Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions. Most therapists working with patients dealing with anxiety and depression use a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapy. CBT is “problem focused” (undertaken for specific problems) and “action oriented” (therapist tries to assist the client in selecting specific strategies to help address those problems). In essence, CBT teaches the patient how to exercise his/her own cognitive muscles in the same way a personal trainer would teach us how to exercise our physical muscles. The result is a life skill where the patient learns to manage their thoughts and emotions on their own.
Mindfulness-based meditation therapy is effective at preventing and treating psychiatric disorders and has fundamental effects on the brain that may explain its effectiveness. Research has shown that mean scores for two depression scales (MADRS-S and HADS-D) decrease by 50% in mindfulness groups.
Mindfulness group therapy is also as effective as individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating depression, anxiety, and stress, new research also suggests. Researchers ran the study at 16 primary health care centers in southern Sweden. They trained two mindfulness instructors, from different occupational groups, at each primary health care center during a 6-day training course. Patients with depression, anxiety or reactions to severe stress were randomized to either structured group mindfulness treatment with approximately 10 patients per group, or regular treatment (mainly individual CBT The treatment lasted 8 weeks, with a total of 215 patients were included in the study. Before and after treatment, the patients in the mindfulness and regular treatment groups answered questionnaires that estimated the severity of their depression and anxiety. Self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety decreased in both groups during the 8-week treatment period. There was no statistical difference between the two treatments indicating 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. 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.