Depression is one of the most destructive mental illnesses, and most people have likely suffered from depression, or have known someone who has dealt with the disease in some way. According to a report from the World Health Organization in 2018, more than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression.

With the availability of many types of therapy and antidepressant medications, depression is quite manageable. However, it is important to note that depression affects people differently and treatments can have varying effectiveness.

A recent article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology discussed potential changes in treating depression in the future. The study wanted to understand whether Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) is an effective treatment and if it is better than other types of depression therapy.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly used treatments for depression, along with antidepressants. CBT is a structured form of therapy that is problem-focused and goal orientated. This therapy aims to aid people in dealing with depression by helping them learn to identify, question, and change their attitudes and beliefs that contribute to their emotional and behavioural reactions to problems.

The problem with CBT and many other treatments is that they don’t strive to deal with the long-term effects of depression. CBT has been known to have relapse rates of up to 60 per cent after two years and does not provide patients with preventative measures for future symptoms. This is where Metacognitive Therapy hopes to address the problem. MCT, as its name implies, focuses on changing the metacognitive beliefs (a person’s internal thoughts) people have that maintain states of worry, rumination (continuously thinking about the same negative thought), and fixation that are associated with depression.

MCT strives to treat the current symptoms and enlist strategies that prevent patients from relapsing. These strategies are used to fight off negative thoughts and beliefs that run rampant in a depressed person’s mind that bring them to relapse. Some of these strategies include conceptualization, learning triggers for rumination, attention training, challenging beliefs about uncontrollability of rumination, and relapse prevention.

The report is a follow-up to a previous study where 39 patients (ranging from 18 to 54 years of age) with major depression were given weekly MCT sessions for 10 weeks. After one year following treatment, 34 patients participated in the follow-up assessment. They found that 67 per cent of the patients were considered recovered and 13 per cent had improved. The final 20 per cent were found to be unchanged in their mental states.

This report shows that MCT has the potential to be a game-changer in treatments for depression. While the study praises its effectiveness for the subjects of the trials, they also emphasize that more research should be conducted to fully grasp MCT’s capabilities and if it really is more effective than other treatments.

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