Mindfulness meditation found to be as effective as antidepressant medication in prevention of depression relapse
Mental Health (CAMH) has found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
— using meditation — provides equivalent protection against depressive
relapse as traditional antidepressant medication.
The study published in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry compared the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy with mindfulness-based
cognitive therapy (MBCT) by studying people who were initially treated
with an antidepressant and then, either stopped taking the medication
in order to receive MBCT, or continued taking medication for 18 months.
“With the growing recognition that major depression is a recurrent
disorder, patients need treatment options for preventing depression
from returning to their lives.” said Dr.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Clinic in the Clinical Research Department
“Data from the community suggest that many depressed patients
discontinue antidepressant medication far too soon, either because of
side effect burden, or an unwillingness to take medicine for years.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a non pharmacological approach
that teaches skills in emotion regulation so that patients can monitor
possible relapse triggers as well as adopt lifestyle changes conducive
to sustaining mood balance.
Study participants who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder
were all treated with an antidepressant until their symptoms remitted.
They were then randomly assigned to come off their medication and
receive MBCT; come off their medication and receive a placebo; or stay
on their medication. The novelty of this design permits comparing the
effectiveness of sequencing pharmacological and psychological
treatments versus maintaining the same treatment – antidepressants -
Participants in MBCT attended 8 weekly group sessions and practiced
mindfulness as part of daily homework assignments. Clinical assessments
were conducted at regular intervals, and over an 18 month period,
relapse rates for patients in the MBCT group did not differ from
patients receiving antidepressants (both in the 30% range), whereas
patients receiving placebo relapsed at a significantly higher rate
“The real world implications of these findings bear directly on the
front line treatment of depression. For that sizeable group of
patients who are unwilling or unable to tolerate maintenance
antidepressant treatment, MBCT offers equal protection from relapse,”
pharmacological and psychological interventions — may keep more
patients in treatment and thereby reduce the high risk of recurrence
that is characteristic of this disorder.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental
health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy
development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people
affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully
affiliated with the
Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more
information, please visit www.camh.net.
SOURCE Centre for Addiction and Mental Health