A recent study at Johns Hopkins Medical Center confirmed that there is significant scientific evidence that meditation is an effective treatment for anxiety and depression.
I’ll summarize the findings here, but you can access the article via this link.
Madhav Goyal, M.D. was the leader of a study published online Jan. 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine. He and his team of investigators focused on 47 clinical trials performed through June 2013 among 3,515 participants that involved meditation and various mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, substance use, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and chronic pain.
Their research showed that people with anxiety and depression showed an improvement in their symptoms following an eight week training in mindfulness meditation.
They also found that in longer term studies, those improvements typically continued for people beyond the eight weeks.
Madhav Goyal states, “In our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.”
This form of meditation that he is discussing is mindfulness meditation. It’s a simple practice of focusing nonjudgmental attention on the moment at hand. It’s a way of looking at and accepting your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical sensations as they arise in the moment.
Mindfulness meditation is a simple practice that has been shown to bring a lot of comfort to those who struggle with anxiety and depression. It’s a way of recognizing how you are feeling, experiencing how you are feeling (instead of avoiding it), and then accepting and relaxing.
“A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” Goyal says. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.”
It is true that mindfulness and mindfulness meditation can be brought into any part of your life—not just the time that you spend sitting down and meditating. You can mindfully experience your meal, taking the time chew and savor the flavor of your food. You can mindfully meditate while you walk, taking the time to feel each footstep and experience the shift in weight within your body.
This research is another big step for the scientific community to accept mindfulness meditation as a treatment for anxiety and depression.
If you’d like some help starting a meditation practice, try this free guided meditation.