Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Linked to Reduced Depressive Relapse Risk

Oxford Mindfulness Centre The largest meta-analysis so far of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for recurrent depression has found that MBCT is an effective treatment option that can help prevent the recurrence of major depression. The study used anonymised individual patient data from nine randomized trials of MBCT. It suggests that for the millions of people who suffer recurrent depression it provides a treatment choice and an alternative or addition to other approaches such as maintenance anti-depressants.

 Major depression is a significant public health problem. Without ongoing treatment, as many as four out of five people with depression relapse at some point.  MBCT is a group-based psychological treatment that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences and learn skills that reduce the likelihood of further episodes of depression.

Across the nine trials, 38% of those who received MBCT had a depressive relapse within 60 weeks’ follow-up, in contrast to 49% of those who did not receive MBCT. Taking the time to relapse into account, people who received MBCT were 31% less likely to relapse during the 60-week follow-up compared with those who did not receive MBCT.

Richard Byng, Professor of Primary Care, University of Plymouth and one of the co-authors said,

While the evidence is from a relatively small number of trials, it is encouraging for patients and clinicians to have another option. There was insufficient data to examine which types of patient or context predict who would benefit most. This, along with varied individual study and wide combined study confidence intervals, means that clinicians need to be cautiously optimistic when tapering off antidepressant medication, and treat each patient as an individual who may or may not benefit from both MBCT and other effective treatments.”

Read the abstract of the research paper here.

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