Doctors, therapists, and mental health advocates have long advised people experiencing depression to consider both medication and psychotherapy. Medication doesn’t always work, though, and even when it does, it can take months to find the right drug and determine the right dose. For some people, the wait is too long. Others are concerned about the potential side effects.
If you struggle with depression and are reticent to try medication, there’s good news. A study published in The Lancet argues that mindfulness-based therapies can be just as effective at treating depression as popular antidepressants.
Mindfulness Therapy for Depression
Researchers tracked 424 people diagnosed with major depression for two years. Half of the group took antidepressants, while the other half pursued mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. The therapy group participated in eight two-hour group sessions and received tips on techniques to practice at home. When the sessions were complete, participants could opt to attend four more sessions. Those taking antidepressants took the drugs for the full two-year duration of the study.
At the end of the study, both groups saw similar rates of depression relapse. Forty-four percent of those in therapy experienced a relapse, compared to 47% of those taking medication. This suggests that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can be just as effective as—and perhaps even slightly more effective than—medication.
Does the Type of Therapy Matter?
A variety of therapeutic interventions can help treat depression. Indeed, research suggests that cognitive therapy on its own can reduce the rate of relapse. Some people in therapy may find the method dry and impersonal, though. Mindfulness-based approaches may make therapy feel more personal. Though researchers don’t yet know if mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is more effective than traditional cognitive therapy, the way a person feels about therapy can affect therapeutic outcomes. Thus, a person who feels more comfortable with a mindfulness-based approach may be more likely to stick with therapy and get better.
Reinberg, S. (2015, April 21). Mindfulness-based therapy as good as meds for depression, study says. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/04/21/mindfulness-based-therapy-as-good-as-meds-for-depression-study-says
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