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The Best Technique to Cure Depression

A form of mental training could be as effective as anti-depressants at preventing people relapsing into depression, new research suggests

The study was led by researchers at Oxford University. It was published in the Lancet medical journal. It found those undergoing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy were 44% prone to relapsing compared with 47% of those using anti-depressants.

The idea is for people to recognise the onset of depression, and control it.

It involves teaching those who have depression accept that their negative feelings and thoughts are likely to reappear, recognise them, and deal with them rather than allow them to trigger a depressive spiral by dwelling on bad feelings.

Researchers said the technique works as well as anti-depressants in preventing relapse. The method offers hope to millions of people who do wish to take long-term medication as part of their treatment

Long-term medication has unpleasant side effects like insomnia and constipation.

The findings suggested “a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions,” said study leader Willem Kuyken, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford.

‘Mindfulness meditation’ — a Buddhist technique aimed at focusing on the present moment and developing self-awareness — has been claimed to have benefits like staving off anxiety and alleviating stress.

The two-year study looked at 424 patients from 95 general practices and split the group in half, with 212 on anti-depressants and 212 undergoing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy while gradually reducing their medication.

The researchers concluded that the technique could offer patients a new option in their treatment for depression, aside from courses of medication favoured in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines.

They said: “We found no evidence that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is superior to maintenance anti-depressant treatment for the prevention of depressive relapse in individuals at risk for depressive relapse or recurrence.

Both treatments were associated with enduring positive outcomes in terms of relapse or recurrence, residual depressive symptoms, and quality of life.


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