This post is an attempt to address the question raised in the immediately preceding post, “If Antidepressants Don’t Work Well, Why Are They So Popular?” The current post is based upon an article titled “Is Mindfulness the Future of Therapy?” by Barry Boyce in the August 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.
Before proceeding further, here are some facts. 16 million adults are affected by depression. In 2014, nearly 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the US had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. According to the World health Organization depression is the leading cause of disability for women of all ages.
There have been previous posts on mindfulness and on cognitive behavioral therapy, MIndfulnesss-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a combination of the two.. The therapy provides insight as well as skills to use this insight. An overly simplistic view is that people are taught how to think their way out of depression. To learn more about MBCT go to mbct.com. The goal is to have effective online therapies
Currently, there is a shortage of trained MBCT therapists, but resources are available and many of the resources can be found at mbct.com. Psychologists suffer from the western bias in education. In previous posts I’ve discussed problems stemming from the western bias in education, which ignores wisdom from in east. When I was a graduate student, a big research question was whether we could control our own autonomic nervous systems (heart rate, for example). When I pointed out that there were Buddhists who could do this par excellence, I was told that they were using some sort of trick. Well the trick was meditation, and the powerful effects of meditation have only been appreciated recently, largely as a result of interaction with the Dalai Lama.
So, unfortunately, in spite of its popular press, there are many psychologists who do not appreciate its possibilities. And even among those psychologists who do appreciate its possibilities, many do not practice mindfulness themselves. The situation is a bit analogous to when it was officially recognized that smoking contributes to lung cancer. Doctors, who were smoking, had to tell their patients to stop.
HM is fairly confident that psychologists will increasingly come on board to the mindfulness wagon and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy will become more widespread.
So the answer to the question “If Antidepressants Don’t Work Well, Why Are They So Popular?” is that there is a current shortage of resources to provide MBCT. However, even if these resources become plentiful, there will still be people resorting to antidepressants because a pill, even if it is ineffective, provides a quick answer. The situation is a tad analogous to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (enter this into the healthy memory search blog to find the post), which continues to be used in spite of its ineffectiveness.
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