Calling someone crazy is generally meant in jest, but real mental disorders and illnesses are no laughing matter. One in four American adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year. About 2.4 million Americans, or 1.1 percent of the adult population, lives with schizophrenia. Living and functioning in day to day life with schizophrenia’s negative symptoms can prove incredibly difficult for the sufferer. Meditation practice can reduce the negative symptoms and have positive results for those diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
A 2011 pilot study out of the University of North Carolina examined 18 participants with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and significant negative symptoms. Researchers found that loving-kindness meditation decreased their negative symptoms and increased positive emotions and psychological recovery.
Positive mental health is one of meditation’s many benefits, and a recent study at Yale University explained a deeper science of how it can affect and help mental stability. Through MRI scans on novice and experienced meditators who completed three different meditation techniques, researchers discovered that experienced meditators had the ability to switch off parts of the brain tied to daydreaming, autism and schizophrenia. That area, the default mode network, showed decreased activity when the experienced meditators meditated. The network, when active, also is linked ADHD, anxiety, and amyloid-plaque buildup associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study results suggest that experienced meditators had better self-regulation and were able to avoid “me” thoughts and keep the mind from wandering, which are mental states associated with psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and autism.
“Meditation’s ability to help people stay in the moment has been part of philosophical and contemplative practices for thousands of years,” said study researcher Judson A. Brewer, psychiatry professor at Yale. “Conversely, the hallmarks of many forms of mental illness is a preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, a condition meditation seems to affect. This gives us some nice cues as to the neural mechanisms of how it might be working clinically.”
There are testimonials around the internet about how meditation helps schizophrenia and other mental illness, but remember that it is by no means a cure all for psychiatric disorders. Meditation for mental health produces positive patient results and can certainly aid parts of the brain from where some psychiatric disorders are thought to stem. If medication or other treatments seem to not help you or someone you know with a mental illness, suggest or try meditation. It’s free and can have a domino effect of positive results on your mental and emotional well-being.
Note: Specifically, with regards to medical issues, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Web site.
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