Depression and anxiety are often nonspecific syndromes which can nevertheless be very debilitating. More information than ever before dealing with the potential catastrophic side effects from psychiatric drugs as often reported upon by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has made a search for alternative treatments for these conditions very desirable. Lund University reported on Nov. 27, 2014 that mindfulness treatment is as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy for depression and anxiety.
According to a new study from Lund University in Sweden and Region Skåne group mindfulness treatment is as effective as individual cognitive behavioral therapy in patients suffering from depression and anxiety. This has been the first randomized study to compare group mindfulness treatment and individual cognitive behavioral therapy in patients with depression and anxiety in a primary health care setting. Professor Jan Sundquist led the researchers in a study at 16 primary health care centres in Skåne, which is a county in southern Sweden.
In the study patients with depression, anxiety or reactions to severe stress were randomized into to either structured group mindfulness treatment with approximately 10 patients per group, or regular treatment which was primarily cognitive behavioral therapy. General practitioner and mindfulness instructor Ola Schenström designed the mindfulness training program and the model which was used for training instructors.
There was a total of 215 patients included in the study. Prior to and after treatment the patients who were in the mindfulness and regular treatment groups answered questionnaires which estimated the severity of their depression and anxiety. It was observed that self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety were decreased in both groups during the 8-week period of treatment. No statistical difference was found between the two treatments.
Sundquist has said the results of this study indicate that group mindfulness treatment which is conducted by certified instructors in primary health care is as effective a treatment method as individual cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Therefore group mindfulness treatment should be considered as an alternative to individual psychotherapy.
This study has been published in The British Journal of Psychiatry. The researchers began their study with a consideration that individual-based cognitive–behavioral therapy is in short supply and is expensive. Their goal was to compare mindfulness-based group therapy with treatment as usual which was primarily individual-based cognitive–behavioral therapy in primary care patients suffering from depressive, anxiety or stress and adjustment disorders.
The researchers found that mindfulness-based group therapy was as good as treatment as usual for patients suffering from these conditions. Mindfulness therapy therefore really does offer a good alternative therapy for depression and anxiety without concerns about the horrible side effects often
seen with treatment with psychiatric drugs.
The Greater Good Science Center reports that mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and your surrounding environment. Acceptance is also involved with mindfulness. This means that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without being judgmental about them. In this sense we are not supposed to perceive that there is a right or wrong way to think or feel at a given moment. With mindfulness our thoughts tune into what we are sensing at the present moment instead of going over the past again and again or imagining the future. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation.