There is an easy, natural, and healthy way to cure depression: Meditation.
Scientific research has proven that there are more than 100 health benefits of meditation. Perhaps most important is the fact that meditation cures many mental health problems.
Meditation is proven to:
- Massively reduce anxiety symptoms
- Stop negative thoughts
- Help with post traumatic stress disorder
- Help us let go
- Boost the immune system
- Promote inner peace
- Prevent and relieve anger
- Increase communication between parts of the brain.
- Help to stop painful emotions
- Reduce sadness and grief as well as other negative emotions
- Relieve sadness
- Prevent loss of appetite
- Offer relief from agitation
- Stop restlessness
- Help control thoughts of death, suicide, and self harm
- Cure insomnia
- Help with bipolar disorder
Meditation reduces the symptoms of depression
Meditation massively reduces the symptoms of depression, and helps to stop painful emotions.
Today, more than 300 million people worldwide are living with depression. Men, women, children, our friends and family, are suffering from this serious issue, often silently.
Meditation can help.
In this guide I share everything you need to know about using meditation for depression.
You might also like to read my guide to helping someone through depression, in which I discuss how compassionate friends and family members can offer support to those with depression.
The scientific proof meditation beats depression
Mindfulness-based CBT and meditation can cure depression as effectively as pills.
In a recent trial published by The Lancet medical journal, 424 British adults were given either depression medication or therapy either take pills or try therapy.
Half the test group were allotted to pills and the other half to sessions of mindfulness.
The latter group stopped taking their medication completely after a winding-down period.
The results are impressive.
“The relapse rates in the two groups were similar, with 44% in the mindfulness group and 47% for those on the drugs,” reports British newspaper The Guardian.
Lead author Willem Kuyken, professor of psychology at the University of Oxford said, “Our hypothesis was that [therapy would be more effective than pills].”
The results showed that meditation is equally as good as medication and that meditation does offer an alternative option for people trying to overcome depression.
Nigel Reed, who has been suffering from depression and who took part in the study, says, “Mindfulness gives me a set of skills which I use to keep well in the long term. ”
The study also showed that mindfulness might work better than pills for those people who are at high risk of relapse.
- You might like to read about the shocking placebo research.
Professor Mulder Says Meditation Should Be Offered As An Alternative Treatment For Depression
Professor Roger Mulder, of the University of Otago New Zealand, believes that mindfulness should be offered as a therapy for patients. His reasons is that meditation lowers costs and has less side effects.
“We have a promising new treatment that is reasonably cost-effective and applicable to the large group of patients with recurrent depression,” says Mulder.
Mulder states that drugs are not working as expected.
“Despite the increased use of drugs, the long-term outcome of mood disorders has not improved in the modern era.”
And yet despite these facts the pharmaceutical industry continues to force pills on people. And that despite the mounting placebo research.
Current best practice, endorsed by Nice (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is to encourage people with a history of recurrent depression to remain on antidepressants for at least two years.
So here’s what we know:
- Meditation can be as effective as medication for depression
- Meditation doesn’t have the side-effects medication has
- Experts recommend people with depression try mindfulness and meditation
Naturally, you will want to consult a healthcare professional to see what the best option is for you.
But do be aware of the possible side-effects of medication.
The full list of side-effects from anti-depressants
- increased appetite
- weight gain
- loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems
- fatigue and drowsiness
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
- Weight gain
- Loss of sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty urinating
- Sun sensitivity
- Increased heart rate
- Weight gain
- Sleep disruption
- Abdominal pain
Meditation kills the negative thoughts depression feeds on
Meditation helps with one of the worst symptoms of depression: It stops negative thoughts.
One of the common causes of anxiety and depression are negative thoughts.
I wanted to know precisely how much of an effect these negative thoughts have on us. So I researched. And was shocked by the answer.
EocInstitute [one of the leaders for science-backed meditation articles] tell us, “Scientists estimate the number of human thoughts at around 50,000 per day — meaning a negative, depressed mind can literally generate dozens of pessimistic thoughts per minute! READ MORE
Stopping negative thoughts can have a huge effect on depression.
You need those negative thoughts to be silenced so that you can find peace and calm. You need to find a new, positive way of thinking.
One way to change your negative thoughts is to use mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy (MBCBT) for positivity. This is a powerful way of boosting the positive thoughts in your mind, while reducing the negative thoughts.
Going hand-in-hand with MBCBT is meditation.
Meditation can help calm the mind, cool our emotions, remove negative thoughts, and ultimately, meditation can help stop depression.
How to clear your mind of negative thoughts
Some of the best ways to clear your mind include:
- Practicing traditional yoga
- Practicing tai-chi or QiGong
- Going for a walk
- Pet therapy (clinical trials show that time with pets helps to eliminate the symptoms of depression).
- Talking through it with a friend
- Going for a run while meditating (running is proven to be one of the best natural treatments for depression).
But arguably the best way to clear your mind is by using meditation.
