Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: an alternative for pills to cure recurrent depression
Recent studies have shown that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is as effective as taking anti-depressant medication for those suffering recurring from depressions. MBCT is a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness techniques that help one to focus on the “here and now”, rather than getting bogged down by past or the future, which are effectively out of one’s control. It helps to cope if and when negative thoughts arise so that they do not become overwhelming.
With the funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), researchers from Oxford University monitored 424 sufferers on medication. Half of the group underwent the therapy whilst the other half were put on the anti-depression pills.
Those using the therapy gradually reduced pill dosage over the course of two years down to none, whilst those on pills stayed on them throughout. The results found that 44% of those who had undergone MBCT relapsed whereas the figure was 47% for those on medication. The research teams’ initial hypothesis was that MBCT would outperform medication, but the results seem similar. This is not considered as a negative as it does prove to be similarly effective and offers a valid method of dealing with depression.
The reason MBCT alternative is useful to many over taking pills is because most people simply do not have an option and cannot uphold the prescription of two or more years. By the very nature, depression medications are generally approved to be taken every day for maximum effectiveness as they help with re-wiring the brain’s chemical balance. For someone in the midst of deep depression, they might not always be mentally and emotionally capable of accessing or remembering to take a pill every day. The other issue is the intense side effects associated with many pills such as nausea, loss of appetite, loss of sex drive and for some increased and intensified depression and thoughts of suicide. These generally settle over time, but can be overwhelming for a person who is already in an emotionally vulnerable state.
Today there are a number of treatments for depression available in the market, both medicinal and holistic. While the symptoms of depression are increasingly recognisable, that does not mean that it is a uniformed disease, affecting all sufferers in the same manner. The greater the number of options and their availability, the better they can be tailored to an individual’s need and response to therapies. This is likely to reduce chances of relapse and raise expectations that the chosen treatment is going to be far more effective in the long term.