A new study from The John Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, analysed 47 studies involving 3,500 patients comparing the use of placebos versus mindfulness, transcendental meditation, Zen and other kinds of meditation. Results indicate that meditation is as effective as anti-depressants in some cases. And not in others.

Allan Goroll of The Harvard Medical School maintains the studies have failed to evidence an overall improvement in health or relief of suffering and questions why meditation has become so popular.

So how to navigate these different opinions and findings? What is the best way to address depression, anxiety, sleeplessness etc? As was argued in the BMJ recently, antidepressants are being given out too liberally to people who are just unhappy, accompanied by the risks of side-effects and dependency. For these people pills can be the last thing they need and most likely won’t work. What is needed but GP’s find hard to provide is time and examination. Therapy can provide a space to look closely at one’s life and understand the roots of one’s unhappiness. Meditation can be a very useful tool for those who have the inclination and time. For some it may lead to a spiritual connection to something deep within and without. For others it may simply provide some calm and foundation in their lives. For others it may not be something they enjoy and they may profit from something else complementary, like increased exercise.

Together, therapy and mediation can be a powerful, proactive, and meaningful way to address unhappiness. As far as navigation goes, its simple, and its a path.

For those whose journey is darker, who are clinically depressed, anti-depressants can be the difference between life and death. They can provide a break from the storm and a temporary respite during which therapy can hopefully help.

For more information see: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/mental-health/article3967583.ece