Depression is a prevalent mental health disease that can manifest itself in several ways.
If you suffer from depression, you may have chronic symptoms such as a persistently poor mood. Alternatively, you may experience significant depressed episodes a few times a year. You may also find that your symptoms change or worsen over time.
Depression therapies can sometimes be quite effective right away.
- locate a fantastic therapist
- have good results with medicine
- adopt lifestyle adjustments that will aid in the relief of symptoms
Even with therapy, depression symptoms might persist. If the treatments listed above haven’t helped as much as you anticipated, you might want to explore including meditation in your treatment plan.
How can it help?
Meditation as a treatment for depression? If you’re sceptical about the proposal, you’re not alone. You could even believe it sounds like a tip from those who claim that if you only “smile more!” or “think positively!” your melancholy would be better.
Meditation will not cure your depression problems, but it will make them more tolerable. This is how it is done.
It helps change your response to negative thinking
Depression may bring on plenty of gloomy ideas. You may feel hopeless, useless, or furious about your life (or even yourself). Because meditation entails increased awareness of ideas and sensations, this may appear confusing.
Meditation, on the other hand, trains you to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without passing judgement or condemning yourself.
Meditation does not include pushing these ideas away or pretending they do not exist. Instead, you recognise and embrace them before letting them go. Meditation can help break the cycle of negative thinking in this way.
Assume you’re having a quiet moment with your lover. You are pleased and cherished. Then you get the idea, “They’re going to abandon me.”
Meditation can assist you in reaching the following goals:
- take note of this thought
- accept it as one option
- accept that it is not the only option
Rather than responding to this idea with something like, “I’m not deserving of a healthy relationship,” meditation can help you let it pass through your consciousness — and then go on.
It’s more like a leaf drifting down the river than a maelstrom dragging you in. You may return to appreciating the present moment without becoming engulfed in a loop of more upsetting thoughts.
It helps you learn how to manage depression more effectively
Learning to be present at the moment might help you detect early warning signals of a depressed episode.
Meditation can help you pay attention to your emotions as they arise. So, if you start having negative thoughts or notice increased irritation, exhaustion, or a loss of interest in the activities you normally like doing, you may want to prioritise self-care to prevent things from getting worse.
Plus, it’s backed by promising research
According to a 2016 study, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a type of psychotherapy that combines mindfulness meditation techniques, can help reduce your risks of relapsing into depression.
Another recent study shows that incorporating meditation techniques into your daily life might help reduce depressive symptoms. In other words, it may be more beneficial as a long-term habit than as a quick remedy.
You’ve probably heard that exercise can assist with depression symptoms. While there is data to back up that claim, a 2017 study of 181 nursing students showed indications that meditation may be even more beneficial for depression management.
How can I try it?
Meditation might be intimidating if you’ve never tried it before, but it’s pretty simple and uncomplicated, though it may seem strange at first.
These easy steps will assist you in getting started:
1. Get comfortable
When first practising meditation, it is generally useful to sit down, but if you feel more comfortable standing up or lying down, do so.
The goal is to feel at ease and calm. Closing your eyes can also be beneficial.
2. Begin with your breath
Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. Just concentrate on your breathing for a few seconds.
Keep an eye out for:
- what it’s like to inhale
- what it’s like to exhale
- your breathing sounds
It’s natural for your mind to drift away from your breathing. Simply keep returning your attention to your breathing anytime you find yourself thinking about something else.
3. Move from breath to body
Eventually, begin moving your focus from your breath to other regions of your body to do a body scan.
Begin your body scan anywhere you choose. Some people like to begin with their feet, while others prefer to begin with their hands or heads.
Concentrate your attention on your body, going from one section to the next. Take notice of how each body part feels as you continue to breathe slowly and deeply.
Do you have any sore spots? Or are you tense?
If you detect any odd or bothersome sensations, such as stress or pains, you might incorporate a visualisation exercise.
