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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Meditation Before Medication for Better Mental Health

Uploaded: Jul 22, 2015
Please note: I am not a doctor, and I am not prescribing anything. I am not advocating that anyone stop their medication without consulting their doctor. I suggest you consult your doctor when you have a health concern. Certain mental health issues require medication. Many doctors view meditation as a good addition to Western medicine.

We all want a quick fix, but meditation before medication may be our best bet. Some of us are medication averse, and others would be fine popping a pill to feel better.

Current brain research with fMRI has shown the tremendous difference in brains of people who meditate and those who don't. And the data is loud and clear: meditation rewires our brain into a healthier state.

Meditation Helps:
? Us be more emotionally stable and less likely to get upset
? Us able to calm down more quickly after an upset
? To lower blood pressure
? With chronic pain
? With depression
? Sharply reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke among a group of African-Americans with heart disease
? Improve mental and cognitive functioning

My primary care doctor at Kaiser recommended meditation to me at my annual check-up. I was pleased of the promise as the medical community is recognizing the value of meditation.

At Beth Israel Deaconess, Stanford Medical Center, Harvard, Kaiser, and other medical intuitions, meditation and other mind-body therapies are slowly being worked into the primary-care setting.

Mindfulness meditation is the most commonly taught mediation for health issues at this point.

Medication certainly has its place, and for certain people it is absolutely the right path. When necessary, I refer out to a psychiatrist for a diagnostic and medication assessment and coordinate care with that psychiatrist.

We can do the important self-care that gives the brain the greatest chance of health:
? Sleep
? Exercise
? Diet
? Meditation
? Social interaction

I recommend reading "The Brain Bible" by Dr. John Arden. I attended a workshop he gave, and was very impressed with his research and knowledge. He spells out the recipe for brain health clearly and concisely. As Dr. Arden says, now all we have to do is "Do the things we're resistant to."

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 24, 2015 at 10:56 am

I'll bite, Chandrama. Your title makes a very broad-brush recommendation here. To be clear, it's also one I'm sympathetic with (and I know about some of the indications and results you alluded to).

The thing is, the range of conditions leading people to seek relief or therapy is vast, and no one solution ever fits all. Meditation has general benefits, but for certain conditions, medication remains the consensus gold standard of therapy (with or without any "crisis"). Yet at the same time, US medicine has evolved a lot from 50 or 60 years ago, when as one expert wrote, "patients expect a physician to write a prescription to signal that the consultation is over."

When I had some stress issues producing serious physical symptoms, I consulted a respected psychiatrist. His prescription: meditation. It worked, too.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael O., a resident of Gunn High School,
on Jul 24, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Michael O. is a registered user.

[Comment deleted]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thanks Michael.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 25, 2015 at 9:35 am

Evidently it falls to me to explain this, in the interest of integrity: My earlier comment above (10:50AM Friday July 24th) addressed this blog under its original title (just "Meditation Before Medication"), and its content that originally appeared. After I posted my comment, the blog was considerably rewritten (and currently shows no acknowledgment of that fact), incorporating new content related to my July-24 comment. But contrary to the impression a new reader might get, it is a different blog from what I commented on above.

The original blog, written in an obvious context of mental health, had little mention of mainstream medicine's modern respect for meditation as therapy (a trend likely ushered in, by the way -- in case of further unacknowledged blog edits, note that the following is the first introduction of this title here -- by Benson's influential and medically authoritative 1975 book "The Relaxation Response"). The original blog, in the paragraph that now begins "Medication certainly has its place," considered medication for mental-health issues only in a limited context of "crisis," whence my reference above to that word. My comment above, also, referred to medication chiefly in a _mental_ health context, just as the original blog did.

I find these after-the-fact content edits (rather than addressing a reader's comment with further comments in reply) disconcerting, and not without downsides. The practice also is certainly unusual on this website, whose blogs I've followed since their inception. Notwithstanding any rationale, it creates a situation where new readers see comments rendered incongruous, because written to a blog text different from what they now accompany.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 25, 2015 at 11:59 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Observer, thanks for your original feedback, which I took to heart, and re-wrote parts of the blog to clarify my points and to ensure that readers understand I am not a doctor and cannot prescribe. I appreciate your following feedback as well. Meditation is thousands of years old, and only now is science catching up to research the benefits.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jul 25, 2015 at 5:48 pm

@Observer:

Thank you for your explanation.

Embarcadero Media has a frequent habit of editing/revising previously published content with zero acknowledgement of the revisions. In the Nineties, media sources would publish clearly identified corrections, but true journalism died before the turn of the millennium from what I can tell and such error admissions are extremely rare these days.

The worst effect is that it irreparably damages the perceived integrity of the media source. These failures are cumulative and irrevocable.

Some of us appreciate the commentary although I figure our numbers are dwindling.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Ignore the blog, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 25, 2015 at 7:15 pm

[Comment removed]


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 26, 2015 at 11:33 am

"Reader:" note that Chandrama had already explained these edits, in a comment some hours before yours. This is plainly an isolated situation with an independent blogger. Embarcadero's regular journalistic content, in fact, routinely adds an additional "Revised" dateline when the content changes -- I see this happen often, with breaking news or corrections.

Chandrama: That last point is part of the downside I mentioned about the recent blog edit. Unlike news articles on this website, your text displays no "Updated" timestamp (maybe it is not an option with the blogs) -- leaving the text wrongly headed "July 22" (when it is days newer). If you're unable to include an "Updated" dateline with such an edit, I suggest to fix this conflict manually by commencing the revised text with a deliberate mention that it was revised, and when -- which would avoid misleading readers.

I'm struck that this blog lately attracts more than an average share of irrelevant/uninformed [comment deleted] comments, sadly.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 26, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Folks, let's please stay on topic for comments, and be kind.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael O., a resident of Gunn High School,
on Jul 26, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Michael O. is a registered user.

Great ideas the use of meditation. Mind meets body. Nice job, Chandrama!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 27, 2015 at 2:21 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

A Buddhist monk had to go to a dentist to get some dental work done. When asked if he wanted any pain relief or anesthetic, he replied: : " No, I will transcend dental medication ". ( Insert Rim Shot here )

I have used meditation to " shift away from feeling pain " in several hospital situations when a nurse does not answer the call until 45 minutes or more has passed and I have been bedridden. I am finding it harder to get that mind/body relief as I grow older.
This problem is starting to affect my response to longer and harder therapy. I'll still try my meditation therapies, but only in a crisis situation will I work for the same effect.


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