Mindfulness Meditation Effectively Lowers Stress Response: New Study

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A well-designed clinical trial sponsored by the National institutes of Health concluded that mindfulness meditation effectively diminishes anxiety.

More specifically, the researchers found that mindfulness training lowers hormonal, and inflammatory responses to stress in anxiety disorder patients.

“Mindfulness meditation training is a relatively inexpensive and low-stigma treatment approach, and these findings strengthen the case that it can improve resilience to stress,” said lead study author Elizabeth A. Hoge, M.D., Georgetown University Medical Center.

To study the efficacy of mindfulness meditation, Hoge and colleagues put 89 patients with generalized anxiety disorder into one of two groups. The first group participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class. The second group engaged in an eight-week stress-management education course that did not include mindfulness training.

The format of both classes was similar, and none of the study subjects were told which course was of interest to the researchers. This eliminated any form of expectancy bias, such as the placebo effect, among those participating.

To assess the subjects' level of anxiety and resilience they underwent a Trier Social Stress Test before and after their group’s training course. The Trier test induces a stress response by having people give a speech at short notice, along with other anxiety-creating instructions. During the Trier test, study participants were monitored for specific stress hormones, and inflammatory proteins.

The mindfulness meditation group showed a substantial reduction in stress and inflammatory markers during their post-class Trier test, indicating the meditation training helped them manage anxiety. The stress management education group showed a modest increase in stress and inflammatory markers during their post-class test.

The researchers want to expand their study of mindfulness-based treatment to include other mental health conditions, and plan to compare their outcomes with those obtained using standard drug therapies.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Andrew Imanaka

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