What is Depression?
Depression is more than feeling low or sad, which we all experience from time to time. Depression persists for many weeks or months and interferes with your life, e.g. your work or relationships. The symptoms vary from person to person but can include a lack of motivation, hopelessness, sadness, guilt, low interest, disturbed sleep, and tearfulness.
HOW COMMON IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is the most common mental health problem, and was the second leading cause of disability worldwide in 2013. Between 2-6% of the world’s population experienced depression in 2017. Depression symptoms have increased in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly ⅕ experiencing some form of depression during this time.
CAN MINDFULNESS IMPROVE DEPRESSION?
Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way of preventing relapse in people with recurring depression, and mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT, a talking therapy combining mindfulness and cognitive therapy) is provided by some NHS mental health services for depression and addiction. There is also evidence that loving-kindness meditation, yoga, and mindfulness delivered online may have benefits for reducing symptoms of depression.
If you have clinical depression, these practices should not be used as a replacement for talking therapy or medications. Instead, they should be seen as a practice which can form part of a self-care routine, created by the individual to suit their needs and preferences. You should always consult a clinician if you are worried about the state of your mental health.
Neuroscientific and psychological research suggests that these practices could improve depression through a variety of mechanisms. Here are some of the ways this might work!
- Meditation may engage brain networks involved in emotional states such as approach vs avoidance motivations, detecting emotions, mapping emotions to physiological responses, and empathy
- Mindfulness meditation may reduce ruminative thinking, which is thought to contribute to ongoing depressive states
- Mindfulness might reduce overgeneral autobiographical memory and improve cognitive flexibility, which are important psychological characteristics of depression
COPE BETTER WITH ZENMIND
If you are ready to start your journey in managing your health and wellbeing, sign up for the Zenmind App. It’s free to begin. Our expert teachers, which includes teachers of meditation, buddhism and yoga, as well as counsellors and psychotherapists, will help you understand anxiety and how to cope better.