Is mindfulness better than medication?
Does it work better than medication for depression? It might not work as quickly, but the research shows that it can be mare effective in the long term without the side effects of medication.
Simply put mindfulness is paying attention to the here and now!
It’s being fully present at the moment. And you’re experiencing the present moment in a non-judgmental way. Experiencing any given moment is different from thinking about it. We spend more time thinking and processing thoughts than we do experience.
And your mind is always working and processing a lot of thoughts each and every minute of the day. And thoughts can be your friend if they’re, creative and help you make plans or figure out a problem., But thoughts can be your enemy when they make you over worry.
Also, thoughts can be your enemy when they tell you negative things about yourself. So managing your thoughts is one of the goals of mindfulness. Why does this matter In an article from Science magazine in 2010? Researchers talked about how the normal default mode of your brain is to wander and think about things from the past and present.
It’S called stimulus, independent thought, and although this is the default mode of your brain, it comes at an emotional cost. That is, they found that people were more unhappy when their thoughts wandered than when they were intentionally focused on the thing that was currently happening.
So an overactive mind creates a sense of distress and likewise, a mind with more controlled thoughts on the present is less troubled. How is this related to brain function? Researchers have shown that depression can be characterized as less connectivity between the neurons in certain parts of the brain that regulate and process your emotions.
So, for example, suppose you lose your job and you can’t find another one.. You could be sitting around thinking about your situation and start focusing on all the negative things that have happened to you and come to the conclusion that my life sucks and what’s the point trying anyway.
Another situation could be that you’re thinking about your situation and you think I hate this I’ve got to find something else to do. Maybe I need to switch careers or what else can I do?
How can I make that happen? Do I need to get more training? The first thoughts were more negative and hopeless. The second set of thoughts are much more hopeful and problem-solving focused. So with depression, you selectively focus on negative things and wallow in negative self-appraisal.
You can just get lost in the negative thinking, and we see this with the hopelessness of depression. You get tunnel vision that blocks out the positive thoughts and you get locked into this negative world in your head. The end result is poor ability to regulate your mood and too much time focusing on the negative ones.
Here’s where mindfulness can come to the rescue. Because mindfulness helps reduce self-critical thoughts. This, of course, is a simplified explanation. If you really want to get into the details of how this happens please use the link at the bottom of this post.
However, here’s an even bigger point and how it can really help treat depression in the long run. Researchers have shown that not only does the practice of mindfulness help during the period that you’re doing it. But if you practice it on a regular basis, you get sustained connectivity and therefore an improvement in your depression.
What’s a regular basis In the studies that I will reference at the bottom of this article the participants completed an eight-week program of doing mindfulness exercises on average 30 minutes to an hour a day.
Now I realize even 30 minutes a day is a lot and you don’t have to start with that. However, keep in mind. Practising mindfulness doesn’t always have to involve sitting in a room with your eyes closed in quiet meditation. You can be in a mindful state in your day-to-day activities.
The mindfulness attention awareness scale is a questionnaire that researchers use to get a sense of a person’s baseline level of mindfulness in their everyday activities and some of the items used to measure are as follows. I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time. And I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I’m experiencing along the way. Can you relate to any of these things? These are just a couple of examples of how you can mindlessly engage in everyday activities.
And the real practice of mindfulness will involve not only having quiet time but learning how to be more present and aware throughout your day. So back to the issue of whether or not it’s better than medication. For some people, it may be a better option especially given the potential side effects of medication.
However, it doesn’t have to be either one or the other choice. You can practice mindfulness. alongside your medication treatment, your mindfulness practice is something you can use to help you out of a depression.
You can see a therapist who specializes in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy., But to do this on your own. The easiest way to start is to do guided meditations, where you listen to someone talk you through the process.
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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001;98(7):4259-64. Brown, K. W., West, A. M., Loverich, T. M., & Biegel, G. M. (2011). Assessing adolescent mindfulness: Validation of an Adapted Mindful Attention Awareness Scale in adolescent normative and psychiatric populations. Psychological Assessment, 23(4), 1023-1033
Article about neuroconnectivity as the basis for depression R. H. Kaiser, J. R. Andrews-Hanna, T. D. Wager, and D. A. Pizzagalli, “Large-scale network dysfunction in major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of resting-state functional connectivity,”
JAMA Psychiatry, vol. 72, no. 6, pp. 603–611, 2015. Mindfulness prevents relapse best in people with 3 or more episodes Ma, S. H., & Teasdale, J. D. (2004). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: Replication and Exploration of Differential Relapse Prevention Effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(1), 31-40.
Disclaimer: All of the information on this channel is for educational purposes and not intended to be specific/personal medical advice from me to you.