Recovery of Depression through Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness has been found to be an effective approach to help people overcome symptoms of depression. The symptoms of depression include feeling teary or flat in mood, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, loss of energy and motivation, agitation, worthlessness and a desire to escape from the depressing symptoms or circumstances. So to overcome depression using mindfulness, the trick is to learn how to witness these thoughts and feelings rather than become immersed in them.

The key ingredients in mindfulness practice that help us to break out of depression are dis-identifying from the depressing thoughts and feelings and witnessing them. As we witness these thoughts and feelings, we experience a kind of separation from the symptoms while they are still there. This is a weird sensation, because you can feel the depression, and depressed thoughts  as they come in and out of conscious awareness. However, you do not believe the thought or emotion. You know deep down that the thoughts and emotions are actually the depression talking, and are not really true!

An example of this process was when Sarah was experiencing depression. She did not know what underlay the depression. She was just aware that she had little energy, was thinking negatively towards everyone in her life. She was also constantly teary and feeling deeply worthless. Through conversation, we worked out that her depression was telling her that a childhood pattern was causing her to believe that nobody truly cared about her or valued her. As she isolated herself from more and more people, these beliefs grew stronger. She had no idea that it was her depressed “core beliefs”, which were triggered by a recent relationship breakup, that were the source of her pain and depression.

As Sarah learnt the process of mindfulness, she began to see and identify these depressed beliefs, and the attached emotional pain to these beliefs. Before mindfulness, she simply believed that no-one saw any value in her. But as she practiced mindfulness she saw it was the beliefs themselves that caused her pain. When there was enough psychological space in her mind to question the validity of these beliefs, she began to experiment and even ask people how they perceived her. Sarah discovered to her amazement that many people did actually value her in their lives, and that it was her beliefs that were actually spiralling her into depression.

Step by step, Sarah took a stand to her depressed thinking through self-awareness and mindfulness practice. Eventually she trained her mind to believe herself to be valuable and cared for, and she established healthy boundaries with those people who did not respect her.


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Note. While characters in these blogs are inspired by my work with clients, any client information is not referenced to a particular person who has accessed this service.


2 Responses to “Recovery of Depression through Mindfulness Practice”

  • I love the way that mindfulness can create distance between distressing thoughts. I also like how simple techniques, such as mindfulness, can bring profound change. I find I can regularly use it at time when I need to. Great post, Vanessa!

    • Hi Suzanne, thank you for your comment! I agree fully, mindfulness is great for distancing from distressing thoughts. I use mindfulness to for when I’m feeling overwhelmed!!!

      Lots of love

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