As common as depression is, there isn’t a lot of open discussion about how to cope with the symptoms and causes. Often mainstream media make it seem like the minute you start taking depression medications, everything will magically get better. While depression medications can be helpful in rectifying chemical imbalances that often cause depression, they’re just one aspect of what should be a multi-pronged approach to treatment.
Other important aspects of treatment are individual and group therapies, and learning practices, like meditation, to help you cope with triggers. Why meditation for depression? Keep reading to find out.
Being Diagnosed with Depression
Those who are diagnosed with depression often experience symptoms for at least two weeks. The diagnosis is common, but depression also must be taken seriously. Someone suffering from depression usually experiences, or someone observes in them, several of the symptoms below. Keep in mind, depression affects everyone differently and the symptoms will vary from person to person.
Symptoms of Depression:
- Persistent sadness, anxiety, or feeling empty
- Feelings of guilt or helplessness
- Decreased energy
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Difficulty concentrating or recalling information
- Changes to sleep patterns
- Aches and pains, headaches, cramps, and digestive problems with no apparent physical cause
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Why do some people suffer from depression when others don’t? It’s hard to say for sure, but there are known risk factors for depression like a personal or family history of depression, major life changes, trauma, stress, major or long-term physical illnesses, and some medications.
Meditation and Depression
While meditation may bring up thoughts of yoga retreats and be outside your comfort zone, stick with us here! Meditation is a practiced set of techniques to help form a heightened state of awareness and focus, and can also be a way to change your consciousness. Studies have shown regular focused meditation can help increase the size of the hippocampus in your brain. Since a smaller hippocampus has been linked to those with recurrent depressive disorders, increasing the grey matter in this area of the brain can help those with depression.
Meditation also helps depression by slowly changing the way your brain reacts to stress and anxiety. By acknowledging your feelings and understanding you don’t have to act on them, you become more self-aware and able to manage some triggers of your depression. The most common types of meditation for depression management are: loving-kindness meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, visualization, chanting, walking meditation, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (like we practice at Core Recovery).
Whichever method of meditation you choose, start slowly and work your way up to 30 minutes of meditation a day. While meditating, focus on your breathing and let your thoughts and feelings flow, acknowledging that you don’t have to act on them.
Reach out to a compassionate professional for help learning to cope with your depression using meditation. In addition to therapies, meditation techniques, and medication if necessary, your clinician will work with you to make sure you’re regularly doing physical activities, including exercise, being realistic with your expectations for yourself, and socializing with others.
If you or someone you care for is showing signs of depression, schedule an appointment today to learn about our intensive outpatient programs offering integrative care that can help.