Family And Parenting

Mindfulness for Teens: How To Use It For Depression

Depression is a complex condition that is unfortunately extremely common all over the world. Mindfulness for teens provides you with cognitive-based therapies and the tools to recognize and combat negative thoughts caused by depressive conditions. By redirecting patients from their thoughts, mindfulness generally brings positivity and diminishes depressive symptoms. Various factors in today’s society increase … Continued

Depression is a complex condition that is unfortunately extremely common all over the world. Mindfulness for teens provides you with cognitive-based therapies and the tools to recognize and combat negative thoughts caused by depressive conditions.

By redirecting patients from their thoughts, mindfulness generally brings positivity and diminishes depressive symptoms.

Various factors in today’s society increase the risk of developing or triggering teen depression. Individuals in their teenage years are one of the major groups that are susceptible to experiencing symptoms of depression while experiencing irritability as a predominant mood in their adolescent years.

This article will provide you with resources to help practice mindfulness for teens while bringing your attention to the positive impact that mindfulness can have on depressive symptoms.

Mindfulness for teens overview

Mindfulness for teens is a form of meditation that aims to bring your focus towards being intensely aware of your senses and feelings within that moment. This technique brings awareness of your emotions that are independent of interpretations or judgment. It is a mind-body-based approach that works to alleviate symptoms of adverse mental health. It does this by guiding people on methods that can help manage their thoughts and feelings.

If you implement mindfulness into your everyday life, it will provide you with a range of physical and mental benefits.

How does mindfulness for teens differ from meditation?

Mindfulness for teens focuses on the awareness of “some-thing”, whereas meditation focuses on the awareness of “no-thing.” However, it is important to understand that mindfulness can be practiced as a form of meditation, with the goal of developing a clear and focused mind.

How does it work?

Practicing mindfulness for teens involves breathing methods, guided imagery, mindful eating, and other practices to relax your body and mind. Individuals that experience depressive symptoms often respond with instinctive decisions that stem from hidden underlying emotions. However, this allows you to respond to stress with the awareness of what is happening in the present moment.

How can one use it to help depression?

Mindfulness for teens helps reduce negative emotions and stress, helps improve sleep, lowers blood pressure, alleviates gastrointestinal difficulties, and brings an overall reduction in anxiety and depression-related symptoms.

It provides physical and mental benefits and can be used as effectively as an antidepressant, helping prevent relapses in recurrent depression.

A comprehensive meta-analysis provides a review on mindfulness-based therapy, which included analyzing a total of 209 studies. The study included n =12,145 with the effect size suggesting that mindfulness-based therapy is moderately effective. When comparing mindfulness-based therapy to pharmacological treatments, cognitive-based therapies, or other active treatments, effectiveness did not differ. Nevertheless, this study concluded that mindfulness-based therapy provides an effective treatment. It is used effectively for not only decreasing stress and depressive symptoms but a large range of phycological problems.

Neural mechanisms associated with mindfulness for teens

The hippocampus is a major region of the brain that is involved in the formation of memories and is associated with learning and emotions.  Mindfulness-based therapy is neurologically associated with changes in the brain’s gray matter within the hippocampus.

A controlled longitudinal study that examined pre and post changes in the concentration of the brain’s gray matter focused on the participation in mindfulness-based stress reduction. Increases in the concentration of gray matter in the left hippocampus were observed through magnetic resonance images obtained from participants who took part in the study. However, when analyzing the entire brain, the study identified an increase in the temporal-parietal junction, the cerebellum, and the posterior cingulate cortex. These brain regions are known to be associated with your ability to regulate emotions, navigate perspectives, and be involved in learning and memory. Participation in the mindfulness-based stress reduction study made these changes in the concentration of gray matter in the brain evident.

The role of the amygdala and MPFC

Mindfulness meditation is also linked to brain regions that play a major role in depression such as, the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex. Hyperactivity increases in the medial prefrontal cortex when a person is experiencing depression. This is because this area of the brain is associated with processing stressful thoughts about the past and the future. The amygdala plays a major role in depression, as well as, it is considered the fear center in our brains. Its fight or flight mechanism gets triggered during times of stress, which causes it to stimulate the release of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.

In addition, the neurological functioning of these two brain regions works together to implement depressive-like symptoms as they react to anxiety and stress. This leads to an increase in cortisol and, consequently, an increase in stress in attempts to cope with a fear that has only been created in your mind.

Moreover, practicing mindfulness for teens allows them to be more aware of the sensations they are experiencing in reality. It retracts them from focusing on sensations in their mind, decreasing stress levels and the amount of cortisol released. This prevents these two brain regions from going into overdrive and resulting in depressive symptoms.

How and where can you practice it?

You can practice mindfulness in any environment, at your own comfort. However, research suggests that engaging your senses in an outdoor environment is extremely beneficial.

A few Mindfulness exercises include

Body Scan

Focus inwardly on your body and the way that it feels. Your task is to develop an awareness of the sensations in your body. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, and remain aware of your bodily sensations without trying to change them. Listen to them, feel them, and be aware of them.

Here are a few links that you can use to get you started on your journey:

Three-minute breathing

This exercise guides the participants through three points where they become aware, focus their attention on their breathing, and extend their attention. Focusing on one’s breath is meant to act as an anchor.

