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Mindfulness and the prevention of depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most prevalent and debilitating affective disorders and a leading cause of disability worldwide. Much of the burden of depression is a consequence of MDD tending to take a recurrent course. Hence optimizing preventative treatments for recurrence of depression is a high priority within the field of mental field. 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an effective treatment for prevention of relapse risk amongst individuals with a history of recurrent MDD. MBCT is recommended in the Danish National Health guidelines and by the National Institute for Clinical and Health Excellence (NICE) as preventative treatment for recurrent depression. However, only about half experience sustained remission following MBCT. To improve clinical outcomes, we need to identify early markers to speak to which individuals will demonstrate long-term benefit from treatment and identify key therapeutic mechanisms of change. 

PhD student Anne Maj van der Velden is addressing the question of mechanisms and predictive markers in an interdisciplinary project funded by the Institute for Clinical Medicine and a Mind & Life Varela Award and an Aase & Ejnar Danielsen’s Award.  Anne Maj van der Velden is based at Department of Clinical Medicine and co-affiliated with Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University. She receives supervision from Prof. Andreas Roepstorff (IMC, AU), Prof. Willem Kuyken (Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Oxford University), and Associate Professor Lone Fjorback (Danish Mindfulness Center, AU). 

The project involves international and interdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of Clinical Psychology (Oxford Mindfulness Center; Professor Willem Kuyken and Catherine Crane and the Danish Mindfulness Center; AU, Ass. Professor Lone Fjorback and Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Mia OToole, Aarhus University), Genetics (VIA Aarhus, Senior researcher Jesper Dalsgaard), Mind-Wandering (York University, Ass. Professor Jonathan Smallwood), affective processing biases (PhD Student Alex Kaltenboeck and Professor Catherine Harmer, Oxford University) and Neural Mechanisms (MRC Fellow Jacqueline Scholl, Oxford University; Morten Kringelback Oxford University and AU,  and Gaelle Desborders and Sara Lazar, Harvard Medical School).

Clinical Trial Registration: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03353493


Mindfulness training changes brain dynamics during depressive rumination: A randomized controlled trial

Change in decentering and mindfulness mediates the effect of Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in the treatment of recurrent depression: a randomized controlled design

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy improves heart rate variability amongst individuals with recurrent depression: preliminary findings from a randomized controlled trial

Brief mindfulness practice modifies negative self-related thoughts, interoceptive awareness and autonomic nervous system response in recurrently depressed individuals

A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for recurrent depression: a Danish population study


Anne Maj van der Velden, Aarhus University