Mindfulness reduces stress biomarkers in anxiety
Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder who participated in a mindfulness-based therapy exhibited significantly lower adrenocorticotropic hormone and pro-inflammatory cytokines values than peers who received a control class.
“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,” Elizabeth A. Hoge, MD, of Georgetown University Medical Center, said in a press release.
To assess the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on biomarkers of stress among individuals with anxiety, researchers randomly assigned 72 adults with generalized anxiety disorder to receive mindfulness-based stress reduction or an attention control class. Stress was measured via the Trier Social Stress Test and adrenocorticotropic hormone and pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction was an 8-week group-based intervention with daily home practice guided by audio recordings and one weekend “retreat” day. In-class practices of breath awareness, body-scan and gentle Hatha yoga were used to establish awareness of internal presence with an accepting, non-judgmental outlook.
The control intervention was intended to control for non-specific effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction, including group support, attention from the instructor and participant expectations.
Participants who received the mindfulness intervention exhibited significantly greater reductions in adrenocorticotropic hormone area-under-the-curve, compared with the control intervention.
Further, reduction in inflammatory cytokines area-under-the-curve was significantly greater among participants who received the mindfulness intervention.
“These findings suggest that mindfulness meditation training, a relatively inexpensive and low-stigma treatment approach, may be a helpful strategy to decrease biological stress reactivity and improve resilience to stressors in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. Future work should focus on the impact of mindfulness meditation on ‘real life’ stress and anxiety disorder severity and relapse,” the researchers concluded. – by Amanda Oldt
Disclosure: Hoge reports grants from National Institutes of Health (K23AT4432) during the conduct of the study. Please see the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.