Sit somewhere quiet in a seated position. While seated, focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply for three seconds and slowly exhale for three seconds. Use your breath as your anchor; when you find your thoughts wandering, come back to your breath and inhale deeply for three seconds, followed by a deep exhalation for three seconds. In many exercises, the time limit for this exercise is three minutes.

Here are a few links that you can use to get you started on your journey:

Mindful stretching

One can begin to practice mindfulness stretching by following one of the videos linked below. While in the stretch, focus on your breathing, and think about how your body feels. Try to focus only on the activity of stretching and avoid other distracting thoughts.

Here are a few links that you can use to get you started on your journey:

Mindful meditation

This is a particular type of meditation where you learn how to practice mindfulness. During this type of meditation, you will be seated for 10–30 minutes and practice focusing on only your breathing. This is very similar to the previous two exercises, except that your body is not moving, and the time is longer.

Here are a few links that you can use to get you started on your journey:

Mindful eating

Practice mindful eating by not rushing through your lunch so that you can get back to your task. Instead, take the time to enjoy your food. Focus on the texture of your meal, the effort that went into making it, and the flavors of the food in your mouth. Actively reflect on how eating your food makes you feel. Are there any ingredients in your meal that you especially enjoy?

Here are a few links that you can use to get you started on your journey:

 Mindful walking meditation

Find a quiet place not too large in length, and begin to walk slowly and calmly. Focus on the experience of walking and being aware of the sensations. Focus on your standing and the subtle movements that help you keep your balance. When you reach the end of your path, turn and continue walking, maintaining awareness of your sensations and repeating your track.

Here are a few links that you can use to get you started on your journey:

Sleeping and Mindfulness for Teens

Sleep is one of the most critical components of your wellbeing. One of depressions most common symptoms is sleep deprivation, which can bring suffering to your mood and physical and mental health. A poor sleeping pattern can also lead to other symptoms such as weight gain.

How does it help?

Mindfulness for teens contributes to putting the brain in a more relaxed state, allowing patients to enter deeper sleep. Depression can cause sleepless nights encountered with stress and anxiety, worsening as the days go by. By practicing mindfulness techniques, you can become more aware of the thoughts that run through your head at night and focus on letting them go. These thoughts do not makeup who you are, do not let depression become your personality. Your mind muscle is strengthened through patience with mindfulness techniques, instead of being stuck in anxious thoughts. This allows you to block out any thoughts that can cause insomnia. Mindfulness is known to also be an insomnia treatment, as it prepares your mind to drift off into a deep sleep.

Furthermore, by maintaining a strict mindfulness schedule, performing activities such as mindfulness meditation will help you sleep better and for longer periods at night. Do not be discouraged if you continue to wake up in the middle of the night for the first few days. It can often take time and practice to change these patterns. Doing a body scan technique can also help with waking up in the middle of the night to become aware of your senses.

Applications that can help with practicing mindfulness for teens

  • The Mindfulness App
  • Headspace
  • Calm
  • Sattva
  • My life Meditation
  • iBreathe

How quickly does mindfulness for teens work?

With a daily routine of practicing mindful exercises for even about 10-20 minutes per day, you should be able to see the positive long-term results within a few weeks. However, this does not mean that your symptoms will disappear completely and with immediate effect. Mindfulness does not always produce the same results for every individual that practices it. With it comes short-term and long-term benefits that can range depending on the consistency of practicing the techniques. You can experience a calmer and stable mind while practicing a mindful technique such as meditation. This allows you to continue to train your mind to clear your thoughts and learn how to naturally stay focused on the things that matter.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that mindfulness greatly revolves around accepting our emotions and who we are, as opposed to immediately turning ourselves into a self-healer.

Accordingly, over time you will begin to notice an improved sense of wellbeing, reduced stress levels, enhanced relaxation, and other benefits. These will become a part of your daily sensations, and you won’t even notice that they have been embedded into your new lifestyle.

How do I know if I am practicing it correctly?

Don’t be discouraged if your negative symptoms don’t get alleviated immediately. Mindfulness can often bring an immediate sense or feeling of positivity. However, this sudden reaction is not always permanent at first. You know that you practice mindfulness correctly when your body feels a calmer sensation and your head is clearer.

Conclusion

Various factors in today’s society increase the risk of developing or triggering teen depression and can seem very difficult at first when the correct resources are not available to you. Mindfulness for teens provides people with cognitive-based therapies and the tools to recognize and combat negative thoughts caused by depressive conditions. Mindfulness for teens is a form of meditation that aims to bring your focus towards being intensely aware of your senses and feelings within that moment.  It can help alleviate any negative symptoms associated with the condition. Moreover, by practicing mindfulness, it allows them to be more aware of the sensations that they are experiencing in reality. You can practice mindfulness in any environment and at your own comfort.

Mindfulness meditation is linked to positive effects in brain regions that play a major role in depression such as, the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex. These areas of the brain are associated with processing stressful thoughts about the past and the future. In addition, the neurological functioning of these two brain regions works together to implement depressive-like symptoms as they react to anxiety and stress.

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