Does Mindfulness Help Ease Recurrent Depression?

What is Mindfulness?

It’s a word that for some hold mystery and complication. But it’s very simple:

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully aware of where we are and what we are doing.

Your primary care physician can help with your stress management treatment by recommending Mindfulness as a way to help. How does the ability to be fully aware of where we are and what we are doing help to ease recurrent depression?

With Mindfulness we learn that we can recognize negative thoughts, but at the same time learn how to disengage from them.

When you learn how to become aware of the thoughts and accept that they are always going to return at some point, you can avoid that downward spiral that leads to a major depression. Studies have shown that practicing Mindfulness can be better than taking anti-depressants.

Does Mindfulness Help Ease Recurrent Depression?

Your primary care physician will tell you that spending the time to adopt a Mindfulness practice can sometimes be better than the time spent dealing with the side effects of medications.

What are the basics of Mindfulness? You don’t need any special equipment, just dedication and a desire to make a positive, productive change:

  • Time: devote some time each day for practice. Start small, maybe just five or ten minutes a day to begin with. Sit comfortably and relax.
  • Observance: no need to worry about a perfectly quiet mind. Just get quiet and observe what is happening in the present moment. Let the thoughts come and let them go. Notice what your body is doing. Focus on your feet, your legs, your arms and feel your breath.
  • No Judgment: if you find that you’re getting impatient or angry with yourself for not being able to ‘do it right’, mentally note your thoughts and then just let them go. Don’t get stuck in judgment.
  • Present Moment: when you find that you’re being carried away by your thoughts, learn how to reel yourself back into the present moment. It’s ok to have a ‘monkey mind’, mindfulness is about learning how to bring yourself back to the present. When your mind starts to wander, be kind to yourself. Notice your body and pay attention to your breathing.

What can Mindfulness do to help ease Depression?

The whole point of mindfulness is to practice being non-judgmental. By increasing your mindfulness, you learn how to recognize your own negative thought patterns and also to learn how to stop judging yourself.

Your family physician will tell you that your feelings are not facts. Sometimes when we get depressed our negative feelings take over and we assume that how we are feeling is fact. By developing the skill of recognizing when and where these negative thoughts occur we learn that they do not have to be acted on.

If you notice your own negative thought patterns you can learn how to not react emotionally but be able to stand back and be objective and avoid that downward spiral into more depression.

Talk to your family physician about ways to deal with stress management so that you, or someone you love, can avoid another depressive episode.