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Mindfulness therapy ‘offers alternative’ to pills for depression


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy could provide an alternative non-drug treatment for people who do not wish to continue long-term antidepressant treatment, suggests new UK research.

The therapy consists of structured training for the mind and body, which aims to change the way people think and feel about their experiences.

Results from the first ever large study to compare the approach with maintenance antidepressant medication for reducing the risk of relapse in depression have been published in The Lancet

“These results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions”

Willem Kuyken

The study suggested the therapy may offer similar protection as antidepressants against depressive relapse or recurrence for people who have experienced multiple episodes of depression.

Mindfulness therapy was developed to help patients who had experienced repeated bouts of depression by teaching them the skills to recognise and to respond constructively to the thoughts and feelings associated with relapse, thereby preventing a downward spiral into depression.

In the trial, which was conducted from Exeter University, 424 adults with recurrent major depression were recruited from 95 primary care general practices.

Participants were randomly assigned to come off their antidepressant medication slowly and receive mindfulness therapy, or to stay on their medication.

Participants in the therapy group attended eight group sessions and were given daily home practice, and the option of attending four follow-up sessions.

All trial participants were assessed at regular intervals over two years for a major depressive episode using a psychiatric diagnostic interview tool—the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.

Relapse rates in both groups were similar – 44% in the therapy group and 47% in the antidepressant group.

Lead author Willem Kuyken, professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University, said: “We believe these results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions.”


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Readers' comments (4)

  • Emperors new clothes IMHO....oh mystic oriental Buddhist based therefore it must doubt it'll all be debunked in a year or two!

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  • welcome to the Quackery Times!

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  • Mindfulness is nothing new and has been increasingly used as an evidence based therapy alongside CBT for some years now. It is an integral part of DBT too. It has no specific affiliation with Buddhism or any religion. It is a viable option for people with depression and anxiety and other mental health problems as an alternative and certainly as an adjunct to medication. Certainly many of the clients/patients I work with would agree with this.

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  • i sometimes criticise research designs or over reaching conclusions reported in nt but wondered what specifically the first two commentators are referring to when using the terms "mystic" or "quackery." i must admit i haven't looked at the original lancet article, so i don't know if there's a glaring error, or perhaps there is some doubt over the validity or reliability of the standard clinical interview, or perhaps there is other evidence to suggest relapse rates may alter significantly after two years? please, Anonymous 22-Apr-2015 2:35 pm and 5:50 pm, let us know what has informed your (humble) opinions!

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