Pharmaceutical companies may need a dose of their own medications. A new study finds the best treatment for anxiety may not come from your local pharmacy, but rather a quiet room in your home.
The study, published in the Jan. 24 edition of Psychiatry Research, confirmed that eight-weeks of mindfulness meditation can be crucially beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety.
Researchers from the Georgetown University Medical Center selected 89 people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder to undergo one of two different forms of treatment. One group took an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, which centered around meditation, and then determined whether or not it helped them relax. Those in the control group took an eight-week stress management education course, which centers more on habits such as diet, sleep, and general wellness.
Mindfulness-Based interventions have increased in popularity in psychiatry, but the impact of these treatments on disorder-relevant biomarkers would greatly enhance efficacy and mechanistic evidence. If Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is successfully treated, relevant biomarkers should change, supporting the impact of treatment and suggesting improved resilience to stress. Seventy adults with GAD were randomized to receive either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or an attention control class; before and after, they underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Area-Under-the-Curve (AUC) concentrations were calculated for adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and pro-inflammatory cytokines. MBSR participants had a significantly greater reduction in ACTH AUC compared to control participants. Similarly, the MBSR group had a greater reduction in inflammatory cytokines’ AUC concentrations. We found larger reductions in stress markers for patients with GAD in the MBSR class compared to control; this provides the first combined hormonal and immunological evidence that MBSR may enhance resilience to stress.