A study from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University is showing that meditation may be an effective way to combat late-life depression.

Depression in the elderly often leads to other medical issues such as heart disease.

Late-life depression affects 300,000 older adults in Canada.

Depression for the elderly is also highly disabling and debilitating and traditional medications or behavior therapies may not always be the answer.

“Older adults have a higher rate of comorbid medical conditions that may be associated with poor tolerability of antidepressants and a poorer response to medications,” explains Dr. Akshya Vasudev, an Associate Scientist at Lawson and Associate Professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

However meditation has been shows to have positive outcomes without negative side effects. It is also easy to implement and comes at a low cost to patients.

The study looked at a unique meditative technique that was not previously used with those suffering from late-life depression called Sahaj Samadhu Meditation (SSM).

SSM has never been studied before but has been around for nearly 35 years.

SSM is unique compared to other meditative techniques because it uses a tailored mantra that helps the person achieve a higher state of consciousness and awareness instead of relying on focusing techniques.

Participants received four two-hour sessions taught by trained instructors, as well as 11 weekly follow-up sessions while also being able to practice on their own daily.

Those practicing the meditation reported a significant improvement in symptoms compared to the group who received only the regular treatment.