With more pressures being placed on individuals such as
- feeling the need to appear a certain way,
- have a certain job,
- live in a certain type of house,
- answer the phone every time it rings,
- as well as other demands,
individuals are increasingly feeling more and more depressed and anxious about their lives. While some may let the anxiety or depression linger for some time before seeking help, eventually most will seek medical attention for their problems. Most often, so they can feel “normal” again.
Looking at Meditation to Combat Anxiety and Depression
Although it is good practice for the person to seek help, medical professionals today continue to overprescribe pharmaceuticals instead of first exhausting all of the available natural efforts. In the case of anxiety and depression, medical professionals could be prescribing daily meditation practices. In addition to, other holistic tools such as:
- grounding techniques
- and visualizations,
- as well as lifestyle and diet changes.
This would not only drastically reduce the number of pharmaceuticals being consumed, but teach patients how to find their inner calm in any situation, as well as see situations objectively.
Overprescribing of Anti-Depressant and Anti-Anxiety Drugs
Currently, both anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drug use continues to rise in the United States. Most notably, there was a nearly four-hundred percent increase between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008 for anti-depressant usage in teens and adults. That leaves almost ten percent of Americans today taking anti-depressants for a wide array of reasons that could likely be solved with meditation alongside cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other holistic techniques that address diet and lifestyle choices.
Moreover, the number of Americans taking anti-anxiety medications correlates with the increase in anti-depressant prescriptions. With both conditions being commonly linked to one another, this is not surprising. However, what is concerning is that many patients could be taking both anti-anxiety and anti-antidepressant drugs without resolving anything in their life to improve it naturally.
Willingness Is Everything
Unfortunately, the patient’s willingness to make changes in their life is the first step in overcoming anxiety and depression. However, many simply do not want to make those changes and would prefer a “quick fix” to these uncomfortable emotional states.
When met with unwillingness, the health practitioner needs to first get the patient to believe that the exercise, in this case, meditation, is worth trying. Once the patient has faith that meditation can work for them, they will most likely begin educating themselves on the practice and the benefits to confirm their belief that it will work.
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Now with the patient confirmed in their beliefs by the research, it will be time to experience meditation firsthand. At this time, it is best for the practitioner to have the patient write a change contract that they can commit to. This will include
- how they intend to change (i.e. behaviors, thought patterns, etc.)
- and the way in which they intend to accomplish these changes (i.e. daily meditation, exercise, journaling, etc.).
It is now up to the patient to put the work in to improve their state of mind. Through the use of their new daily routines, they can achieve the final goal of feeling happy and free again.
Slow & Steady Wins The Race
Although we solve the patient’s unwillingness for the present moment, the benefits of meditation typically taking a month or longer to notice. This can cause some patients to go off track or lose hope along the way. With the guidance of their health practitioner, this is easily remedied with additional tools and re-encouragement.
As the patient continues with their new meditation practice, patients are able to rewire their brain for how they respond to life experiences outside of meditation. This is due to the regions of the brain activated during meditation. These slowly change allowing the patient to become better equipped to handle stressful and/or fearful situations.
The practice does take time to experience positive benefits. However, the patient isn’t required to purchase anything or go anywhere to start gaining the benefits of meditation. Because of this, many patients find the hardest part is remaining committed to making lifestyle changes to continue improving their lives instead of turning back to past behaviors.
The Choice Is Yours
In the end, there will always be patients that simply do not have the willingness to change their lives. Thus, choosing to take pharmaceuticals to ease the feelings of anxiety and/or depression. However, for those that embark on a holistic journey of healing, mindfulness meditation holds great promise in helping alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
While the practice takes time to gain benefits, it costs nothing and can be done anywhere. This leaves the patient able to attain results no matter their circumstances. Therefore, through a dedicated commitment to change and continued practice, as well as their health practitioner there to hold them accountable, patients can once again find a healthier lifestyle. Plus, joy and freedom in their lives without the use of pharmaceuticals.