Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy can help prevent depression relapse
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Depression is a leading cause of disability in the workplace, and in life.
So how common is depression relapse?
As Willem Kuyken, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford explains:
Depression is a recurrent disorder.
Without ongoing treatment, as many as four out of five people with depression relapse at some point
So how can you prevent depression relapse without antidepressant medication?
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is as effective at preventing depression relapse as antidepressants, according to research.
Professor Richard Byng, one of the researchers, said:
Currently, maintenance antidepressant medication is the key treatment for preventing relapse, reducing the likelihood of relapse or recurrence by up to two-thirds when taken correctly.
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.
People in the study were adults suffering from recurrent major depression.
Roughly half of the 400 people in the study did the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy instead of their usual antidepressant medication.
The other half remained on the medication.
Study author, Professor Kuyken said:
Whilst this study doesn’t show that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy works any better than maintenance antidepressant medication in reducing the rate of relapse in depression, we believe these results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions.
Professor Roger Mulder, commenting on the study in The Lancet, said:
Because it is a group treatment that reduces costs and the number of trained staff needed, it might be feasible to offer [mindfulness-based cognitive therapy] as a choice to patients in general practice…
We therefore have a promising new treatment that is reasonably cost effective and applicable to the large group of patients with recurrent depression.
It’s worth noting that this study underscores a key difference between effective therapies for depression and effective medications for depression.
Effective therapies teach people skills to overcome their depression that they can use and re-use across their life.
Effective medications do not.
One of the study’s participants, Mr Nigel Reed, summed this up nicely:
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 antidepressants 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.
The study was published in The Lancet (Kuyken et al., 2015).
Image credit: pixabay