Feeling Anxious? Learn to Meditate

A new study published in the Journal JAMA Internal Medicine has found that dedicating an hour to meditate can improve anxiety and depression symptoms.

A lot of people use meditation, but it’s not a practice considered part of mainstream medical therapy for anything,” said lead researcher Madhav Goyal, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a news release.

But in our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.

Johns Hopkins researchers reviewed 46 randomized clinical trials with 3 515 participants and found that those who participated in mindfulness meditation programs show small improvements in anxiety, depression and pain. Goyal explained that the effect size for the effect on depression was 0.3, which is comparable to the use of an antidepressant. However, there was little or no evidence that meditation affects positive mood, attention, drug use, eating habits, sleep and weight.

“Clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress. Stronger study designs are needed to determine the effects of meditation programs in improving the positive dimensions of mental health and stress-related behavior,” researchers concluded.