The topic of depression and mental health is back in the news this week with the sad suicide of Robin Williams. But of course everyday many less well-known people take their own lives which is a tragedy for their family and friends. It is said that in the UK 1 in 4 people suffers with a mental health condition. Many people will be hiding the way they feel because they are ashamed, confused or want to protect their loved ones, but often because they feel it’s somehow their fault and no one will be able to help them. This week there has been a call for more money to go into research and more public awareness of something that really can’t be seen on a physical level. In fact, like Robin Williams, people suffering from depression may seem to be the life and soul of the party.
Recently there has been a lot of press about mindfulness practice and even the NHS recommends it for certain conditions. Earlier this year JAMA Internal Medicine published a review of 47 clinical trials involving more than 3500 participants with mild anxiety or depression and found that those who took mindfulness meditation classes experienced an improvement in their mood after eight weeks—on par with the effect seen with prescription medications. The review also found that meditation helped alleviate chronic pain in those with back problems, arthritis, headaches, or other conditions. Mindfulness meditation has many high profile advocates such as Goldie Hawn and Ruby Wax.
Mindfulness mediation is simple and easy to learn, but it is the repeated practice that leads to the benefits. A weekly class won’t make the difference, you need to practice daily. But if you found it made a real difference to the way you feel, wouldn’t you want to persist with the practice? Sadly, most people want a ‘quick fix’ and prefer to take a pill despite the evidence that medication isn’t that effective for many sufferers. The key is to find a method of meditation or mindfulness that works for you, as there are many styles to choose from.
I will be starting a Meditation Made Easy course in September and you can find out more HERE.