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Group therapy may work as well as medication to help keep depression from returning in patients who have already taken drugs to control their symptoms, according to a new study conducted by the University of Oxford.
Researchers studied mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which is a combination of group counseling sessions and meditation exercises. Replacing drugs with this type of therapy was found to work just as well in the study as continued treatment with medication.
The findings have added to a growing body of evidence that suggests group therapy could keep depression symptoms in check. Dr. William Marchand, a University of Utah psychiatrist not involved in the study, verified the fact.
“Antidepressants are the gold standard for the prevention of relapse of depression," Marchand wrote. The findings show that "mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an important intervention for the prevention of depressive relapse and equal to the gold standard."
Some 400 U.K. residents 18 years old and older were recruited for the study. Each participant had at least three previous episodes of severe depression, all of who were taking drugs for the disorder. Half of participants had been taking drugs for two years, and the other half had been simply receiving mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Patients enduring therapy also received support from doctors and therapists to reduce or discontinue medication.
Therapy sessions included eight weekly group sessions, followed by one year of sessions once every three months. Participants learned to meditate and become more aware of physical and emotional sensations through group instruction and take home assignments based on meditation.
Among the 366 participants still in the study after two years, 94 assigned to the therapy group and 100 on antidepressants experienced a relapse of depression.
Source: News Max
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