At its roots, depression can sometimes be caused by negative thinking. We often experience depression when we go back into the past and relive traumatic scenarios or anticipate a grey future based on what happened our past.
While this sort of thinking can help us strategize and learn from our mistakes, it also has its flaws.
Sometimes our memory is distorted or our interpretation of the past exists through a lense of self-criticism. As a result, instead of learning from the past, we blame ourselves for what happened and expect a future equally dreadful.
Mindfulness is all about stopping ourselves from becoming triggered by sad memories or anticipating the future and instead living in the moment.
Harvard researchers compared brain scans of patients suffering from clinical depression before and after a 2-month period where mindfulness was practiced. The results were astonishing: the scans showed changes in the thinking pattern inside the brain, specifically in the amygdala.
While it isn’t known for sure what aspects of mindfulness have the biggest impact on depression, there are some clues on how it works.
If you want to find out more about how mindfulness practices work and why they’re so effective, read on.
We’re problem solving-machines. And for a good reason, as we need this mechanism to evolve, learn from our mistakes, and progress through life. But what happens when there are problems we have no solutions to? Rumination is one of the biggest causes of depression. We go back and forth about what happened in an attempt to solve a problem that can’t be solved.What’s worse is that society itself deems those who leave issues unsolved as mentally weak or delusional. But the truth is that many problems stopped affecting us a long time ago. Some problems aren’t big enough for us to worry about, while others simply cannot be solved. Mindfulness practices help us zero in on the present by training our brain to let go of thoughts that lead to unresolved issues. This frees up more of our time and energy.
Perhaps the most powerful use of mindfulness is learning to look at our thoughts passively and having the power to either engage with them or let them go. We can become observers rather than victims of our negative thinking,
This means that when a negative thought pattern arises, we don’t act on it. Instead, we acknowledge its presence but we let it go. Mindfulness isn’t about “killing” negative thinking. It’s about leaving the room and refusing to engage in thoughts that don’t benefit us. The inner critic is usually one of the biggest issues people with depression and low-self esteem deal with. It can ruin our day at any given moment. However, instead of taking the inner voice’s words as gospel, we can distance ourselves by asking ourselves “Is the inner critic helpful?” If not, ignore what it says.
One of the most noticeable effects of depression is a decrease in focus. How can we focus on studies or work when a war is happening inside our heads?Through meditation, mindfulness teaches the mind to have a better control over where and how resources are used. If we learn to stay focused on our breath or a certain object, we can also learn how to shift our focus on what we need to get done.
There’s a lot of potential in using mindfulness practices with patients that suffer from clinical depression. While it may not be suitable for everyone, it can be a good option for patients who don’t want to rely on antidepressants.
If you want to talk with a specialist about your options when it comes to managing your depression, don’t hesitate to contact us.