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Mindfulness Meditation Therapy in Depression Cases Essay

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2021

Abstract

The paper discusses the issue of the importance of new approaches to depression treatment due to the prevailing rate of the disorder in the sphere of mental problems. Mindfulness meditation therapy is addressed in detail with the primary reference to the book written by Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn (2007), justifying the theoretical basis and the practical application of the therapy.

The paper, in its turn, analyzes the advantages of the designated counseling approach. It grounds on the research presented in reputable scholarly journal articles. The essay provides an extensive overview of the applicability of the therapy to different patients and its outcomes in comparison to other therapeutic interventions used for depressive disorder treatment. The mechanism of action, the advantages of counseling therapy, and the scope of effect are reviewed and evaluated. The paper presents a significant level of academic and clinical value since it contributes to the understanding of the meditative interventions’ impact in combating one of the most prevalent issues, which is depression.

Introduction

Depression is one of the leading mental health issues that appear as an independent impairment caused by some life circumstances or as a result of other severe health problems. Due to its prevalence in patients, multiple approaches have been designed and tested throughout the years of the therapeutic practice of combating the symptoms of depression. One of the recent findings in the sphere of therapy for depression is the mindfulness approach that entails meditation as a means of overcoming and preventing depressive disorders in different types of patients. The book by Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn (2007) provides an extensive overview of the theory and practice of the mindful method of treating depression through the application of Eastern spiritual traditions.

While the book emerges as a guide for patients seeking relief from depression, it also presents a significant clinical and scholarly value since it underlines the benefits the therapy brings to those using it. Moreover, recent research studies in the field of mindfulness meditation as a method of depression treatment have proven the breadth of its applicability to a variety of clinical cases. Thus, the discussed therapy approach is a significant means in the process of treating depressive disorders and deserves proper investigation. In this paper, the basis for the method, its mechanism, and the benefits it provides will be presented with the utilization of credible scholarly literature.

The Basis for the Approach

Millions of people are impacted by depression at some point in their lives. The scope of the illness increases with time, as the statistical observations imply. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) study demonstrates that approximately 121 million people suffer from major depression in different parts of the world (Aggarwal, Sharma, & Sinha, 2017). The prevalence of the issue changes toward younger individuals making it an even more threatening problem of modern society.

Moreover, about fifty percent of patients affected by depressive disorder state that depression “comes back, despite the fact that they appeared to have made a full recovery” (Williams et al., 2007, p. 16). Such an issue calls for the diversification of treatment approaches so that they can meet the needs and requirements of different populations impacted by depression.

The symptoms of depression commonly include various emotional, physical, and mood episodes that have severe and repeated character. As Williams et al. (2007) emphasize, feeling distressed when reacting to certain unhappy events in people’s lives is normal. However, the problem is not in the way people feel when depressed but in the way they perceive their state and mood (Williams et al., 2007).

While mere sadness is regarded to be normal, obsessive unhappiness and depressive symptoms that appear as a result of being unable to eliminate sadness are seen as a disorder. Furthermore, antidepressants are ineffective because they work only as long as a patient takes them without preventing relapses of depression (Williams et al., 2007). Therefore, mindfulness is a way of conscious perception of the feelings one experiences emerge as a helpful method of treatment available to anyone.

The Mechanism of Mindfulness Meditation’s Action

Every therapeutic intervention works through the specific mechanisms in the human brain that transforms the behaviors or eliminates the symptoms either through medication or counseling interventions. According to Williams et al. (2007), the core of the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation therapy is the inherent connection between emotions, body, and mind. When meditating, a person establishes a clear connection between these three crucial elements and enables a person to control them by means of understanding their origins. The neurobiological processes taking place in the brain of a meditator are of a complex nature. Under the influence of meditative practices, the left prefrontal cortex is activated, and the emotional reactivity reduces (Khusid & Vythilingam, 2016).

Meditation cultivates self-compassion, or, as Boyle, Stanton, Ganz, Crespi, and Bower (2017) call it, self-kindness, and “changes the relationship to negative thoughts” by enhancing the patient’s awareness of negative feelings (Khusid & Vythilingam, 2016). As a result, the relapse of the disorder is avoided, and its intensity is mitigated.

