Sean Barnes, M.S., presented preliminary findings from his study: Examining the Mechanisms of Action inMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). The high risk of relapse among individuals with a history of depression has caused researchers to predict that major depressive disorder will be the second largest health burden by 2020. Sean’s research is seeking to discern how MBCT, a promising depressive relapse prevention program, reduces the risk of future major depressive episodes in individuals with a history of recurrent depression.
“For people with a history of depression, even after they have recovered, negative thinking patterns can be re-activated and lead to a recurrence of depression,” Sean said. “MBCT is hypothesized to change the relationship between people and their thoughts, decreasing the likelihood that transient sadmoods will reactivate negative thinking patterns whichmay cause the sadmoods to spiral intomore severe depression.”
Sean said that MBCT has been shown to reduce rates of relapse by about 50 percent as well as decrease residual depressive symptoms. Preliminary findings from Sean’s research show that participants who completedMBCT evidenced less reactivation of negative thinking patterns than similar participants who had not yet completedMBCT.MBCT participants also reported being less judgmental of their thoughts and emotions and better able to recognize them as temporary events in the mind, as opposed to reflections of reality that are necessarily true. These preliminary findings support the assertion thatMBCT helps participants stay well by teaching them the skills needed to interrupt the cognitive processes that precipitate relapse. “This is my third MLSRI,” Sean said. “When I first came to Mind & Life, I wasn’t sure to what degree I wanted to pursue research versus clinical work. But I was really inspired by the people and the research at MLSRI. The Varela Award engaged me more in contemplative practice and allowed me to work with my advisor, Steven Jay Lynn, to conduct this small-scale clinical trial of MBCT for my dissertation research. Thanks to the Mind & Life Institute, I am now confident in my desire to pursue a career in clinical research and practice. I’m currently completing my clinical psychology Ph.D. internship year at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and then will be seeking a post-doc or job that will allow me to pursue my goal of improving mental health care via clinical research and practice.”
More information on http://www.mindandlife.org/pdfs/ml.10.summer.newsletter.pdf