Research Showed That Transcendental Meditation Could Help Ease Depression

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The chances are if you go to your doctor with symptoms of depression you will be prescribed some form of anti-depressant medication or psychotherapy or perhaps a combination of both. However, recent research has now highlighted the beneficial effect that transcendental meditation can have on depression and in a fairly short space of time too.

One study by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) involved 36 patients all of whom had been diagnosed with clinical depression. A second study conducted by the University of Hawaii involved 112 patients with heart disease who were considered at risk of suffering from depression.

In each of the studies the participants were asked either to perform transcendental meditation twice a day for twenty minutes or to follow a health education programme. The ones following the health education programme served as a control group.

Symptoms of depression were measured at the beginning of the study and then again at three months, nine months and a year later.

The researchers found that those carrying out the transcendental meditation had a much greater reduction in the symptoms of depression than the control group and after a period of only three months the symptoms of depression had reduced by almost 50 percent.

The participants who had heart disease also felt the benefits of the meditation even though they hadn’t actually been diagnosed with depression.  Transcendental meditation is believed to be helpful not just for depression but also for alleviating anxiety and stress.

The researchers think that the positive benefits of meditation are brought about by actual changes in the body’s chemistry and serotonin levels. Serotonin is the ‘feel good’ chemical and this neurotransmitter is known to play a role in depression.

Hector Myers from UCLA and co author of one of the studies said that the results were encouraging and provides support for testing the efficacy of Transcendental Meditation in the treatment of clinical depression.

However, we’ve got a bit to go before we go to our doctor and get instruction on how to meditate as part of our treatment for depression. However, in the meantime it could be useful as a self help technique.

Transcendental meditation is an ancient practice that involves sitting quietly whilst repeating silently a ‘mantra’ over and over again. It is believed to induce feelings of calm and ‘inner peace’ and became quite popular in the West during the sixties. It seems now that the hippies may have got it right.

The findings of the studies were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioural Medicine in Seattle in April 2010.

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