By Sophie Addison
Millions of people are faced with stress and depression, conditions that are highly treatable but most affected individuals refuse to seek professional help.
While stress is something we can’t avoid, there are different ways you can learn to manage it and prevent it from affecting your productivity or overall quality of life. On the other hand, depression requires professional help i.e. visits to a therapist who helps you fight and resolve the underlying cause, but just like with stress you can relieve your problem in different ways.
Meditation experts claim it offers a unique solution that relieves both stress and depression.
Is that correct?
How can meditation relieve stress and depression? Keep reading to find out.
Although 10% of people suffer from depression without stressful trigger event, most affected individuals develop depression due to stress that isn’t managed. Stress, regardless of whether it’s chronic e.g. taking care of a parent who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or acute such as losing your job or a loved one, can lead to major depression. Why? It’s because both types of stress, chronic and acute, result in excessive activity of your body’s stress-response mechanism.
Chronic or sustained stress leads to increased level of hormones such as cortisol is known as the 'stress hormone' and reduced level of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in your brain.
Meditation is a mental practice that has been used for several centuries. Its benefits go beyond relaxation effect, and this simple practice of focusing on your breaths and simple points of reference can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Meditation is associated with some health benefits including managing and reducing stress.
While most people usually assume that effective meditation requires hours, the study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology suggests that even a little mindfulness training can offer useful benefits such as quieting the mind in stressful situations. The study was conducted by J. David Creswell and the team of researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University from Pittsburgh, PA.
The study included 66 participants who were either assigned to a brief (25-minutes long) 3-day program of mindfulness meditation or analytic cognitive training control program. Results of this research reveal that brief meditation reduced self-reported psychological stress reactivity and increased salivary cortisol reactivity to the stress challenge task or TSST. Scientists concluded study pointing out that brief mindfulness meditation training fosters greater active coping efforts thus leading to reduced psychological stress.
Therefore, using the beneficial practice of meditation to reduce stress and anxiety is highly effective.
According to the review of studies authored by Dr. Madhev Goyal of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, meditation does help to manage depression, anxiety, and pain. The review, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, revealed that little training of about 2.5 hours per week showed consistent effects in relieving anxiety and depression.
Anxiety, depression, and stress are different components of negative affect. When each component was combined with the negative effect, it showed a consistent signal that any domain of negative effect is improved through mindfulness programs.
Moreover, a study published in the British journal The Lancet showed that meditation has the same effect on depression as antidepressant drugs, just without the potential addictive effect. The study conducted by Dr. Willem Kuyken of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford included 424 patients from 95 general practices. 212 patients were assigned to mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and 212 participants received antidepressants. Results of the study showed that MBCT had the same effect as antidepressants and concluded the study pointing out that findings pave the way of new, alternative treatment for depression, particularly for patients who are reluctant to taking drugs.
* Practice yoga - yoga and meditation often go hand in hand, and they both focus on breathing techniques and proper posture. It’s an excellent exercise for stress relief that offers a wide spectrum of other health benefits
* Listen to uplifting music
* Talk to a loved one
* Take deep breaths
* Eat healthy diet, primarily fruits and vegetables
* Drink green tea
* Don’t hide or suppress your emotions, fears, wishes, problems
* Exercise regularly (even a short walk can be beneficial)
* Get enough sleep
Stress and depression are quite common and although it may seem you’re in a 'no way out' situation you should always bear in mind that both these anxiety disorders are treatable. Meditation is an easy, beneficial, practical, and cost-effective way to feel better.
Sophie Addison is a popular blogger and skincare expert. She is very passionate about writing on skincare and beauty. She has posted articles on tips for fine lines under the eyes, weight loss and fitness news. Apart from work she likes gardening and listening music. You can also contact her on Facebook, and Pinterest.