Mindfulness and Depression

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Mindfulness Prevents Depression Relapse

According to research figures, depression and anxiety are the most common mental health problems of British people, with almost 9% of the population meeting criteria for diagnosis. This makes depression and anxiety the most widespread form of mental distress in the UK (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001).

In the recent decades numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of mindfulness-based approaches in treating depression and anxiety. Let us look at how mindfulness can be helpful in dealing with those challenging and highly unpleasant states of mind and body.

What is Depression?

Depression and RuminationDepression is characterised by a combination of physical, behavioural, cognitive and emotional symptoms, ranging from debilitating tiredness or lack of motivation, to disrupted sleep patterns, avoidance of social situations or negative thoughts about ourselves. It is especially our negative thoughts that play a crucial part in maintaining the depressed state.

The Power of Rumination

Those who are weighted down by depression would often confirm, that despite their wish to stop thinking negatively, it is very difficult to change their thoughts. This difficulty is mainly caused by the fact that we often attempt to solve our depression by ruminating about it. We tend to believe that problem-solving and thinking about our low mood or listing all the reason why we are depressed will lead us out of this painful state. All too often we discover that this type of active rumination only leads to exhaustion and a deeper sense of hopelessness.

Mindfulness – A Different Approach to Emotional Pain

What, then, can be done about our situation? Is there a different way of approaching our state of mind and body, which is not based on thinking ourselves out of the problem? This is where mindfulness offers an alternative way of relating to our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. Instead of taking our thoughts and feelings as the only reliable reflection of reality, we learn to observe our bodily sensations and thought contents as passing moments, which profoundly changes our relationship to them and their effect on us.

How Can Mindfulness Help in Overcoming Depression:

  • it teaches us how to disengage from unhelpful thought patterns that often lead to a depressed state (nipping depression in the bud)
  • it offers a new way of being with difficulties, based on acceptance and curiosity rather than avoidance and rejection
  • it helps us to develop a kindly attitude towards ourselves, our thoughts and feelings
  • it teaches us how to let go of ruminative thoughts and how to be in the present moment
  • it encourages a closer relationship to our bodies, where we can learn to use our physical sensations as a source of information about our mood
  • it shows us that allowing things to be as they are and then making a decision is more skilful than trying to immediately fix or repair our problems

Mindfulness Bristol for Anxiety