Do you often feel STRESSED at work or at home?
Do you or someone you know suffer from DEPRESSION and/or ANXIETY? Do you often feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by intense emotions?
Do these feelings leave you with negative thoughts that may NOT even be accurate?
Learn two strategies to help you cope with these symptoms through Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy!
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT):
- Helps people disengage from unproductive thought patterns and remain unengaged. Helps stop the downward spiral.
- Helps people live in this moment, rather than worrying about the past or future; leading to more fulfilling lives and less suffering.
I use this MBCT technique with women struggling with depression and anxiety, especially Postpartum Depression, and Social Anxiety/Panic Attacks.
Learn more about MBCT from my interview below with Meredith McEver, LCSW of Arlington Virginia, a seasoned MBCT individual and group leader:
(Meredith G, LCSW): I work with many women who struggle with depression, anxiety and mood swings. Some have been suffering with these symptoms their whole life. Other women have experienced a trauma either small or large — that have left them in despair.
In therapy, I use a number of approaches to assist clients in easing and reducing these plaguing symptoms. I have incorporated mindfulness based cognitive therapy and have found that it really helps many of my patients.
Tell me more about this approach and how you use it in your individual and group work. For starters – – who is most appropriate to benefit from this type of intervention?
(Meredith McEver, LCSW) – Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy or MBCT helps people struggling with a wide range of issues. It was originally developed for people with recurrent depression, but has been used with people with other concerns such as generalized anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, and health anxiety. I even use it when I work with organizations to prevent burnout.
The research shows that MBCT helps people suffering from depression to recover. It’s considered to be the”gold standard” in the treatment of depression. Some people have more than one episode of depression. For the subset of people with 3 or more episodes of depression, MBCT has been shown to be 40-50 % more effective than individual CBT in preventing depression relapse. For those who recovered using antidepressants as part of their treatment, MBCT was found to be as effective, if not more effective, than continued antidepressants use in preventing depression relapse.
Its effectiveness has also been shown in increasing emotional regulation and psychosocial functioning for people with Bipolar Disorder and decreasing anxiety for anxious individuals. It has been incorporated in a program to prevent substance abuse relapse, which has been shown to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatment as usual.
Meredith G — Wow, I did not know MBCT was so effective and that it really helps in preventing relapse — which is one of the biggest fears among clients. Can you describe 2 techniques that you have found most helpful with those who have been in your groups or techniques that people can use as needed to ease work related stress that you spoke about.
(Meredith McEver, LCSW)
Taking a “BREATHING SPACE” has been very helpful to many of my clients. To do so, you
- Bring your attention to the present moment;
- Notice any body sensations that are present, doing your best not to comment on the body sensation or try to change it, just notice it;
- Refocus your attention to your body and notice any emotions. Most people feel their emotions in their belly, chest, throat, corner of the mouth, eyes, or all over. Not trying to create emotions or push them away, just notice them with acceptance;
- Refocus you attention to your thoughts. Sometimes when you focus on your thoughts, they go away, so noticing the lack of thoughts until a thought arises and then noticing that;
- Refocus your attention to your breath for a few breaths. Then notice your facial expression, posture and your whole body.
It’s very simple and takes just a few minutes. Strange as it may seem, noticing and accepting your body sensations, emotions and thoughts just as they are and not trying to change them can lead to relaxation. Spending time denying that we’re in a bad mood is draining and prevents us from taking the action needed to feel better. This moment of noticing what’s going on gives you the space to calm down a little and allows your inner wisdom to emerge so you know what action to take rather than reacting reflexively.
A last technique is learning that ”Thoughts are NOT facts”has also been very helpful. And while everyone intellectually knows that thoughts aren’t facts, we sometimes react as though our thoughts are true. For example, a friend doesn’t respond to an email and we think that they’re mad at us.
- Thinking it is one thing, but automatically believing it can lead us to feel depressed or angry and behave in a way different than we would if we believed that the email got lost.
- Experiment with it yourself and notice what some of your automatic thoughts are and what emotions they lead to.
So we teach people in MBCT how to be mindful of thoughts, which is being aware of thoughts when they occur without judging the thought or yourself. This moment of mindfulness, being aware of what is happening in this moment without judgment, gives us an opportunity to decide how to respond to the thought rather than jumping to our conditioned, automatic response. You have an opportunity to realize that there are a myriad of reasons why that person didn’t respond to your email and you really don’t know what their reason is.