A study published on Wednesday shows that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) worked just as well as a standard drug prescribed for treating anxiety in people. The results were based on the daily use of a popular mindfulness programme by the participants while others were given a generic drug sold under the brand name Lexapro commonly used for treating anxiety and depression.
Anxiety disorders are quite common as well as highly distressing and can disrupt a person’s day-to-day life, the various types of disorders include social and generalised anxiety and panic attacks. On the other hand, mindfulness refers to a type of meditation which asks a person to focus only on the present moment and dismiss any and all intrusive thoughts.
The mindfulness programme included two and a half hours of classes every week and daily practising at home for at least 45 minutes, said the study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
According to Elizabeth Hoge, lead author and director of Georgetown University’s anxiety disorders research programme, practising mindfulness over time, “changes the relationship people have with their own thoughts when not meditating.”
The lead also spoke about how this study is the first of its kind, as previous studies have proven that mindfulness helps people deal with anxiety, depression and other mental woes better than no treatment at all. But this research uses mindfulness against a psychiatric drug to draw a direct comparison, said Hoge, to the Associated Press.
Researchers also used a seven-point psychiatric scale with one being a sign of severe anxiety and seven being the lowest on the scale, to measure the severity of the participant’s anxiety. The average score, prior to the treatment was 4.5 which started to decline to nearly a three on the scale after only two months into the study. Notably, the two groups, one on medication and the other practising mindfulness were assigned at random.
The results were based on approximately 200 adults who suffered from anxiety with varying degrees of severity and took place over six months at three medical centres in Washington, Boston and New York. In the span of two months, the severity of people’s anxiety was reduced by nearly 30 per cent in the subjects from both groups and witnessed a steady decline thereafter.
However, ten participants dropped out over the course of the study when they faced side effects which could be related to the anxiety drug and experienced symptoms like insomnia, nausea and fatigue. Meanwhile, at least 13 participants in the MBSR group reported an increase in their symptoms related to anxiety. (WION)