Study finds mindfulness is as effective as pills for treating depression

A recent trial, published in medical journal The Lancet, proposes that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may be as effective as pills at stopping people from relapsing after major bouts of depression.

This type of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) takes techniques from mindfulness and combines them with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to encourage people to engage with the present moment, specifically those who suffer from recurring depression. The aim of MBCT is to teach people to understand that negative thoughts and feelings are likely to return, but that they can disengage from them. By understanding and accepting this, people can avoid falling back into a bout of depression.

Involving a group of 424 adults, the trial divided the participants in half and assigned either pills or MBCT randomly. Those who went the therapy route had eight group sessions of over two hours, as well as daily practice at home and the option of four follow-up sessions over a year. The patients gradually came off their medication throughout the process.

The two groups had their relapse rates assessed, with the mindfulness group having a relapse rate of 44% and the drugs group rate being 47%. What this has established is that mindfulness-based therapy is equally as good as drugs, and therefore offers a new option for those who do not want prolonged periods of being on medication.

Read the full article on The Guardian’s website.  

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