A new report has suggested that mindfulness-based therapy could offer a new choice for millions of people who suffer with recurrent depression.
This type of therapy trains people to focus their minds and understand that negative thoughts come and go. In the recent study, scientists tested the therapy against anti-depressants and found that it worked just as well amongst those who are at risk of relapse.
Patients took part in group sessions where they learned guided meditation and mindfulness skills whilst their medication was being carefully reduced. The therapy aimed to help the subjects focus on the present, recognise any early warning signs of returning depression and respond to them in ways that did not trigger further reoccurrences.
The results were compared to those who continued to take a full course of medication over two years. By the end of the study, it was found that a similar proportion of people had relapsed in both groups but those participating in the mindfulness-based therapy had tapered off their medication.
Doctors in England and Wales are already being encouraged to adopt this technique with patients who cannot or do not wish to take long-term drugs. Dr Gwen Adshead from the Royal College of Psychiatrists commented:
“These finding are important from the point of view of people living with depression who are trying to engage in their own recovery. It provides evidence that mindfulness-based therapy is an intervention that primary care physicians should take seriously as an option.”
He did however emphasise that this approach may not be suitable for all types of depression and that it shouldn’t replace anti-depressant treatment for people with severe disorders who have needed hospital treatment or are suicidal.
If you would like to learn more about depression, check out our Depression Knowledge Centre. To learn about the symptoms and the different types of treatment available, please feel free to visit our Depression and Anxiety Treatment Programmes Page for more information. You can also contact us today for help.