Best meditation for depression

How Meditation treats the
Depressed Brain

Depression is not just imbalanced neurotransmitters, it is just as much imbalanced brain structures and neuro-circuits (the wiring in the brain), there is now solid science showing that we can use meditation brain training exercises to make changes to the physical structure of the brain as a useful complementary treatment depression
 Brain scans have shown in the depressed brain there is:-
  • Overactivity in the default mode network, a circuit in the brain that ruminates on negative feelings and experiences I discuss the DMN in more detail below.
  • There is also excessive reactivity in the amygdala a structure of the brain usually associated with fear, danger and anxiety but it also triggers negative emotions, the feeling of doom and negativity.
  • A common feature in most types of depression is overactivity in the HPA stress pathway; this causes inflammation in the brain.
  • The ubiquitous inflammation found in the depressed brain is now known to be a major if not the dominant underlying driving force that causes depression.
  • Another significant feature in the depressed brain is a loss of connections (synapses and dendrites) in the hippocampus and cortex.
The right type of meditation can stimulate therapeutic neuroplastic changes in the depressed brain to combat:-
  • Overactivity in the default mode network,
  • Reduce excessive reactivity in the amygdala,
  • Reduce neuro-inflammation,
  • Promote the growth of new neurons and synapses in the hippocampus, thicken the cortex,
  • Improve function in the anterior cingulate cortex
If you have depression especially chronic or recurrent depression meditation can add a whole new treatment approach and be an invaluable part of your recovery.
 
Not all meditations are the same, different meditations stimulate change in different parts and circuits of the brain, to achieve your health goals you should select the right type of meditation…
See Choosing the Right Type of Meditation for Depression Anxiety and Bipolar
 
Meditation classes for anxiety depression and bipolar
Since late 2000’s neuroscience has dramatically changed our understanding of how meditation rewires and changes brain structures to produce real antidepressant effects, and for the 1st time, neuroscience is beginning to show us how to improve classical meditation techniques to achieve specific therapeutic goals.
 
The meditation techniques I now teach in my online classes incorporate the latest understanding from neuroscience to stimulate neuroplastic changes in the specific parts of the brain involved in depression.
 
Within 3 to 6 months of meditation brain training treatment we can combat some of the root functional imbalances that cause depression. On its own meditation is unlikely to be a complete cure, but it produces does unique therapeutic effects that you cannot obtain by any other means; there are no drugs or natural remedies that can stimulate equivalent neuroplastic changes and rewiring. If you have chronic recurrent depression meditation brain training can give you an extra, side-effect free and potentially permanent treatment approach.
 

Overactivity in the default mode network is one of the fundamental root causes of

There’s a neuro-circuit in the brain that you may not have heard of but if you have depression you will be all too familiar with its effects, its called the default mode network and studies have shown that in people with depression, bipolar depression and anxiety the DMN is overactive compared to people without these conditions. Basically the DMN ruminates on negative, stressful and traumatic feelings and memories from our past and envisaging what (negative things) might happen in the future.
 
The good news is that with directed-focus mindfulness meditation we can train our brain to have a less active DMN and in so doing reduce depression and other mental health problems[i].
 
To switch off the DPN what we use another circuit in the brain called the task-positive network; with the right type of meditation practice you can deliberately switch on TPN and when you do this it switches off the ruminating DPN. These 2 circuits are mutually exclusive meaning that as soon as one becomes activated the other is switched off, if you want you can think of them acting like a light switch it’s either on or off. One of the main goals of directed focus mindfulness meditation brain training is to dampen down overactivity in the DPN by activating, strengthening and growing our TPN.
 

Why overactivity in the DPN causes depression

The overactivity in the DPN results in a person overly dwelling on one’s own emotional state, ruminating on past negative events and experiences, self referencing and evaluating traits and descriptions of oneself, envisaging a negative future, overly evaluating one social and group status; it can also result in a person being overly sensitive thinking about the thoughts and feelings of others, being painfully empathic and concerned about social injustice.
 
Unfortunately thanks to neuroplasticity the more you use your DMN to dwell on negative memories and narratives the more entrenched this way of thinking becomes, you literally grow new synapses and connections to strengthen these circuits in the brain and actually become better at being depressed!
 

Switching off overactivity in the DPN treats depression

Task positive networkWe can use neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change its circuits and structures) to grow and develop the TPN, the off switch of the DPN. After several months of 20-30 minutes a day of brain training our brain to switch on the TPN we can grow and strengthen it sufficiently to counterbalance the overactivity in the DMN and produce a real antidepressant effect[ii].
 
