Mindfulness meditation programs may help reduce anxiety, depression and pain-induced stress, according to study findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers reviewed 47 randomized clinical trials that included 3,515 participants. Most trials were short term, ranging from 3 weeks to 5 years. Mindfulness programs typically provided 20 to 27 hours of training during 8 weeks. Most trials assessed participants with anxiety, depression, stress, chronic worry and insomnia. Other trials included participants with alcoholism, chronic pain, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, HIV, and breast and lung cancer.
The study results found that mindfulness meditation programs improved anxiety, depression, and quality of life in patients with a mental illness. Researchers said these improvements were comparable to the effects of antidepressants, without toxicities. Meditation programs were found to reduce stress induced by pain. There was little evidence that showed positive effects of mindfulness on mood, attention, substance use disorders, eating and sleeping habits, and weight.
“The evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation programs could help reduce anxiety, depression, and pain in some clinical populations. Thus, clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress,” study researcher Madhav Goyal, MD, MPH, of Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues concluded.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.