Meditation for Depression – why would you recommend that?
Meditation for Depression is not the first stage of recovery but can help you later on when you are recovering.
Meditation is not the first stage for Depression recovery
A fellow Human Givens therapist twice attended the major annual US counselling conference, a few years ago now – where he learnt a lot about the intense interest in meditation for depression. These conferences are massive affairs with many attendees, events and keynote speakers. One year I noticed that the conference was in Hawaii. So you can imagine the dedication, enthusiasm and ascetic focus of the event. My fellow therapist is a close friend of Scott Miller and (like me) is a great believer in keeping outcome evidence of therapy. He told me that at the first conference he attended, Scott was all the rage and his events were standing room only.
But at the second conference he attended, which was a few years after his first, the fashion had shifted. Scott was there but attention was now with the meditation for depression and anxieties and mindfulness enthusiasts – those recommending meditation and mindfulness as the way to overcome depression and so on.
This enthusiasm for meditation for depression has matured nicely over the years – such that it is now an official recommendation for healing from depression. And what could be more impressive and worthwhile than that? The appeal to professionals is clear. First there is academic credibility as Professor Davidson at the University of Wisconsin has done some excellent work to show how meditation can change brain chemistry, especially as it might impact on those suffering with depression. The authorities just love that kind of thing – they don’t like to rely on a bunch of Buddhists and other slightly questionable types.
And many others have got in an the act – of which perhaps the best known is Jon Kabat-Zinn who has written extensively on how a meditation and mindfulness practice can work to help with depression and anxiety problems. Indeed he seems to have singlehandedly created a new industry of meditation for depression.
On one level, all of this is good. I certainly would never argue that meditation for depression and mindfulness practices are a bad thing to do. And that there are not in principle major benefits. These would include ability to distance from high emotion and to gain a better understanding and control of emotions. And of the many hundreds of depressed and anxious people I have helped maybe ten have found a meditation practice to be helpful. And rather more have tried mindfulness, though for all, only towards the end of our time together – when they were much better.
And that’s the point. Just as you would never recommend someone with arthritis to begin a marathon training programme or someone who is interested in DIY to build and install a kitchen from scratch. There are far easier and reliable ways to help someone who is depressed than meditation. Indeed it risks doing more harm than good as for most who are depressed, it will be too darned difficult.
The fact that meditation for depression seems to be so popular and pushed so hard, reveals a lot about the monumental scale of ignorance out there of what a depression actually is and how best to clear it.
Visit pages on this website for a much better focus on what depression is and how to recover.