How Effective is Relaxation Therapy for Treating Symptoms of Depression?
Harvard Health Publishing, a division of Harvard Medical School published an op-ed titled ‘How Meditation Helps with Depression’ in 2021. The in-depth review highlighted that 20% of adults in the US aged 65+ suffer from regular depression. A 2018 study conducted by Neurology had a sample group of 1111 people, with an average age of 71. The study was telling; individuals who suffered from symptoms of major depressive disorder were also prone to memory problems. As it turns out, anxiety and stress are the prime culprits for triggering depression.
It stands to reason that if stress is removed from the equation, it is possible to mitigate depression. Meditation and other forms of relaxation techniques can play a pivotal part in the process. This is particularly true of the redirected focus through meditation. Depressed individuals tend to focus exclusively on the negatives. Meditation focuses on positives. Scientists have incontrovertible evidence that depressed individuals suffer from an overactive mPFC (medial prefrontal cortex), plus the increased production of cortisol. This occurs when we become stressed, anxious, and depressed.
Meditation Refocuses Mental Energy
Meditation is focused on the awareness of emotions, thoughts, and ideas. It redirects attention to the issues that are bothersome without having to act upon the negatives. Relaxation techniques are geared towards de-stressing; ameliorating mood and cultivating positive energy. Recall that meditation is not about avoiding negative thoughts, it's about how we respond to negative thinking. By increasing self-awareness through experience and thought, we can improve our mindset through stress relief and anxiety mitigation. With meditation, we embrace bothersome thoughts and then free ourselves of them.
In depressed people, myriad negative thoughts flood the mind. Feelings of dread, fear, hopelessness, and low self-esteem are all too common. Meditation is a unique approach to dealing with these notions. It recognizes the thoughts and accepts these ideas as a possibility. However, these negative feelings are not the only possibility. That's precisely how meditation and other relaxation techniques can allow you to clear the path and build a better future. Through meditative techniques, we can embrace the present and avoid the onset of a depressive episode. Rather than focusing on everything that is seemingly wrong, you can focus on taking care of yourself. It’s all about healing.
Scientific Community Backs Meditation as Part of CBT for MDD
There is a school of thought known as mindfulness cognitive therapy which focuses on mindfulness meditation techniques as part of psychotherapy. Therapists utilize these methods to decrease the probability of depression. There is enough substance in relaxation therapy to warrant its use as a long-term practice for treating and managing depression. Naturally, supplementary treatments such as antidepressants (SSRIs and SNRIs), antianxiety medications, diet, and exercise can certainly assist.
When patients are struggling with treatment-resistant depression, it may be necessary to resort to surgical approaches for dealing with major depressive disorder. These measures include VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation), DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation), or even ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy). Unfortunately, there are significant risks and side effects associated with surgical procedures, despite their efficacy as a successful treatment for depression. Non-surgical measures are associated with negligible side effects since there is no risk of injury, paralysis, bacteria, sepsis, tissue damage, scarring, or death. A popular option in this regard is Deep TMS™ (Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).
Mindfulness to Help with Depression
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most severe forms of depression since it can be non-responsive to treatments. According to the DSM-V, MDD is characterized by prolonged periods of sorrow, lack of happiness, and an absence of hope. There are many symptoms of MDD, including feelings of guilt, hopelessness, dread, thoughts of committing suicide, weight fluctuations, and erratic sleep patterns. The common denominator with all forms of depression is a gloomy outlook on life. Meditation strives to tone down the rhetoric. It helps to quieten the noise and select a more beneficial path. Meditation is the elixir that can help take the edge off.
With mindfulness, it's important to focus on the feelings and sensations of the present moment. There is no need to judge those emotions, interpret them, or even understand them. It's a brain retraining relaxation technique where the focus is solely on the present moment. It's not about becoming overwhelmed with everything that you are thinking or reacting to the ideas rushing through your head. With mindfulness, it is possible to regulate emotions through the way the brain reacts to stimuli. The negative sensations that give rise to anxiety and stress can be ignored, rather than fixated on. By protecting the hippocampus through methodical meditation techniques, we can better regulate emotions and diminish our susceptibility to negative thoughts.