Mindfulness therapy can prevent depression relapse

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London, April 21 (IANS) For those who wish to avoid the side-effects of long-term use of anti-depressant drugs, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may offer as effective a treatment in preventing them from relapsing, new research says.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a structured training for the mind and body, which aims to change the way people think and feel about their experiences.

Just as anti-depressants, MCBT may offer similar protection against depressive relapse or recurrence for people, who have experienced multiple episodes of depression, with no significant difference in cost, the researchers noted.

“Depression is a recurrent disorder. Without ongoing treatment, as many as four out of five people with depression relapse at some point,” explained lead author Willem Kuyken, professor of clinical psychology at University of Oxford.

Currently, maintenance of anti-depressant medication is the key treatment for preventing relapse, reducing the likelihood of relapse or recurrence by up to two-thirds when taken correctly, study co-author professor Richard Byng from Plymouth University pointed out.

“However, there are many people who, for a number of different reasons, are unable to keep on a course of medication for depression. Moreover, many people do not wish to remain on medication for indefinite periods, or cannot tolerate its side effects,” Byng noted.

In this trial, 424 adults with recurrent major depression and taking maintenance anti-depressant medication were recruited from 95 primary care general practices across the South West of England.

Participants were randomly assigned to come off their anti-depressant medication slowly and receive MBCT (212 participants) or to stay on their medication (212 participants).

Over two years, relapse rates in both groups were similar (44 percent in the MBCT group vs 47 percent in the maintenance anti-depressant medication group).

Although not more effective than maintenance anti-depressant treatment in terms of preventing relapse of depression, MBCT provides an alternative non-drug treatment for those suffering from depression, the findings showed.

The study was published in the journal The Lancet.

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