Self-meditation as a means to overcome depression

Self-Meditation as an antidote to depression, the most common mental illness in India, may soon become a reality.

Self- meditators may not have to resort to pills, surgery or psychoanalysis, but it’s not all bad news.

As a new study published in the British Medical Journal reveals, this form of self-medication may actually be effective in treating mental illness.

The study, conducted by the Centre for Mental Health and Psychiatry, a public health research organisation in India found that people who meditated daily reported fewer negative emotions than those who medicated less frequently.

The study also found that the more time they meditated, the more positive their moods and self-esteem were.

These findings suggest that self- meditation may be a viable option to treat mental illness if its used as a complementary therapy.

It is said that people with depression and anxiety are less likely to seek treatment for these conditions.

“There is a general view that people meditate to overcome anxiety or depression.

This is not necessarily true.

However, if a person is not depressed, they may have a very positive mood.

This helps them to cope with everyday life,” said Dr Sankar Pandey, a psychiatrist and researcher at the Centre.

Dr Pandey’s study found that self meditations were beneficial for people with mental illness and anxiety, which is in turn beneficial for those with other mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder.

The same study found no difference in mood or self- esteem among people who did and did not meditate daily.

Dr Ravi Srikumar, a psychologist from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told NDTV, “If you are depressed, if you are anxious, if your mood is depressed, it may help you to reduce anxiety.

But if you have an anxiety disorder, it’s better to not medicate.”

The findings suggest, that self mediation could be a potentially useful option to tackle depression in India.

However the study found it is not a silver bullet for people who are struggling with mental health issues.

Dr Srikumkar said, “It is important that we don’t overlook the need for more research to understand what happens in people’s minds when they are meditating.”

Dr Pandya added, “We need to find out how the meditation works in the brain.

So, how do you create the illusion that you are meditating?

There is no magic bullet.”

Dr Srikam’s research found that a study of 17 people who reported to be meditating daily found the people who were meditating had improved mood and self esteem, compared to those who did not.

This study is being carried out by Dr Srinivas, an associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, the University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA, and a visiting professor at McGill University.