Stress and anxiety are major triggers of depression. It is meditation which can alter your reaction to those feelings. "Meditation trains the brain to achieve sustained focus, and to return to that focus when negative thinking, emotions, and physical sensations intrude — which happens a lot when you feel stressed and anxious," says Dr. John W. Denninger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
One way meditation helps the brain is by protecting the hippocampus (a brain area involved in memory). One study discovered that people who meditated for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks increased the volume of gray matter in their hippocampus, and other research has shown that people who suffer from recurrent depression tend to have a smaller hippocampus.
The aim of meditation is not to push aside stress or block out negative thinking, but rather to notice those thoughts and feelings, all the while understanding that you don't have to act on them. This could be as simple as closing your eyes and repeating a single phrase or word, or counting breaths. "This helps provide some distance from those negative thoughts or stressful feelings, allowing you to recognize that, although they affect you, they are not you," says Dr. Denninger.