The Advantages of the Clinical Use of the Therapy

Solid Theoretical Ground

Eastern practices with a rich history and the cultural basis form a well-structured foundation for the development of specific practice programs aimed at educating patients about the connection between body and mind. It enables using mindfulness as a way of controlling one’s reactions to the causes and symptoms of depression. The ancient Buddhist practices have been “honed and refined for use in a modern medical setting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School” (Williams et al., 2007, p. 5).

The core of the practice is the program of mindfulness-based stress reduction that aims at cultivating mindful, compassionate awareness (Williams et al., 2007). Meditation is a powerful tool for coping with stress, fear, anxiety, depression, and other disorders that have proven to be applicable across multiple populations of patients.

Utility for Diverse Populations

As the analyzed research articles demonstrate, the scope of the population to whom the meditative therapy applies is very broad. The patients exposed to hemodialysis or those bind by physical illness treatment might not be able to join group therapies or be prescribed antidepressants due to medications’ incompatibility. In such a case, meditative practices might be the best way to cure depression and help the patients manage the burden of illness. Moreover, the positive effects of the analyzed counseling approach have been demonstrated by multiple studies (Aggarwal et al., 2017; Boyle et al., 2017; Khusid & Vythilingam, 2016).

Multiple types, including Rajyoga and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which might be used for patients exposed to hemodialysis, cancer survivors, militarists with post-war mental issues, and other groups of population impacted by major depression (Aggarwal et al., 2017; Boyle et al., 2017; Khusid & Vythilingam, 2016). The studies indicate significant positive patient outcomes upon adhering to the systematic meditation practices.

Affordability

Unlike medications or traditional ways of counseling, meditative interventions might be carried out without the application of any external resources. It might be used as a clinically based intervention, either as an individual or group therapy, as well as be encouraged as guided self-treatment (Williams et al., 2007). The ability to distance oneself from the negative thoughts with the help of meditation amplifies the effect of the therapy for consecutive depressive episodes, thus minimizing the need for any other interventions.

Long-Lasting Effect

As Williams et al. (2007) emphasize, the most significant threat of major depression is its relapses regardless of the intensity of the effectiveness of the applied treatment measures. Consecutively, the value of meditative practices is difficult to overestimate since its primary advantage is the ability to provide a long-lasting effect of awareness of negative experiences. Furthermore, it has been found that “more the years of practice, lesser is the depression” (Aggarwal et al., 2017, p. 226). Thus, such an accumulative effect of the therapy enhances the scope of its counseling benefits and provides the evidential basis for more extensive application in clinical circles.

Conclusion

To summarize the discussion, the utility of mindfulness meditation therapy has shown significant positive results in many clinical cases of depressive disorder treatment. It is based on the Buddhist spiritual practices and aims at cultivating compassionate awareness of negative emotions as a symptom of depression. Therefore, a meditating patient acknowledges the connection between body, mind, and emotions, thus changing the relationships between the causes of depression and the attitude to them. Ultimately, as the studies demonstrate, the intensity of the symptoms is reduced, and the relapses are eliminated. Conclusively, mindfulness meditation is a valuable therapy method for depression that applies to various populations of patients.

References

Aggarwal, G., Sharma, R. K., & Sinha, S. (2017). Effect of Rajyoga meditation on affective, cognitive and somatic clusters of depression. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development, 8(1), 226-231.

Boyle, C. C., Stanton, A. L., Ganz, P. A., Crespi, C. M., & Bower, J. E. (2017). Improvements in emotion regulation following mindfulness meditation: Effects on depressive symptoms and perceived stress in younger breast cancer survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(4), 397-402.

Khusid, M. A., & Vythilingam, M. (2016). The emerging role of mindfulness meditation as effective self-management strategy, part 1: Clinical implications for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. Military Medicine, 181(9), 961-968.

Williams, M., Teasdale, J., Segal, Z., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (2007). The mindful way through depression: Freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

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IvyPanda. "Mindfulness Meditation Therapy in Depression Cases." June 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mindfulness-meditation-therapy-in-depression-cases/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Mindfulness Meditation Therapy in Depression Cases." June 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mindfulness-meditation-therapy-in-depression-cases/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Mindfulness Meditation Therapy in Depression Cases'. 29 June.

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