Ten percent of Americans take some form of medication to help deal with their anxiety and depression. But according to recent research from Johns Hopkins, they might consider just finding a peaceful spot and sitting quietly — because mindfulness-based meditation may be as effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as medication.
Johns Hopkins physician Madhav Goyal led a team that reviewed 47 clinical trials involving 3,515 participants. All those studies examined the effect of meditation on some form of serious health issue, from substance abuse to depression to cancer. Ultimately, they found that symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain responded in particular to a meditation practice.
And the results also indicated that you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk to feel these effects; an eight-week training program and 30-minute meditation sessions were enough to show moderate evidence of improvement. And that improvement went above and beyond the placebo effect, according to Goyal.
“A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” Goyal says. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.”