Health

Mindfulness works as an anxiety reliever in a new study


USAmeditation worked as a standard medication for treating anxiety in the first comparison.

The study tested a widely used mindfulness program that included two and a half hours in weekly class and 45 minutes of daily practice at home. Participants were randomly assigned to the program or took daily a generic medication sold under the brand name Lexapro to treat depression and anxiety.

After two months, anxiety measured on the severity scale decreased by about 30% in both groups and continued to decrease over the next four months.

Learning outcomes, published Wednesday in the magazine JAMA Psychiatry Department, well-timed. In September, an influential US health task force recommended routine anxiety screenings for adults, and multiple reports showed a recent increase in global anxiety rates, related to worries about pandemics, political and racial instability, climate change, and financial instability.

Anxiety disorders include social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks. Those affected are troubled by nagging and intrusive worries that interfere with their lives and relationships. In the U.S., anxiety disorders affect 40% of American women at some point in their lives and more than a quarter of men, according to data cited in the CDC’s screening recommendations. United States Preventive Service.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that emphasizes focusing only on what is happening at the moment and letting go of intrusive thoughts. Sessions usually begin with breathing exercises. Next could be “body scan“- think about each body part systematically, from head to toe. As anxious thoughts intruded, participants learned to acknowledge them briefly but then dismiss them.

Instead of ruminating on troubling thoughts, “you say, ‘I’m having this thought, let it go,’ says lead author Elizabeth Hoge, director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at Georgetown University. now’. With practice, “It changes people’s relationship with their own thoughts when not meditating.”

Read more: How to tell if your health concerns are normal — Or a sign of something else

Previous studies have shown that mindfulness works better than no treatment or at least as well as education or more formal behavioral therapy in reducing anxiety, depression, and other mental woes. . But this is the first study to test it for a psychiatric drug, Hoge said, and the results could make it more likely for insurers to cover the cost, which could be as high as 300 to 500 dollars for an 8-week session.

The results are based on about 200 adults who completed the six-month study at medical centers in Washington, Boston and New York. The researchers used a psychiatric scale from 1 to 7, with the top number reflecting severe anxiety. The average score was about 4.5 for the participants before treatment started. It decreased to about 3 after two months, then decreased slightly in both groups at three and six months. The change was clinically significant, Hoge said, leading to a significant improvement in symptoms.

Ten patients quit because of troublesome side effects that might be related to treatment, including insomnia, nausea, and fatigue. There were no dropouts for that reason in the mindfulness group, although 13 patients reported increased anxiety.

Dr. Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, says mindfulness treatments often work best for patients with mild anxiety. He prescribes medication for patients with worsening anxiety.

He notes that many people feel they don’t have time for mindfulness meditation, especially in-person sessions like those studied. Krakower, who was not involved in the study, said whether similar results were found with online training or a phone app is unknown.

Olga Cannistraro, a freelance writer in Keene, New Hampshire, participated in an earlier mindfulness study led by Hoge and says it taught her to “interfere with her own state of mind.”

During a workout, just acknowledging that she was feeling tension anywhere in her body helped calm her down, she says.

Cannistraro, 52, has a generalized anxiety disorder and has never taken medication. She was a single mother who worked in sales in the previous study — circumstances that made life particularly stressful, she said. She got married, switched jobs, and felt less anxious despite still using mindfulness techniques.

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