals and providers.

Right now, very few people are referred onto Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Our 2010 survey found that 69% of GPs said they rarely or never refer their patients with recurrent depression for Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

Similarly, 75% of GPs have prescribed anti-depressant medication to patients with recurrent depression believing that an alternative might be more appropriate. Availability of the therapy around the country as a National Health Service treatment is still limited and there is ongoing work to explore how widely available this is in 2014.

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