Mindfulness and Depression
If you've been struggling with depression, there are a number of ways mindfulness can help alleviate your depression, improve your mood and make you less likely to become depressed in the future.
Some factors that tend to contribute to depression include:
- Getting stuck dwelling in painful memories, past disappointment, guilt or regrets
- Feeling anxious and hopeless about the future, and believing things will never work out
- Becoming trapped in cycles of negative thoughts and patterns of thinking that you can't break out of
- Difficult negative or painful feelings and emotions that can seem too strong to cope with
- Self-criticism and feelings of worthlessness
We all experience the above to a certain extent, and in moderation or isolation, they are things we can cope with without becoming depressed. However, depression is often characterized by downward spirals and vicious cycles in which these negative events accumulate and feed into to each other. Mindfulness helps you prevent things from spiralling downwards and out of control.
- Mindfulness brings you into the present moment, which helps keeps you from getting stuck dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
- Mindfulness helps you slow down your mind and not get caught up in racing thoughts, cycles of negative thinking and rumination about your problems and your life.
- Mindfulness gives you new ways to experience strong and painful moods and emotions, allowing you to calm and tolerate difficult feelings without becoming overwhelmed.
- Mindfulness brings awareness to your experience in the present moment, allowing you to recognize if your mood starts to decline, so you can take action to nip things in the bud before they start to spiral out of control.
There is a great deal of research supporting the effectiveness of mindfulness for people who are experiencing depression. You can read about Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which was designed to help people overcome depression and reduce relapse, on my blog. You'll also find articles about the downward spiral of depression and the vicious cycle that can lead to depression, and how mindfulness can help you cope with difficult emotions. Please visit my main therapy website for more information about therapy and CBT for depression.