The Mindful Way Through Depression


Zindel Segal developed a style of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to help people manage recovery from major depressive episodes. As he mentions in this talk, for most people depression is a chronic lifelong illness prone to flare-ups and periods of remission. However, some people seem to go longer between depressive episodes and Segal set out to discover why.

What he learned was that the emotion of sadness was a trigger for clinical depression. Sadness is a natural emotion that occurs for all of us. However, when people are clinically depressed they are more likely to experience sadness. This led to sadness being associated with depression. Thus, for some people feeling sad in general leaves them open to the recurrence of a major depressive episode.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy taught people how to be mindful of their thoughts without attaching to them. It also was shown to increase activation in the present-moment pathway. This is significant because people who suffer from depression are known to have increased activation in the executive control network (the part of the brain responsible for judgment). Thus, having training in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy balanced activation between these two networks and provided people the opportunity to make more balanced evaluations about their emotions.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy was also shown to be as effective as antidepressants.