Consider sending calming breaths to that area of your body. Visualize the tense muscle relaxing and the discomfort dissipates. Getting more at ease with your physical sensations and experiences might help you become more sensitive to changes as they occur.
When you’ve completed scanning your body, return your attention to your breathing for as long as it takes.
Dealing with unwanted thoughts
If any undesirable or unpleasant thoughts or emotions arise while breathing, recognise them momentarily before returning your attention to your body scan.
Remember that even if you’ve been meditating for years, it’s virtually hard to keep your attention from straying. The trick is to not berate yourself for it. Simply refocus your attention on yourself with kindness. This will most likely feel strange at first, but it will become more natural with time.
If you want to learn more about properly meditating, you may always attend a class or locate a meditation instructor. However, you are not required to go out or spend any money. There are several free materials available online.
Tips and tricks
There is no such thing as a correct or incorrect method to meditate. However, if you’re searching for some further hints, these suggestions might be useful.
Practice at the same time every day
Making meditation a habit might help you achieve your goals.
It is acceptable to begin small. Even 5 minutes a day may make a difference. Try to set aside 5 minutes each day at a time that works for you.
Maybe you perform a body scan every morning in the shower or a seated meditation immediately before night. Perhaps it is the last thing you do before going to bed each night. It’s normal to have to try a few different approaches to meditation before you find the one that works best for you.
You’re more likely to persist with it after you’ve found the appropriate method.
Use a mantra
It is natural for your focus to stray from time to time. If you’re having trouble regaining your attention, a mantra might assist.
Choose a short statement that you may repeat during your meditation practice, such as “I am peaceful.” Even something as basic as the customary “om” might help you focus.
Perhaps sitting meditation does not work for you. If you are an energetic person, you may choose to meditate while walking or engaging in more strenuous exercise.
You may meditate on the move as long as you’re safe. Focus your attention throughout your body, focusing on the repetitive action of your arms, legs, or other moving body parts.
Taking your meditation outside can help you achieve more success. Nature has several health advantages, and the calming sounds of the natural world may serve as an excellent backdrop for meditation activities.
Give it time
Meditation takes both effort and time. You may notice some little improvements straight away, but you are unlikely to see a significant difference right away.
The majority of studies on the advantages of meditation examines its influence over a period of many weeks or even months. Like most other ways to treating depression, you may need to stick with it for a time to notice results.
Meanwhile, try to concentrate on any good improvements you observe, whether it’s a tiny gain in attention or a subtle rise in your mood.
When to get help?
Depression is a serious condition. While meditation has shown potential as a treatment for depression, it is frequently insufficient on its own.
If you are experiencing signs of depression, get help from a therapist before attempting alternative treatments. Many therapists provide mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which allows you to incorporate the advantages of meditation into your treatment.
During a serious depressive episode, meditation may be ineffective. If your symptoms are severe, you should consult a mental health expert or your healthcare provider.
Remember that meditation raises awareness of one’s thoughts and emotions, thus one possible result of meditation is exacerbated unpleasant thoughts. Some people claim that meditation worsens their depressive symptoms.
If this happens, you should cease meditating until you can speak with a mental health expert and obtain additional understanding and assistance on how to move through these ideas.
Above all, it is advisable to seek professional assistance as soon as possible if:
- Your standard of living has deteriorated.
- You find it difficult to balance your everyday life and duties.
- you have physical symptoms such as tiredness, discomfort, or lack of appetite
- you are considering harming yourself or others
- you contemplate death, dying, or putting an end to your life
The Bottom Line
There is no such thing as a “cure” for depression. However, including meditation techniques in your everyday life may make it easier to question unpleasant ideas and protect yourself from becoming trapped in the negative thought spirals that frequently exacerbate depression.
Meditation may be more effective when combined with therapy, so don’t be afraid to seek out a caring therapist for additional information on coping techniques and other therapies.