Meditation May Reduce Mild Depression, Anxiety
Daily meditation might help some people relieve anxiety, depression and pain, Johns Hopkins University researchers report.
Many people meditate in an attempt to reduce stress and stress-related health problems. But whether this centuries-old approach to greater self-awareness has actual medical benefits isn’t really known.
For this study, published online Jan. 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers reviewed 47 prior studies that looked at meditation’s effect on various conditions that included substance abuse, eating habits, sleep, pain and weight in addition to depression and anxiety.
“The maximum strength of evidence we found was moderate for anxiety, depression and pain; low for some others and insufficient for the bulk of outcomes we evaluated,” said lead researcher Dr. Madhav Goyal, an assistant professor of medicine. He noted, however, that few trials included people with a clinical diagnosis of anxiety or depression.
Meditation, said Goyal, “is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.” The type that looked most promising — mindful meditation — emphasizes acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment and relaxation of body and mind. It’s typically practiced 30 to 40 minutes a day.
However, popular mantra-based meditation (including Transcendental Meditation) did not show any benefit over placebo, and it appeared no better than any other active treatments on any measures, he said.
The analysis included 3,515 participants, many of whom received about 30 to 40 hours of training in mindful meditation.