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Mindfulness as good as antidepressants, says university study

A study, published in the Lancet, has found that mindfulness sessions are just as effective as long-term antidepressants for reducing the risk of relapse in depression

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy that aims to change the way people think and feel about their experiences could be a useful alternative to long-term antidepressant treatment, research suggests.

Researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Plymouth, Exeter and King’s College London compared mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) – structured training for the mind and body – with maintenance antidepressant medication for reducing the risk of relapse in depression.

The two-year trial involved 424 adults from 95 GPs across south west England who were taking long-term antidepressants. Of the participants, 212 slowly came off their antidepressants and received MBCT.

The results, published in The Lancet, show that MBCT is not any more effective than long-term antidepressants, but it offers similar protection against depressive relapse or recurrence, with no significant difference in cost.

Lead author and University of Oxford professor of clinical psychology Willem Kuyken said the results ‘suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions’.

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