Meditation may help treat anxiety
Meditation and mindfulness meditation in particular have been trending in popular culture in recent years and have been found to be beneficial in treating anxiety. There is a fair amount of existing research that suggests meditation changes the way our brain functions and our brain structure.
Research recently discussed through media outlet Forbes looked at a small sample size of people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) nearly 20,000,000 people will have symptoms consistent with this diagnosis at some point in their lifetimes. a unique aspect of this study was that participants were applied to a mindfulness stress reduction treatment or a stress management education course. The hope was that this would eliminate some of the placebo affect in previous studies on mindfulness meditation that offered a treatment and nontreatment group only. initial findings from the study suggests that individuals who engaged in the mindfulness stress reduction treatment had significantly lower levels of stress markers ACTH, IL-6 and TNF-α.
There have been a number of findings consistent with the potential benefit of mindfulness meditation for treating anxiety. A 2009 study on Anxiety, from Harvard, looked at the connection between stress reduction and changes in brain structure. This study suggested that an eight week trial of meditation can change the structure of the amygdala, a part of our brain that responds to stress and arousal. These changes to the amygdala were found to correlate with one’s perception of reduced stress. Slightly different but in a similar vein a 2013 meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins suggested that meditation was linked significantly with reduced anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Information presented in this entry is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical or mental health disorder. In addition, the techniques referenced in this article are likely to be most beneficial when implemented under the guidance of a trained professional.