Depression is a common health issue for older adults, and it affects a large population of adults that are 65 years and above. When you are constantly depressed, it can increase your risk of developing heart conditions and may inevitably lead to death. It can also cause you to withdraw socially and prefer alone-time than to gatherings involving friends and family. Depression affects your cognitive function, most especially your memory.
A study showed that those who had greater signs of depression also experienced worse episodic memory, meaning that they were unable to recall specific events.
There are quite a lot of ways to treat depression; psychotherapy and antidepressants come first in the line of treatment. But recently, research has shown that meditating can help alter the way the brain reacts to stress and anxiety.
How Does Your Brain React?
Anxiety and stress are the major factors that cause depression, but regular meditation practice can help reduce the effect it would have on you.
When you meditate, you train your body to focus on things that matter and ignore negative thoughts and emotions that may intrude. Meditation can change specific brain areas that are connected to depression.
For instance, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is more hyperactive in people who have depression than those who don’t. The mPFC is responsible for how you assimilate thoughts about yourself, how you worry about the future, and the past mistakes you have made. So, when you get too stressed, you send the mPFC into an overdrive.
Another brain region that is linked to depression is the “fear center.” This part of the brain is in charge of reflex action to any happenings, and it can cause the adrenal glands to release stress hormones due to perceived danger.
These two brain regions work hand in hand to cause depression. The mPFC gets worked up when the mind is stressed out, and the fear center causes an increase in cortisol level in reaction to any danger lurking. Regular meditation would help break the connection between these two regions, and this can explain why your stress levels reduce when you start practicing the art of meditation.
Adjust Your Thinking
The goal of meditation isn’t to stop you from feeling any negative vibes at all, but to help you understand that you cannot have control over everything around you, and that’s okay. Meditation helps you believe that you don’t have to act on everything you feel.
Meditation doesn’t have to be strenuous or time-consuming either; you can simply close your eyes for a few seconds, or repeat a certain phrase with your eyes closed, whichever one works for you. This would create a bit of distance between the negative thoughts and make you realize that they do not define who you are.
Meditation prepares your brain for stressful situations in the future. For instance, when you meditate before a doctor’s appointment, it can help you get into a more relaxed state while shifting your body out of the stress pathway.
It may take a while for you to notice the impact of meditation, but that doesn’t mean you are doing it wrongly; you only need to have more patience.
How Meditation Help
It Helps You Effectively Manage Depression
When you are fully alert of what’s going on in the present, you can easily sense the onset of depression creeping in. Meditation makes it easier for you to notice what goes on with your emotions and how to handle it. If you begin to think only about negative occurrences or notice increased fatigue or loss of interest in the things you normally enjoy doing, then you should switch up to focus on your self-care, so your feelings don’t spiral out of control.
How to Try Out Meditation
Meditation may sound a bit overwhelming for you, most especially if you haven’t done it before. On the contrary, it is very easy and straightforward, although you may feel weird and out of sorts on your first try.
However, these steps would help you get the results you desire.
While meditating, it helps more convenient if you are relaxed, like sitting down, but if you feel you can do better standing up, then, by all means, go for that. The goal is to feel relaxed, and you can even close your eyes so that you can focus more.
Start With Your Breath
For the first few seconds, focus on breathing. Take slow and deep breaths and pay attention to the sound of your breath and what it feels like to inhale.
If at any point, your thoughts wander away from your breath, redirect it back.