A therapy based on traditional Buddhist meditation may be more effective than conventional drugs for treating depression, a new study suggests.
Many people who try antidepressants to treat their mental health condition may be put off by the side effects.
Now, scientists at the University of Exeter have suggested that mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) could offer benefits without these effects.
Subjects taking part in an eight-week trial were instructed in a variety of meditation exercises that were based on Buddhist techniques. These included methods of focusing on the present instead of the past or future in order to take control of their feelings.
The participants were also followed for 15 months after the study ended. Fewer than half (47 percent) of those who learned MBCT had suffered a relapse, compared with 60 percent of people taking antidepressants.
"I think we have the basis for offering patients and GPs [doctors] an alternative to long-term anti-depressant medication," said researcher Willem Kuyken.
Approximately 15 million Americans suffer from depression, according to figures from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.