Feasibility and Acceptability of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for the Treatment of Depression in Multiple Sclerosis
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INTRODUCTION: Depression is a prevalent and debilitating symptom of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), affecting cognitive and social functioning, as well as overall quality of life. It is often untreated or inadequately treated despite research demonstrating the efficacy of psychotherapies for treating depression in MS. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a type of psychotherapy that combines mindfulness and elements of cognitive therapy, has been shown to have a significant impact on the reduction of depression in numerous populations. OBJECTIVES: The present study sought to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a four-week MBCT intervention in treating depression in MS, using data related to recruitment and dropout, and responses from a qualitative questionnaire created for this study. METHODS: Efficacy of the intervention was evaluated as an exploratory aim by comparing MBCT to a support group of equal length using Fisher's exact test and Mann-Whitney U test. Participants who completed the groups (N=22) were predominantly in middle adulthood, Caucasian, female, with at least some college education, experienced significant levels of depression, as measured by the HADS-D, and were diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. RESULTS: Results demonstrated that the four-week MBCT intervention was generally acceptable, though with some barriers to feasibility that should be addressed and assessed in future studies. Among participants in the intervention group, responses related to satisfaction included specific skills related to mindfulness, meditation, relaxation, and coping with negative affect. Responses among participants in the control group focused on general support, experiences with others with MS and the subsequent feeling of not being alone. Preliminary analyses regarding efficacy showed a lack of significance (p =.38; U = 55.0, z = -.34, p = .74), in the difference among the control and intervention group in terms of improvement on the HADS-D. When assessed using a qualitative questionnaire, most participants found the intervention to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms. CONCLUSION: Given the importance of treating depression in this population, and the results demonstrating acceptability of the MBCT intervention, this should be considered a viable treatment option for reducing depression and should be further studied in terms of its efficacy and ways to increase feasibility.