How To Start Practicing Meditation for Depression
September 10, 2021
Have you increased your exercise, seen a therapist, tried antidepressants, or attempted to ignore the feelings altogether?
Have you ever considered the idea of meditation when it comes to your depression? Have you ever relaxed your mind, focused your thoughts, paid attention to the moment you are in, and seen if that had an impact on your mental health?
If your depression is affecting you, whether that’s every once in a while or seemingly in every moment, we hope this article on how to start practicing meditation for depression is helpful for you, and if meditation doesn’t help, we have another suggestion that may be able to move your mind in the right direction.
What is Depression and What Are Its Symptoms?
Did you know that one in six people will experience depression at some point in their life? It is the primary reason for disability around the world and has a high impact on global disease.
A lot of times, we are afraid to talk about our sad feelings or depression. This is often due to feeling as if we are the only ones experiencing this, or maybe we are afraid that talking about it will make others reject us.
Whatever the case may be, depression can be thought of as a common medical condition impacting many people around the world, and has a negative impact on your feelings, thoughts, and actions. This condition can come with a number of symptoms, ranging from feelings of sadness to loss of appetite to loss of motivation to get up and go about the day.
Some of these symptoms include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or down
- Lacking energy
- Changes in weight
- Decreased interest in activities you once enjoyed
- A disruption in your sleep pattern
- Feelings of low self-worth
- Difficulty when it comes to focusing
- Thoughts of suicide or death
What Is Meditation and How Is It Accomplished?
Meditation is said to be a type of mental training in which we are awakened beyond the conditioned mind and common thinking patterns, and presented with the nature of reality.
In simpler words, this activity teaches you to be in the moment and experience the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are happening in the here and now instead of focusing on the “big picture” of life.
When starting out your meditation routine, take several minutes in the morning and just rest in the silence. Get rid of the distractions, your cell phone constantly going off, and whatever else is causing you to focus on stress instead of peace.
Spend time in the quiet and refocus your mind to the present moment. In addition, if you find that being alone for this meditation is too challenging for you or you get too distracted, there are group classes available as well to help get you started. Check with your local gym or yoga studio and see what is offered! Having a supportive community and positive social time may also have a positive impact on your depression.
Steps For Meditation
Meditation should eventually be tailored to what works for you, but here are a few steps to try to get you in the right headspace:
- Find a seat: Make sure to pick a location that is comfortable and calming. Don’t try to accomplish meditation while you’re in the car waiting to pick your child from school, or when you are waiting in a doctor’s office for a check-up. Eventually, you may learn to do mini-meditations throughout your day when you have some spare time, but as you get started, choose a comforting time, place, and position that’s realistic for what you need to accomplish.
- Come up with a time limit: This amount of time could differ depending on the person. If you are someone who frequently engages in meditation, you might find 30 minutes to be the perfect amount of time. However, if you are new to this, 30 minutes might seem daunting. Instead, start with five minutes and increase from there. Even a few minutes will still provide many benefits. When you set your alarm, be sure to put your phone away with the sound off so that it isn’t distracting in the short amount of time you’re starting with.
- Pay attention to how you are positioned: There isn’t a certain right or wrong way when it comes to meditating. One person might find it most comfortable to sit with their legs crossed while another finds it comfortable to sit in a chair with their feet resting on the floor. Whatever way you choose, pick something that will be comfortable for the duration of the exercise so you’re not shifting around.
- Notice your breath: Be aware of your breathing. Are you breathing too fast or too hard? Or are you slowing your breath and thinking about each one as you breathe in and out? Breathing is a large part of this exercise, so be sure to pay attention to it!
- Pay attention to your wandering mind: Sitting and meditating, even for a couple of minutes, is not as easy as it may sound. Being in the busy world we live in, our minds are constantly going in a million directions. What are we going to make for dinner? What time is our kid’s soccer practice? What workout should I do tonight? However, once you notice this wandering (and it will happen!) remember to focus your mind back on the moment you are in.
- Be patient with yourself: In the few minutes of your meditation exercise, you might notice your mind wander two, five, or even ten times. Be patient — it’s not unusual for your thoughts to drift like this. Simply pull your thoughts back to peace as mentioned above, and allow yourself some grace when it comes to practicing this.
- End your exercise with kindness: When your timer goes off and you are ready to be done, give yourself a beat to adjust back to reality. This could include opening your eyes, noticing the environment around you, and paying attention to how you are feeling and thinking.
You’re finished! Enjoy the rest of your day and engage in another meditation activity tomorrow.
What Are the Benefits of Meditation?
There are many benefits to meditation. Some of these include:
- Helping to support healthy blood pressure and heart rate
- Easing feelings of stress and tension
- Helping to maintain healthy blood cortisol levels
- Supporting feelings of well-being
- Supporting immune health and function by reducing feelings of stress
- Supporting brain function and health by reducing feelings of stress
When it comes to how meditation benefits those with depression, meditation is said to help you cope with those feelings by teaching the brain to focus positively on reality when your body starts taking over with negative thinking patterns. This is similar to the goals of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
In addition, meditation has a certain effect on brain regions associated with depression, such as the amygdala. This part of the brain is known as the “fear center” and deals with the fight-or-flight response when your brain senses fear. In addition to this, the adrenal glands are in charge of releasing cortisol when this fear is sensed. When engaging in meditation, it can fight against feelings of stress and anxiety as you learn to shift your thoughts and recenter, and your body becomes able to better handle these emotions.
Summing It Up…
When it comes to depression, there are many treatments and methods of coping, ranging from antidepressants to therapy to meditation.
Meditation is said to be a type of mental training in which we are challenged to think differently from how we do every day, and slow down to a place of peaceful headspace.
Many benefits come with this practice, including a positive impact on our mood and increased feelings of well-being.
With all of this said, when it comes to meditation, its beneficial effects on depression are best experienced in addition to other treatments versus being used alone.
Meditation is incredible on its own for anyone’s wellness but is most beneficial for depression when used with other treatments.
If you find that your other treatments aren’t helping, Pasithea Therapeutics may be able to help with an innovative new treatment that brings professionally administered ketamine right to you at home as an option for treatment-resistant depression.