Overcoming Stress And Depression
Using Meditation

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Overcoming Stress And Depression  Using Meditation

Studies suggest that meditation can be an effective when it comes to overcoming stress and depression.

According to Dr Joan Borysenko, mediation can be broadly defined as any activity that keeps the mind’s attention pleasantly focused on the present moment. In such a state, the mind will be calm, since it is not reacting to memories of the past or concerns of the future – two major sources of chronic stress. [1]


The evidence

Studies show that meditation brings about a healthy state of relaxation by reducing multiple physiological and biochemical markers, such as heart rate, respiration rate, and cortisol levels (a major stress hormone). In addition, meditation also helps to increase brain waves associated with relaxation. [1]

In a well-designed controlled study in Princeton University, Patricia Carrington and her associates found that 6 weeks of simple mantra meditation helped most of the 76 overly-stressed, mildly depressed subjects improve on a variety of psychological and psychosomatic symptoms. [2]

Several months later, their stress and depression were down by almost 70% – this recovery rate was twice that of a no-treatment control group, and significantly better than that of another group taught progressive relaxation. [2]

In a randomized controlled study reported by the Journal of Counseling and Development, transcendental meditation was found to significantly reduce the severity of stress and depression in patients suffering from post-traumatic stress problems after 4 months, whereas psychotherapy did not bring about any significant reduction in depression in the control group. [3]

It seems that meditation is particularly helpful for people suffering chronically from mild depression (or dysthymia). The effectiveness of meditation on major depression is however, less clear. [2]


Is there any danger to meditation?

Regardless of the type of meditation, meditation is considered a psychoactive activity. Hence, it is best performed in moderation under the guidance of a therapist or teacher.

It appears that some people experience temporary psychosis when destabilizing material from their sub-consciousness surface as a result of the meditation process. Some others become disoriented when they experienced a change in self-image and consciousness as a result of meditation. The release of chronic stress in some can also bring about transient aches and pains, spasms, nightmares, or even a temporary worsening of depression conditions. [2]

According to renowned spiritual teacher, Deepak Chopra, the negative “side effects” of meditation come about only when meditation is incorrectly performed [4]. Under the guidance of an experienced meditation therapist or teacher, these undesired effects can be prevented or minimized.

The US government-run National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine advises that individuals with depression to inform their doctors prior to starting a meditative practice and alert their meditation instructor to their depression condition. [5]

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