Transcendental meditation helps with clinical depression

By Sheryl Kay • Published: July 28th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

More than eighteen million Americans suffer from depression, a clinical illness that has often been identified as a precursor to cardiovascular disease. Depression costs the country more than eighty-three billion dollars in medical and workplace expenses, and a full twenty percent of all senior citizens suffer from some form of the disease.

Now, for the price of some quiet contemplation, relief may be on the horizon.

Two studies recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine show that transcendental meditation may be a useful approach to help alleviate some forms of depression. Developed in the nineteen-fifties by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, transcendental meditation involves the participant’s repetition of a sound or mantra while sitting at ease with eyes closed.

Both studies included men and women fifty-five years old and up who were at risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants either took part in meditation or were part of a health education control group and were evaluated several times over the course of a year.

The researchers’ findings were almost identical. Study subjects who meditated showed fewer symptoms of depression compared with those in the control group. The researchers noticed the biggest change in people who had previous problems with depression.

The researchers behind the studies say these results could point to a new way to treat depression without the use of drugs.

So how does it work? Well, some think meditation may cause a spike in the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is a messenger for your body’s nervous system and if it isn’t working right, problems can ensue.

Trying your hand at meditation can’t hurt. But if you’re depressed, play it safe and talk to your doctor first.