Meditation for Anxiety and Depression
Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.
If you regularly practice meditation, mental health problems and counseling and therapy may never be an issue for you. Research into depression and anxiety treatment has consistently shown that meditation can improve both mental health as well as physical well being. At my practice, I frequently recommend meditation to my clients.
Meditation for Depression
For thousands of years, meditation has been used in Eastern religious and spiritual traditions as a method of uniting the spirit and the mind. Through the years, medicine men and tribal doctors have used the healing benefits of meditation. In more modern times, meditation has become a popular way to relieve the stress from a fast-paced world as well as helping to improve both mental and physical health.
It is now well known that physical exercise can alter hormone levels within the body and have a positive effect on our moods, however more recent research has demonstrated that meditation works in a related manner and offers similar benefits. Despite the obvious metabolic differences between running and meditation, similar positive mood changes occur after both of these activities.
Spontaneous thoughts are often cited as a symptom of depression. For this reason, scientists have investigated ways in which these thoughts can be controlled without the use of drugs. Meditation and prayer can help prevent depression by reducing intrusive thoughts. In one study, 20 men and women were monitored after prayer, meditation, and carrying out a memory task. The results showed that there was a significant reduction in thought arousal during both the memory task and the reciting of prayer after meditation.
Anxiety and Meditation
Meditation has long been used to help relax, focus and attenuate anxiety by reducing arousal state. A study on anxiety treatment at the University of Massachusetts Medical School revealed that 22 medical patients with anxiety disorders showed clinically and statistically significant improvements in symptoms of anxiety and panic following an 8-week stress reduction intervention based on mindfulness meditation. Three years later, a follow-up study learned that the same subjects still had reduced anxiety and concluded that mindfulness meditation can have long-term benefits in anxiety treatment.
A large review study looked at 60 studies using meditation of the treatment of anxiety disorders and concluded that meditation therapy was an effective method for treating anxiety disorders.
About the Author
Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is a practicing therapist, researcher and author specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, and related disorders. Dr. Fredricks is a best-selling author of several books including Healing & Wholeness: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Mental Health a 650-page compendium and landmark publication that provides a comprehensive overview of complementary and alternative treatments for mental health, with information and research on their effectiveness for treating specific disorders. For more information on Dr. Fredricks work, visit her practice website San Jose Counseling and Psychotherapy.