Cheat Sheet

Managing Depression with Mindfulness For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Managing Depression with Mindfulness For Dummies

Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to help you reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can also empower you to connect with a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing. The journey to healing from depression can be a long one, but with support and help you will regain your sense of balance and emotional stability.

Managing Depression with Mindfulness: You Are Not Alone – 1 in 4 Have Depression

When you’re depressed you may feel like you are the only one who has the problem and that everyone else is happy and normal. This kind of feeling, although very normal, can cause you to feel extremely isolated and causes you to suffer in silence. The truth is that many people who look happy are in fact also depressed and chronically unhappy. There are more of us than you might think.

The World Health Organization predicts that more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem by the year 2030. It is no surprise then that about one in four people suffers from some kind of mental health difficulty, such as depression.

You might find it interesting that many famous people have suffered from depression as well. This just shows that depression is more common than you might think. Following are a few names of famous people who suffered from depression at one point in their lives. You might recognise some of them:

  • Stephen John Fry, English actor, presenter, and activist

  • Eric Clapton, English musician

  • Bob Dylan, American singer-songwriter, poet and artist

  • Ruby Wax, American comedienne

  • Robbie Williams, British pop singer

  • Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

  • J.K. Rowling, British writer

Looking at it this way can sometimes help you feel a little bit better about your situation, knowing that you are not alone in with your problem.

Working towards a Definition of Mindfulness for Depression

A few definitions exist of what of mindfulness is. However, understand that the theoretical definitions of mindfulness and the experience of mindfulness are two different things. Understanding the basic theory behind mindfulness can be very helpful, though, and is the first step towards actually experiencing it.

Mindfulness is an experience of being in a certain state of awareness and being. This can only be fully understood by doing the practice.

This way of looking at things can be very helpful as it will prevent you from having to try too hard at ‘getting’ what mindfulness is. You cannot ‘get’ mindfulness, but you can experience it.

Mindfulness has its origins within the reflective Buddhist tradition dating back to 2,500 years ago in India and can be described as moment-to-moment awareness.

The Chinese character for mindfulness is composed of two single sections: the top part is the word ‘now’ or ‘present’ and the second is the character for the word heart or mind. It’s interesting that the Chinese word for the heart and mind are the same. In the Asian culture and language mindfulness is seen more as the mind or heart that is resting in the present moment.

Healing Depression with Mindfulness Is Possible – But It Takes Time

With the right support, recovery from depression with mindfulness is possible. It is useful to remember that any healing through depression takes time and is often met with an up and down process of lows, highs, stable periods, lows again, then more stable times leading to another improvement and feeling better.

As much as you may want it to, wellbeing often does not happen overnight. It is normal to want to speed things up or to worry that you will never feel better. The thing to remember is that with time and the right support your symptoms will improve, and you will feel better.

Very often people do not notice any improvement, mainly because you can’t see how far up the line of recovery you have actually travelled. It’s human nature not to notice positive changes. Also it is possible that each time you feel low on your journey to recovery you mistake it for failure rather than an opportunity to reflect and learn from the experience.

Scientific Evidence for Using Mindfulness for Depression

Mindfulness is now an evidence-based technique used widely for depression by the NHS (the UK’s free public National Health Service). It is also endorsed by NICE or the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as an approved therapy for the prevention of relapse of depression.

There are numerous clinical studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of using mindfulness for people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Following is an outline of just a few of such scientific studies:

  • Mindfulness practices have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and depression, both in the general population and in a variety of health conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, major depression, bipolar and anxiety disorders.

  • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is significantly more effective than antidepressants alone in preventing relapse from depression (patients with a minimum of three episodes.

  • Studies have found long-term changes in the brains of experienced meditators and those undergoing mindfulness meditation training. An 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course results in actual physical changes in the brains of meditation novices. These manifest as increases in grey matter (brain cell bodies) concentrations in brain regions involved in executive reasoning (frontal cortex), learning and memory (hippocampus as above), emotion regulation, self-referential processing and perspective.