Mindfulness: An Effective Mental Health Treatment But Not a Panacea

mindfulness-therapy-groupSome useful caveats in a recent article in The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.

“Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy isn’t suitable for patients who are in the grip of a drug or alcohol dependency, as they won’t be able to fully engage with the therapy. Also, patients who are recently bereaved may find MBCT too overwhelming.” – Dr. Christina Surawy, a clinical psychologist.

Mindfulness is not useful for patients during an episode of severe depression. These patients should wait until they recover to a mild or moderate state before engaging with MBCT.” – Florian Ruths, psychiatrist.

Ruths adds that unlike some drug treatments, side effects are very rare with MBCT, though “minor side effects, such as a temporary drop in mood before an improvement in mood, are more common but manageable”. He emphasises that it is important for MBCT therapists to be properly trained to deal with any side effects and support their patients appropriately.

Dr. Clara Strauss, research lead at Sussex Mindfulness Centre, emphasises that MBCT teachers in training learn to have an attitude of acceptance: “Mindfulness is not about getting rid of negative thoughts, it’s about learning to sit with and tolerate all of our experiences, including difficult experiences, with kindness and compassion towards ourselves.
“An inexperienced teacher may respond to a person’s struggle with difficult experiences with inadvertent judgment, encouraging the person to try to avoid or change these,” Strauss says.

“In the face of budget cuts, it’s been relatively straightforward to integrate MBCT into our trust. It’s a no-brainer: The arguments in favour stack up for both patients and staff. It’s effective, and can be made readily available to large numbers of people as a group intervention … It’s rare for patients to find it unhelpful, and research has found that the results are comparable to ongoing anti-depressant drug treatment.” – Tim Sweeney, clinical psychologist

Link to the article in The Guardian:

Topics: Mental health, Mindfulness, therapy, treatment