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Studies Show Meditation May Be More Effective than Medication for Depressed Subjects By: Megan Winkler

Meditation may reduce or prevent the physiological cause of depression. That’s according to a new review published in the February 2016 issue of Radiography.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 350 million people suffer from depression globally, and the condition affects how an individual feels and navigates his or her social world. It causes sufferers to experience a persistent sadness and loss of interest in everyday activities. It’s also commonly accompanied by anxiety or other debilitating disorders.

According to the review published in Radiography, “Meditate don’t medicate: How medical imaging evidence supports the role of meditation in the treatment of depression,” conducted by researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and The University of Liverpool, “meditation is a viable alternative to medication for clinical treatment of patients with depression.”


That’s great news for meditators, even if they don’t suffer from depression, as it serves as more evidence of the physiological effect of mediation on the brain.

For the review, researchers looked at 51 studies before narrowing the search down to 12 that studied the impact of meditation on subjects. Each study also used a functional method of measurement to calculate results. These methods included the use of medical imaging, neuroimaging, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), or single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scans.

By comparing parts of the brain shown to be affected by meditation to those that are known to influence depression, the research team found that physiological changes in the brain caused by meditation may mitigate depression altogether.

Meditation changes parts of the brain

Through the review of these studies, the team found the following changes in
meditators’ brains:

  • Decreased activity in the amygdalagray
  • Increased gray matter, or neural tissue, volume
  • Increased activity in the hippocampus
  • Increased activity in the prefrontal cortex
  • Increased activity in “other brain regions associated with attention and emotional self-regulation.”

The review’s authors state that meditation seems to affect the brain in “micro-anatomical processes” that lead to “increased functional capacity within the brain regions activated.” They also cite the skills of self-regulation, relaxation, and the mental processing of negative information as techniques that “could potentially lead to a permanent cure for depression and thus prevent relapse.”

The Neurosculpting® Link

Attend any Neurosculpting® class and the facilitator at the front of the room will talk about the brain regions highlighted in the above review. We often talk about the down-regulation of the limbic system in the temporal lobe, which includes the amygdala and the hippocampus, as well as the “up-regulation” of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the part of the brain from which our executive functions originate.

Practiced Neurosculptors will surely note the increased activity in the hippocampus as shown by the review’s results. This part of the brain plays an integral role in forming memories, so its increased activity supports the idea that we can form memories through means other than stress and fear.

Although Neurosculpting® should not be confused with therapeutic treatment, some students have reported that they have been able to work with their physician to lower or discontinue use of depression medication after working privately with a Certified Neurosculpting® Facilitator.

If you are interested in learning more about how Neurosculpting® can complement your existing depression treatment, be sure to attend one of our classes or explore the learning store.

neurosculpting_institute_megan_winkler.jpgMegan Winkler

Megan Winkler, MA, CNSF, is a journalist, author, and media strategist, whose works have been published on elephant journal, The Alternative Daily, Earth911, and other sites. Her books include nonfiction and fiction works, and she has worked with a number of renowned experts in the fields of user experience design, current events, and nutrition. She has a master’s degree in military history from American Military University and a never-ending thirst for knowledge and good audiobooks. As the NSI Editorial Coordinator, Megan works to further the mission of the NSI through the written word and aids other Certified Neurosculpting® Facilitators to deliver their messages to the world. She operates her private Neurosculpting® practice through her company, Healthy Narratives. Email:


Study source: Annells, S., Kho, K., & Bridge, P. (2016). Meditate don’t medicate: How medical imaging evidence supports the role of meditation in the treatment of depression. Radiography, 22(1).


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