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Meditation As Good As Antidepressants, Depression Study

Update Date: Jan 06, 2014 07:18 PM EST

Dedicating half an hour a day to meditation can improve anxiety and depression symptoms, according to a new study.

Johns Hopkins researchers found that mindfulness meditation programs can help lower anxiety, depression and pain in some people.

"A lot of people use meditation, but it's not a practice considered part of mainstream medical therapy for anything," lead researcher Madhav Goyal, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a news release. "But in our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants."

Researchers reviewed 46 randomized clinical trials with 3,515 participants and found that those who participated in mindfulness meditation programs show small improvements in anxiety, depression and pain. Goyal explained that the effect size for the effect on depression was 0.3, which is comparable to the use of an antidepressant. However, there was little or no evidence that meditation affects positive mood, attention, drug use, eating habits, sleep and weight.

"Clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress. Stronger study designs are needed to determine the effects of meditation programs in improving the positive dimensions of mental health and stress-related behavior," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine

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