Using mindfulness meditation to reduce stress and anxiety

Using mindfulness meditation to reduce stress and anxiety

While stress is known to produce short-term anxiety in almost everyone, it can cause serious physical and mental harm to many others who suffer from chronic stressful conditions over a prolonged period. Because of its mind-body connection, anxiety can have serious side effects on one’s physical health, resulting in muscle tension, headaches and digestive problems. But the good news is that one can easily reduce the distressing anxiety-related symptoms by practicing certain relaxation techniques, with “mindfulness meditation” being the most powerful way to release pent-up emotions.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in fighting anxiety, a scientist from Georgetown University Medical Center recently conducted a clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In the study published in Jan. 24, 2017, the researchers from the department of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center evaluated 93 people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). As part of the study, half of the participants took an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course and the other half attended stress management classes during the period between 2009 and 2011. Developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School by Jon Kabat-Zinn, MBSR is generally an eight-week program consisting of weekly meetings and instructions for home practice.

All the participants underwent standard experimental tests, known as the Trier Social Stress Tests (TSST), for inducing a stress response before and after the courses. The TSSTs required the participants to give a small lecture in front of a research panel, apart from doing some mental math. During evaluations, the researchers monitored blood-based markers of the participants to track their stress levels. The results revealed that the participants who took part in mindfulness meditation had sharply reduced stress hormone and inflammatory responses to a stressful situation as compared to those who took only the stress management classes.

Mindfulness meditation: A therapeutic strategy for anxiety disorders

Mindfulness teaches one to be in the present moment and to pay attention to one’s thoughts nonjudgmentally. It helps a person recognize his or her natural wisdom and overcome stressful conditions. While the technique has been followed for thousands of years now, further scientific research is required to prove its effectiveness for ailments such0 as addiction, pain management and blood pressure, etc. However, mindfulness meditation has emerged as a therapeutic strategy for anxiety disorders.

As per Elizabeth A. Hoge, MD, the study’s lead author and an associate professor at the Georgetown University Medical Center’s department of psychiatry, the study result proves that mindfulness meditation, a relatively inexpensive and low-stigma based approach, can improve one’s resilience to stress. Dr. Hoge also highlighted that during the study, participants had little or no expectancy bias as they all were assigned to a treatment and were also not told about the treatment of interest of the researchers.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 10 million people are expected to be affected by GAD in a given year, whereas nearly 20 million will have the disease at some point in their life. At present, anxiety disorders are regarded as the most common mental disorders in the U.S., affecting nearly 18 percent of the total population.

Recovery and rehabilitation

Given the stressors of the daily life, it is probably a good idea to try either MBSR or any other form of meditation under clinically controlled conditions. While the latest research shows the benefits of mindfulness meditation on several levels, more research will be required to find out other circumstances in which it could be most effective.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental illness, contact Sovereign Health to get customized interventions at our certified treatment centers. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with our representatives to get more details on our generalized anxiety treatment centers in California and generalized anxiety treatment centers in Los Angeles.

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