People with depression often have difficulty functioning.
And many have severe depressive symptoms.
A new study suggests that a few minutes of a relaxation meditation can help.
The results were published in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
“In many ways, depression is a social disorder,” said lead study author Kristina A. Lofgren, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Iowa.
“It’s a very complex disorder that can be hard to understand and difficult to treat.”
The research team recruited 44 participants with moderate-to-severe depression to participate in a two-week meditation program.
Participants received a 20-minute mindfulness meditation, a guided breathing meditation, and a short, 30-second meditation exercise.
The exercise lasted 20 minutes, with a break at 3:30 p.m.
Participants were then randomly assigned to one of three groups: a group that did not have a meditation session; a group where meditation was required and the rest of the group did not; or a control group.
“The meditation program was well tolerated by participants,” Lofberg said.
Participants reported feeling a “sense of calmness, a sense of peace and a sense that their moods are normal and that they are not depressed.”
However, there was a small drop-off in participants who reported feeling depressed after two weeks.
Participants who completed the mindfulness meditation reported a significantly higher level of positive mood and overall well-being, and experienced more positive emotions.
Additionally, participants who completed a guided meditation exercise reported feeling more positive feelings about themselves, and reported lower levels of depression.
Loffgren and her colleagues concluded that meditation is a safe and effective method for treating depressive symptoms, even if the patient is already depressed.
“Meditation has been shown to be effective in treating depression,” Loffberg said, “but it’s not always easy to make people feel that they have improved.
We found that meditation can make a big difference.”