Mindfulness training is an effective way to prevent depression relapses. That is the conclusion of a meta-analysis that was carried out by Dutch, British, Canadian and Swiss researchers. According to them, mindfulness training can be a good addition to or replacement for antidepressants. The results of the study were recently published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Four out of five depressive patients will experience a relapse when they are not continuously treated. To prevent this from happening, many patients continue to take antidepressants for a period of years. As an alternative, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is offered to a growing number of patients. During this therapy patients use a meditative technique to focus on the physical and spiritual experience in the current place and time.
An international team of researchers determined the effectiveness of MBCT, using the data from ten studies that compared mindfulness with classic treatment by a general practitioner or psychiatrist and/or maintenance treatment with antidepressants in 1258 patients. Patients that had followed MBCT for a period of 60 weeks had a 31 per cent lower change of a relapse compared to patients who had not followed the mindfulness training. Specifically, patients who suffered from a more severe depression at the start of the therapy seemed to benefit more from MBCT than patients with a milder depression.
Anne Speckens, professor of psychiatry at the Radboudumc in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, is satisfied with the study results. “A meta-analysis allows you to draw firmer conclusions and take a closer look at the predictors of an effect compared to a single study. It is about time that mindfulness therapy gets the acknowledgment it deserves based on the scientific evidence.”
Sources: Radboudumc, JAMA Psychiatry