January is a difficult month for many. The longer days are returning, but slowly. And the excitement (or dread) of the holidays has all passed. Now to get on with the year.
For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, this can be a particularly hard time of year. Luckily, today the stigma of saddness, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues is beginning to lift. Resources are continuing to be developed, from professional mental health services, to community support groups, to alternative and adjunct treatments such as mindfulness meditation.
Research shows that depression, in its many forms, is extremely common. You're not alone if you suffer any kind of depression.
According to NAMI:
6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
While severe conditions should lead you to a trained mental health professional, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that mindfulness training can treat minor depressive episodes and can help in the treatment of major issues - alongside any number of traditional therapies.
Read more about forms of mindfulness based therapy for depression and stress. If you are in therapy, ask your therapist/counselor about adding mindfulness training to your treatment. And if you'd like to learn it for yourself, seek out and find a qualified mindfulness meditation teacher in your area.
Mindfulness, “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally," teaches us the skill of seeing painful emotional states or thoughts as they arise in our experience before they've been able to take ahold of us. We learn to see anxiety or negative feelings as simply states or conditions of the mind - often based in past experiences - that we can look at and choose to attend to.
The result is an active (never passive) and intentional approach to difficult emotions, when and as they arise.