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Mindfulness-Based CBT Found As Effective As Antidepressants

Results suggest possible alternative to long-term medication use

WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is as effective as antidepressant medication in preventing a recurrence of depression over a two-year period, according to research published online April 20 in The Lancet.

Willem Kuyken, Ph.D., a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assigned 424 people with major depression to either mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or to antidepressants. Over two years, the relapse rates were similar -- 44 percent in the therapy group and 47 percent in the medication group.

The therapy participants attended eight group sessions, each lasting two and a quarter hours. They were also given techniques to practice at home. Therapy sessions included guided mindfulness practices, group discussion, and other behavioral exercises. After the sessions ended, they had the option of attending four more sessions over a year. Those assigned to antidepressants continued their medication for two years, the researchers said.

"Depression frequently is a recurring and relapsing disorder. People suffering from it are wise to look at ways of maintaining wellness after their depressive symptoms have resolved," Roger Mulder, M.B., Ph.D., head of psychological medicine at the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, told HealthDay. "There are alternatives to remaining well after being depressed besides being on long-term medication," added Mulder, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. The mindfulness therapy appears to cost no more than medication and has no side effects, he noted.

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