Could meditation ever replace antidepressants? This is the question of the year. A recent meta-analysis of 47 trials evaluating the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on anxiety and depression showed that the effect size of meditation was identical to that of antidepressants. While it may sound unbelievable if meditation is seen as just sitting and breathing, it doesn’t sound so crazy when meditation is viewed in its true form as “an active training of the mind.”

Meditation not only re-organizes the areas of the brain related to emotion regulation but even more impressively decreases the brain cell volume that is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress. These changes accurately reflected self-reports of improved psychological well-being and decreased stress and anxiety from participants of each study.

While results are impressive and promising, it’s important to note that these results do not necessarily indicate that meditation can replace antidepressants for all individuals but it certainly gives us an effective supplementary tool.

Even schools are jumping on the meditation bandwagon. Not only does it have positive effects on mental health for adults but it also assists children with emotion regulation so much so that some schools have implemented meditation as part of the daily routine for schoolchildren. Impressively, attendance increased as did GPA’s while behavioral-based suspensions decreased.

Students Meditating in Classroom

Overall, meditation has a way of clearing out the emotional gunk we carry daily. It can help us manage our stress, increase our self-awareness, reduce our negative emotions, and learn self-soothing skills. Sounds like it’s worth a try.

If meditating on your own sounds intimidating, join us for our Mindfulness Meditation for Stress Reduction where you can practice mindfulness with others in a guided or silent shared space.

References

Black DS & Fernando R. (2013) Mindfulness training and classroom behavior among lower-income and ethnic minority elementary school children.

Goyal M, et al. (2014) Meditating programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Holzel B, et al. (2012) Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.

Mayo Clinic – Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress.

Singleton O, et al. (2014) Change in brainstem gray matter concentration following a mindfulness-based intervention is correlated with improvement in psychological well-being.

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