Daily meditation as effective as anxiety medications

Recent research has revealed that meditation and mindfulness can help people suffering from anxiety and depression better manage their symptoms and feelings.

If you suffer from anxiety, negative feelings can overwhelm you and interfere with your daily life. Although effective treatments exist, some people do not want to take medicine or see a therapist, or still do not respond well to such treatments. Now, however, there is new evidence to support another option.

Indeed, for the first time, scientists have compared in one studio patients who followed an intensive eight-week mindfulness meditation program with the patients they employed escitalopram, the generic name for the widely prescribed and well-studied anxiety drug Lexapro. They found that both interventions worked equally well at reducing symptoms.

Read also: Meditation: mindfulness better than drugs to reduce chronic pain, the new confirmation

I study

Elizabeth Hoge, director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at the Georgetown University Medical Centerand other researchers wanted to find out whether mindfulness could work as well as drugs.

Then, they involved 276 adults diagnosed with untreated anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety, panic disorder or social anxiety and divided them into two randomized groups.

One group received a daily dose of 10 to 20 mg of Lexapro, a standard starting dose. The other half were assigned to weekly lessons mindfulness of two and a half hours at a clinic, 45 minutes of daily meditation homework for eight weeks, as well as a one-day retreat weekend class around the fifth or sixth week.

The meditation course was called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reductionor MBSR, an approach developed more than 40 years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn and based on the principles of Buddhist meditation.

It teaches students to focus on their breathing and direct their attention to one part of the body at a time to see how it feels, and encourages them to try to focus on what is happening now, rather than the past or future.

Study participants who took the drugs and those who participated in the meditation program were assessed at the end of eight weeks, using the same clinical scale, and both groups showed about a 20 percent reduction in the severity of their symptoms. .

The data suggests that both treatments are useful, and about equally so.

It is important to underline that the study shows that meditation is as effective as medicines, but compared to the latter it has enormously fewer side effects.

The side effects of escitalopram include suicidal thoughts in extreme cases, but more commonly diarrhea, loss of sexual desire or ability, nausea and constipation.

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Source: JAMA Psychiatry

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