According to the World Health Organization more than 350 million people suffer from depression and 1 million people commit suicide each year. Meditation and its effects have been shown through multiple studies that it is as effective as an antidepressant in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety [3].
Meditation as psychotherapy has caught the attention of neuroscientists and psychologists due a number of reasons. Zindel Segal who holds a head chair for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, along with his colleagues John Teasdale and Mark Williams developed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the pioneer for mindfulness-based therapies developing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) therapy. With new brain imaging technologies, meditation and its effects are being studied for its physiological and molecular mechanisms with regards to mood changes. Serotonin 5-HT, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, norepinephrine, glutamate and melatonin have all been implicated to change with meditation[2].
Meditation seems to modulate areas of the brain that is associated with emotion and executive functions for controlling emotion seen through various neuroimaging techniques. Through studies regarding to the increase of serotonin and decrease of norepinephrine, it suggests that the HPA Axis is affected during meditation[13]. Within the Buddhism and meditation community the term “dark night” refers to a potential stage of the mindfulness journey for the meditator that is associated with cognitive impairments, disturbed heightened responses to stimuli, feelings of dissociation from the self and increased emotional responses[15] . Willoughby Britton is the first neuroscientist to study into these counteractive effects of meditation.
Her research is currently not published and is ongoing, however she has presented her preliminary results to the public including his holiness the Dali Lama.
It is really cool to see that guided meditation can be an alternative to medication in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
I enjoyed your topic - the benefits that meditation has on MDD is something that I'm only acutely aware of but have always been curious about, so I'm glad someone dedicated a whole neurowiki article to it. Relaxation: Meditation as effective as medicationProfessor Willem Kuyken, from the Mood Disorders Centre at the University of Exeter, said MBCT could shorten NHS waiting lists for psychological therapies.
Depression is something much more, it stays with you, persistently, each morning when you wake up, each evening when you go to bed, it’s there. Typically the symptoms can persist for extended periods of time, weeks, months and even years. Depression can come on over time, gradually, so it may be difficult to notice it developing.
A study conducted in 2001 at the University of Exeter in England, showed that Sahaja Yoga Meditation has a therapeutic effect on the symptoms of patients with depression and anxiety. The group treated with Sahaja Yoga Meditation compared to the non-treated group showed a statistically significant reduction in the symptoms of anxiety, depression and general mental health.
At a trend level the Sahaja Yoga Meditation group also showed improvements compared to the group treated with CBT.
Although the original goal of Yoga and Meditation is spiritual growth, important therapeutic side effects on physical and mental health have attracted medical research across the world. The state of thoughtless awareness experienced in Sahaja Yoga has thus been shown to elicit important beneficial changes in the body and the brain and has therapeutic effects on a wide range of disease processes.
Each week across London many people experience this actualisation at one of the many free meditation classes on offer.
You are welcome to join us anytime in 2016 as we gather to achieve Yoga and enjoy the state of meditation. What is Meditation?Meditation is a state of mental silence or stillness, where we are fully aware, but not engrossed in thinking.It is known as ‘thoughtless awareness’. The research to find effective treatments for Major Depression Disorder (MDD) is incredibly relevant. Moreover, further studies show that the integration of mediation with various forms of psychotherapy to be particularly effective in reducing relapse rates[4]. Firstly, it is seen to be cost effective compared to receiving traditional pharmacology treatments for MDD, especially for patients taking antidepressants to avoid relapse[5]. MBCT is an eight-week program where participants complete a weekly group meditation class and a daily home meditation practice by a guided meditation CD [7]. Many studies have illustrated that numerous changes happen in the brain during meditation, even with new meditators. Serotonin, for example when tested through urine samples after participants were meditating shows increased levels of this monoamine[2].
For example, studies show that the amygdala in experienced meditators, which is usually hyperactive in depressed individuals, is less active[12]. Further studies show that the parasympathetic activity is increased and the sympathetic activity is decreased[13]. While western science research has focus on the benefits of mindfulness in general, little research has been conducted into these prevalent adverse effects of meditation with regards to stress and mood disorders.
She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology and is currently doing her research at Brown University. Her research comprises of conducting interviews with over forty meditation teachers and practitioners who has reported difficulties in their meditation practice [15].
Hawley, Lance, Danielle Schwartz, Peter Bieling, Julie Irving, Kathleen Corcoran, Norman Farb, Adam Anderson, and Zindel Segal.
Your topic was very interesting, and you did a great job in getting your information to the reader. I love that you included so much research and work currently being done by different people. Very well written and extremely informative, I really like how you chose to organize your material, as well as the fact that you included several key players in the field! It is amazing how you acknowledged the people whom you mentioned in your wiki by posting their photos as well. Get regular access to valuable information on meditation that you can use to improve the quality of your health and life.
We all have bad days, ups and downs, genuine disappointments and inevitably have to face at some time the loss of loved ones.
It is characterised by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of enjoyment, tearfulness and general loss of interest in day-to-day life itself.

Yet as complex and variable as the symptoms may be, common patterns tend to include feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest in everyday life. Most people will try and soldier on and cope with the symptoms without realising or acknowledging that they may be ill. It is achieved when the indwelling Kundalini energy awakens and carries the individual attention beyond the level of the 6th chakra, into the seventh chakra, known as Sahasrara. Recent research shows meditation is comparably effective to antidepressants in relieving symptoms of MDD[1] . Therefore, psychotherapies are being developed and implemented to treat people who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. Secondly, antidepressants have been controversial due to the concern of toxicity and other possible adverse effects; therefore the appeal of using a non-pharmacological treatment for MDD and stress is of great interest to the medical and psychotherapy community. The form of the therapy is the combination of traditional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) therapy developed previously by Jon Kabat-Zinn [7]. Jon Kabat- Zinn is the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and he is also a professor of Medicine at the same university. There are certain physiological associations with depression that meditation seems to act on or change in the brain. Researchers suggest that the effect of meditation on the Prefrontal Cortex modulates the secretion of serotonin 5-HT[2].
Zindel Segal and other researchers believe that the high activation in the prefrontal cortex and increased grey matter in the PFC seen in meditators may be used to help modulate the activation of emotional centres in the brain such as the amygdala[15]. Again these neurobiological findings correlates with reports from other studies mentioned above that researchers see decreased anxiety levels with people who have completed MBCT and MBSR.
However, the DSM-IV has referenced this phenomenon within the section on depersonalization disorder to differentiate this psychopathological disorder from the behavioural effects seen in meditation practitioners at this stage[15] . Through this research people have reported to experience hallucinations, cognitive impairment, dissociation from reality, hyperactive emotional responses, adverse effects which are similar to the Buddhist definition of the “dark night” phenomena[15] . Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
Antidepressant monotherapy vs sequential pharmacotherapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or placebo, for relapse prophylaxis in recurrent depression. My page is on psychotherapy (treatments for MDD), and I covered CBT and psychodynamic therapy. However, whenever meditation and research is involved I am always hesitant to its conclusions. What’s more these states of depression can lead into another condition, whereby you experience symptoms of anxiety. This can be tangibly felt, and manifests as a cool wind, breath or breeze, often felt on the palms of the hands or at the top of the head. In addition, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is shown to be particularly effective in reducing relapse rates of depression [1] . Furthermore, studies about the physiological changes that take place in the brain during and after meditation have been used to explain the effectiveness of meditation as a treatment.
Although Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction are the most studied therapies incorporating meditation, other traditional psychotherapies such as existential psychotherapies like Mindfulness-Based Existential Therapy (MBET) and Dialect Behaviour Therapy have also integrated meditation[6].
The reasoning behind the effectiveness of the therapy is that the type of thinking pattern of an individual who have suffered a depressive episode is different from one who has not experienced MDD[8]. He is usually credited for bringing meditation into the western world in general, where it gained a lot of attention outside the Buddhism traditions. For example, the HPA Axis, certain areas that modulate emotions such as the prefrontal cortex and meditation also effects neurochemicals such as serotonin[2].
GABA, dopamine and melatonin have been shown to increase after meditation as well, which are neurochemicals that through previous research have been shown to be low in depressed individuals[2].
Moreover, studies show that there is also less activity in the limbic system, which is thought to contribute to less rumination in patients, a key factor in the development of mindfulness-based therapies[14].
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: Replication and exploration of differential relapse prevention effects.
The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter. I have learned a lot on this from a buddhism meditation course, where all we looked at were research on meditation.
Further studies suggests there are neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie the efficiency of meditation as a therapy for depression.
Changes in the brain that have been associated with alleviating depression and the reduction in relapse rates are of structural, functional and chemical in nature. MBET has been argued that mindfulness can help the client and the therapist access and be aware of the moment-to-moment experience and emotions during existential therapy, whereby they can investigate with more clarity the issues that affect the client such as death, freedom and meaning in accordance to the principles of existentialism[6].
Segal and colleagues have suggested that the negative rumination of people who have recovered from depression can trigger a lower mood that can cause a relapse of depression[8]. He was inspired by being taught meditation from a recognized Zen meditator and saw the benefits of mindfulness and specifically zen meditation. Research is usually conducted by using imaging techniques such as Electroencephalography (EEG) on participants of Mindfulness-Based programs, where researchers analyze and compare brain activity. Norepinephrine and glutamate in the left thalamus has been shown to decrease after mediation[2]. In addition, a study have suggested that after meditation neurogenesis in the hippocampus occurs[2].
It is evident that more research should be done since MBCT and MBSR is becoming more established in clinical practices, whereby the risks involve should be well known for the teacher, therapist and the patient. Further more, Britton has found that these effects can last up to three years, whereby some have suffered severe depression that has lead them to quit their jobs and to live normal lives[15].
Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. For example, meditation has been shown to increase monoamines and decrease amygdala activity[2] . Since research has illustrated the benefits of meditation for those who suffer from mood disorders and stress, many individual psychotherapists have been integrating meditation into their own practices. Therefore MBCT is developed for the patient to have a raised awareness of the moment-to-moment experience and to their emotions to develop a meta-cognitive relationship with their negative thinking patterns, which is hypothesized to cause prevailing relapses[8].

MBSR is also an intensive eight-week therapy program where he guides people through meditations[20]. Experiments such as taking experienced meditators such as traditional Buddhist monks and comparing grey matter in the prefrontal cortex with controls have also taken place. Both of these monoamines are associated with calmness when they are decreased in an individual[2]. It is well known from previous studies that the hippocampus is shown to be smaller in depressed individuals[2]. Britton is interested how meditation which is proven to decrease symptoms of MDD can have such a strong polarizing effect, bringing people further more into depression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(22), 8865-8870. What we have shown is that when people work at it, these skills for life help keep people well. These act as an internal pain killer, alleviate your mood, make you feel happy and stabilize your energy level.Meditation also increases the secretion of the DHEA hormone.
It is evident and relevant that more research into meditation and depression should be encouraged in the neuroscience community.
It is generally seen through all the studies and clinical trials that meditation and its effects can help people who suffer from depression.
Michael Stone, a renowned psychotherapist in Toronto has successfully incorporated meditation in his own practice. In fact, once one has suffered depression the percentage of relapse rate is around 80% in most cases, therefore the relevancy of finding an effective treatment to prevent relapse is undeniable[9]. He has many guided meditations CD available for download or purchase outside of his MBSR program in his clinic. This can suggest the physiological the effect meditation has with regards to relieving symptoms and relapse rates of depression and anxiety disorders.
A common theme is seen in most of the studies, where the areas that are highly active in depressed individuals are decreased in meditators.
She found that these experiences are prevalent, on average each teacher she had interviewed had one or two cases of people during retreats each year who had to be hospitalized regarding to these adverse effects[15]. Low levels of DHEA are strongly associated with the risk of heart attack, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and chronic fatigue.Easy depression meditationSit in a comfortable meditation posture (not sure of the correct posture? He is the founder of the Centre of Gravity, a centre where Zen meditation is the core of the therapeutic process. Much research has gone into the effectiveness of this therapy, and has become a well-established form of therapy particularly in Canada and England.Overwhelming amount of research has shown that MBCT is comparably effective in relieving symptoms of depression as an antidepressant.
All of these research groups have found structural, functional and neurochemical changes as well as changes in the Autonomic Nervous System. And the areas which are associated with self regulation and emotional control are more active. It is clear through her preliminary research that mindfulness meditation involves risks and neuroscience should fully explore this before more advancements of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and other therapies. Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Mindfulness based therapies are being more established internationally, here is a list of established MBCT therapists and clinics.
A recent meta-analysis reviewed over 18 000 studies through statistical analysis such as testing for strength of evidence and magnitude of improvement have confirmed that MBCT is as effective as an antidepressant and improved relapse rates more than the controls[3].
The process is the meditator is to pay close attention to the breathes through the sensations felt through the body.
It is clear the benefits reported on meditation with depression and anxiety has an underlying physiological mechanism, thus considered as a neuroscientific phenomenon. It is clear that meditation is an evidence-based psychotherapy that should be more accessible to patients and be further studied.
Moreover, it showed that most mindfulness programs were moderately effective in relieving anxiety as well.
Again many studies have been conducted that shows the effectiveness of this therapy with anxiety and depression. And when you rid yourself of the destructive 'thought-cycle,' you can start to rid yourself of depression.Expensive medication like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft only help relieve the symptoms of depression, and are temporary, stop-gap measures at best.
For example, a study conducted by Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues shows that the therapy has long lasting effects[5]. The same study also reported that mantra meditation showed little improvement compared to controls, and that mindfulness based therapies in particular were more effective[3].
The study took 22 rigorously scanned individuals who completed the MBSR course three years prior, and using the Beck Depression Inventory and other similar assessments analyzed the results[5]. In the most recent paper by Zindel Segal and his colleagues, he takes this research further and focuses on whether the effectiveness of this therapy differs with formal or informal mindfulness practice. In this study he found that there were still low levels of relapse rates compared to controls post treatment[5]. The participants on average rated high on their value of meditation in their daily lives and found it to be life altering[5]. Joseph’s Healthcare, took two groups of screened individuals who completed 8 weeks of treatment in either formal or informal mindfulness practice[19]. Furthermore the study found that most of the patients continued meditating throughout the three years after taking the program[5]. The study shows that formal but not informal mindfulness based practice is effective in relieving symptoms of MDD[19]. All these results make it evident that MBSR is a long-term strategy that can be used to help those who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders.

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