Meditation as effective at treating anxiety symptoms as antidepressants, says new study

Meditation as effective at treating anxiety symptoms as antidepressants, says new study

Millions of people in the UK suffer with anxiety, a mood disorder which brings with it feelings of worry, fear and unease.

It is described as a natural human response when there is a perceived threat. The sensation is said to impact a person’s thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

Having anxious feelings occasionally is normal, but some people find it hard to control, or feelings are more constant and affect their daily lives. It can affect people regardless of age, with some suffering crippling symptoms associated with the mood disorder.

But a new study has found the strong benefits of meditation in helping to lower a person’s anxiety without the use of drugs.

Anxiety in the UK

According to Mental Health UK, there are roughly 8 million people in the UK suffering with an anxiety disorder at any one time.

The Mental Health Foundation further warns that less than 50% of people with generalised anxiety disorder seek or have access to treatment.

Anxiety and depression among people saw a stark rise during the coronavirus pandemic, with the numbers not lowering since it has ended.

Many are being advised to take certain drugs to help alleviate these mood disorders but there could be a healthier alternative.

A study published in Jama Network further looked at mindfulness-based stress reduction practices and how it could help with the treatment of adults suffering with anxiety disorders.

The research involved 430 patients who were recruited between the periods of June 2018 and February 2020.

A randomised one to one mindfulness-based stress reduction course was given to patients for a total of eight weeks with the other group receiving antidepressants of escitalopram.

The study concluded: “The results from this randomised clinical trial comparing a standardised evidence-based mindfulness-based intervention with pharmacotherapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders found that MBSR was non inferior to escitalopram.”

The research further bolstered the benefits of mindful practices such as meditation as a treatment to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

“Our study provides evidence for clinicians, insurers, and health care systems to recommend, include, and provide reimbursement for mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as an effective treatment for anxiety disorders,” said study author Dr Elizabeth Hoge in a release.

Symptoms of anxiety
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), can cause both physical and psychological symptoms, reports the NHS.

These can worry from person to person, but signs you may be suffering with the mood disorder include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Being irritable
  • Having headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or unexplained pains
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep

What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice which involves using a technique such as mindfulness to help quiet the mind.

By focussing the mind it’s said to help train attention and awareness and help a person to have a clearer mind allowing for calmness and stability.

By incorporating this practice into your everyday life, a person can learn to be more cantered and help to lower levels of stress.

If symptoms of anxiety is causing you distress or negatively affecting your life, you can speak to your GP.

They will be able to chat about your symptoms, worries and may be able to suggest treatment.