Many people use drugs to find relief for depression but there are alternative therapies and one recent one has been mindfulness-based cognitive thereapy (MBCT). A recent study by Kuyken et al. (2014) suggests that MBCT can be just as effective as drug therapies. MBCT teaches people to focus on the present rather than worrying about past and future events. People often ‘catastrophise’, for example if their romantic relationship breaks up they fear that they are never going to get another partner, that their current feelings of sadness won’t ever get better, that the future looks bleak and so on. Mindfulness teaches the individual to focus on the here and now and thus avoid such negative ways of thinking which create depression.
The UK study followed 424 adults who had experienced recurrent major depression and were taking antidepressants. The participants were randomly assigned to either stay on their medication or to slowly change from antidepressants to MBCT. The outcome, after 2 years, was that 44% of the MBCT group and 47% of the antidepressant group relapsed over the 2-year follow-up period.
This doesn’t show that MBCT is better than antidepressants but just that it is as effective – but it has a major advantage over drug therapy because it provides a solution that targets the problem rather than a temporary ‘bandage’.