What you will also like to hear is that the physical changes that we make in the brain with this type of training treatment produce lasting antidepressant effects. It can be difficult but not impossible to engage in these practices during an acute phase of depression but as soon as the condition has lessened sufficiently with or without drug or natural remedy treatments you can start to use this method not only to treat your current depression but also to prevent relapses; if you’re prone to recurrent relapses of depression you should absolutely use this directed focus mindfulness meditation training to keep you well.
 
For a more in-depth description of the default mode network and its role in depression and anxiety see: Is an Overactive Default Mode Network Causing Your Depression?
 

Meditation combats the over-reactive amygdala in the depressed brain

amygdala overactive enlarged depression Another area of the depressed brain that shows increased activity is the amygdala. As already mentioned the amygdala is one of the structures of the default mode network and an overactive amygdala may be one of the reasons why the DMN is overactive in the depressed brain.
 
As meditation makes the amygdala weaker and the cortex stronger (discussed below) the strength of the connections from the amygdala to the cortex and rest of the brain also become weaker so that the cortex is less ‘disturbed’ by the negative signals from the amygdala, the stronger cortex is also better able to deal with stress.
 
HPA axis depressionThe amygdala also activates another pathway involved in depression called the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis), overactivity in the HPA axis is a common finding in most but not all types of depression. The way the HPA axis works is, when a stress response is activated (rightly or wrongly) by the amygdala or (other regions of the brain) it signals the hypothalamus which signals the pituitary to signal the adrenal glands to release the hormone cortisol.
 
The cortisol crosses the blood-brain barrier and increases inflammation in the brain, it’s perfectly normal for the adrenal glands to release cortisol, in fact we should get a surge of cortisol every morning to give a surge of energy but then cortisol levels should decline rapidly throughout the day to reach minimal levels overnight while we sleep and regenerate. The problem is when we have prolonged excessive stress maintaining elevated levels of cortisol morning and night the inflammation causes damage to key structures in the brain that control mood including the hippocampus and cortex.
 

Meditation may reduce inflammation in the depressed brain another root cause of depression

Inflammation changes serotonin metabolism
The new understanding is that elevated inflammation in the brain is a significant if not the primary driving force that triggers depression [ref]; elevated inflammation in the brain results in a loss of synaptic connections and directly changes serotonin metabolism.
see Don’t Take Tryptophan or 5 HTP until You’ve Read This
Repairing the Brain
 
Meditation appears to exert several anti-inflammatory effects, some indirectly by reducing stress and some more directly by changing gene expression involved in inflammation[iii].
 
Overactivity in the HPA axis is thought to be a primary source of th are the right you could like a little blind of the mechanisms in La Liga miss them amino enjoy speaking to my parents I have enjoyed my parents e what miss the music you think another one of the or your a positive
it's so difficult to you just need inflammation that causes depression (insert ref),
and an over-reactive amygdala can make a significant contribution to overactivity in the HPA axis; however inflammation can come from several sources and because inflammation is so central to causing depression you should make absolutely sure that you have eradicated any and every source of inflammation.
See What Really Causes Depression, The Stress Solution
 

Overactivity in the HPA axis

A consistent finding in the depressed brain is overactivity in the hypothalamus-pituitary pathway[iv], these structures may even be physically enlarged. That means to say if you suffer from chronic depression or bipolar as I do in your brain and my brain we have enlargement and overactivity in our hypothalamus and pituitary stress pathway resulting in overproduction of cortisol. Overproduction of cortisol has multiple consequences it produces increased levels of inflammation in the brain which attacks and trims the dendrites and synapses of neurons it changes neurotransmitter metabolism, it also weakens the blood-brain barrier and gut wall further increasing inflammation in the brain, there can be negative effects on sleep and immunity and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
 
Mindfulness meditation techniques have some useful effect of dampening down overactivity in the HPA axis indirectly working on the structures including the amygdala, hippocampus and cortex that trigger stress responses upstream so to speak however my practice I have developed a separate training technique to combat this. See The Stress Solution, The Quick Mini Relaxation Technique
In my meditation classes I also teach the mini relaxation response technique.
 

