Mindfulness Meditation is one of the most effective things you can do to cope with depression
Depression is more than feeling sad. It common and serious mental health illness that adversely affects the way you feel, think, and act. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions worldwide. WHO reports that over 264 million people globally suffer from some form of depression.
The Depressed Brain
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. While the psychological effects of depression are well known, depression also has the potential to affect the physical structure of the brain. Physical changes range from chemical imbalances to inflammation and actual shrinking. As neurons in the brain shrink, it can result in difficulty in concentrating and memory loss. It can also make completing familiar tasks difficult, and in turn lead to hopelessness, guilt, and anxiety.
A depressed brain has troubling controlling moods and emotions, especially negative emotions. It makes you more vulnerable to stress and anxiety and impacts impulse control.
Since depression can inflame the brain, it causes chemical imbalances and lowers functionality, leaving you feeling tired, sad, confused, restless, and anxious. Depression also restricts the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. This can make you feel like you have low energy and make you lose interest in activities you previously enjoyed.
Using Mindfulness and Meditation to Cope with Depression
Mindfulness and meditation can help retrain the brain to regulate emotions, control moods, and restore the brain’s chemical balance.
The main triggers of depression are usually stress and anxiety. Meditation can help to alter those feelings and thoughts by training your brain to focus on one thing. When you feel negative moods and emotions, the brain returns to that focus point, allowing those negative emotions to pass.
Restoring Control and Regulating Emotions with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a type of meditation, wherein you focus your awareness on your feelings, thoughts, and sensations in the present moment without judgment. The idea is to be completely present in the now and notice what you are feeling without trying to interpret, understand, or judge those feelings. Mindfulness can teach you to retrain your brain. It can not only help you gain back control over your brain's abilities but also regulate emotions by offering improved clarity in stressful situations.
It can also increase attention and improve memory. Since a strong focus or attention is one of the central aspects of mindfulness meditation, it’s not surprising that meditation can improve cognitive skills, concentration, and memory.
Rewiring your Brain and your Thoughts with Meditation
Meditation is an active training of the mind that can help you change the way you think. Studies show that meditation can help the brain to recover more quickly from emotional situations as well as tame negative emotions more easily.
Moreover, meditation also protects the brain’s hippocampus. While depression shrinks the hippocampus, daily meditation (even for just 30 minutes) can increase the volume of grey matter in the brain. As the hippocampus returns to its normal size, people with depression are more able to control their emotions and moods and become less vulnerable to negative thoughts, low self-esteem, and feelings of restlessness and worthlessness.
Meditation calms the mind and nerves. Studies show that meditation reduces mind-wandering activity in the brain. Distracting thoughts are usually associated with being less happy and worrying about the past and future. When you meditate, you are able to ignore such negative sensations of worry, stress, and anxiety.
People with depression may want to limit social interactions. Mindfulness meditation is known to reduce social anxiety disorder, which can help them to meet people that can bring them joy.
Instead of trying to eliminate sadness and anxiety, mindfulness and meditation aim to rewire and retrain the brain so that you change the way you think and experience negative emotions.
Depression is a mental health disorder that reduces the brain’s functionality relating to memory and mood. There are clear differences between a healthy brain and a depressed brain. But meditation and mindfulness can help bridge the gap and revert a depressed brain to its original capabilities.
Meditation techniques like body-scan meditation, love-kindness meditation, and visualization can help you process negative emotions, build back your confidence and focus on positivity.