Buddhist meditation can combat depression as effectively as medication, according to a study by the Mood Disorders Centre at the University of Exeter.
The technique, known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), works by focusing on the here and now rather than dwelling on the past or future.
Professor Willem Kuyken said: "Antidepressants are widely used by people who suffer from depression, and that's because they tend to work.
"But, while they're very effective in helping reduce the symptoms of depression, when people come off them they are particularly vulnerable to relapse.
"MBCT takes a different approach - it teaches people skills for life. What we have shown is that when people work at it, these skills for life help keep people well.
"Our results suggest MBCT may be a viable alternative for some of the 3.5 million people in the UK known to be suffering from this debilitating condition."
He said the therapy is less costly than other treatments because one psychologist could treat many people.
The study, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), has been published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Copyright Press Association 2008
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