Overcoming Depression With Mindfulness

Mindfulness, a concept developed in Buddhism, may be effective at combating depression. Put simply by Psychology Today: “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” [1]

According to new research published in JAMA Psychiatry [2], Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) performed exceptionally for treating recurrent depression, especially in severe cases. In analyzing over 1,200 people, across nine different randomized and controlled trials, they found that they were up to 31% less likely to redevelop depression after 60 weeks compared to other treatments. The researchers themselves believe that this is wonderful news for healthcare, as they put it in an article [3] with Reuters:

“It is about choice for patients and adding another choice for people at high risk of depressive relapse to stay well in the long-term,” Kuyken told Reuters Health in an email.

“When mindfulness is combined with cognitive therapy, one of the things we see is people being trained to regard their thoughts as just thoughts and not to get ensnared by them,” said Richard Davidson, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

Amazingly enough, even when controlling for self-help, that is ensuring a professional was treating the individual, they were still 21% less likely to develop depression over the course of 60 weeks comparitively. Working well regardless of previous mental health history, relationships, age, education or gender.

“Depression is a recurrent illness,” said Davidson, of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Relapse is a very significant problem with depression, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may be particularly valuable in reducing the risk of relapse.”

This is fantastic news, as mindfulness practices are very easy to utilize in your day to day life. HelpGuide.org actually has a wonderful list of five different basic methods [4]:

Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.

Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.”

Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviors) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.

For more, check out the original pieces from HelpGuide and Reuters, as well as the original journal! Or, for more general tips on taking care of your mental health, check out our article here!

Sources:
[1]Psychology Today
[2]JAMA Psychology
[3]Reuters
[4]HelpGuide
[Original Image]PixaBay

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