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Benefits of Using Mindfulness for Depression

Cognitive therapy in general and mindfulness in particular, both show promise as effective treatments for major depression. Mindfulness can also help to relieve anxiety, PTSD, and panic disorders associated with significant depression.

What Is the Connection Between Mindfulness and Depression?

When you become mindful, you only focus on the here and now. Upon entering a detached state, an avalanche of thoughts, ideas, feelings, reactions, and sensations typically clamor for your attention.

Many of those thoughts and feelings are based on negative ideas about yourself and false beliefs about the world, so don’t judge them. Instead, acknowledge them, inventory them, and don’t engage with them. The goal of mindfulness is to observe your thoughts calmly without reacting or feeling emotionally triggered.

Practicing mindfulness will help you identify many negative thoughts and beliefs that feed on your depression and keep it alive. Many of those self-destructive thoughts and ideas are based on lies you have accepted as truth.

It’s easy to feel depressed when your internal programs constantly tell you you’re a loser. With mindfulness, you can reprogram your brain by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

To replace negative beliefs, you have to find them. Mindfulness brings negative thoughts and feelings to the surface to be identified and assessed. When you let go of limiting thoughts and beliefs, your feelings about yourself and your life will also change.

Is There Evidence That Mindfulness Relieves Depression?

Mindfulness for depression is not the invention of a self-proclaimed new-age guru. It is practiced in Buddhist meditation to focus on the contents of the thoughts. Mindfulness also has roots in Hinduism-inspired meditation. Both are respected practices that have stood the test of time.

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A substantial number of researchers have investigated the connection between depression and mindfulness. These scientists report significant evidence indicating that mindfulness can relieve depression and balance out the mood.

A 2018 literature review concluded that the practice of mindfulness reduces both anxiety and depression, whether it’s accompanied by talk therapy or not.

In a 2019 study, researchers examined the brains of people who had received mindful meditation training for 40 days. The subjects had not practiced meditation or mindfulness previously.

The authors found that the brain structures of the study participants changed significantly after mindfulness training. The participants also scored lower on a clinical scale of depression.

A 2019 questionnaire-based study examined the interaction between depression and mindfulness. According to a sample of 1,151 adults, mindfulness reduced depression by calming the mind and reducing worry and rumination.

Can Mindfulness Prevent Relapse?

Meditation and exercise for depression have been shown to reduce the incidence of depressive relapse across dozens of scientific studies. A 2014 Veterans Affairs document reported that mindful practices are most effective with depressed individuals as opposed to patients with other mental health conditions.

When paired with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), mindfulness helps you to accept your thoughts and feelings instead of fighting them, fearing them, or being controlled by them.

A 2014 literature review of 47 mindfulness studies confirmed previous findings. There was a significant relationship between mindfulness and depression. The authors of the study reported that mindfulness was as effective at boosting mood as antidepressant medication.

Scientists have also found evidence that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helps clients to change their thought patterns and reduces the likelihood of a relapse. Patients who experienced severe, long-term abuse in early childhood benefit from MBCT the most.

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MBCT teaches patients to identify their most destructive self-talk and to disconnect from it. Up to 80% of depressed patients have at least one relapse. MBCT reduces that risk as effectively as antidepressants. Some clients experience reduced pain and anxiety as well.

Tips for Practicing Mindful Meditation

When you are mindful, you are fully engaged in the now moment. Remaining mindful is more challenging than it seems. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it perfectly every time to get results. Just do your best and keep doing it.

The thoughts and feelings that emerge during mindfulness can be uncomfortable, especially if you typically bottle up your emotions. Shame, anger, guilt, panic, anxiety, sadness, fear, and despair can all surface and demand your attention. Refuse to engage with these feelings. Observe them, acknowledge them, note them, and let them go.

Mind Body Wellness is an innovative Franklin, TN, outpatient facility serving clients with substance use and mental health disorders. We combine traditional approaches with cutting-edge therapies like meditation and exercise for depression.

Our goal is to provide an optimal environment where you can begin healing your mind, heart, body, and soul. Call us 24/7 to learn more about our community.