One in six UK adults take antidepressants – yet mindfulness can help avoid the need to take them… and can help patients give them up

Each year one is six adults in the UK are being prescribed antidepressants… yet mindfulness is just as effective and research shows it can help people to give up the antidepressants without increasing their chance of a relapse.

A piece from The Guardian (here) sets out the  “one is six” figure.  Data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that more than 7.3 million people were prescribed antidepressants in 2017-18, 4.4 million of whom also received a prescription for such drugs in both of the two previous years.

Yet mindfulness, and especial Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), is shown to be as effective as antidepressants – with the added advantages of helping people to become more able to focus and more empathetic yet without the downsides of the antidepressants or the longer-term problem of how to come of them.

A  piece from Forbes Magazine, explains a study published in The Lancet, to back this up. (Here).  The Forbes article says:

The results from the current study were impressive: MBCT was just as effective as staying on antidepressants over the next two years following treatment: 44% of people in the MBCT group relapsed, while 47% of those in the antidepressant group did.

So MBCT was slightly more effective as medication, which is good news for those who in principle would like to go off antidepressants.

The study brings some interesting and hopeful news for those who don’t want to take medication over the long term, or who can’t tolerate the side effects. And, the authors point out, some people just prefer psychosocial treatments over drug treatments for personal reasons.

In fact our own NHS says Mindfulness (MBCT) is  “as good as drugs for preventing depression relapse”. (Here).


While apiece from Psychology Today suggests that Mindfulness (MBCT) training can assist patients who wish to avoid antidepressants and even better, it can help those who wish to give up the antidepressants.  (Here).

So The reasearch is clear:  before starting to take antidepressants patients should consider MBCT; and for those already taking antidepressants (the “one in six”) then may be MBCT can support them in giving up the pills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *