A new study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that people who practice meditation are more likely to get rid of anxiety issues faster than those who undergo other forms of treatment. However, many health experts question the efficacy of meditation when it comes to patients dealing with mental health issues. Nevertheless, new evidence brought to light by the National Institutes of Health backs the latest findings.
The Georgetown University Medical Center researchers focused on 89 patients with anxiety disorders. In order to test which method is most efficient in battling the condition, the scientists divided the patients into two groups. One group had to undergo eight weeks of mindfulness training, while the other one took stress management education for the same time period.
In order to keep the expectancy bias to a minimum, neither groups were aware of which treatment was of interest to the scientists. Upon analyzing the results, the researchers were able to conclude that those who subjected themselves to meditation drastically improved their mental state, while the others registered an increase in anxiety levels.
“These findings strengthen the case that it can improve resilience to stress”, said Dr. Elizabeth A. Hoge, associate professor and lead author of the study.
She was referring to meditation as the most effective form of treatment for anxiety disorders. The results of the study were based on self-reported measures. However, in order to clearly show how the stress levels have dropped after the patients underwent meditation, the researchers also took several blood samples. They were looking at the levels of inflammatory proteins TNF-alpha and stress hormone ACTH.
Interestingly enough, the participants were asked to undergo either meditation or stress management education twice during the same study. By analyzing self-reported accounts and blood samples, the researchers determined that the condition of the group who had to undergo stress management education actually worsened when asked to go through the same procedure again. At the same time, participants in the first group were happy to take up meditation again. Similar research has been conducted in the past, some scientists claiming meditation or even listening to specific music programs could have a positive impact on patients exhibiting preclinical memory loss, an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
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