Anyone who has ever been defeated by depression or overwhelmed by scary anxiety attacks, will know what I am talking about here. It is an awful experience!!
But, it doesn’t need to be! It’s indeed possible to get help and find relief from both anxiety and depression! There are many great roads leading to Rome – one of them is mindfulness, which is what I’m going to talk about.
I read an interesting research article in the Danish Videnskab.dk. The Danish researchers have found that practicing mindfulness actually helps, if it is done properly. The study shows that young adults suffering from depression or social phobia, and, as well, cancer patients, suffering from depression and anxiety, all show significant improvement after just 8 weeks of intensive mindfulness training!
The research has been published in an Ph.D study: ‘Mindfulness-based therapy for social phobia, recurrent depression, and psychological symptoms in cancer patients and survivors‘.
The research shows;
- Patients using a mindfulness program improved the same as patients who went through Cognitive treatment.
- the re-occurrence of depression is significantly less if patients use mindfulness, and
- cancer patients feel less depressed and anxious.
According to Psychologist Dr. Jacob Piet from Aarhus University who was in charge of the research – it is quite fantastic that an intensive 8 weeks course of mindfulness practice can improve peoples’ lives like this! But, it is an intense program and people have to be motivated.
Dr. Piet says that mindfulness means “conscious presence” and many misunderstand it and think it is “just” something we do. But it is not that simple, he says. Mindfulness is a competence that comes with dedicated practice and intense training – every day.
When you are mindful you are in the present moment aware of emotions, sensations, thoughts, impulses – you observe what goes on right now, without judging or analyzing.
To use mindfulness as a successful treatment it has to be practiced intensely over a period of time.
The first study that was done showed that relaxation was just as effective as confronting a fear. A group of young patients suffering from social phobia – was separated into two groups. One group was treated with cognitive therapy where part of the treatment was to confront the fears – which is common in cognitive therapy. Another group was treated with mindfulness based therapy .
The results showed that mindfulness treatment was just as effective as cognitive therapy.
The second study showed that mindfulness can be as effective as medication! This study involved 593 patients with reoccurring depression and as a treatment diligently practiced mindfulness. The results showed a decrease in re-occurrence of depression with up to 43%! The research is so promising that the British Health Authorities recommend the method to all people who have previously suffered depression.
Cancer patients, as a group, are understandably often suffering from depression and anxiety. In the third part of the study, 1403 cancer patients participated. The results showed that after 2 months practice, the patients felt less anxious and less depressed. These cancer patients felt emotionally better, after using the mindfulness practice.
I can understand why mindfulness could play such an important role in overcoming depression and anxiety – and even preventing it from reoccurring.
Mindfulness teaches us to be in the moment – it teaches us to observe without judgement – whatever feeling, sensation, thought or impulse there is. It teaches us to feel, rather than suppress – it teaches us to tune in with our core. It teaches us to relax, take some time every day to be in the moment, without judging without fixing – just being.
Interesting links about mindfulness:
UCSD Center for mindfulness http://ucsdcfm.wordpress.com/
UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center http://marc.ucla.edu/