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Mindfulness Therapy for Depression

Mindfulness therapy for DepressionIt is estimated that at least 1 in 5 people will experience severe episodes of depression during their adult life, and almost all children will struggle with depression during the turbulent years of adolescence. While some may develop clinical depression arising from underlying physiological or psychiatric causes, the vast majority of people suffer from non-clinical depression arising from difficulties in processing painful thoughts, memories and physical, sexual and emotional trauma; difficulties in adjusting to relationship conflicts, disappointments and unfulfilled expectations; health problems and coping with death. Depression is very much a human condition, and less a medical condition for most of us.

Society tends to pathologize depression, treating it as an illness to be treated through some form intervention designed to make it go away, whether that might be through prescription drugs or the latest form of psychological treatment. We treat depression as a disease, a nuisance, an inconvenience, a negative part of our self that needs to be uprooted and eradicated. For clinical depression this approach may be appropriate, but for psychological depression, this approach seldom works and actually makes the problem worse.

Rather than making an enemy out of our depression or anxiety, we should look on these emotional states as the logical products of unresolved core emotions that sit in the mind like sand in an oyster, irritating the mind, generating the chronic emotional pain that we call depression or general anxiety. I say “logical” because the mind is doing what it is supposed to do, which is to warn you that there are unresolved emotions that need your attention, and it does this through creating emotional pain. The function of emotional pain is to attract your attention to the source of the pain in much the same way that physical pain attracts your attention to an injury or wound that needs your attention.

Of course, our habit is to do the exact opposite and react to the emotional pain with avoidance, denial or aversion, or through grasping onto pleasant sensory experiences such as food, drugs, alcohol or compulsive behaviors in an attempt to distract our attention away from the pain. Prescription drug abuse statistics. This is like avoiding a physical injury, which will simply create more pain and delay healing. Society reinforces this message: don’t dwell on the negative; be positive and buy this product, because it will make you feel better. The result is that we sacrifice our health, both mental and physical, for an endless sequence of quick fixes that does nothing to heal the underlying core emotions, the grit in the mind.

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