New study of anxiety & mindfulness
Do you take psychiatric medications?
Modern psychiatry is reevaluating its use of psychiatric medication — especially medications used for problems of mood & emotion.
New studies are raising a big question: Has medicine been over-prescribing psychiatric medications?
Patients often take such medications for years, and side-effects are common and sometimes long-lasting.
Studies show that non-pharmaceutical approaches can sometimes be just as effective as drugs — but with fewer side-effects!
Science is learning that practices of mindfulness and some types of psychotherapy can help some people find happiness, even without medication. This is good news.
Here is this exciting new study just published in JAMA-Psychiatry (the influential Journal of the American Medical Association).
The study is well-designed, and participants were followed for 24 weeks. The results show that mindfulness programs can be equally effective as medication for anxiety.
Participants were 208 people who were all diagnosed with anxiety disorders. One half the group were assigned to attend a group program of MBSR [mindfulness-based stress reduction].
The other half of the group simply took a medication that’s commonly prescribed for anxiety: escitalopram (Cipralex). They took the medication, but didn’t attend the MBSR group.
After the 24 weeks, both groups had improved equally — they both showed less anxiety in standardized testing. But the study notes that 78% of the Cipralex group had experienced side effects during the study (18% of MBSR participants recorded side effects).
The researchers summarized their findings, saying that MBSR — mindfulness-based stress reduction — was “well-tolerated”, and it showed “comparable effectiveness… to first-line medication for patients with anxiety disorders.”
Based on evidence like this, it seems that patients with anxiety should have a chance to learn mindfulness as an alternative to prescribed pharmaceuticals. Medication may not be their best way to overcome anxiety.
Psychiatry has begun to include these new approaches in treatment guidelines, and patients should feel comfortable to discuss with their doctor.
To your natural happiness!
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Escitalopram for the Treatment of Adults With Anxiety Disorders A Randomized Clinical Trial. Elizabeth A. Hoge, et al; JAMA Psychiatry Published online November 9, 2022.