Committee ChairBootzin, Richard R.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAlthough meditation-based interventions have been associated with improvement in depressive symptoms and prevention of relapse, the physiological mechanisms of meditation's therapeutic effects are unknown. At the same time, a growing body of literature has shown that meditation has profound effects on numerous physiological systems that are involved in the pathophysiology of depression. The first paper reviews many of the physiological abnormalities found in depression and the reversal or normalization of these same systems by meditation. The paper includes 1) a review of the physiological concomitants of depression, 2) a description of mindfulness meditation and its effects on mood disturbance, 3) the physiological effects of mindfulness and other related forms of meditation, and 4) suggestions for future research.The second paper summarizes the results of a randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation training on one of the previously identified candidate systems: sleep, as measured by overnight polysomnographic sleep studies as well as subjective reports (sleep diaries). The results indicate that mindfulness has an arousing effect on objectively measured sleep that corresponds with subjectively reported improvements in mood and sleep. This pattern is similar to the one observed in responders to antidepressant medications.