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Mindfulness-Based Program as Effective as Antidepressant Medication

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

happy pillPeople often enter therapy after suffering from having had some form of depression throughout their lives. One question that is often asked is whether they should be taking antidepressants. This is always a personal choice and therapists often take this as an opportunity to explore the client's thoughts, beliefs, and fears around antidepressants and then the next conversation is to be had with their Psychiatrist. However, one thing that can be looked at is the efficacious research around Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for preventing depressive relapse.

MBCT is an 8-week program, founded by John Teasdale, Mark Williams, and Zindel Segal, is an offshoot of the increasingly popular Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that has shown significant positive effects on stress, anxiety, and pain management.

In 2008, Kuyken and colleagues put out research that showed, for the first time, that going through an MBCT program can be as effective as taking maintenance anti-depressant medication.

Here's the stats:

  1. One hundred and twenty three people were split up into two groups, with one group taking MBCT and the other just doing a maintenance anti-depressant medication program.

  2. During the study 75% of the people in the MBCT group were able to come off of the anti-depressants.

  3. At a 15-month follow-up  47% in the MBCT group had a depressive relapse compared with 60% on just the anti-depressant medications.

  4. No participants were in psychotherapy concurrently.