Meditation for Depression

Overview of meditation as a natural remedy for depression and whether meditation works in treating depression.

Overview of meditation as a natural remedy for depression and whether meditation works in treating depression.

What is Meditation for Depression?

There are many types of meditation, but all involve focusing attention on something, such as a word, a phrase, an image, an idea or the act of breathing. Meditation would typically be practiced sitting in a quiet environment for around 20 minutes a day. For some people, meditation is a spiritual or religious activity and they use meaningful thoughts as the focus of their meditation. However, meditation can also be used as a relaxation method without any spiritual or religious goal.

How does Meditation for Depression work?

Meditation has been used as a relaxation method to relieve stress and anxiety. Because anxiety and depression often occur together, meditation may help with depression as well.

Is Meditation for Depression effective?

One study has been carried out comparing meditation with physical exercise and with group therapy. (Group therapy involves depressed people meeting to discuss their experiences with other depressed people and with a therapist.) This study found little difference between these treatments in effectiveness. Unfortunately, the study did not compare meditation either with no treatment or placebo (dummy) treatment.

Are there any disadvantages to Meditation for Depression?

Some health professionals do not recommend meditation for people with severe depression or for people who might be at risk for schizophrenia.


Where do you get Meditation for Depression?

Popular books on how to meditate are available in many bookshops. Various organizations, generally with spiritual goals, also offer training in meditation. Here is a simple technique of meditation that is similar to those taught in these books and courses:

  • Sit in a quiet room in a comfortable position with eyes closed.
  • Choose a word which is relaxing for you (for example, 'One' or 'Calm') and repeat it silently over and over in your mind. Do not force yourself to concentrate on the word.
  • If your mind wanders, turn your attention back to the word.
  • Do this for around 20 minutes each day.


The effects of meditation on depression have yet to be fully evaluated.

Key references

Klein MH, Greist JH, Gurman AS et al. A comparative outcome study of group psychotherapy vs. exercise treatments for depression. International Journal of Mental Health 1985; 13: 148-177.

back to: Alternative Treatments for Depression

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 31). Meditation for Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Last Updated: July 11, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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