Depression - Guided Imagery and Meditation Blog | Health Journeys Mon, 22 May 2017 17:29:33 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Guided Imagery Helps Lighten Her Burden of Anger and Resentment Guided Imagery Helps Lighten Her Burden of Anger and Resentment

I come from a family of Olympic-grade, Gold Medalist Blamers. My parents woke up angry and went to bed angry. They expressed anger the way normal people say hello, how are you??!! My mother had a constant slow burn, and my father lost his temper over issues large and small (mostly small!!!) dozens of times a day. All of us kids grew up assuming that this was what life looked like!

When I started acting like my mother in my marriage, my husband was dumbfounded. He is a decent, reasonable man who couldn't fathom where all this bubbling anger was coming from.

When he pointed it out to me, I couldn't either. I took a long, hard look at the culture I grew up in, went into therapy and did an overhaul on my psyche. NO WAY was I going to screw up my marriage to this man if I could help it.

My therapist helped me with her empathetic but NO BALONEY approach. One of the good things she did was to recommend your Anger & Forgiveness guided imagery program.

I had never listened to guided imagery before, but this recording helped me greatly on my Overhaul Journey. It's furthered my ability to let go of the destructive, automatic habit of blaming and offloading responsibility onto others, that I seemed to have breathed into my being as naturally as air as I grew up.

I'm also more accepting of myself at the same time that I'm changing. I find the voice kind and the words nonjudgmental, loving and reassuring. I feel I have permission to change at my own pace. I find it calming, and I even like falling asleep to it. It has definitely speeded up my healing work with my therapist, and I have even introduced it to two of my siblings (the other two being lost causes!!)

Most of all, my marriage is back on solid ground again and my husband is much happier. I am especially grateful for that. Thank you.


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]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Stories Fri, 04 Mar 2016 00:00:00 -0500
Guided Imagery Eases Seasonal Depression, Improves Sleep, Reduces Meds (No Lie) Guided Imagery Eases Seasonal Depression, Improves Sleep, Reduces Meds (No Lie)

Ms Naparstek, your guided meditation for depression has helped to improve my mental and physical health, improved my sleep, and eased suffering and struggle with my seasonal depression.

In conjunction with talk therapy, my once or twice daily listening has enabled me to decrease my medication by 20%. I also sleep in longer cycles, and have shortened the depth and length of my cycle of depression.

Repeated use has enabled me to switch your voice and words on in my head, in order to decrease my anxiety when it begins and before it takes over my focus.

Thank you doesn't express my gratitude.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Stories Fri, 29 Jan 2016 00:00:00 -0500
Where to Begin? Panic, PTS, Insomnia & Depression All Get Worse at Holiday Time.. Where to Begin? Panic, PTS, Insomnia & Depression All Get Worse at Holiday Time..

A woman with a long history of anxiety, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress, depression and insomnia wonders where to begin with listening to guided imagery as the holidays approach and her emotional resilience takes a hit.

She asks:

Hi, Belleruth, For many years I have suffered from panic disorder and PTSD, as well as sleepless nights, anxiety and depression. All these conditions get worse with the approaching holiday season.

What CD's would be best for all? I would be most comfortable taking a natural approach to wellness and appreciate any advice. Thank you,

Melinda K.

Dear Melinda,

Sorry you have all these miserable conditions and symptoms to contend with. We do have specific guided imagery to help.

Even though it's not a complete overlap, I think it's safe to say that all of these challenges – the panic attacks, sleep problems and anxiety – come with the territory of posttraumatic stress. Depression, too, to some extent, if only because coping with all of this can certainly be wearying and depressing. But depression is essentially a separate condition.

If you can afford all of them, I'd go ahead and get the Relieve Stress, Healing Trauma, Healthful Sleep, Help with Panic Attacks and Ease Depression audios. I'd start out repeatedly listening to only one of these for a week or two – preferably the one that targets your peskiest and most troubling symptoms. So, if that's panic attacks, just listen to those segments, once or twice a day for a couple weeks. If it's insomnia or interrupted sleep, start with the sleep audio.

Let the words and music saturate you before moving on to the next audio, and then listen to that new one alone for a week or two, then alternate it with the first one. You want to give yourself time to really absorb the messages and images before moving on to the next audio, so don't rush this or overwhelm yourself with too much too fast. (For some people, this can be a week; for others, 3 or 4. You'll need to play it by ear and listen to yourself for when you're ready to move on.)

Keep adding audios to the mix in this way. I guess it's like slowly adding olive oil to a good, mustardy vinaigrette – you want to do this incrementally to ensure perfect emulsification (or integration), if you know what I mean.

