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Behavioural activation and mindfulness practice help prevent depression

Dr. Joseph Delano Fule Robles
15 May 2018
From left: Prof Samuel Yeung-Shan Wong; study participant Ms Fung; and Dr Benjamin Hon-Kei Yip

Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have recently shown that behavioural activation with mindfulness practice could help prevent depression.

In the study conducted in 2014–2015 on individuals with subthreshold depression, those who received behavioural activation with mindfulness (BAM) intervention (n=115) had lower depression scores and more favourable changes in levels of depressive symptoms vs those who received usual care (n=116) (Beck Depression Inventory-II [BDI-II] score, 14.04 vs 17.38; BDI-II score between-group mean difference= –3.85). [Ann Fam Med 2018;16:111-119]

Importantly, the incidence of major depressive disorder (MDD) was significantly lower in the BAM vs usual care group at 12 months (10.8 percent vs 26.8 percent; p=0.01).

“The usual care for patients with subthreshold depression is active monitoring or regular counselling from primary care physicians. Since subthreshold depression is a strong risk factor for developing MDD, it is crucial to find ways to prevent it from happening,” said Professor Samuel Wong of the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, CUHK.

“The healthcare professionals in our study became competent in delivering BAM intervention after only 40 hours of training, suggesting that BAM will be feasible and accessible in the primary care setting,” he added.

Behavioural activation is previously shown to be helpful in treating moderate to severe depression, but no large study has evaluated its effectiveness in combination with mindfulness meditation. [Psychol Med 2008;38:611-623; Martell CR, et al, Depression in Context: Strategies for Guided Action. WW Norton & Co: New York, 2001]

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Most Read Articles
17 Dec 2016
Study shows that mild depressive symptoms influence the impact of childhood trauma (CT) on long-term functional outcome in early psychosis (EP).
10 Jan 2017
Different repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) modalities have minimal differences in clinical efficacy and acceptability for acute depressive disorder, new study shows.
2 days ago
Medications used to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders appear to be also effective in reducing suicidality and crime during treatment, according to a recent study.