Metacognitive therapy may be a potential treatment for major depressive disorder, finds study

Metacognitive therapy may be a potential treatment for major depressive disorder, finds study

Major depressive disorder is a highly recurring mood disorder and most treatment programs fail to address the risks of a relapse, which is a common occurrence. Some of the common treatment programs for depression include psychotherapy, medication, brain-stimulation, self-care and complementary health approaches. However, the efficacy of these treatments depends on the type of depression and its severity.

Researchers are constantly striving to come up with treatment methods that would ensure full recovery, without any risk of reoccurrence of the disorder. Today, medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) are the most preferred treatments for depression and anxiety. However, a study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology has revealed the possibility of metacognitive therapy (MCT) as a potential treatment for depression.

MCT is a type of brain training therapy that can reduce obsessive negative thoughts and in the process, can help in recovery from depression. The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology in January 2017, involved 39 patients suffering from depression, who were enrolled in a 10-week MCT treatment program. The researchers noted 70 to 80 percent full recovery after the treatment that sustained even after a six-month follow-up.   

In CBT, patients usually scrutinize the content of their thoughts in order to understand their validity. However, MCT stresses on reducing the ruminative process or the deep thinking part which helps in devising a coping skill for depression. “Rather than ruminating so much on negative thoughts, MCT helps patients to reduce negative thought processes and get them under control,” said Professor Roger Hagen of the NTNU.

Some of the steps involved in the study were:

  • Increasing meta-awareness by identifying thoughts that trigger rumination
  • Challenging beliefs about the uncontrollability of rumination and worry
  • Challenging beliefs about threat monitoring and dangers of rumination and worry
  • Modification of positive beliefs about rumination and worry
  • Relapse prevention

According to Dr. William R. Marchand, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine and author of the book “Depression and Bipolar Disorder: Your Guide to Recovery,” the risk of recurrence for a person who had one episode of depression is 50 percent, with two episodes the risk is 70 percent and for someone with three episodes the risk is 90 percent. The researchers of the latest study said that the relapse rate in their case was much lower.

The study further concluded that the MCT can be considered as a viable new treatment option for depressive disorders. It may prove to be a promising development, especially for a country like the United States, where in 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults (6.7 percent of the population) had a major depressive episode in the past year, highlighted the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The researchers are hoping that MCT would become the most recommended way of treating depression.

Timely treatment is key to recovery

Depression is a mental health problem that should not be taken lightly. If untreated, the problem holds the capacity to adversely impact an individual’s ability to lead a productive life, both at the personal and professional level. Any symptom of depression should not be ignored and if required, treatment should be administered by professional health care providers. One should not delay treatment for any mental problem, for the situation might exacerbate.

The Arizona Depression Helpline is a vital resource for getting information on evidence-based treatment programs administered in trusted depression rehabs in Arizona. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-233-3895 or chat online to know more about depression treatment programs in Arizona.