The most complex and emotionally evocative is the PTS imagery, so you may want to save that for last, after you've got all the other self-calming skills under your belt.

If you can combine this with other kinds of calming interventions, like Reiki or Healing Touch treatments; a tapping protocol like EFT or EMDR; or a moving meditation practice like yoga or qigong or even the Walking Meditation on our Relieve Stress title, that will increase the speed and depth of your success with the guided imagery.

If you can only afford a couple of these, you might want to start with Panic Attacks or Relieve Stress first, then gradually moving on to Healing Trauma.

I hope this helps, with your experience of the holidays and well beyond!

All best,

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]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Tue, 08 Dec 2015 00:00:00 -0500
Is There Guided Imagery For An Aunt With Dementia And Sundown Syndrome? Is There Guided Imagery For An Aunt With Dementia And Sundown Syndrome?


My 86-yr old aunt is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's. She lives in a nearby assisted living facility and I, along with two other sisters, are her family caregivers. As the Alzheimer's progresses she is becoming more anxious (Sundowner's Syndrome) and depressed. I have used several of your guided imagery recordings over the years to help me and I was wondering if there is something you could recommend to ease her depression and anxiety. She was a music teacher in the past and yet I can't get her interested in listening to music to help relax her. I am hoping that listening to a human voice at night might bring her some comfort. Is there anything you can recommend?

Many thanks!

Dear Charlotte,

You are a good niece! ☺

We've been getting a lot of queries lately about Sundown Syndrome – three this week alone... makes me wonder if there wasn't some recent national media attention on it.

In any case, there's some excellent information (that you've probably already found) on the Mayo Clinic's website, with a good list of tips for caregivers.

Sometimes guided imagery can be very helpful for Sundown Syndrome in mid-stage Alzheimer's patients, but not always - it's possible (though not likely) it could create more agitation. So it's best to start out with just a few minutes of one to assess the impact before springing for a bunch of these.

I'd recommend starting with the Healthful Sleep imagery first - both voice and music are especially soothing on this recording, and the images are very supportive, protective and reassuring. See what happens. If it helps, stick with it, making sure it gets played at roughly the same time each late afternoon or evening. Routine and structure help!

If it looks like she likes it but the impact is wearing off, you could try another - perhaps the Panic Attack imagery, which is also particularly soothing with arguably Steve Kohn's most calming music. The music alone can be found on Steve's Meditative Reflections - a wonderful, stand-alone piece that I personally like to play while I'm working on a difficult piece of writing. (Great for writer's twitchiness syndrome!)

You may also want to try a man's voice, to see if she likes that even better. If so, I'd recommend David Illig's Calm & Relaxed.

I hope this helps. Best wishes to you all.


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]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Tue, 18 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400
2-Yr Follow-Up Study on Mindfulness for Child Abuse Survivors 2-Yr Follow-Up Study on Mindfulness for Child Abuse Survivors

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine reported on the long-term effects of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Of the study participants, 73% returned to the clinic for a single-session follow-up assessment of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and mindfulness after 2.5 years.

Repeated measures mixed regression analyses revealed significant long-term improvements in depression, PTSD, anxiety symptoms, and mindfulness scores. The magnitude of intervention effects at 128 weeks ranged from d = .5 to d = 1.1.

The investigators conclude that MBSR may be an effective long-term treatment for adults who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. Further investigation of MBSR with this population is warranted, given the durability of treatment effects described here.

Citation: Earley MD1, Chesney MA, Frye J, Greene PA, Berman B, Kimbrough E. Mindfulness intervention for child abuse survivors: a 2.5-year follow-up. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2014 Oct;70 (10):pages 933-41. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22102. Epub 2014 May 20.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Thu, 16 Jul 2015 00:00:00 -0400
A Successful, Internet Based Self-Help Program For Bipolar Illness A Successful, Internet Based Self-Help Program For Bipolar Illness

In the great tradition of Aussie online mental health services, researchers from the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital performed a comparative evaluation of two online programs, hosted on a single website (, to help treat bipolar illness.

A basic version, called MoodSwings (MS), containing psycho-education material and asynchronous discussion boards was compared to a more interactive program, MoodSwings Plus (MS-Plus), combining the basic psycho-education material and discussion boards with elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. These programs were evaluated in a head-to-head study design.

Participants with Bipolar I or II disorder (n=156) were randomized to receive either MoodSwings or MoodSwings-Plus. Outcomes included mood symptoms, the occurrence of relapse, functionality, locus of control, social support, quality of life and medication adherence.

