There are a large number of treatment options available for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Eastern, as well as western medicine offers many ways of SAD management. In western medicine, different groups of antidepressant medications are often used along with cognitive-behavioral therapy and light therapy. Methods applied in eastern medicine include acupuncture, dietary changes, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, qigong etc. From these treatment options meditation, and in particular transcendental meditation has been recently at the centre of attention of practitioners dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Let’s look at why!
Transcendental Meditation and Its Health Benefits
Meditation is an ancient practice consisting of various techniques which all strive to improve the state of the mind and promote relaxation. Transcendental meditation is a subtype of meditation developed in order to increase energy levels and improve anxiety issues in persons with various mental disorders. It is a relatively young branch and it first appeared in India in the middle of the 20th century.
Studies show an excellent success in anxiety treatment using transcendental meditation. In one study, transcendental meditation has significantly improved anxiety when applied twice daily for two weeks. It is interesting that transcendental meditation also promotes longevity. A group of 73 elderly people underwent the transcendental meditation program for three years and their longevity was significantly higher than in other groups.
Effects of Transcendental Meditation on SAD
There is scientific evidence that transcendental meditation is helpful in the management of SAD. One of the theories is that the main cause of winter blues is the disturbance in the physiology of the pineal gland – a small organ located in the middle brain that regulates patterns of sleeping and waking up. It is stated that transcendental meditation stimulates the function of the pineal gland, thus inducing the secretion of melatonin which promotes relaxation and feeling of happiness. Another study has shown 50% decrease in depression symptoms after practicing transcendental meditation for 12 months. Meditation increases serotonin levels in the human brain which is also the mechanism of action of some drugs used in the treatment of SAD.
Transcendental meditation is a natural and perfectly safe way to deal with the symptoms of winter depression as well as other depressive disorders. Antidepressants are most commonly prescribed drugs for SAD, but they can have unwanted side effects, especially in high doses. These drugs are designed to change the concentrations of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. By including transcendental meditation in the treatment, the doses of these medications can be significantly reduced or completely cut out, thus eliminating side effects. So if you have some of the symptoms of SAD or you have already been diagnosed with this disorder, you should certainly try transcendental meditation technique and see if it works for you.
Learn More About Transcendental Meditation
If you would like to learn more about the effects of transcendental meditation on SAD, we recommend you read the following book by Dr. Norman Rosenthal: Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation. Dr. Rosenthal pioneered the use of light therapy to treat SAD and continues to research the benefits of transcendental meditation on various psychiatric disorders.
Dillbeck, M.C. (1977). The effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique on anxiety level. J Clin Psychol. 33(4):1076-8.
Nidich, S., Toomey, M., Myers, H., Grandinetti, A., Rainforth, M., Salerno, J., Gaylord-King, C., Schneider, R. (2010). Transcendental Meditation, Reduced Symptoms of Depression: Randomized Controlled Mind-Body Intervention Trials. Maharishi University of Management, U.C.L.A., University of Hawaii. 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.