Meditation also combats depression by increasing activity in the anterior cingulate cortex

Meditation treats depression and anxietyA lot of studies have shown that meditation increases activity in the anterior cingulate cortex[v][vi] (ACC), even just a couple of months of meditation has been shown to increase blood flow to the ACC [vii] and changes in neuronal network efficiency[viii] (better wiring). These positive changes in the ACC may be a significant part of why meditation helps depression and anxiety, the ACC governs worrying, thinking and appears to monitor the thinking activity in the default mode network and by strengthening the ACC we may be making our brain process and cope with worrying information in the default mode network in a more detached and healthy way making us more resilient to stress.
 
The part of directed attention focus meditation that may be responsible for specifically activating a day anterior cingulate cortex may be focusing on breathing[ix], I place a significant amount of time on breath awareness in my meditation classes.
 

Meditation increases lost volume in the hippocampus and cortex in the depressed brain

Meditation regrows synapsesIt’s not nice to hear but there’s a loss of volume literally shrinkage in the hippocampus and cortex in depression, bipolar and schizophrenia. The good news is that the brain can grow new connections (dendrites and synapses), the brain is a very dynamic structure. Meditation has been shown but only to slow down the loss of volume that can occur with ageing but also to regrow and increase volume in the hippocampus and cortex. In order for the brain to grow it has to be healthy and we can improve the health of the brain with diet, natural supplements and exercise.
 

We can use diet and supplements to enhance neuroplasticity to get more out of the meditation

In 2012 I developed treatment protocol to boost neuroplasticity, stimulate regeneration of the brain to restore some loss of function in my own brain and the results far surpassed my expectations. The programme consists of maximising the production of BDNF (a protein that stimulates growth in the brain) and neuroplasticity while at the same time minimising things that work against neuroplasticity including inflammation, oxidative and nitrosative stress.
 
I believe we can significantly enhance the brain effects of meditation by taking natural remedies and physical exercises that promote neuroplasticity at the same time.
 
My neuroplasticity protocol involves taking of a stack of supplements to boost BDNF production and neuroplasticity, doing some specific physical exercises known to promote neurogenesis and neuroplasticity and creating the right physiological conditions in the brain for new connections to grow by following a specific diet that minimises inflammation, oxidative and nitrosative stress. If you understand how neuroplasticity works you can imagine that failing to minimise just one thing that undermines neuroplasticity can seriously undermine the effectiveness of this treatment so each prescription be worked out on an individual case basis; it’s not a one size fits all. In Dr Dale Bredesen’s Alzheimer’s and anti-ageing brain treatment he has identified 36 individual parameters that can undermine neuroplasticity and must be corrected!
I specialise in treating and coaching people with mental health problems how to obtain better mental health with natural remedies and self-help techniques. If you would like me to look into your individual case and develop a tailor-made programme of natural remedies, dietary advice and brain training exercises I’m available for private consultations at my London clinic and online for people that live too far away.
I also run regular meditation classes in London and online.
Click on the 
bookings tab to make an appointment.
I’m passionate about treating mental health and I’d be very happy to work with you.
 
With just a few months of training you can change neuro-circuits and structures in your brain to significantly reduce anxiety, depression bipolar and ADHD, moreover the therapeutic effects obtained from this treatment approach are side-effect free.
 
I don’t want to be misleading and appear to claim that meditation is a complete cure for depression, I’ve been in practice since 1988 and have never seen anybody obtain a hundred percent cure from just meditation alone, but I am saying is that meditation produces unique therapeutic effects and that there are no drugs or natural remedies that can rewire the brain in the same way, I believe when combined with other therapeutic approaches meditation can help many people with mental health problems achieve their health goals.
 

A new direction in treating mental health problems

There is nothing new in the understanding that when the brain performs an exercise repeatedly and with some intensity it stimulates the brain to grow more connections in the specific parts of the brain being exercised, this is part of the brains neuroplastic abilities. The new development is the understanding that we can use meditation brain training exercises to deliberately stimulate neuroplastic changes to change and alter the structures in the brain involved in causing problematic mental states; we can literally grow and enlarge neuro-circuits and structures that counteract and switch off the problem states not only can we grow structures but we can actually shrink and dampen down systems of the brain that are overactive and causing the problematic mental states.
 
