A study, led by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) and the University of Manchester (UoM), and funded by the National Institute for Healthcare Research (NIHR), has found that a mental health treatment called Metacognitive Therapy significantly improves symptoms of anxiety and depression for heart disease patients.
These findings, published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, are a huge step towards better informed and well-rounded care for heart disease patients, with the potential to improve not only mental health, but also the physical health of those recovering from heart disease.
Whilst CR services do have an educational component and an exercise component, they don’t currently include any specific mental health treatment to support patients with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Added to this, mainstream mental health treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), are not very effective at improving the mental health of heart disease patients. One of the reasons for this is that CBT focuses on challenging negative thoughts and beliefs, which can be completely valid and realistic in people suffering from chronic and life-threatening heart conditions.
In response to this, Professor Adrian Wells, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at GMMH and Professor of Clinical and Experimental Psychopathology at UoM, who had developed a mental health treatment called Metacognitive Therapy (MCT), adapted this treatment for cardiac patients.
MCT helps people to manage worries and low mood through reducing unhelpful styles of thinking, such as rumination (dwelling on the past) and worry (concerns about the future). It helps people to discover new and more helpful ways to react to negative or distressing thoughts so they are less likely to dwell on them, resulting in improved anxiety and mood.
This took place at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, East Cheshire NHS Trust, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
Findings showed for the first time ever that MCT plus CR is significantly more effective in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression in heart disease patients.
It also proved to be more effective in helping patients reduce unhelpful thinking patterns and trauma symptoms.
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Source: About Manchester, 22nd June 2021