Research led by Oxford University scientists has found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) could be as effective as medication in treating depression.
The team, led by Professor Willem Kuyken, conducted the trial with 424 adults from 95 primary care general practices across the South West of England.
One half was randomly assigned to come off their antidepressant medication slowly and receive MBCT while the other half continued with their medication. Over a two year period, relapse rates were found to be comparable in both groups (44 per cent in the MBCT group vs 47 per cent in the maintenance antidepressant medication group).
MCBT is a meditation-based, low-cost therapy that teaches the patient to disengage from negative thoughts and feelings as they arise. It has rapidly gained in popularity, and organisations including Apple and the British Parliament have offered mindfulness sessions for their members.
Last year, British doctors issued 50.2 million prescriptions for antidepressants. The industry worldwide is estimated to be worth $12 bil- lion.
Professor Kuyken claims that this therapy offers “a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions”.