Daily Mail

March 2014

                                             Study found meditation works as well as conventional anti-

                                             depressants. It follows research in the U.S. involving 3,500 people


                                             Researchers found regular meditation can relieve anxiety, pain and  

                                             stress as well as traditional anti-depressants


                                             Meditation for just half an hour can relieve depression as much as

                                             popping a pill, claim researchers.


                                             They found regular meditation could also relieve anxiety, pain and



In a U.S. study of previously published research involving 3,500 people, meditation alleviated symptoms of depression on a par with conventional anti-depressants.


Meditation, which has a long history in Eastern traditions, is one of many 'mindfulness' techniques that have grown in popularity in the West over the last 30 years.


It is typically practised for 30 to 40 minutes a day with the aim of encouraging acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment, and relaxing body and mind.


Study leader Dr Madhav Goyal, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, said 'A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing.


'But that's not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programmes approach this in different ways.'


He said thousands of people use meditation for stress busting and personal growth, 'but it's not a practice considered part of mainstream medical therapy for anything.'


He said 'In our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.


'These patients did not typically have full-blown anxiety or depression.' Overall, depression affects one in 10 adults in the UK at any one time.


There has been a big rise in the use of antidepressants in the last 20 years, particularly among women, with prescriptions in England reaching a record 50 million in 2012.


NHS guidelines recommend talking therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), in preference to drugs for people with mild to moderate depression.


Studies show psychological therapies can be as effective as drugs in tackling common mental health problems, and are often more successful in the long term.


The latest study focused on 47 clinical trials performed up until June 2013 among 3,515 participants that involved meditation and various mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, substance use, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and chronic pain.


Studies show psychological therapies can be as effective as drugs in tackling common mental health problems, and are often more successful in the long term.


The researchers evaluated the degree to which those symptoms changed in people with a variety of medical conditions, although only a minority had been diagnosed with a mental illness.


They found moderate evidence of improvement in symptoms of anxiety, depression and pain after participants underwent what was typically an eight-week training programme in mindfulness meditation.


For example, the 'effect size' for the reduction in depression levels was 0.3, which is what would be expected from using an anti-depressant 'but without the associated toxicities'.


There was some 'low' evidence of improvement in stress and quality of life, says a report in JAMA Internal Medicine.


There was not enough information to determine whether other areas - positive mood, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep and weight - could be improved by meditation.


In the studies that followed participants for six months, the improvements typically continued. No harm came from meditation, said the researchers.


Prof Goyal said there were weaknesses in the analysed trials and further studies are needed to clarify which outcomes are most affected by these meditation programmes, as well as whether doing more meditation would have greater benefits.


However, he said, there was clear evidence that meditation was not simply a 'placebo effect' - whereby the patient experiences an improvement in symptoms without being actively treated simply because they expect to.


'Meditation programmes appear to have an effect above and beyond the placebo.


'Clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation programme could have in addressing psychological stress.


'Stronger study designs are needed to determine the effects of meditation programmes in improving the positive dimensions of mental health and stress-related behaviour' he added

medication versus Meditation

Meditation 'works just as well as anti-depressants': Half an hour a day offers as much relief as tablets.

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