Participants in both groups showed baseline to endpoint reductions in mood symptoms and improvements in functionality, quality of life and medication adherence.

The MoodSwings-Plus group showed a greater number of within-group changes on symptoms and functioning in depression and mania, quality of life, and social support, across both poles of the illness.

MoodSwings-Plus was superior to MoodSwings in improvement on symptoms of mania and scores at 12 months (p=0.02) but not on the incidence of recurrence.

The investigators note the limitations of this study: there was no attention control group and therefore it could not demonstrate efficacy of the two active arms. There was notable (81%) attrition by 12 months from baseline.

The study suggests that both CBT and psychoeducation delivered online may have utility in the management of bipolar disorder. They are feasible, readily accepted, and associated with improvement.

Citation: Lauder S1, Chester A2, Castle D3, Dodd S4, Gliddon E4, Berk L5, Chamberlain J6, Klein B7, Gilbert M6, Austin DW8, Berk M9. A randomized head to head trial of an Internet based self-help program for bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders 2015 Jan 15;171:13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.08.008. Epub 2014 Sep 22.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Thu, 02 Jul 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Guided Imagery Assuages Debilitating Grief Guided Imagery Assuages Debilitating Grief

Dear Health Journeys and BR,

I am 64 years old. I was married for nearly 4 decades. Two years ago I lost my husband to a long, debilitating illness. Even though his death was expected, I was devastated. I became distraught, I didn't know what to do with myself. Every day was a burden. I became deeply depressed. I just wanted to sleep so I wouldn't feel the pain of the loss of my dear husband and best friend. My daughter became very concerned and made me see a counselor.

I feel that this wonderful, gentle, wise counselor and the guided imagery for grief that she gave me to listen to each day saved my life. I am not exaggerating. The imagery was a great comfort to me. I actually looked forward to it each evening. It became an oasis of peace, a time I could touch my husband again, through the love I still felt for him and always will feel for him. It was a time when the hurting and loneliness stopped. At first this was only while I was listening, but slowly it spread into other parts of the day. It was and continues to be a blessing and I wanted to say thank you.

Henry's Wife

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Stories Fri, 19 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Beware of Enabling the Tyranny of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Beware of Enabling the Tyranny of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

My wife suffers from panic attacks, anxiety, depression, OCD and medical phobias. These issues have been going on for over a decade with no resolution in sight. The problems seemed to start just after a death in the family, and the anxiety just escalated from there until it turned into debilitating OCD, depression etc.

The largest obstacle to overcome seems to be the medical phobia. Because of this phobia, I can't get her to seek treatment, so one thing just escalates into another. At this point she barely speaks to people, doesn't watch television or read etc. This is because any word she associates with medicine sends her into an uncontrollable panic. The words don't have to be medical - she just has to be able to draw some sort of correlation – for instance, hospitality, sounds like hospital.

I've been researching healing with sound, music therapy and guided imagery. The one thing she will do is listen to music without words (since there aren't words to upset her).

Can you suggest anything that might help such an extreme case? She refuses treatment (because of her phobias) so I basically need something that will relax her and calm the fears without her thinking of it as treatment.

Basically, I need a stepping stone - something to get us past the first step so that maybe she'll eventually be more open to treatment, if only we can calm the medical phobia.

Do you have any CD's that might be appropriate? Or anything else? Thanks so much!

Harried Harry

Dear H.H.,

2149bIt sounds like you've had quite a challenge, and you've really hung in there. For starters (but only starters), the short answer is yes, we do have a CD for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and another for Panic Attacks, and yet another for Depression, but in your wife's case, I suspect that they'll only be somewhat helpful. Her condition is too severe and it's been allowed to go on for too long.

I know this is going to sound cruel to you, but please hear me out. OCD gets worse when it's accommodated. It spreads, gets more generalized, more intense, more frequent and more debilitating if it's allowed to go on. In fact, you're describing this metastasis perfectly when you say it used to be the word "hospital" that would set off her panic; now it's even an associated word like "hospitality".

There is ample clinical evidence and research showing that tiptoeing around the constrictions of OCD is tantamount to dooming the OCD sufferer to get worse.

In fact, a study with kids who have OCD finds this very same dynamic – when the family accommodates the kid's symptoms, the symptoms stick or worsen, even with active treatment. (That citation, if you're interested, is Merlo LJ, Lehmkuhl HD, Geffken GR, Storch EA. Decreased family accommodation associated with improved therapy outcome in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology. 2009 Apr;77 (2):355-60.)

You're being held hostage by her distress, Harry, and the only way to help her is to liberate yourself and get some help for both of you. It will take a strong stomach, because her initial terror will be hard on you.

