(dailyRx News) Those with hectic or stressful jobs may find themselves overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, or stress. Now, scientists are measuring the possible mental health benefits of secular meditation programs.
Female teachers underwent a short but intense meditation program. Many reported less stress, anxiety, and depression after the program.
They also became more aware of the feelings of others.
"The findings suggest that increased awareness of mental processes can influence emotional behavior," says Margaret Kemeny, Ph.D., director of the Health Psychology Program in University of California, San Francisco's Department of Psychiatry.
"The study is particularly important because opportunities for reflection and contemplation seem to be fading in our fast-paced, technology-driven culture."
The study investigated the emotional and mental health of 82 female teachers between the ages of 25 and 60. Half of the women were enrolled in a eight week, 42 hour meditation program. The other half of the women were not.
All of the women had mental health screenings before the program, immediately afterwards, and again five months after the program’s completion. The woman self-reported on their emotions and the researchers used a series of a tests to measure the woman’s emotional health, cognition, and perception of others’ emotions.
The researchers found that the women in the meditation program could better understand the relationship between emotion and cognition. In other words, they were better at rationally dealing with their emotions.
The teachers were also found to be better at recognizing emotions in others and their depressed mood levels dropped by more than half.
Even five months after the program had ended many of the positive effects remained.
“Mediation is effective with both children and their parents in reducing crippling effects of panic, PTSD, and phobias,” adds Robert M. Pressman, director of research at the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology. “Simple techniques that do not require much instruction appear to be effective as well as those often taught in formal classes.”
The study will be published in the April, 2012, edition of the journal Emotion and was funded by the Fetzer Foundation, the John W. Kluge Foundation, the Charles Engelhard Foundation, the Tibet Fund, the Hershey Family Foundation, the Mind and Life Institute, the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, the Impact Foundation, the Boas family, and the Orrok family.