Beginners guide to using meditation for depression
There are many self-healing meditation techniques.
Many meditations can help with depression. The most basic is breath-based meditation.
When you focus the mind on the breath you silence your thoughts, which helps you to escape from depression and anxiety.
The following scenario paints the picture:
Like a cup, if the mind is full, nothing more can be put in it. No new information can enter a full mind. A problem. Because just as the body needs water, the mind needs new information.
Meditation empties the mind. Then, new, healthy, positive information is free to enter.
Meditation helps us let go of what is there, and put something happier and more pleasant in its place.
Essentially: out go depressive thoughts. In come healthy, happy thoughts.
Exercise: #1 A Relaxing Meditation For Beginners
Spend 10 minutes trying this simple exercise. It will clear your mind and help you to start feeling relaxed.
- Find somewhere quiet and peaceful where you will not be disturbed.
- Sit with good posture.
- Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing.
- With each inhalation, imagine bringing new energy into your body.
- With each exhalation imagine breathing out any negative and depressive thoughts.
- Take 108 breaths in this fashion.
This is a very simple exercise for depression. It’s the type of mindfulness exercise advocated by Deepak Chopra, and Doctor Oz
More Effective Meditations For Depression
Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the best meditation techniques for depression. But please bear in mind that meditation does pose somerisks to your health.
Meditation Techniques for depression #1: Anapanasati
“Anapanasati” is the proper term used to described breathing meditations.
This is one of the best types of meditation for depression. And it is the best place for all newcomers to start meditation.
The basic process of anapanasati is about focusing on the breath to relax the mind, and then focusing on the feeling of calmness.
Anapanasati is fairly easy to do, and it creates a deep sense of relaxation.
Meditation for Depression 2: Smiling Buddha Technique
Smiling Buddha meditation is a moderately advanced technique that is best for people who have some experience meditating.
It is a technique specifically designed to create happiness. It involves a combination of mudras (hand position) and mantras (repeated words) to create deep relaxation and happiness.
- Read my full guide to Smiling Buddha Technique.
Meditation for Depression 3: Zen Walking Meditation
I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that when you’re feeling down, a nice long walk helps a lot.
A walk gives you the chance to escape and allows you to clear your mind.
The only thing better than a walk is a Zen walking.
In Zen walkking you walk up and down a path while meditating on the sense of movement. This allows you to get some fresh air (important for depression). It clears the mind and brings calmness and relaxation.
Meditation for Depression 4: Mindfulness
Mindfulness isn’t a specific meditation technique. It’s more an attitude which encompasses a wide variety of techniques.
This is the type of meditation Deepak Chopra, Dr. OZ and others advocate.
Essentially, mindfulness is awareness.
When you practice mindfulness you train yourself to let go of thoughts and to focus on the moment. This is very powerful for depression and will help you to escape your thoughts. I particularly recommend mindfulness if you are suffering from negative thought depression.
The NHS tells us:
When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.
Meditation for Depression 5: Visualisation
Visualisation meditation is one of the more advanced meditation techniques because it integrates the imagination into the process.
Essentially, visualisation can be defined like this: imagining specific things to produce specific results.
Let’s say, for instance, that you wish to relax. You may choose to imagine a relaxing scene of a beach.
Try this now and you will become relaxed and happy.
Imagine standing on the beach beside the ocean
Sea the waves lapping to and fro at your feet
Hear the swoosh of the waves
See the horizon
Feel the warm sand at your feet
Taste the crisp air
Say to yourself, “I am relaxed and calm. It is a good day”.
Visualizations like this train the mind to think about positive, relaxing things. This brings calmness and inner peace.
Meditation for Depression 6: Body Scan Meditation
When you are depressed you lose touch with the present moment.
Depression makes you get lost in those ruminating thoughts.
Comparatively, when we are happy with live in the moment.
Living in the moment essentially means being focused on reality rather than what is in your mind.
Body Scan Meditation gets you in touch with your body and puts you back in the present moment.
It’s fairly easy to do. Ideally do it lying down, though you may stay seated if you prefer.
To do a body scan meditation, you move your focus around your body. You may also consciously relax your body as you go (this is similar to the technique call “Progressive muscle relaxation”).
- Begin with your feet. Focus you mind on your feet.
- Notice any sensations in your feet.
- If there is tension ask your feet to relax.
- Imagine breathing air into your feet and having them relax.
- Continuing this process, move your focus progressively up your body, from feet to ankles to legs to pelvis to stomach, chest, arms, hands, neck, face and head.
- Reverse the process from head to toe.
- Learn more about this in my guide to mantras.
A mantra is a sacred sound that is meditated on.
There are two types of mantras, both of which are applicable to depression.
The first is a sound mantra. For instance the mantra “Om”
Try this exercise:
- Close your eyes
- focus on your breathing
- recite the mantra OM
- Feel the sound reverberating in your body
- Focus 100% on the sound.
- Chant “Om” 108 times.
The next type of mantra uses a sentence.
