Mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety as much as a common antidepressant drug, study finds

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  • The study is the first randomized clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation with the antidepressant drug escitalopram.
  • After following the two groups for eight weeks, the researchers found that in people using mindfulness meditation, their anxiety decreased almost as much as in people who took antidepressants.

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Mindfulness meditation is just as effective at reducing anxiety as a commonly prescribed antidepressant, according to a study published in a major journal on Wednesday.

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The study, led by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center, is the first randomized clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation with the antidepressant drug escitalopram. Results, achievements have been published in JAMA Psychiatrypeer-reviewed journal.

The adult participants in the mindfulness group practiced 45 minutes of daily meditation using several different techniques they had learned in weekly sessions. They also went on one-day retreats on the weekends.

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Meditation techniques included breath awareness; body scanning, in which attention is directed to one part of the body at a time; and mindful movement, in which stretching and movement bring attention to the body.

Participants in the antidepressant group received 10 mg escitalopram daily for the first week and then 20 mg daily until the end of the study if the tablet was well tolerated. There were 102 patients in the mindfulness group and 106 in the antidepressant group. Escitalopram is sold under the brand names Lexapro and Cipralex, among others.

After following the two groups for eight weeks, the researchers found that in people using mindfulness meditation, their anxiety decreased almost as much as in people who took antidepressants.

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, lead author of the study, said the results support doctors who recommend mindfulness meditation as an alternative to antidepressants for some patients. Many people worry that antidepressants will interfere with their daily lives, and others start taking medication but stop taking it.

Hoge, who is director of the Anxiety Research Program at Georgetown University, said the study also provides evidence that insurance companies may cover mindfulness meditation as a treatment for anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness, affecting approximately 301 million people worldwide. to a February study published in the Lancet Psychiatry..

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