Depression: Mindfulness is as effective as antidepressants

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Over time, cognitive psychotherapy has evolved, introducing new techniques and new ways of therapeutic intervention.

In recent years, for example, cognitive psychotherapy has introduced techniques derived directly from Buddhist meditation practices. These techniques are called mindfulness and have proven effective in reducing symptoms and preventing relapse.

If you follow this blog, the term mindfulness will not be new to you. Mindfulness pathway has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms in patients with drug-resistant depression.

In short, a very promising form of treatment, but …

What is mindfulness?

Let’s start by saying that:

  • Has nothing to do with mysticism;
  • It is not a relaxation technique;
  • It not has nothing to do with hypnosis

Once we clarify what is not mindfulness, we are going to define its core points.

Briefly, the practice of mindfulness encourages the person to adopt a non-judgmental attitude towards their own psychic life. The key word is to “live the present moment,” or to intentionally observe the flow of your own thoughts and emotions to how they are presented, without labeling them further. Such a lifestyle favors the acceptance of one’s mental life, including pain and suffering. It’s just acceptance to limit the load that negative emotions and thoughts have on us.

Mindfulness therefore promotes a particular attitude towards oneself, attitudes at the same time present and detached. Once this way of communicating with your inner world is interjected, you are much less vulnerable to negative thoughts and critical emotions.

Mindfulness vs. Antidepressants

If the benefits of mindfulness have been repeatedly tested in several clinical trials, a recent research on “The Lancet” has shown that this form of psychotherapy is comparable to antidepressants in the prevention of relapse. One should not forget, in fact, that a resolved depression episode has a probability between 50% and 80% to re-appear in the future.

The research involved 424 subjects with recurrent depression diagnosis (3 or more episodes). Half of the subjects carried out an 8-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy protocol. The other half was treated with antidepressant-based maintenance therapy.

The results indicated that, during a two-year observation period, the “mindfulness group” and the “psycho-pharmaceutical group” showed a similar rate of relapse, respectively, 44% and 47% respectively. We know instead that, if not treated in any way, the recurrent depression has a probability of relapse of about 80%.

In the case of depression, mindfulness seems to be a valid alternative to drug therapy. Although recurrent depression today is mainly treated with antidepressants, many patients for various reasons are not constant in maintaining pharmacological treatment. For example, they do not tolerate the side effects of drugs or refuse to take antidepressants for an indefinite time.

By helping the patient accept his negative thoughts, without entering into the vortex of rumination, mindfulness thus allows a change of perspective on itself. The patient will learn to identify the alarm bells early and to take the right steps to foster their well-being.

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