In this article I detail out a bit further the link between meditation and its therapeutic effect on anxiety and depression and apply it to a case example.
Mindfulness meditation seems to be suitable to shift the perception of life-uncertainty and adjust “from rumination to present awareness and acceptance” (Li et al., 2016, p. 12). Mindfulness as a psycho-therapeutic approach has proven beneficial for the treatment of anxiety and depression disorders.
First of all, though, I’d like to use the term mindfulness in place of meditation. Meditation, however, may be the main means to achieve mindfulness and therefore be called mindfulness meditation or may even stand interchangeable for mindfulness practice overall. Meditation is considered to be significantly different from relaxation exercises as it can, according to Li, Black, and Garland (2016, p. 12), result in attitudinal change over time that is increased non-reactivity respectively decreased response to negative emotions.
According to Khusid and Vythilingam (2016, p. 961), meditation has a positive effect on improving symptoms of major depressive disorder; for anxiety, there is the reference to still missing research data. However, Bajaj, Robins, and Pande (2016) explain that mindfulness indirectly links to anxiety through the mediator of self-esteem. So there is an indication in recent research on mindfulness meditation’s efficacy for the treatment of anxiety (general anxiety disorder).
What does that mean for the case of Hannah (17, pregnant) whose diagnosis is General Anxiety Disorder and depression after an abandoned childhood? I suggest to strongly consider the high potential and priority of mindfulness meditation for an appropriate and successful treatment of Hannah’s anxiety and depression for the following reasons considering the Biopsychosocial model:
- There is no genetic/biological anxiety and depression disposition diagnosed that requires immediate medication
- Psychologically and socially the suffering may lie in memories of separation anxiety that develop the depression. Furthermore, the childhood experiences of family separation may have resulted in insecure attachment disorder. It should be clarified whether Hannah is also influenced by social anxiety disorder as this would mediate between insecure attachment and depression. According to Manes et al. (2016, p. 267), attachment links to depression even directly without the reinforcing factor of social anxiety. Mindfulness meditation seems to be suitable to shift the perception of life uncertainty and adjust “from rumination to present awareness and acceptance” (Li et al., 2016, p. 12). Bouvet, Grignon, Zachariou, and Lascar (2014, p. 54) is confirming in his study that mindfulness as a psycho-therapeutic approach has shown beneficial results also for Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
- Treatment plan: Mindfulness training can be instructed in a highly personalized way, taking the situation of the patient into account. Meditation practice is safe and easy to perform. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the mindfulness meditation/intervention can and should be evaluated frequently from early on regarding achieving the psycho-therapeutic goals in the specific patient context. For that purpose, Li et al. (2016, p. 12), for example, proposes the use of an ‘Applied Mindfulness Process Scale (AMPS),’ which allows a differentiated view on different therapeutic processes to predict clinical outcomes.
Bajaj, B., Robins, R. W., & Pande, N. (2016). Mediating role of self-esteem on the relationship between mindfulness, anxiety, and depression. Personality And Individual Differences, 96127-131. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.02.085
Bouvet, C., Grignon, C., Zachariou, Z., & Lascar, P. (2014). Relationship between the development of mindfulness and improvement of depression and anxiety. Annales Medico-Psychologiques, doi:10.1016/j.amp.2013.09.016
Khusid, M. A., & Vythilingam, M. (2016). The Emerging Role of Mindfulness Meditation as Effective Self-Management Strategy, Part 1: Clinical Implications for Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Anxiety. Military Medicine, 181(9), 961-968. doi:10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00677
Li, M. J., Black, D. S., & Garland, E. L. (2016). The Applied Mindfulness Process Scale (AMPS): A process measure for evaluating mindfulness-based interventions. Personality And Individual Differences, 936-15. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.10.027
Manes, S. )., Nodop, S. )., Altmann, U. )., Gawlytta, R. )., Strauss, B. )., Dinger, U. )., & … Willutzki, U. ). (2016). Social anxiety as a potential mediator of the association between attachment and depression. Journal Of Affective Disorders, 205264-268. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.06.060