Mindfulness and reduced cognitive reactivity to sad mood: evidence from a correlational study and a non-randomized waiting list controlled study.
Raes F., Dewulf D., Van Heeringen C., Williams JM.
Cognitive Reactivity (CR) refers to the degree to which a mild dysphoric state reactivates negative thinking patterns, and it has been found to play a key causal role in depressive relapse. Although Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) directly aims to address this mechanism of CR, the relationship between mindfulness and CR has not been tested to date. Using a cross-sectional design (Study 1; n = 164) and a non-randomized waiting list controlled design (Study 2; MBCT [n = 18] vs. waiting list [n = 21]), the authors examined the relationship between naturally occurring levels of mindfulness (Study 1) and MBCT (Study 2) on the one hand, and CR on the other hand. In line with predictions, it was found that (a) trait mindfulness is significantly negatively correlated with CR, even when controlled for current depressive symptoms and prior history of depression (Study 1), and that (b) MBCT, compared to a matched control group, significantly reduces CR, and that this effect of MBCT on reduction of CR is mediated by a positive change in mindfulness skills (Study 2). Results provide first evidence for the claim that mindfulness practices in MBCT are designed to address the process of CR.