More than 300 million people worldwide are facing symptoms of depression with less than 10 per cent of this metric speaking up and reaching out for help to receive treatment. Social stigmas, nonchalance and often poor detection of depression symptoms result in affected people living with this dreadful problem for years without receiving healthcare in the form of allopathic medication, therapy or even just a helping hand.
With patients preferring therapy over expensive and hormone affecting drugs & anti-depressants, practices such as Mindful Meditation have been gaining significant traction. Mindfulness, or paying complete attention to the present moment, can be very helpful in tackling depression. Lending focus to the present helps individuals increase awareness of their negative thoughts, internalise the fact that these thoughts aren’t associated with reality and at the same time strengthen their ability to focus and increase mental calmness.
Beginners can invest 10-15 minutes of their time daily to sit in a comfortable position and focus their attention on the physical sensation of the breath. Mindfulness can also be extended to daily activities such as mindful eating, mindful studying, working, exercising and much more. This pushes out negative thoughts from the brain by reiterating their dissociation from reality constituting the core principle of mindful meditation – to train one’s attention to focus where one intends to and avoid wandering of the mind. The idea is to understand that while thoughts come and go, your conscious self is distinct from your thoughts and your thoughts need not always stem from reality. Depression often hijacks one’s ability to concentrate and be efficient at something. Mindfulness aims at bringing this attention and ability to be efficient back to depressed patients. Depression also causes a series of negative thoughts to race through one’s mind. These thoughts are endless and need to be intercepted, something mindfulness does by focusing on things we wish our mind to focus on. While soliciting medical treatment in greatly beneficial and in some cases vital to beat depression, practices such as mindfulness accelerate the healing and recovery process immensely.
This therapy can also be practised in groups with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT that coalesces the mindful meditation practice with cognitive therapy to help keep depression at bay and avoid a relapse. MBCT was developed in the 1990s at Oxford University as an antidote to patients’ moods and hormonal imbalances during and after the use of anti-depressants. Activities such as meditation, body scan, hatha yoga, relaxation training, depression education, stress education self-awareness, stress reduction and mindful breathing all fall under the umbrella of MBCT. While these practices are a strong defence against depression, they also help people not tackling depression too as they form a way of life for many.
Depression is an ailment that is increasingly burdening our generation from living a fulfilling, content and happy life. Lifestyle, stress, diet and physical activity is essential to eradicate this dreadful disease. Most importantly, we must encourage people facing this issue to fearlessly and uninhibitedly solicit support and beat the bug that is depression.
You may consult with Elate to get expert guidance on mindfulness meditation techniques. Also try guided breath meditation for beginners.