The practice of Mindfulness, which has its origins in Buddhist philosophy and teaches people to be present in the moment and aware of their surroundings, is now being acknowledged as an alternative to antidepressants. For those who suffer from a major depressive disorder, this is great news. This information was delivered in a recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry and followed patients in remission. The results showed that those using Mindfulness did as well or better than those who took antidepressants or a placebo, and those patients were more likely to be protected from a relapse.
One of the problems with medication in general is a lack of compliance. Basically, when people feel better they often abandon their med protocol. They may feel they don’t need it or they want to avoid some of the negative side effects.
When Mindfulness is employed both independently and with a clinician, the only side effects are positive ones. People experience a greater sense of calm and are generally able to focus better. Many previous studies have shown the positive physiological effects of the practice of Mindfulness which is why it has been used extensively in the medical profession with very good results.
This practice can be beneficial for all who undertake to learn it, with the only drawback being the amount of time required to truly see the benefits. It is necessary to spend at least 30 to 40 minutes per day in a mindfulness meditation which for many seems like time they don’t have. As a therapist, when my patients report not being able to find 30 minutes a day to relax, it becomes clear to me that this lack of time is at least one source of their anxiety or depression. I have seen the very act of making the time have a positive effect on an individual’s mood.
The next step in this discovery is to make Mindfulness available to more people. There are many clinicians trained in the practice but they may not be accessible to all because of location or finances. There are books that describe the process of mediation for the purpose of Mindfulness and there are more and more on-line resources cropping up to assist people who are interested in making Mindfulness a part of their lifestyle. See my past article on Mindfulness
, and visit some of the Discussion threads below in which our DailyStrength members talk about their experiences with Mindfulness.