The Mindfulness Clinic Blog

MBCT as Effective as Antidepressants in Treating Depression: Article

Here is an article from the March 2011 issue of Consumer Reports On Health (Volume 23, Number 3) describing the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for depression. Although MBCT is just as effective as antidepressants in alleviating symptoms of depression, it is not as widely prescribed.

“Lots of evidence supports the use of talk therapy in treating depression. And now there’s evidence that a type called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which combines elements of meditation with behavioural therapy, can be as effective as antidepressant medication.

Unfortunately, the percentage of Americans who receive talk therapy to treat depression has declined over the past decade, according to an article in the December 2010 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

It cited a study that compared data from a 2007 survey of 29,370 U.S. residents with data from a similar survey done almost a decade earlier. It found that in 1998 and 2007, roughly 75 percent of the people receiving outpatient treatment for depression got antidepressant medication. But the percentage who received psychotherapy dropped substantially during that time, from 54 percent to 43 percent.

The authors of the study surmised that the change might stem in part from the difficulty in getting health insurance to cover talk therapy. Insurers are more likely to pay for antidepressants and other medication.

That’s too bad, since a Canadian study in the same issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry reported that eight sessions of MBCT were as effective as antidepressants at preventing recurrent episodes of depression. The study evaluated 84 people diagnosed with a major depressive disorder who had been in remission for at least seven months. The researchers randomly chose a third of them to stop taking antidepressants and attend an MBCT program, where participants learn to alter thoughts that can lead to a depressive relapse, and to practice meditation or other activities that focus attention on the present. After 18 months, about one-quarter of the patients in the therapy and antidepressant groups had relapsed, compared with 71 percent in a placebo group.


Antidepressants might relieve depression symptoms faster than therapy, but therapy offers two advantages: no side effects and the prospect of a permanent solution, since you learn long-term strategies.”

If you are looking for a therapeutic option that has long-term results without the risk of side effects, The Mindfulness Clinic in downtown Toronto offers MBCT courses both at our clinic and online. Please call or e-mail us for more information.

Source: March 2011 issue of Consumer Reports On Health (Volume 23, Number 3)
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The Mindfulness Clinic

We combine psychotherapy with Mindfulness to help you feel better and reach your goals.

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