Meditation Techniques for Anxiety and Depression

Meditation techniques may be very helpful for many people, with a low risk of adverse effects.  We are excited to see many apps being developed to help with learning and practicing meditation. In the New York Times, Kit Eaton recently posted brief reviews of four apps designed to help with relaxing and calming the mind: Calm.com, Headspace, Happier, and Digipill, and these apps represent only a fraction of the number of meditation and mindfulness apps available and under development.

How effective is meditation for anxiety and mood disorders?

Of course, meditation and mindfulness practices to reduce anxiety, improve focus, and reduce mood reactivity have been described for centuries, but these techniques are also gaining favor among many who suffer from clinical anxiety and mood disorders. An interesting review of this topic, with special relevance to “mindfulness meditation” and “compassion meditation” was recently published by Dr. Natalie Leung and colleagues. They review studies that have been done with these techniques in people with social phobia, major depression, and generalized anxiety, and also describe studies using imaging techniques to see how meditation effects the brain.

Dr. Madhav Goyal and colleagues recently published a more rigorous “meta-analysis” of 47 randomized controlled trials using meditation techniques. They reported moderate effects of these techniques on anxiety, depression and pain, but lack of effect on several other variables.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Norman Rosenthal, has been a great proponent of Transcendental Meditation, especially for post-traumatic stress related symptoms. He has written an excellent book on this topic called Transcendence, which examines this issue very creatively from a number of different viewpoints.

2 thoughts on “Meditation Techniques for Anxiety and Depression”

  1. As a 17-year survivor of my 15yo son’s suicide and, more recently, 2nd time sufferer of PTSD, and recently diagnosed (after 30 yrs!) with MS, I wonder how much more my brain can take? I earned a PhD in Communication Theory from [xxx] in 1999, 2 years after my son’s death, but recent neurocognitive testing shows only remnants of a once beautiful mind. I know I could afford to “lose” more than most, having been blessed with extra, but my persistence (actually now a deficit) surprises even me. in a way, this almost invisible change is a curse that makes it all harder to bear, but again, I persist. I appear normal, but am not…for me. Is anyone doing in-depth neurocognitive research on people like me?

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