How can I help my anxiety? - (5 research studies)


These days, I’ve been hearing about anxiety more than ever. Maybe it’s the effect of COVID’s fear and isolation - so many of us are hurting. 

After my last post about anxiety, several women replied, asking for practical information. They ask, “What can help my anxiety?” 

One woman says she’s having a hard time sleeping. “My mind just keeps on thinking. I can't ever really relax.”

Another asks “What about when anxiety spirals and you go to hyper vigilance?”

Do you hear the distress in these messages? I sure do. 

These are stressful times, and anxiety is a major issue, especially for women. Women say they regularly get anxious, some even feel panic, but they don’t usually discuss this with others.

In my work, I hear about anxiety because people know I teach mindfulness — an awareness training that helps anxiety and other problems. I’ve been teaching medical programs of mindfulness for more than 20 years.

Research shows that even people who experience chronic or generalized anxiety can be helped by programs of mindfulness. Yes, anxiety can be solved.

That’s what I’ve seen at my clinic. Through mindfulness training, women tell me they get calmer nights, better sleep, more focus at work, fewer arguments at home, greater optimism, more self-acceptance… Changes happen. Anxiety heals. 

See the 5 research studies below. What happens when anxious people learn mindfulness? 


Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. (1992)

22 adults diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or panic disorder participated in an 8 week Meditation-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation program. During the 3 month follow-up, their symptoms of anxiety and panic were found to be significantly reduced. 

---   J Kabat-Zinn et al. /  Am J Psychiatry 1992 Jul;149(7):936-943

PubMed summary:


Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. (1995)

18 of the original participants in the previous study were followed up 3 years later. They were found to have maintained their earlier gains (including improved scores on measures of anxiety, depression and panic).

---   JJMiller et al. / Gen Hosp Psychiatry  1995 May;17(3):192-200

PubMed summary:


Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity  (2013)

93 adults diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) participated in an 8 week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Follow-up showed significant improvements in multiple measures of anxiety and distress. They had improvements in stress reactivity and coping, and a significant increase in positive self-statements.

---    Elizabeth A. Hoge, et al. / J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 August ; 74(8): 786–792.

PubMed summary:


The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Biological Acute Stress Responses in Generalized Anxiety Disorder  (2018)

70 adults diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) participated in an 8 week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).  Followup showed significant improvement in the ‘biological markers’ of GAD — physical change in the hormonal and immunological patterns usually found with GAD. This was evidence that mindfulness was helping the body to experience less anxiety.

---   Elizabeth A. Hoge, et al. / Psychiatry Res. 2018 April ; 262: 328–332.

PubMed summary:


Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy with Older Adults: A Qualitative Review of Randomized Controlled Outcome Research [2019]

A review of 7 studies that show mindfulness programs can help older adults reduce symptoms of anxiety and  depression, as well as improve chronic back pain, sleep, mood, and cognition.  

---  Holly Hazlett-Stevens, et al. / Clin Gerontol. Jul-Sep 2019;42(4):347-358

PubMed summary: