Don’t Reach For The Prozac–Reach For The Yoga Mat: Meditation As Effective As Antidepressants
It’s always kind of funny when modern science “discovers” knowledge that humans have had in one form or another for thousands of years. It’s as if science just can’t believe that anything worthwhile could exist before it did, certainly not without its imprimatur:
“Hey what do you know! Willow bark is a great analgesic! And it’s healthier to eat natural, unrefined food! Who’d a thunk it?”
So too the news this week that a major new study seems to show that people exercising mindfulness can exorcise the demons of depression just as effectively as people taking antidepressants. Using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in the form of yoga, meditation and breathing exercises, researchers found that people suffering from depression responded just as well as they did to antidepressant drugs.
The study looked at people suffering from depression who were given standard medication for it, and people suffering from depression who underwent MBCT instead. The latter group were 31 percent less likely to suffer a relapse over the subsequent 60 weeks, researchers said.
“This new evidence for mindfulness based cognitive therapy is very heartening,” said lead author Professor Willem Kuyken. “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.”
Dr. Kuyken was quick to point out that mindfulness therapy should not be seen as the only method for dealing with depression, but that it should be considered a formidable tool in the therapist’s arsenal. He also pointed out that the earlier in life such tools were implemented, the more likely they are to reduce or even stave off depression altogether.
“We need to do more research, however, to get recovery rates closer to 100 per cent and to help prevent the first onset of depression, earlier in life,” he said.
Really, Dr. Kuyken said, mindfulness therapy is about teaching the brain to think differently about depression and depression-inducing thoughts.
“It’s a sort of mental training,” he said. “It’s about training the mind so people can see negative thoughts, negative feelings, the early signs of a depressive relapse, and learn the skills to respond to those in a way that makes them more resilient.”
And, if his study holds up, it could help people be less dependent on potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals.
Amazing. The Buddhists had something figured out a couple thousand years before the invention of antidepressants.
Who’d a thunk it?