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Originally published May 29 2013

Mindfulness proven as effective at treating depression as medication: Study

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) People who suffer from symptoms of depression have yet another way to deal with it that does not involve taking dangerous antidepressant drugs. A new study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry has found that practicing mindfulness, a meditative routine that involves focusing on the present and relishing the moment, is at the very least just as effective as antidepressants when it comes to alleviating depression symptoms - and mindfulness causes no harmful side effects!

Specifically those in remission from depression are said to benefit from the alternative therapy, which can be achieved in as little as 30 minutes a day. Participants who learned how to practice mindfulness on their own, and who faithfully did it every day in conjunction with regular meetings with a therapist, were found to benefit just as much as, if not more than, those who took antidepressants in accordance with the conventional model.

Because of the immense dangers associated with antidepressants, which include suicidal and homicidal tendencies, not to mention worse depression symptoms, many people are now shying away from taking them. According to the latest statistics, nearly half of all people who come out of depression do not end up taking their prescribed antidepressants, many out of concern that they will further damage their health by doing so. A better option, it appears, is to naturally release the trapped emotional energy that keeps many people enslaved to depression by utilizing mindfulness therapy.

"It's kind of like going to the gym and working a muscle, except in this case you're not working a muscle in your body, you're working the muscles in your brain that help you understand and control your emotions," says Zindel Segal from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario, about the benefits of mindfulness therapy.

Mindfulness therapy can also alleviate anxiety, chronic pain

A similar study recently published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that mindfulness therapy can also benefit those who suffer from mild depression symptoms, frequent and infrequent anxiety, and even chronic pain. As it turns out, certain unhealthy patterns of thinking have been shown in neuroimaging scans to actually fuel the brain activity associated with depression and even pain, which means new ways of thinking have the potential to undo these patterns in a positive way.

"Mindfulness Therapy is, in some ways, like a cat-and-mouse game in which you develop the finely tuned attention of a cat, forever watchful and patient, as it sits in front of a mouse hole, waiting for its prey to emerge," explains Dr. Peter Strong, Ph.D., in a piece for Psychology Today. "In our case the prey are not mice, but the countless negative thoughts and emotional reactions that emerge from the shadows of our conditioned mind."

Though it admittedly takes more time out of each day to effectively employ the benefits of mindfulness therapy as opposed to popping an antidepressant, the benefits of the treatment and the avoidance of side effects are well worth it, say its advocates. And the good news is that it is becoming easier to learn and engage in mindfulness therapy as online resources are increasingly able to deliver its benefits without the need to visit a therapist in person.

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