HealthDay News — In preventing a recurrence of depression over a two-year period, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is as effective as antidepressant medication, according to study findings published in The Lancet.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been shown to reduce risk of relapse or recurrence compared with usual care, but has not yet been compared with maintenance antidepressant treatment in a definitive trial,” wrote Willem Kuyken, PhD, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues.

To investigate whether MBCT with support to taper or discontinue antidepressant treatment was superior to maintenance antidepressants for prevention of depressive relapse recurrence over 24 months, the scientists conducted a single-blind, parallel, group randomized control trial.

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Patients with major depression were assigned to either MBCT or antidepressants. Over two years, the relapse rates were similar — 44% in the therapy group and 47% in the medication group (hazard ratio 0.89, 95% CI: 0·67 to 1.8; P=0·43).

The therapy participants attended eight group sessions, lasting two and a quarter hours. They were also given techniques to practice at home. Therapy sessions included guided mindfulness practices, group discussion, and other behavioral exercises. After the sessions ended, they had the option of attending four more sessions over a year. Those assigned to antidepressants continued their medication for two years, noted the researchers.

“We found no evidence that MBCT treatment is superior to maintenance antidepressant treatment for the prevention of depressive relapse in individuals at risk for depressive relapse or recurrence,” concluded the study authors.


  1. Kuyken W et al. The Lancet. 2015; doi: