Mindfulness therapy works as well as anti-depressant drugs, major new study finds

image

.
.
Ian Johnson:
.
Therapy based on the controversial concept of ‘mindfulness’ works as well as some anti-depressant drugs, according to a major new study.
.
Inspired in part by Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness involves training the brain to deal with negative emotions using techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and yoga.
.
Some critics have claimed mindfulness techniques can bring on panic attacks and lead to paranoia, delusions or depression.
.
But the new study – the largest-ever analysis of research on the subject – found mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helped people just as much as commonly prescribed anti-depressant drugs and that there was no evidence of any harmful effects.
.
People suffering from depression who received MBCT were 31 per cent less likely to suffer a relapse during the next 60 weeks, the researchers reported in a paper in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
.
Professor Willem Kuyken, the lead author of the paper, said: “This new evidence for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy … is very heartening.
.
“While MBCT is not a panacea, it does clearly offer those with a substantial history of depression a new approach to learning skills to stay well in the long-term.”
.
Professor Kuyken, an Oxford University clinical psychologist and director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, and other experts around the world have set themselves an ambitious target.
.
“We need to do more research, however, to get recovery rates closer to 100 per cent and to help prevent the first onset of depression, earlier in life,” he said.
.
“These are programmes of work we are pursuing at the University of Oxford and with our collaborators around the world.”
.
He stressed that while mindfulness may share a “lineage” with Buddhism and other “contemplative traditions”, the way it was used in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was “entirely secular”.
.
“It makes complete sense to me that this wonderful faculty of thinking can both get us into trouble and also get us out of trouble,” Professor Kuyken said.
.
“It’s a sort of mental training. It’s about training the mind so people can see negative thoughts, negative feelings, the early signs of a depressive relapse, and learn the skills to respond to those in a way that makes them more resilient.”
.
A woman in one of his classes would start to have thoughts such as “I’m no good, I’m not a very good mother, I’m going to mess up my children and they are going to suffer from depression as I do”, he said.
.
But, after the training, Professor Kuyken said the woman was “able to recognise her negative thoughts as negative thoughts not facts, and not engage with them as much”.
.
“She developed a metaphor of a wrecking ball. Instead of being knocked over, she’d stand back and let the wrecking ball swing through her mind,” he added.
.
Mindfulness has won the backing of NHS advisory body, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), and the Mental Health Foundation research charity. A study published in the Lancet last year also found mindfulness could be as effective as drugs.
.
.
.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: