Meditation for Depression

benefits of meditation Nov 08, 2022

"I’ve heard that meditation can help reduce the effect of depression because of how it affects the brain. Is that true? How does it work? I’m more scientifically minded."

I can explain it, but first I want to suggest you reach out to a mental health professional for support. These people are trained to help you deal with issues like depression. You don’t have to go through it alone.

Now, with that said, let’s talk about meditation and depression.

Meditation has been found to change certain brain regions specifically linked with depression.

For example, the Medial Prefrontal Cortex becomes hyperactive in depressed people. This area of the brain is often called the "me centre" because this is where you process information about yourself, such as worrying about the future and ruminating about the past. When you get stressed about life, this area goes into overdrive.

Another brain region associated with depression is the amygdala, or "fear centre." This is the part of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response, which triggers the release of the stress hormones in response to perceived danger.

These two brain regions react to each other, and over time, those reactions can cause depression.
The “me centre” gets worked up, reacting to the stress and anxiety of life. Then the “fear centre” responds with the release of stress hormones designed to fight whatever is causing the stress and anxiety.

But having stress hormones in the bloodstream can cause a second layer worry and fear, and your brain responds to that with more stress hormones to help deal with the escalating situation.
It’s a vicious circle that leads you to feel burned out.

Research shows that meditation helps to break the connection between these two brain regions, therefore stopping the cycle.

"When you meditate, you are better able to ignore the negative sensations of stress and anxiety, which explains, in part, why stress levels fall when you meditate," says Dr. Denninger (Harvard. See article).

Meditation also clears away harmful stress chemistry in the body and replaces it with beneficial “happy” hormones.

Of course, this is an extremely complex topic and this email only touches on the basics of how meditation might treat depression, but I hope it helps in some small way.

And please reach out to a mental health professional if you need support. We all struggle with the demands of life from time to time. 😊

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