Meditation better than drugs


On the back of my recent posting about mindfulness therapy being better than anti-depressants, neuroscience has provided more information.

According to Eric Barker of Barking Up the Wrong Tree there are four actions that can help when you are feeling low;

  1. Ask “what am I grateful for?”
  2. Name the awfulness
  3. Decide what to do next
  4. Reach out to someone (don’t text – touch)

Mindfulness meditation helps you to recognise unhelpful thoughts and helps you change the way you look at things. Once you change the way you look at things the feelings associated change.

Mindfulness Therapy better than anti-depressants.

sunset-129503_1920Clinical trials of psychotherapy using mindfulness with anti-depressants have shown that therapy using mindfulness on its own produces better results.

Larry Davidson Ph.D Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University refers in Mad in America an on-line magazine for Science,Psychiatry and Community to results published in The Journal Psychotherapy and Psychometrics: The Two-Sided Face of Anti-depressants: The Impacts of Their Use on Real-Life Affective Change during Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Researchers from Maastricht University and University of Groningen found that the participants in a randomized control trial for MBCT who showed the greatest improvement were those who had not taken antidepressants.

“Since the generation of positive emotions is crucial in the initiation of a positive spiral towards recovery, long-term outcomes of this contingent inhibiting effect of antidepressants on psychotherapy outcome in terms of positive affect will have to be investigated in more detail in experimental set-ups”

the researchers conclude.

The researchers explain that antidepressants are known to reduce the neural processing of both rewarding and aversive stimuli, causing “emotional blunting,” and that this may prevent the generation of positive emotions that are essential for therapy.

“If our findings are replicated it would implicate that the sequential addition of psychotherapy to antidepressants could be less efficient than discontinuing antidepressants before/during receiving psychotherapy especially for improving long-term outcomes.”

Life stress held in your body

In my Karuna Institute trauma training as a psychotherapist I was taught that all of our life trauma is held at a cellular level, this was hard to accept but it’s official. Thanks to information shared on the BBC Radio 4 Program Unhappy Child, Unhealthy Adult.

Research results from a study

Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.

by the Department of Preventive Medicine, Southern California Permanente Medical Group (Kaiser Permanente), San Diego 92111, USA. Which looked at ACE scores (Adverse Childhood Experience) their conclusion was

We found a strong graded relationship between the breadth of exposure to abuse or household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death in adults.

Professor Mark Bellis used the ACE scoring in his report on 2000 people called “Adverse Childhood Experiences” and their impact on health-harming behaviours in the Welsh adult population  in a Landmark Study in Wales.

A paper given by Elissa S. Epel for The National Academy of Science of the United States of America stated in a study on Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress concluded that

although the exact pathway of events from perception of stress in the brain to somatic cell longevity is unclear, the results reported here now implicate shorter telomeres in the adverse health sequelae of prolonged psychological stress.

Telomeres are associated with the chromosome cell regeneration and repair. On the Radio 4 program Elissa spoke of

problems with having shorter telomeres in our immune system making us unable to fight infections and systemic inflammation in our blood …. a major driver of the diseases of aging …. short telomere in tissues of other organs limiting cell renewal. Length of the telomere are a good predictor of “life span”.

Some good news Life Style Changes may lengthen telomeres so it’s not all bad.


Mindfulness – alternative life style choice or a powerful therapy

Dawn Foster of the Guardian in her piece “Is mindfulness making us ill?” of 23rd January discusses the explosion of interest in mindfulness courses as a technique of choice popular to employers. Mindfulness courses range from smart phone apps to three day mindfulness as part of a training programme. Dawn refers to a number of cases where side-effects have profoundly effected peoples lives leaving them disturbed, open, and vulnerable.

She states that there are dangers in way that mindfulness is marketed as an alternative lifestyle choice rather than a powerful form of therapy. The Karuna Institute a UKCP member led by Maura Sills provides an accredited psychotherapy training using mindfulness. Mindfulness has been taught and used in therapeutic relationship within Core Process Psychotherapy for thirty years.