Mindfulness & Depression
Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States. In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older reported having at least one major depressive episode in the previous year. For those who have a major episode of depression there is an 80% chance of having a second. Anyone who has lived with or suffered from depression knows that the thoughts and feelings that arise can be intense, overwhelming, scary and debilitating.
Mindfulness is a practice in which we explore our lived experience from moment to moment. In doing so we observe that our thoughts, so seemingly-continuous, and our feelings, so seemingly-solid, are in fact not. A close friend once related that a major breathrough for him was when he related he was not his depression. That breaththrough was that the feelings and thoughts he experienced during his depression did not define him, did not detract from his worth, and were not a punishment.
To read this is one thing, to experience it is quite another. But such is the powerful potential of mindfulness: to free us from the clutch of negative thoughts and emotions even as they arise.
Recent studies have found that a daily mindfulness practice may be protective against unipolar depression.