Mindfullness Meditation and Depression - in a pod cast

Over the last 3 years I have found that meditation has really assisted me, in resolving the depression I have had. I have planned to write about my experience for a while, and hopefully will get around to doing that. However today having listen to the latest podcast by Dan Harris on 10% happier, so many things just clicked in to place, so I want to share it.

To understand what is covered in the podcast I would recommend you understand what mindfulness meditation is, and what the default mode network in the brain is (see links below).

Listen to the pod cast - but here are some extracts (which I do not have permission to publish - and will remove if asked).

Link to podcast: tumello.com/listen/H11a5NYJf; or itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/10-happier-with-dan-harris/id1087147821

Chuck Raison, a psychiatrist and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and Vlad Maletic, a clinical professor of neuropsychiatry and behavior science at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, wrote a book together called, "The New Mind-Body Science of Depression," in which they offer research on the mind-body connection, such as looking at the immune system, as a way to tackle depression...


There are some  word changes to make the transcript read better.

20:40 – “the aspect that fascinated me are the neurobiological aspects of meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, in terms of the pattern of activity in the brain that occurs in the context of mindfulness meditation it was remarkable how it is almost the exact opposite of what happens in brains of individuals that are depressed and that kind of juxtaposition of depression and mindfulness meditation, [has the] potential to reverses the process of depression at least as it is present in some individuals, also relying on mind body processes, which is fascinating”…

21:43 – “So just looking at the pattern of activity that occurs in [the] context of depression (in some individuals, this is not a universal phenomenon in depression), there is excessive activation in [the] default mode network [the state our brain sits in by default called DMN – read more here…], and it is essentially a self-referential network …., but in individuals who are depressed, it is active with essentially in becoming a closed unit.

“In usual circumstances, when there is any kind of negative emotional experience, it activates different brain networks, and this so call cognitive executive network, and we start problem solving. We start trying to understand what it is that is making us unhappy or sad, and how can we change it. In individuals who have major depressive disorder, access of negative emotional experience, do not active the problem-solving network part of the brain, it activates DMN; and this leads to an elaboration of this experience, and a number of associations from the past (we often refer to it as going to our rolodex of misery). We start thinking about all the unhappy events that have occurred in the past; and that ends up being an amplifying feedback loop. At the same time, we are closed off to external experience, so we are internally oriented, we are stuck in this loop that perpetuates negative feelings. On the other had individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder who engage in mindfulness meditation, seem to be able to get out of this loop. Looking at the neuro imaging studies, what happens is that all of a sudden the hot wiring between salience network the part that brings about about these negative feelings, and the DMN, is interrupted.”


How I understand this is by practising meditation enough to the point that you can hone it, when you have a negative feeling that would result in the perpetual cycle that would result in depression - you are able to stop the cycle, and therefore become able to prevent the depression that would normally be bought on by the negative internally focused cycle of the DMN.

Powerful stuff!


They do talk further on the effect of meditation and psychedelics in preventing PTSD and other forms of Depression so listen on.

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