Meditation effective for anxiety as much as antidepressant drugs: study

An increasing number of people are suffering from anxiety symptoms like restlessness, insomnia, and stress as they try to cope up with the demands of modern-day life. Some find psychiatric medications useful, while many are on the lookout for additional ways to cope with the symptoms.

Now a new study has found mindful meditation is as effective as the common medication in managing anxiety. Scientists, for the first time, compared patients who underwent an intensive eight-week mindful mediation program to patients who were administered escitalopram, a common drug used to treat depression and anxiety, and sold under brand names like Cipralex and Lexapro.

As part of the study that was published in the JAMA Psychiatry, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association, the researchers took in a total of 208 patients and divided them into Mindfulness group (102) and Anti-depressant group.

One group was asked to practice mindfulness under the guidance of experts for two-and-a-half hours weekly, while the participants in the other group took the antidepressant drug, 10 to 20 mg daily dose of Lexapro.

They were evaluated at the end of eight weeks using the same clinical scale. Both groups showed almost the same marginal decrease in symptoms.

“In this study, mindfulness-based stress reduction was found to be a well-tolerated treatment option. The results from the randomized clinical trial comparing a standardized evidence-based mindfulness-based intervention with pharmacotherapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders found that mindfulness-based stress reduction was non-inferior to escitalopram,” the report said.

“The fact that we found them to be equal is amazing because now that opens up a whole new potential type of treatment,” said study author Elizabeth Hoge, director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at Georgetown University Medical Center.

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