According to a recently published study, meditation and practicing mindfulness can be as effective in treating anxiety as taking medication.
JAMA Psychiatry found in research published on Nov. 9 that an 8-week, mindfulness-based stress reduction [MBSR] course lessened anxiety symptoms the same amount as taking 10 to 20 mg of escitalopram, the generic form of Lexapro.
Researchers randomly split participants into two groups — those who treated their anxiety with the meditation course and those who used escitalopram.
Over 200 adults diagnosed with anxiety disorder completed the study, and both groups saw a reduction in symptoms by around 20 percent.
Details on the meditation course highlighted that participants in that group were asked to attend their MBSR course once a week, in person, CNN reports.
“Each class was around two-and-a-half hours long and held at a local clinic,” and [participants] “were also asked to meditate on their own for around 40 minutes per day,” the outlet added.
Since the study was conducted before the pandemic, related stressors brought on by COVID-19 weren’t a factor.
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What The Study Means For The Future Of Mental Health Treatment
“Lexapro is a great drug; I prescribe it a lot. But it’s not for everyone,” said Elizabeth Hoge, the new study’s lead author and the director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at Georgetown University Medical Center.
“If someone’s already taking a medication, they can try meditation at the same time,” Hoge noted. “If they wanna come off the medication, they should talk to their doctor.”
While the news sheds light on how mindfulness can aid future mental health treatment, the new study has its shortcomings.
The majority of the study’s participants were single, white, well-educated women with full-time jobs, according to NPR.
As psychologist and Therapy for Black Girls podcast host Joy Harden Bradford noted, the specific population’s results might not produce the same success for other groups.
“Not everyone can clock out at 5 o’clock to get to the 6 o’clock [meditation] meeting,” Harden Bradford explained.
While she highlighted “Giving people something is better than having nothing,” Harden Bradford emphasized that medication and meditation are still different methods of coping with anxiety with different pros, cons and learning curves.
“The thing I would hate to have happen is for people to pit medication against the mindfulness-based resources,” Harden Bradford told NPR.
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