New Study: CBT and Mindfulness Both Relieve Anxiety, Depression


If you are suffering from depression or anxiety and offered a choice between individual cognitive-behavioral therapy or a group mindfulness treatment program, which would be the better choice?

Some curious people at Lund University in Sweden decided to look into this and discovered that people get equal symptom relief using either treatment option.

The Two Treatments

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people examine how they think about their self and the world, and the impact those thoughts have on their lives. People are also taught more effective ways to think about and cope with life’s events.

Mindfulness is the practice of putting your full attention on whatever is occurring in the present moment—thoughts, physical and emotional sensations, tasks, events, tastes, sounds, or other people. The art of mindfulness is to observe these things without passing judgment.

“The study’s results indicate that group mindfulness treatment, conducted by certified instructors in primary health care, is as effective a treatment method as individual CBT for treating depression and anxiety,” said researcher leader Jan Sundquist.

The Comparison

There were 215 participants in the Lund study, each diagnosed as depressed or anxious. Before and after treatment they answered self-assessment questionnaires concerning the frequency and severity of their symptoms.

Participants were randomly assigned to either individual therapy with a professional counselor, or to a structured mindfulness group, for eight weeks of treatment. Each mindfulness instructor had completed a six-day training course for instructors; there were about ten participants in each mindfulness group.

This study is the first randomized one to compare CBT and mindfulness as mental health treatment options. During the study, self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression decreased in both the CBT and mindfulness therapies; there were no statistical differences to report.

“This means that group mindfulness treatment should be considered as an alternative to individual psychotherapy, especially at primary health care centers that can’t offer everyone individual therapy,” said Sundquist.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Sheila Sund / flickr creative commons


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