Mental Health Disorder Can Benefit from Meditation – Connections in Recovery New York and Tri-State Area
Mental Health Disorder Can Benefit from Meditation
Meditation may not be perceived as a “mainstream” approach to helping treat mental health disorders, but the practice of using it as an alternative therapy for reducing stress, improving clarity/perception/concentration, getting in-tune with one self when feeling hopeless, raising self-awareness, helping increase acceptance, and diminishing anxiety, has been a popular used-tool for centuries, and widely-practiced today.
Meditation—which come in many variations—has long been acknowledged as a tool to master the mind and cope with stress ~ Mental Health America (MHA)
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center describes mindful awareness as “paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is . . . It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one’s inner experience.”
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes on its website that a lot of research has reported physical health benefits of mindfulness, including cardiovascular and immune health, lower blood pressure, and sounder, deeper sleep. Because meditation generates relaxation, this increases the compound nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to open up so blood pressure drops. One study, published in the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,” revealed that 40 of 60 high-blood pressure patients who started meditating could quit taking their blood pressure medication.
The APA lists a few mindfulness-based approaches below that are being used to help treat mental disorders. Each of the three typically require group training in mindfulness techniques, daily practice assignments, and follow-up.
Preventing Depression Relapsing
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is being used to help prevent relapse in depression. It combines cognitive behavior techniques with mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching to help change the cycle of negative thoughts common with recurrent depressions. MBCT typically involve eight weekly, two-hour group training sessions, daily homework assignments, and follow-up meetings. Home assignments may include awareness exercises and practice integrating awareness skills into daily life. A recent meta-analysis looking at mindfulness-based cognitive therapy used to help prevent depression relapse found it effective, particularly for patients with more severe depression.
Treating Substance Use Disorder
Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) was designed to treat substance use disorder. It integrates mindfulness meditation and cognitive-behavior skills specifically focused on helping patients learn to choose a reaction instead of automatically turning to an addictive substance. Similar to other mindfulness programs, it involves eight weekly, two-hour group training sessions, daily home exercises, and follow-up. It involves both formal practices, such as sitting meditation, and briefer informal mindfulness practices to increase awareness and flexibility in daily life.
Research comparing mindfulness-based relapse prevention with other treatment for aftercare found it to be effective and particularly useful in supporting longer-term benefits of treatment. In the study patients with mindfulness-based relapse prevention treatment had significantly less drug use and a lower probability of any heavy drinking at a 12-month follow-up than those undergoing other treatments.
Treating Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosis
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may also be useful for treating symptoms of anxiety, according to research. Researchers looked at changes in anxiety levels among patients with generalized anxiety disorder using different treatments. They found that MBCT and cognitive-behavioral therapy-based psychoeducation were both effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions have also been found to be useful additions for improving symptoms and reducing hospitalization among people with psychosis. Some research shows that for people with ADHD, mindfulness training may be a helpful supplement to medication in addressing remaining symptoms of inattention. Meditation programs are being used to help reduce PTSD severity in veterans.
If you or a loved one feel the need for extra support while trying to recover from behavioral conditions, including mental illness, Connections in Recovery New York’s Mental Health Coaches and Companions are not only trained, supervised, and receive ongoing training by a Psychologist—CiRNY Director of Training Dr. Allyson Cole—but they also hold Masters in Social Work and Counseling.