Psychological Benefits of Meditation

Meditation provides a wide variety of both physical and psychological benefits to those who practice it. Studies have shown that meditation aids in the treatment of depression, anxiety and PTSD. Defined as a mind and body practice used for increasing mental and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance and overall health and wellness, meditation can be practiced in various forms, such as:

In order to truly understand the importance of meditation, it is helpful to explore the effects chronic stress can have upon the brain. When a stressful event occurs, the amygdala sends signals to the hypothalamus, resulting in a fight-or-flight response triggered by the body’s nervous system. When stress occurs frequently, cortisol levels rise. When produced in excess,  cortisol enlarges the amygdala and affects synapse regulation, making us less social and more withdrawn from our loved ones. It can also reduce the size of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which aids in our memory and learning processes, and is even believed to hard-wire the pathways between the amygdala and the hippocampus to keep the body in a constant state of fight-or-flight. These changes can be reversed over time, however, and meditation is a great tool to aid in this process. 

Meditation helps to reduce cortisol levels, lessening activity in the amygdala and therefore the frequency and intensity of our fight-or-flight response. Therefore, this practice can not only improve your mental health by reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, but can also prevent memory loss, increase learning capacity, preserve your desire for social interactions, and even help you live a longer and happier life by reducing your chances of experiencing health problems associated with chronic stress. 

References:

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress effects on the body. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body

Bernstein, R. (2016, July 26). The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain. Retrieved from https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/

Gardner, A. (2018, June 26). 11 Types of Meditation That Can Help If You're Depressed. Retrieved from https://www.health.com/condition/depression/types-of-meditation-for-depression

Meditation: In Depth. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth

Powell, A. (2018, August 27). Harvard researchers study how mindfulness may change the brain in depressed patients. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/

 

Author
Courtney Santiago

You Might Also Enjoy...

Can TMS help with weight loss?

Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you looking to start your New Year's resolutions early, click on the link to read about TMS and weight loss.