Mindfulness reduces anxiety as much antidepressants
A major study by Georgetown University Medical Center concluded that mindfulness is as effective at reducing anxiety as a commonly prescribed antidepressant.
The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry, Participants in the mindfulness group practised daily meditations using a few different mindfulness techniques they learned at weekly classes and also went on daylong retreats.
The meditation techniques included breath awareness; body scanning, in which attention is directed to one body part at a time; and mindful movement, in which stretching and movements bring attention to the body.
Participants in the antidepressant group received 10mg of escitalopram daily the first week and then took 20mg daily for the rest of the study if the pill was well tolerated. There were 102 patients in the mindfulness group and 106 in the antidepressant group.
After 8 weeks, researchers found that people using mindfulness meditation saw their anxiety improve as much as people who were taking the antidepressant.
Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, lead author on the study, said the findings support physicians recommending mindfulness meditation as an alternative to antidepressants. Many people worry that antidepressants will interfere with their daily lives and others start taking medications but stop.
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness, affecting about 301 million people around the world, according to a February study published in Lancet Psychiatry.