WASHINGTON, DC – November 9, 2022 – Mindful meditation is as effective as prescription medicine for the treatment of anxiety, as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry on November 9th. Anxiety disorder is a common mental health condition that is very distressing and may cause impairment. Anxiety disorder includes social anxiety, generalized anxiety and panic attacks. Prescription medicines can be effective treatment for some people, but not for others. Mindful meditation has been shown to help decrease anxiety. However, its effectiveness hasn’t been directly compared to prescription medicine.
Patients suffering from anxiety disorder were randomized to 1 of 2 treatment groups: mindful meditation or the prescription medicine Lexapro (whose generic name is escitalopram). The meditation program included 2.5 hours of classes each week and 45 minutes of daily meditation. There were 8 weeks of treatment and a follow-up evaluation at about 1 month and 4 months after treatment ended. At the conclusion of the treatment, both groups had about 30% less anxiety as measured on a severity scale. This continued to decrease about 4 months after treatment. Mindful meditation proved to be as effective as drug therapy. Some study participants had to drop out of the study because of side-effects from the medicine.
The public health community has recently focused their attention to mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders. These illnesses have increased due to COVID-19 pandemic worries, political and racial unrest, climate change and financial stressors. Anxiety disorder is characterized by intrusive thoughts or worries that interfere with people’s lives and their relationships. In the U.S., 40% of women are affected by anxiety disorder at some point in their lives and more than 25% of men, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that helps a person focus only on what’s happening in the present. Training sessions include breathing exercises and focusing thoughts on a specific area of the body while dismissing worried thoughts that intrude upon their focus. Lead author of the study, Dr Elizabeth Hope from Georgetown University Medical Center, says that “it changes the relationship people have with their thoughts when not meditating.” She is hoping that these findings can persuade health insurance companies to cover meditation training costs which run from $300 to $500 for the 8-week session. However, mindfulness meditation may not work for a person who doesn’t have the time for training classes or daily meditation.
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Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com