A Lancet report has found that mindfulness-based therapy could be a “new choice for millions of people” who are suffering from depression.
Scientists have tested out mindfulness therapy against anti-depressant pills for people at risk of relapse and found it has worked just as well, reports the BBC.
Through the therapy people are trained to focus their minds and understand that negative thoughts come and go. Doctors are already encouraged to offer this therapy to patients.
For the study scientists in the UK enrolled 212 people at risk of further depression on a course of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy whilst carefully reducing their medication.
The therapy aimed to help people to focus on the present whilst recognising any warning signs of depression and respond to them in ways that prevent triggering further reoccurrences.
These results were then compared to 212 people who continued to take a full course of medication over two years. The end of the study showed a similar proportion of people had relapsed in both groups, and many in the MBCT group had been taken off their medication.
In their report, they conclude it “may be a new choice for millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions.”
Nigel Reed, who took part in the study, added: “Mindfulness gives me a set of skills which I use to keep well in the long term. Rather than relying on the continuing use of anti-depressants, mindfulness puts me in charge, allowing me to take control of my own future, to spot when I am at risk and to make the changes I need to stay well.”
Providing an independent comment on the study, Dr Gwen Adshead, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “These findings are important from the point of view of people living with depression who are trying to engage in their own recovery. And it provides evidence that MBCT is an intervention that primary care physicians should take seriously as an option.”
But he cautioned the research does not suggest MBCT is useful for all types of depression; nor that it should replace anti-depressant treatment for people with severe disorders who have needed hospital treatment or are suicidal.
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