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Alcohol Addiction, Depression & Mindfulness Meditation

By: Carol Morriscey

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to significantly improve symptoms of depression. This long-term improvement results from a change in gene activity. The Link Between Depression and Addiction

Depression and addiction often co-occur, whether it is the depression leading to the addiction through self-medication, or vice-versa. For example, heavy alcohol use may lead to depression, as alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. The combination of depression and addiction can make obtaining treatment and successful recovery very difficult. According to a report by Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Advisory Committee, mental health and addictions issues will be the leading cause of disability in Canada by 2030. The co-occurrence of mental health and addictions issues creates a debilitating cycle of impairment.

Traditional Treatments for Depression

Depression is extremely pervasive in Western culture. Despite this fact, we have limited, and at times ineffective, treatments. The most common treatments for depression are medication and psychotherapy. Among the most common medications are SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft. Psychotherapies which are used for depression include cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal therapy. Unfortunately, relapse is common after depression is treated, and the medications have many side effects.

Meditation and Mindfulness for Depression

Shockingly, a common practice has been shown to effectively treat depression. A certain type of mindfulness meditation, called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be more effective than anti-depressant medications or traditional psychotherapies alone at treating depression. Unlike traditional treatments, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can be continued throughout life, with no negative side-effects. Further, the rates of relapse are significantly lower for MBCT than traditional treatments for depression.

A review of 18 dependent studies investigating the effects of mindfulness found the changes which result from mindfulness begin at the molecular level. Our genes are responsible for creating new molecules which affect our emotions, behaviour and personal characteristics. Mindfulness alters the way these genes act, therefore altering the molecules which are produced. The altered gene activity leads to a reduction in molecules which are associated with depression. This long-term change in gene activity is the mechanism by which mindfulness improves symptoms of depression.

Incorporating Mindfulness into Addiction Treatment at Searidge Alcohol Rehab

Mindfulness-based treatments are most effective when used in combination with psychotherapy. At Searidge Alcohol Rehab, first-class psychotherapy is offered and supplemented by various forms of meditation and mindfulness therapies. Searidge Foundation’s goal is to promote a complete and long-lasting recovery, achieved through holistic treatment. Therefore, yoga, mindfulness meditation, Tai Chi, relaxation therapy, and First Nations healing rituals are integrated into treatment plans, to ensure complete recovery.

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals
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