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Transcendental Meditation decreases depression, modern epidemic for women
by Jeanne Ball
Meditation for Women Translate This Article
3 January 2012
Nearly 11% of women in America are on antidepressants. How did a condition once thought to be so rare become epidemic? Many factors contribute to the disease, yet experts agree that stress is the main cause of the physiological imbalances that give rise to depression.
Evidence suggests that women are more susceptible to stress and can succumb to depression under lower stress levels than men. The female physiological response to stress is different—women produce more stress hormones than men and recover less quickly from stress. Many women are looking for natural alternatives to antidepressants.
New research on meditation shows promising results. A recent study led by researchers at UCLA shows that over a 12-month period, depressive symptoms decreased by almost 50% among people practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, compared to controls. These findings are significant for anyone suffering from depression—especially women.
Natural Remedy for Depression
Meditation reduces stress and increases feelings of calm—an experience often described as bliss or inner happiness. This experience is the opposite of depression and has a unique style of physiology: deep rest and increased inner wakefulness, and more integrated and harmonious brain functioning. Depression is associated with low levels of serotonin, and studies show that TM practice increases serotonin (but only in subjects whose serotonin is too low—if serotonin is too high, research has found that levels decrease).
Side effects of antidepressants
Women now make up more than half the work force, and many of those women also carry the load of housework and childcare, increasing a woman's vulnerability to anxiety and depression. An alarming 79 percent of the prescriptions for antidepressant drugs are for women. One out of three doctor's visits by women involves an antidepressant prescription. Because antidepressants do not address the root problem, doctors keep increasing the dosage. The side effects include weight gain or loss, intense restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks and anxiety.
Taking time out to relieve emotional and physical stress through regular meditation is a natural and effective approach to prevent and reduce depression. ''Severely depressed people often believe they will never feel better,'' says Dr. Nancy Leibler, author of Healing Depression the Mind Body Way. ''Because the Transcendental Meditation technique gives a feeling of fulfillment and calmness, it also gives hope.''
1. Transcendental Meditation Reduces Depression: study presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Seattle, Washington, April 9th, 2010.
2. Biochemistry of Deep Rest, Reference: Hormones and Behavior 10: 54-60, 1978. Physiological indicators of deep rest during Transcendental Meditation, American Psychologist 42: 879-881, 1987.
3. Increased EEG Coherence during meditation, International Journal of Neuroscience 14: 147-151, 1981.
4. Bujatti, M., and Riederer, P. Serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine metabolites in Transcendental Meditation technique. Journal of Neural Transmission 39: 257-267,1976.
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