Depression – is there a special meditation method to deal with itAudio Course Participant’s Question: “I suffer from depression and it’s very debilitating, to the extent that sometimes I cannot get out of bed. I’ve tried to meditate at those times but it doesn’t seem to help. Can you tell me if there’s a special meditation method to help with my depression?”
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Is it worthwhile taking anti-depressants to rectify the chemical imbalance of depression?
And will taking anti-depressants affect my meditation?
Depression is a strange illness because more than anything else, as you might well know, it brings it’s own mind with it – that is, we ‘become’ the depression.
Now, as I said in the audio you most likely listened to, it is the profoundly bleak outlook of depression that is the key to all the physicality of it – the aches, pains and weariness – yet at the same time, the physicality of it (hormonal) is what is driving the thought storms – a circular and very toxic combination, which, unfortunately, creates it’s own false reality, and makes it so hard for people to lift themselves out of depression.
The easy way to deal with this circular mind body mess is to take anti-depressants – they break the cycle – but the TYPE of anti depressant you take is very important – and in that, I cannot make any recommendations, because I don’t know enough about the range of anti-depressants available.
All I know is, some have a deadening effect, and make efficient meditation impossible, while others seem quite benign, removing the symptoms of depression so you CAN begin meditating … but any anti depressive should only be taken for a very limited time – a few months to a year – otherwise the mind/body begins to claim it as if it was its own, and adjusts all of the body chemistry around the anti-depressant – making it extremely hard to let go of.
I have seen in some cases, some anti depressants become terribly addictive if taken for too long, to the extent that they altered the persons entire personality, with disastrous consequences.
But ANY drug is useful sometimes if it re-balances an out of balance situation. In this I go the middle way – if the drug is needed, take it – but make sure to stop as soon as possible.
The only anti-depressant I ever personally witnessed being used successfully was an SRI (serotonin re-uptake inhibiter) being taken by a meditation client who had begun training with me and had been having terrible problems meditating because they were so depressed. The depression made it such that they couldn’t focus, or even sit for any period of time, and kept falling into disorienting sleeps.
So their doctor gave them this SRI anti-depressant … I cant remember the name, but it was either Prozac or a derivative of it.
Anyway I remember this client was told to take one tablet a day – but he only took half because he was afraid of what they would do – and it seemed to work.
At first he said it made him feel a bit panicky, but over a week or two he began to settle into it – and he said it felt like an entire substrate of muck in his mind was removed, with the effect that he felt clear with a mind that was utterly useable for the first time in his life.
Which was good – because the effect of this was, his meditation became much more efficient because his mind/brain had become more responsive and agile – so he was able to concentrate without straining.
Eventually, over about a year, he cut his dose down to quarter of a tablet, and then an eighth … and eventually stopped altogether – by which time he was meditating extremely well, and regularly.
He still experienced depression, but these periods were not nearly so intense or all-encompassing, so he was able to work through the depression in a way he hadn’t been able to before.
With his mind now used to meditation, and able to concentrate and mentally divide the depression into its parts of sensations in the body, thoughts, emotions – he was able to ‘defuse’ it quite quickly – and last time I saw him he’d begin to access the grief that was beneath the depression and feel it as he meditated. In this he began to take a more constructive view of the depression and the emotions behind it than he had.
So, to conclude – drugs can be useful – you’ve just got to find the right drug, which clears the mind to give you temporary reprieve, so you can develop your meditation skills WITHOUT developing a reliance on the drug … and once you feel stronger, and more comfortable with meditation, begin cutting the dose and dealing with the roots of the depression.
And for this, Vipassana meditation is perfect.
Hope this has been helpful.
Very helpful – thanks.
Keep me posted … I suffered from chronic depression when I was younger .. it’s no fun