How can meditating regularly help in curing depression?

Over the years, depression has become a primary concern of public health in almost every corner of the world. One out of every fifteen people has major depressive disorder at any moment. Researchers and doctors have left no stones unturned to provide a cure to this epidemic that is affecting the daily life of people. 

Thankfully, years and years of research have finally helped in getting an insight into the “depressed brain” that helped in formulating a promising solution. Researchers have stated that meditation is one of the most effective solutions for treating a depressed brain. A school of medicine in Washington had studied the MRI brain image of 48 women who are suffering from clinical depression. Thuy found that the hippocampi in the brain of the depressed patients have shrunk significantly over their years of depression. 

To explain in a simpler way, when an individual breaks their leg, the size and strength of the leg gradually dwindle away inside the orthopedic cast. Likewise, when an individual is depressed, the hippocampus in the brain gets slowly wasted away inside the depressive envelope (1)

Therefore to cure depression, one has to strengthen their hippocampus, and the best way to do it is by meditating. Nowadays, people are increasingly opting for meditation for managing health issues. The Neuroimage Journal had published a study in 2008 that proved that the right and left hippocampi of depressed people have grown in overall size, neural density, and thickness after eight weeks of meditation (2).

What makes meditation better than anti-depressants?  

The brain is a complex structure consisting of billions of neurons and certain messengers called the “neurotransmitters.” For the healthy functioning of the body and brain, there are two neurotransmitters called norepinephrine and serotonin. They are responsible for maintaining our mood and making us “feel good.”

Therefore, when the level of these neurotransmitters gets significantly low, that is when we sense an overwhelming feeling of sadness which eventually leads to depression. Hence, if you are depressed and taking anti-depressants, they would be targeting these two neurotransmitters. But, the downside of these medications includes general ineffectiveness, dependency, and other physical side effects. That is why in most cases, anti-depressants are not an ideal solution. 

However, several studies have talked about an all-natural, time-tested, and ultra-powerful solution. With meditation, depressed individuals can boost their norepinephrine and serotonin to healthy levels. The serotonin produced after meditation helps in rapidly neutralizing any depression-related elements that occupy the brain. That further provides strength to the brain to prevent itself from future depressive episodes. 

In simple words, meditation offers a natural way of creating a neurochemical utopia inside the brain that simply prevents depression from surviving. Although anti-depressants can be used temporarily, meditation offers a truer and more permanent solution to the problem (3).  

Three Basic Meditation Techniques for Coping Depression 

Progressive Relaxation

Also known as body scan meditation, it encourages you to scan your body for tensed areas. That way, you can identify the different areas of tension and help it release. During progressive relaxation, you would have to start with your body extremities, such as your feet, and work your way through the inner parts (4)

There are various methods that you can use for relaxing your body. You can either tense your muscles first and then relax them or visualize a wave traveling throughout your body to release the tension. 

With this meditation technique, you can promote feelings of generalized relaxation and calmness. Besides, it also helps in relieving chronic pain caused by depression. Besides, as this meditation gradually relaxes your body, you can even follow this technique for fighting depression-induced sleep disorders

Mindfulness Meditation

This method of meditation will urge you to stay present and aware of the moment. Mindfulness meditation allows you to focus on the present and immediate surroundings rather than dreading the future or dwelling on the past. 

You can practice mindfulness meditation anywhere. For example, when you are at a grocery store, you can take notice of your surroundings calmly, including the smells, sounds, and sights you experience (5)

By practicing mindfulness meditation, you can improve your relationship satisfaction, lessen emotionally impulsive reactions, improve memory and focus, and not fixate on negative emotions. There is also evidence that suggests that mindfulness meditation can help lower blood pressure and improve chronic kidney disease. 

Breath Awareness Meditation 

It is another type of mindful meditation through which you can practice mindful breathing to calm your mind and body. Here you would have to breathe deeply and slowly while focusing on your breaths. You can even count the number of breaths you are taking to keep your mind focused. 

Breathe awareness reduces anxiety, improves emotional flexibility, and enhances concentration by helping you ignore negative thoughts (6). If you are feeling too chaotic at mind and want an immediate solution, this meditation is your answer. 

Wrapping Up

Nobody can promise that you will never be depressed ever in your entire life once you start meditating. However, by incorporating effective meditation practices into your everyday routine, you can experience great positive changes in your life. 

Meditation will make it easier for you to fight unwanted, negative thoughts. Moreover, you can even compliment your meditation routine with therapy sessions to cope with your depression. That way, you can get better and timely results.

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