350 million people globally have some form of depression. In 2015, about 16.1 million US adults had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. 11% of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18.
Women are 70% more likely than men to have depression and about 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year. Depression is a mental health diagnosis where specific symptoms accompany a general feeling of sadness that lasts at least two weeks or longer.
Anti-depressant medications can help with many forms of depression, but adding complementary options to help promote recovery and improve quality of life is a smart plan and one of the best natural therapeutic options is meditation.
Depression medications works by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. A study conducted by the University of Montreal found that meditation offers you the opportunity to naturally boost levels of serotonin.
In 1996, a University of Washington study found that the hippocampus was incredibly underdeveloped in individuals suffering from depression and that damage was more severe in those with prolonged depression. Thankfully, this damage isn’t permanent and meditation helps revive the hippocampus to help treat and even prevent depression.
The fight or flight stress response triggers the amygdala region of the brain, causing it to become overheated and flood the body with hormones that can damage mental health. A study conducted by Harvard found that meditation not only helps you learn to control the triggering of the fight of flight stress response, but it also improves the health of the amygdala.
Most people suffer from depression because they feel incomplete, something that easily occurs when life changes in a significant way, meditation brings calm and peace, makes you feel whole again and helps you get back on your feet.
What is the best form of meditation for depression? A study published by psychologists from the University of Exeter showed that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT may actually be more effective than counseling or medication, citing that four months after MBCT, three fourths of study subjects felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.
Mark Williams, an Oxford professor of clinical psychology and the leader of the team that developed MBCT cites that brooding is one of the key features seen in patients with depression and MBCT specifically tackles brooding to teach compassion for self and others.
Add meditation to your depression management regimen today, thanks for reading and take care.
Jill is also available for 1-to-1 online therapy if you'd prefer to speak to a very experienced therapist face to face.