Posted on Sun, 14 Feb 16
In people with depression a guided mind-body relaxation has been shown to quickly relax brain regions involved in depressive symptoms while also improving neural connectivity.
Mind-body medicine such as meditation is a promising treatment for major depression, one of the most common causes of disability in the world. Medications are the most common treatment, but fail to work at all in at least 30-50% of people and have serious side-effects. Meditation, on the other hand, is not only effective but low-cost and free of negative side-effects.
To better understand how meditation works a group of researchers applied resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) to see how it influences brain activity.
People with major depressive disorder received rs-fMRI scans at baseline and after listening to a selection of audio designed to induce body-mind relaxation & meditation with gentle flute music and a guided voice over for 15-minutes.
The meditation decreased decreased the activity of the anterior superior prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in mood regulation and cognitive functions. Brain connectivity also improved between the left and right sides of key regions in the prefrontal cortex which play important roles in cognitive reappraisal, an emotional regulation strategy that involves changing an emotional response by reinterpreting the meaning of the emotional stimulus.
This study provides new insight into how mind-body practices such as meditation work to improve emotional resilience, adaptation and health.
Chen F, Lv X, Fang J, et al. The effect of body-mind relaxation meditation induction on major depressive disorder: A resting-state fMRI study. J Affect Disord. 2015 Sep 1;183:75-82.