A study has been analyzing the effects of mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and the researchers have reached the conclusion that it might be a rather efficient treatment for chronic depression, equaling the benefits of anti-depressants.
More than 350 million people around the globe are suffering from depression – one of the more prevalent mental illnesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked it as the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Traditional courses of treatment usually mean prescribed medication, following psychotherapy, and sometimes even both. However, these treatments often fail to make the patient better, and even if they sometimes are efficent, the rate of recurrence is very high.
On the other hand, MBCT has been proved to help depressed people deal with their relapse episodes. This type of therapy involves coaching patients about how to recognize and fight back when negative feelings and thoughts threaten to draw them back in the downward spiral towards depression.
In a previous study, researchers sought to compare the effects of anti-depressants and MBCT in a clinical environment. However, the results were rather inconclusive. What could be said is that mindfulness training is often thought to be more costly due to the required sessions with a professional therapist. This perception is often not accurate, as there is always the possibility of group sessions, which are not significantly pricier.
Even though anti-depressants are the standard recommended treatment for chronic depression, a lot of patients are reluctant of taking them for longer periods, while others fear the side-effects.
In this current study, more than 420 people participated, all suffering from major recurrent depression and were taking maintenance anti-depressant drugs even before joining the experiment. Some of them were selected to slowly reduce medication and participate in MBCT, and the others remained on their medication.
After 12 months of attending in group mindfulness therapy sessions with the possibility of participating in extra follow-up sessions, the results showed approximately the same relapse rates; 44 percent in the case of MBCT patients and 47 percent in those on anti-depressants.
This research does not show that mindfulness based cognitive therapy is better than the traditional course of treatment. However, it shows that patients have substitutes to medication, offering hope to those who dread side-effects and dislike taking pills.
Willem Kuyken from the Oxford University, who was involved in the research, believes that millions of people who have to live with recurrent depression will benefit from having options to choose from.
Image Source: Well Blogs
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