Charity Recommends Meditation as Guard Against Depression
Prescribe meditation to people who suffer recurrent depression, urges the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in a recent report.
Referring to meditation as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), the report by the UK non-profit organization says MBCT cuts relapse rates by 50% for those who experience more than two episodes of depression.
Along with the report, the MHF has also launched a public campaign called Be Mindful to call for treatment based on meditation techniques to be more widely adopted in England’s healthcare system. Each MBCT lasts for eight weeks and, besides teaching patients how to meditate, includes some elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and yoga.
Since 2004, MBCT courses have been recommended by the UK government for people who suffered from depression at least three times. But five years on, the report by MHF found that only one in five GPs say they can access the treatment for their patients, and only one in 20 prescribe MBCT regularly, despite the fact that a majority (72%) of them think mindfulness meditation would help their patients.
It’s also interesting to note that 47% of GPs say they often prescribe antidepressants to patients with recurrent depression, 69% say they rarely or never refer their patients to MBCT, and 75% of GPs who prescribed drugs for people with long term depression think that their patients would have benefited from alternative treatment. Whether it is a case of patients demanding quick fix solutions, GPs seeking more profits, or an ignorance of alternative remedies, it comes as no surprise that the number of prescriptions for antidepressants has doubled in a decade. According to the NHS Information Centre, money spent on antidepressants in England reached nearly £36 million in 2008. The MHF says depression as a whole costs the country £7.5 billion every year.
If you think depression only happens to a minority of the population, think again. Depression affects one in 10 people in the UK, and half of those suffer recurrent depression. After the second and third episode, the foundation says that the risk of relapse rises even higher to 70% and then 90%.Continued on the next page