Learn how Meditation can be the Best Depression Medication!
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” ~ Amit Ray
Very often, you find yourself unable to shake off the feeling that something is wrong. Try as you might, it is difficult to place a finger on what exactly is wrong. Your suspicion that something bad is going to happen weighs you down and causes panic and stress; only to be topped by a feeling of confusion because you can’t seem to understand why you are feeling that way. The constant worry can lead to prolonged negative thinking and you end up feeling depressed. Your symptoms of depression and anxiety manifest themselves in different ways – you lose interest in things you previously enjoyed doing, you feel unproductive at work, your sleeping and eating patterns change drastically and sometimes you feel physical aches and pains that seem to have no source.
You are not alone in feeling this way
Dealing with depression is not easy, but it is not as uncommon as you may think. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. As of August 2017, the UAE had the highest regional level of depression at 5.1% of the entire population and ranks highly for anxiety too, with 4.1% of the population reporting it. It has become easier to seek depression treatment, with medical practitioners and institutions focusing on making enough resources available for people who seek aid. There is a sharp focus on making information accessible for psychological treatments, neuro-linguistic programming, and other treatments. Along with these treatments, studies have found that meditation can be amongst the best ways to deal with anxiety and depression!
Does meditation really help?
Yes, it does! In fact, several researchers have looked into understanding if meditation really does work to treat anxiety and depression. A research study conducted in 2017 focused on two groups of adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Of the two groups, one was treated with mindfulness-based stress reduction, while the other one wasn’t. It was found that the group that was treated with meditation reported decreased stress levels. Later, a Harvard Medical School study found that positive changes can occur in just 8 weeks after you begin to meditate.
What exactly are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation does not aim to solve your problems by doing away with them. Instead, it helps you cope with them by understanding that although your negative thoughts exist and may be recurring, it is not always necessary to address them immediately. Sometimes, you may not need to address them at all. Different techniques of meditation use different areas of focus, such as breathing or repetition of a single word or phrase (concentration meditation) or focusing on wandering thoughts (mindfulness meditation).
Meditation has several benefits, a few of which, are listed below:
- Lower blood pressure and reduced blood cortisol levels
- Lower heart rate
- Improved blood circulation
- Improved respiration
- Deep relaxation of the nervous system and the body
- Aids concentration
- Helps increase memory span
- Aids creative thinking and information processing
Are the benefits of meditation directly linked to the brain?
Yes, meditation has been found to alter certain regions of the brain that are linked with depression. When you are depressed, a part of your brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) becomes hyperactive. This part of the brain is responsible for your perception of yourself. Another part of your brain that gets engaged when you are depressed is the amygdala.
The amygdala is responsible for your fight-or-flight response and it releases cortisol as a response to perceived danger. When you feel the symptoms of depression or anxiety, these two regions of your brain are working together.
The mPFC gets worked up because of your perception of stress or danger and the amygdala releases cortisol to fight the perceived danger. Scientists have found that when you meditate, this link between these two parts of your brain is broken, and you are able to ignore negative feelings because your parasympathetic nervous system experiences a state of relaxation.
Can anyone meditate?
Of course. In addition to your treatment for anxiety, stress and/or depression, meditation can help calm you down. You can meditate by yourself or with your spouse, family, friends – even with strangers! Today, with an increased understanding of mental health issues and treatments, organizations have made it possible for you to enroll for group meditation classes or private meditation sessions.
Meditation in Dubai & Abu Dhabi