Now I don’t want to exaggerate or make any false claims here nobodies developed a new brain training system that you could do for a few months and then completely cure yourself of anxiety or depression, I’ve been in practice for 30 years and have never seen anybody cure themselves hundred percent from a mental health problem with meditation alone however thanks to a lot of research we now better understand how to use this technique and what you can expect to achieve within just a few months practice is alterations in the structure and function of your brain that should significantly reduce your condition, moreover meditation brain training alters the brain in a way that no drug or natural remedy can do, I have been doing a lot of work on improving my understanding treatments for anxiety disorders and with anxiety disorders in particular I am now convinced rewiring the anxious brain is not an optional extra but it is essential to include this treatment approach is part of your recovery.
 

Choosing the right type of meditation is important

There are many different types of meditation, each of them stimulates activity in different parts of the brain and therefore have different effects.
 
To work on the underlying functional imbalances causing depression, bipolar and anxiety we want to:-
  • change the physical wiring and size of structures and circuits such as the amygdala and the default mode network that are involved in producing depression, anxiety, OCD and bipolar disorder,
  • change the way our brain processes stress and stop excess HPA stress responses damaging the brain,
  • reduce inflammation in the brain that damages structures in involved in mental health problems,
  • regrows lost volume (size) in the hippocampus and cortex involved in mental health problems
 To achieve these goals I teach meditation techniques intended to produce the maximum therapeutic effects in the minimum amount of time, however it does still take at least 50 hours of training get results. In practising meditation I believe we can enhance the therapeutic benefits by simultaneously taking complementary supplements and dietary techniques to enhance neuroplasticity to accelerate the rate of change stimulated by the meditation brain training.
 
Lastly meditation technique has to be doable, if your mind is riddled with intrusive anxious and depressive thoughts performing the classical open monitoring mindfulness that is widely taught today may be impossible because the depression and anxiety quickly intrudes and overwhelms the mind; I teach a style that makes meditation more accessible by activating neurocircuits that refocus the mind away from the thoughts and feelings of the mental health problem.
 
To read more about choosing the right type of meditation see:
Choosing the Right Type of Meditation for Depression and Anxiety
 
[i] Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2015 Sep; 15(3): 712–720. doi:  10.3758/s13415-015-0358-3 PMCID: PMC4529365 NIHMSID: NIHMS684151 PMID: 25904238
Meditation leads to reduced default mode network activity beyond an active task Kathleen A. Garrison et al
[ii] Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2015 Sep; 15(3): 712–720. doi:  10.3758/s13415-015-0358-3 PMCID: PMC4529365 NIHMSID: NIHMS684151 PMID: 25904238 Meditation leads to reduced default mode network activity beyond an active task Kathleen A. Garrison et al
[iii] Front. Immunol., 16 June 2017 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670
What Is the Molecular Signature of
Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices
[iv] Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2001; 3(4): 151–155. PMCID: PMC181180
PMID: 15014598 The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Major Depressive Disorder: A Brief Primer for Primary Care Physicians Femina P. et.al.
[v] Transl Behav Med. 2016 Mar; 6(1): 63–72. Published online 2015 Nov 13. doi:  10.1007/s13142-015-0360-x PMCID: PMC4807201 PMID: 27012254 A translational neuroscience perspective on mindfulness meditation as a prevention strategy Yi-Yuan Tang, et al
[vi] Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Anxious? Activate your anterior cingulate cortex with a little meditation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 2013. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130604114001.htm 
[vii] Front Psychol. 2015; 6: 212. Published online 2015 Feb 26. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00212 PMCID: PMC4341506 PMID: 25767459 Short-term meditation increases blood flow in anterior cingulate cortex and insula Yi-Yuan Tang, et al
[viii] Short-term meditation increases network efficiency of the anterior cingulate cortex
Article in Neuroreport 22(12):570-4 June 2011 with 279 DOI: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328348c750
[ix] Transl Behav Med. 2016 Mar; 6(1): 63–72. Published online 2015 Nov 13. doi:  10.1007/s13142-015-0360-x PMCID: PMC4807201 PMID: 27012254 A translational neuroscience perspective on mindfulness meditation as a prevention strategy Yi-Yuan Tang, et al
 
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I used these techniques to overcome and live well with my own bipolar disorder and IBS. I've been in practice as a natural medicine practitioner since 1988.
 

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If you’d like treatment for any of the issues discussed in this article I specialise in treating and coaching people how to obtain better mental health with natural remedies and self-help techniques. If you would like me to look into your individual case and develop a tailor-made programme of natural remedies, dietary advice and brain training exercises I’m available for private consultations and I’m available for private consultations at my London clinic and online for people that live too far away.
I also run regular meditation classes in London and online.
I’m passionate about treating mental health and I’d be very happy to work with you.
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