Mindfulness Worked Like Meds for Anxiety in Study

We have to start this blog with an important statement. You should never go off medication without speaking to your doctor. Also, finds from a study should not be taken as medical advice. Only your doctor can give you personalized medical advice. Your doctor knows your health history, goals and current medications and can advise you on the best steps forward.

We know many of our customers don’t like medications as much as natural remedies. Prescription medications hold an essential place in medicine and save lives. However, with side effects and the cost, people look to alternatives. When considering making a switch, it’s important to talk to your doctor.

A new study found that people using mindfulness meditation saw their anxiety improve almost as much as people on antidepressants. The study was an eight-week randomized clinical trial. The research came from Georgetown Univ. Medical Center.

People in the meditation group meditated 45 minutes a day and went on daylong weekend retreats. They learned different mediation techniques in a weekly class. People in the medication group took 10 milligrams of escitalopram daily in the first week. They took 20 milligrams daily for the rest of the study. Escitalopram is sold under the names Lexapro and Cipralex. There were 102 people in the meditation group and 106 in the medication group.

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, the lead author of the study, said the results could be useful for people who worry that antidepressants will impact them too much and people who don’t take their drugs regularly. The study may prompt insurance companies to pay for meditation treatment for anxiety. However, if it does not, medication may be a more cost-effective treatment. And, at 24 weeks, 52 percent of the medication group were still taking their meds, while only 28 percent of the meditation group were still doing daily meditation.

People weren’t meditating without guidance; they were in classes being trained. The course is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and was developed more than 40 years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It teaches people to breathe and focus on each part of the body to feel it and be in the moment. The person examines their negative thoughts without judgment.

Dr. Hoge explained that learning not to judge negative thoughts can help people with anxiety. “Somebody with anxiety tends to worry about bad things that may happen, like failing an exam. When the thought comes up, then the person can learn to experience that as just a thought, not the truth or anything that needs to be acted on.”

Doctors who study and treat anxiety are excited about the work. “It does suggest that both treatments are helpful, and about equally so,” said Michael Mrazek, a research associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin. “Importantly, the study shows that MBSR can achieve similar outcomes with tremendously fewer side effects.”

It’s important to stress that no one should go off medication without medical supervision. Anxiety and depression are serious medical conditions that should be treated by a doctor. This research has limitations. The researchers weren’t sure why meditation appeared to help people, most of the participants were female and came from just three medical centers. But, it is a promising study, and you should talk to your doctor about adding MBSR to your health routine if you struggle with anxiety. It may be an excellent tool for you.

Banner image: Prasanth Inturi via Pexels

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