There are many different practices you can do to help treat your mental health issues. For people with severe mental health illnesses, medication is often necessary. Although medication is a useful tool to help treat mental illness, taking mental health medication can cause you to suffer from several side effects.
Not only can taking medication for your mental illness give you side effects, but it could also lead you to become addicted to your prescription medication. Addiction to mental illness prescription medication is plausible because of the mood-boosting effects that mental illness medications have.
Even if the mood-boosting properties of mental illness medications do not cause you to develop an addiction, they could cause you to develop a level of prescription drug dependency.
To avoid developing side effects, an addiction, or drug dependency, many people turn to holistic practices to take care of their mental health. One of the most popular holistic mental health practices is meditation.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a mindful holistic practice in which you focus and calm your mind. There are several different kinds of meditation practices. For example, guided meditation is when you focus on mental images in your mind that provide you comfort.
Mindful meditation is when you focus on one person, place, or thing, and then allow your mind to roam through different thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment. During transcendental meditation, you focus your mind while repeating a word, phrase, or sound in the form of a mantra.
One goal of meditation is to give yourself the ability to focus your mind and energy on something. Another goal of meditation is to become better in-tune with yourself and the forces of the world. The third goal of meditation is to help you reduce your levels of stress and anxiety while simultaneously giving yourself a stress-coping mechanism.
Regardless of which way you choose to use meditation, one thing is for certain, the mindful nature of meditation makes it the perfect tool for improving your mental health.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health is important because it affects every aspect of human life.
If you do not take care of your mental health, you can develop a mental health disorder or illness. Examples of mental disorders include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more. While meditation can help improve the state of all the mental disorders listed above, the effect that meditation has on all these mental disorders vary.
Meditation and Depression
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the world. Depression is a mental illness that causes you to feel a chronic sense of hopelessness and sadness. Depression is also often characterized by a low sense of self-worth and issues sleeping.
Mindful meditation is a good way to help treat depression because it forces you to look inward and deal with your inner emotions. Through mindful meditation practices, you can become more aware of what your emotional fears and triggers are and then start to work on them.
Biologically, depression is connected to the hyperactivity of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the amygdala. The medial prefrontal cortex, otherwise known as the “me center,” is the part of the brain where you process information about yourself. Because people that suffer from depression tend to constantly think negative things about themselves, the mPFC in the brain of a depressed person is usually hyperactive.
The amygdala, otherwise known as the fear center, is the part of the brain that triggers the fight or flight instinct and the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, whenever you are in danger. Because people with depression are always stressing about the past and worrying about the future, this part of the brain is also hyperactive in people that are suffering from depression.
Not only are the medial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala hyperactive in the minds of people that are depressed, but they also work off each other to cause depression. Meditation helps manage the biological aspects of depression by breaking the connection between these two parts of the brain so that they cannot work off each other. Meditation also helps protect the hippocampus, or memory center, of the brain in a depressed person.
Meditation and Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental illness that causes a person to exhibit excessive worry and fear to the point of having increased heart rate, obsessive thoughts, rapid breathing, and sweating. Meditation helps treat anxiety by reducing stress, slowing down a person’s heart and breathing patterns, and forcing the mind to relax and be in the present moment.
Meditation and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
People that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have the inability to cope when certain triggers occur that remind them of past trauma. Multiple research and case studies show that transcendental meditation helps treat the symptoms of PTSD. In fact, in a study done on active duty service members with PTSD, many of the service members that practiced transcendental meditation were able to reduce or eliminate their use of PTSD medication. This is because transcendental meditation helps quiet the mind.
Transcendental meditation also trades in the nervous thoughts and actions of someone suffering from PTSD with a focused mind filled with reinforced positive thinking.
Meditation and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by delusional thoughts, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speaking, abnormal motor behavior, social isolation, and more in the form of acute psychotic episodes. Meditation can help people suffering from schizophrenia cope with their disease by getting them to focus inward and get more in touch with themselves, their bodies, and their reality.
Meditation and Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by intense mood swings that go from depressive lows to manic highs. Meditation, in particular mindful meditation, can help people suffering from bipolar disorder treat their condition by decreasing stress, relaxing the mind, and forcing them to be aware of their true emotions.
By giving them the ability to become more aware of their mood and true emotions, when done consistently over time, meditation can even help people suffering from bipolar disorder predict when an episode is about to come.
Meditation and Addiction Recovery
Although we here at Montare Behavioral Health Center specialize in mental health treatment, we know that oftentimes people that suffer from a mental illness also suffer from addiction. Luckily, we offer dual diagnosis treatment options for our members that are suffering from both mental illness and addiction.
During our dual diagnosis treatment, we utilize many of the same mental health practices to help treat addiction. For example, meditation is a practice that provides just as many benefits for people suffering from addiction as it does for people suffering from mental illness.
Mindful meditation can help people in addiction recovery by lowering the levels of cortisol in their bloodstream and increasing their interleukin levels in a way that enhances their immune system and helps clean out the toxins in their bodies.
Mindful meditation can also help addiction recovery patients create new neural networks in their brains that can help them establish behaviors that will help them function more successfully in the world as sober individuals.