Until 2015, three quarters of studies on the practice of meditation did not assess its potential adverse effects.

This is the observation made in 2018 by fifteen researchers, calling in an article in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science to take this dimension into account.

And this, at a time when meditation is becoming more and more important in classrooms as in open spaces and our smartphones.

Because even if the positive effects of this practice are demonstrated, for the management of stress and pain for example, its undesirable effects do exist.

This is what Dr Nicoval Van Ham confirmed in the columns of the Swiss newspaper Le Temps: “If the ego is alternated by psychosis or trauma, it can be dangerous for the person, by awakening suicidal tendencies, explains the psychology researcher at the University of Melbourne and co-author of the article.

Anxiety and depression

To compensate for the lack of data and to inventory these adverse effects, another team of researchers from the University of Coventry (United Kingdom) got down to the task: these scientists thus reviewed more than 80 studies devoted to the practice of meditation, part of which identified at least one side effect.

The results were published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia last September.

They indicated that 8% of the approximately 6,700 people who tried meditation experienced an unwanted negative effect.

Anxiety and depression were the most frequent (33% and 27%), the most rare suicidal behaviors (11% nevertheless).

The researchers point out that these side effects may have occurred in people with no history of mental health problems.

Call for transparency

For Dr Miguel Farias who conducted this study, “meditation works well, but it has undoubtedly been overly publicized and is not universally beneficial”.

The researcher thus calls for more transparency concerning these undesirable effects and the contraindications to the practice of meditation.

The response from the shrink, a French website run by psychiatrists, lists a few of them: “Participation in a mindfulness program from the outset is not recommended for people suffering from panic attacks linked to hypochondriac concerns (concerns centered on health and body) and people with a tendency to dissociation with or without a history of trauma. “

The authors also point out that mindfulness meditation should not be used “to treat acute pathological states which require above all a drug and / or psychotherapeutic treatment: depression in the acute phase, unstable bipolar disorders, psychotic disorders (delusions, hallucinations). )… ”.

In some cases, however, it is a good complement to psychotherapy. If you are concerned, talk to your practitioner.