Thursday, April 28, 2016


A new study – the largest-ever analysis of research on the subject – has found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helps people just as much as commonly prescribed anti-depressant drugs and without harmful effects.

People suffering from depression who received MBCT were 31 per cent less likely to suffer a relapse during the next 60 weeks, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Professor Willem Kuyken [pictured right], the lead author of the paper, said: ‘This new evidence for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy … is very heartening.' He added, ‘While MBCT is not a panacea, it does clearly offer those with a substantial history of depression a new approach to learning skills to stay well in the long-term.’

Professor Kuyken stressed that different people required different treatments and mindfulness should be viewed as one option alongside drugs and other forms of therapy.

A study published in the Lancet last year also found mindfulness could be as effective as drugs.

Now, should any readers be currently on anti-depressant medication, please do not stop taking your medication -- and definitely don't stop taking the medication suddenly -- without first talking the matter through with your health care professional. That is extremely important. Having suffered in the past from clinical depression, I did find anti-depressant medication helpful, and I still think that medication of that kind has an important role to play in the treatment and management of clinical depression. (See also the 'Important Notice' below.)

One more thing. So many loved ones say—more out of frustration than anything else—to the person suffering from depression, ‘Just snap out of it!’ This is probably the worst advice anyone could give to a person with depression, other than saying, 'I know how you feel.' To say, 'Just snap out of it,' may even make things worse for the person who is very much caught up in a process that, for the most part, is not amenable to exercise of the person’s will or conscious control. In that regard, clinical depression is a bit like an addiction, where the addict is similarly caught up in a process beyond their conscious control. Will power is captive to both clinical depression and addiction, so forget all about will power. The good news is that the vast majority of people with depression do get better. Recovery may take some time, and may require a combination of different treatments, but recovery is indeed possible and it is the norm. In my case, after about six years of relative misery, and undergoing a variety of treatment modalities, the depression just stopped--just like that! So, hang in there. Never lose hope. Never give up. 

Study: Kuyken, W et al. ‘Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Prevention of Depressive Relapse:  An Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis From Randomized Trials.’ JAMA Psychiatry. Published online April 27, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0076.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your medical practitioner or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on this blog. In Australia, for immediate advice or support call Lifeline on 13 1 1 14, beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, and for information, advice and referral on mental illness contact the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or go online via In other countries, call the relevant mental health care emergency hotline or simply dial your emergency assistance telephone number and ask for help.

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