A recent JAMA study found Mindful-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to be just as effective as commonly prescribed antidepressants drugs. MBCT teaches patients to regard depressive thoughts as just thoughts and not facts, ultimately leading to greater awareness of the situation that allows the individual a new way to respond to depressive thoughts and related feelings by not indulging in them.
With 350 million cases of depression worldwide and growing, the modern healthcare system’s approach seems incapable of effectively treating the increasing numbers of individuals with depression and anxiety disorders.
Mindfulness-meditation practices are a natural way to combat depression, depressive thoughts and moods, and depression relapse. In his article “A Natural Antidepressant Practice,” Elisha Goldstein suggests that the mind reacts to depression like it would a traumatic dog attack. Just as encountering a similar dog might elicit fears and negative emotions associated with the dog attack in the past, low mood and feelings might elicit depressive thoughts or fears of depression relapse that are associated with the past. The problem isn’t with the low mood but with how we react and relate to the feelings that accompany the mood—which has the tendency to exacerbate it. Practicing MBCT alters a perpetual cycle of self-doubt by allowing the individual to recognize that difficult feelings associated with the past are not necessarily representative of his or her current state of being.
As humans, we have the capacity to train ourselves to be happier through mindful awareness practices. Just as healthy athletes train hard for the most challenging aspects of competition, so too should healthy individuals engage in mindfulness training to help with difficult situations in their lives.
Elisha Goldstein, “A Natural Antidepressant Practice,” Mindful.org, May 31, 2016, http://www.mindful.org/natural-antidepressant-practice
Ian Johnston, “Mindfulness Therapy Works as Well as Antidepressant Drugs, Major New Study Finds,” Independent.co.uk, April 27, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mindfulness-therapy-depression-anti-depressants-mental-health-research-meditation-a7003546.html
Richard Davidson, “The Importance of Meditating Even When You’re Happy,” YES! Magazine, Nov. 28, 2016 , http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-importance-of-meditating-even-when-youre-happy-20161128
Student Researcher: Bethany Mariah Surface (San Francisco State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)