Non-Antidepressant Treatment Helps Frequent Relapsers

If you suffer from depression, but are tired of being on medication, you have options. Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario and used mindfulness therapy had a long-term success rate. Mindfulness therapy had similar result patients who continued drug treatment. This is great news since many people who suffer a bout of depression are at risk for relapsing.

This type of therapy is called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).  This study followed 84 depression patients between the ages of 18 and 65 for the final stages of the study. The patients were given antidepressant medication for five months to ensure full remission. Multiple relapses of depressive symptoms during remission were considered unstable remission; 51 percent of the patients were labeled this way. The patients who were placed into three study groups: those that continued taking antidepressants, the non-drug mindfulness-therapy group and the placebo group. The non-drug and placebo groups were gradually weaned off of medication through dosage reductions. Each patient met with psychiatrists routinely to record their progression on antidepressant treatment.

Only 28 percent of the antidepressant group and the mindfulness group relapsed compared to 71 percent of placebo patients.

This study had one major limitation that may have influenced the results. The number of participants dwindled from 160 to 84 patients between the initial and final stages of the study. As a result, the comparable success rate of the different treatments among the unstable remitters may have been caused by insufficient sample sizes, not patient response. Also, the large participant drop-out rate could have limited the scope of findings, especially concerning treatment effectiveness against different types and magnitudes of depression.

Possible reasons for variation in remission stability are mostly unknown. However, depression research has shown that factors such as genetics and personality could influence treatment effectiveness and, subsequently, the reoccurrence of depressive episodes.  In a , personality was the only factor that predicted the likelihood of long-term recovery. More research is needed to discover more effective methods of antidepressant treatment based on individual characteristics and experiences.

Consult your doctor before starting or discontinuing treatment to discuss the possible risks and side-effects.

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