2110bYou need to either find an OCD specialist who knows effective, tried and true behavioral techniques (CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy), plus medication (SRI's or serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the preferred drugs for OCD – Anafranil, Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are examples – and this class of drug is also good for depression.)

Then you need to bring her to the therapist - whether she likes it or not. Maybe you can get some help from a relaxation CD but maybe not. Perhaps an OCD specialist will come to the house - they're used to dealing with phobias. But bottom line: she's now completely dependent on you, which means you have a lot of clout. You can get her to go if you sound like you mean it.

You also might want to pick up an excellent book called Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Dr. Jonathan Grayson. You'll find some great orientation and coaching in there, to support the idea that you really must interrupt this co-dependent, enabling response of yours to her condition. It's a terrific book – the author has run a successful program for OCD sufferers for years, and it works because, to use a vivid Adlerian phrase, it "spits in the soup" of the sufferer and breaks the cycle. She may need to be hospitalized for a few weeks, but it will be worth it.

I hope you can do this. I know it will be difficult, but you're the one in the pivotal power position with more than enough leverage to help her get well.

Let me know how it goes. Best of luck.


]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Ask Belleruth Tue, 16 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Overweight, Compulsively Bingeing, Anxiety Ridden & Depressed Overweight, Compulsively Bingeing, Anxiety Ridden & Depressed

We found this note posted on our Weight Loss page. It's very encouraging for anyone currently doing battle with his/her own body over weight issues. Here it is:

"This CD was sent to me by a friend at one of the lowest points in my life. Although I was once healthy and active, after my father's death and a couple of other major life changes, I found myself 100 pounds overweight, compulsively bingeing, anxiety ridden/severely depressed and unable to do anything about it.

I listened to the CD, loved it, but was not ready to commit to any major life changes yet. I managed to start medication for my anxiety and depression (and gained more weight) and then enrolled in a weight loss program at a behavioral medicine clinic through a fantastic hospital.

I have used this CD as an accompanying tool (at night before sleeping*) and I have lost 71 lbs in 20 weeks. I am exercising again (running and yoga) and feeling great.

This CD not only helps to reinforce healthy body imagery, but also alleviates the stress that was fueling my vicious bingeing cycle. I have learned to appreciate my healthy body and be more kind to myself. Most importantly, I have learned to forgive myself for allowing my eating to become so out of control and congratulate myself for fixing it - not with a crash diet, but with good tools, healing and modification. Thank you for this wonderful CD. It is extremely helpful!

*Ed. Note: Not everyone sleeps well when they listen to this particular imagery just before bedtime - it energizes and wakes some people up – so we don't necessarily recommend that everyone listen to this program at this time

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Inspiring Stories Fri, 05 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Depressed Employees Accept Online Treatment by Moodgym at Work Depressed Employees Accept Online Treatment by Moodgym at Work

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom investigated end users' views of two online approaches to self-help for depression: computerized cognitive behavior therapy (cCBT) and informational websites, in a workplace context.

Computerized CBT offers an inexpensive and accessible alternative to face-to-face therapy, and employers have an interest in reducing the working time lost to depression or stress.

Yet little is known about how employees, who have actual experience of using online approaches, judge the intervention as a process.

The qualitative data reported here were collected within an online randomized controlled trial whose participants had diagnosable depression. The experimental intervention was a 5-week cCBT program called MoodGYM (very popular in Australia).

The control condition was five informational websites about mental health.

Data were collected via online questionnaires. There was no evidence of the superiority of either in terms of treatment outcomes. In parallel, using brief rating scales and open-ended questions designed for this purpose, the researchers examined the relative acceptability of each approach over time, including perceptions of cCBT compared to seeing a health care professional.

At least 60% of participants held online therapy to be at least as acceptable as seeing a professional about mental health issues, and they were more likely to retain this opinion over time if they used the interactive program, MoodGYM, rather than informational websites alone.

Barriers to cCBT were explored to help with the creation of new strategies to improve the experience and increase engagement.

The study concluded that, as first-aid for mild to moderate mental health problems, evidence-based computerized approaches have broad acceptability.

The findings have implications for occupational health providers and others addressing the needs of working-age adults with depression.

Citation: Schneider J1, Sarrami Foroushani P, Grime P, Thornicroft G.Acceptability of online self-help to people with depression: users' views of MoodGYM versus informational websites. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2014 Mar 28;16 (3):e90. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2871.

]]> (Belleruth Naparstek) Hot Research Thu, 28 May 2015 00:00:00 -0400