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Meditation to Treat Depression: Demystifying Mindfulness (Part One)

This introductory blog post is about the relationship between depression and meditation. You may have heard that meditation can be used to treat depression, but what does this really mean? And how does it work? Let's start with the basics. We'll talk about depression, alpha asymmetry, and how they are related before diving into the clinical use of an alpha asymmetry protocol in the neurofeedback treatment of depression study (in part 2).

Let's begin with depression, most if not all people that are diagnosed with depression under eeg brain scans will show low activity in the left hemisphere of the brain or more specifically the left prefrontal cortex. Which means it is more dominated by slower brain waves such as Alpha brainwaves in that region.

One study that was done at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (Baehr et al., 1997) showed significant correlations between depression and alpha asymmetry. The research found depression to be "associated with an increase in left-sided relative power" which means they recorded higher levels of alpha brainwaves on the right side of the prefrontal cortex .

This is the opposite of a healthy person because depression is correlated with increased left-sided relative power, which means higher levels of alpha brainwaves on the right side. A normal and happy human would have an increase in beta or gamma waves when measuring their prefrontal cortex activity.

As we can see depression and alpha asymmetry go hand in hand. This is evidence that depression has a physical cause because of the brainwave measurements (alpha waves). So with the basic understanding of it's relationship how then is it possible to use Meditation to treat depression? We will explore that in our next blog post.

Part Two: The Clinical Use of An Alpha Asymmetry Protocol in the Neurofeedback Treatment of Depression study (Coming Soon)

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