You can use any sentence you like. For instance, you may recite “I am feeling calm and relaxed.”
You then recite this mantra repeatedly while focusing on the words.
This helps you to create the reality of the words, such that, for instance, saying “ I am calm and relaxed” will make you calm and relaxed.
8. Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta)
Scientific research shows that Loving Kindness Meditation is very helpful for depression (source).
Loving Kindness is type of meditation in which we focus on giving and receiving compassion.
To do a loving kindness meditation:
- Close your eyes and think about someone (being either by thinking of yourself or someone close to you whom you like)
- See this person happy, smiling
- List 5 nice things they have done for you in the pat, things that made you feel supported
- Imagine extending love and kindness to this person
- Say the words “May [name of person] have love and kindness. May they be happy, healthy and successful. May they also have the strength to overcome troubles in life. I love [name of person]. I am one with [name of person]”
- Imagine the person sending loving kindness back to you.
- Repeat the process with a second person, third person and so on.
- The first time, aim for 10 people.
Loving kindness (which is also called “Metta”), is a soft and gentle way of feeling more compassion both in and around you.
Bonus: Guided Meditation For Depression
Youtube has many excellent guided meditations for depression. Here is one of the best:
Self Help Tips For Depression
It is best to complement meditation with some self help techniques.
- I’ve written an in-depth guide to natural treatments for depression.
- And I’ve shared my favorite self help books for depression for those of you who are looking for an in-depth read.
Depression Self Help Tips 1: Go Gently
It is always important when suffering from depression to go easy on yourself.
Depression causes a lack of energy, fatigue, lack of motivation and more. That’s why less is often more. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to bad results.
It’s important that you try and be your best friend. Do what you can, but don’t push yourself to do any more than that.
So, whether you’re doing meditation, CBT, physical exercises or anything else, go easy.
Depression Self Help Tips 2: Support
Take whatever support you can. It will help
If you have a loving family, that’s great. If you have friends that’s great too. You can also find a depression support group. The evidence shows that depression support groups can make a big difference (source)
Find people who will help with depression, people who will just be that gentle supporting hand that you need from time to time.
Accept their support. It helps both you yourself and them.
Depression Self Help Tips 3: Find sources of positivity
We all get positivity from different places.
For me, personally, I find positivity in meditation, music, friends, family, writing, movies, poetry, dance and kickboxing. These are sources of positivity for me.
Create a list of sources of positivity in your life.
Take five minutes to do this now before reading on.
Then, the next time you’re feeling depressed you can turn to your sources of positivity for a helping hand.
Also remember to remove sources of negativity, such as people who are using gaslighting tactics on you.
Depression Self Help Tips 4: Sleep
Having suffered from minor depression myself I know that it can be extremely hard to sleep when depression. Your mind refuses to switch off.
Self Help for Depression Tips 6: Diet
You are what you eat.
That’s true for your body and your mind.
Your mind needs the right vitamins and minerals just as your body does.
Consult a doctor or healthcare professional for nutritional advice. Make sure you’re giving your body and mind the nutrients they need to fight depression successfully.
Self Help for Depression Tips 7: Exercise
There is a natural link between exercise and depression.
Exercise releases happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that naturally make you feel happier. Again, don’t push yourself.
Exercise in small amounts. Do what you can do comfortably. Maybe just go for a walk, do a little Tai Chi or something relaxing like that. You should never overdo it.
Self Help for Depression 8: Sunshine on a Rainy Day
Lack of sunshine throws your body’s internal rhythm out of whack. It can also lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Get sunshine each day.
The recommended daily sunlight is between 6 – 20 minutes depending on where you live and your skin-type (source)
You might also like to consider a vitamin D supplement.
Self Help for Depression 9: Challenge the Negative
When you’re depressed you think negatively. That’s pretty much guaranteed. But you don’t have to settle for negative thinking.
You can challenge your negative thoughts with more positive ones.
Self Help for Depression 10: Get through this and you are sorted for life
This piece of advice is very personal to me.
At the lowest point in my life I realised one thing that changed my entire world. That one thing was this “If you get through depression you will have mastered life.”
Think about it.
Depression is the biggest challenge we face. It’s the worst of times. Depression makes you feel your lowest. But when you learn to get through depression you will learn to master your mind.
Get through this and you can get through anything. Anything.
Life is going to be a freaking doddle once you beat depression. This is probably the hardest thing you will ever do. And when you do it you will realise just how much you are capable of.
Research shows that having a spiritual mindset leads to less depression, less stress, more happiness, and an improved perspective on life.
I was fascinated to learn all the health benefits of spirituality. So I researched and wrote a whole article on the subject.
Take a look at his study on the importance of spirituality in your life.
Depression is at an all-time high. But meditation can help cure depression. It is a free, healthy, and powerful way of handling depression.
Meditation has already helped millions of people to escape depression. And hopefully the world picture on depression will get better from here.
If you found this guide useful please share it. My mission is to help those people suffering from depression to find a way out.
I am always available on our social media profiles to offer advice.