Meditation Works as Well as Medication to Reduce Anxiety, Study Finds

Woman in lotus position practicing mudra meditation
Woman in lotus position practicing mudra meditation

Practicing meditation could be just as effective in reducing anxiety as taking medication, according to a new study.

A study published November 9 in JAMA Psychiatry analyzed 276 adults who were diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Half of the participants completed an 8-week, mindfulness-based stress- reduction course, while the other half of participants were treated with escitalopram, a common medication for treating anxiety and depression.

Researchers found that both groups — patients who completed the mindfulness meditation group class and patients who took medication — saw a 20% reduction in their anxiety symptoms.

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Elizabeth Hoge, the lead author on the study and the director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program at Georgetown University Medical Center, told CNN that meditation could be prescribed to patients who experience side effects or allergies to escitalopram, the generic form of Lexapro.

Meditation could also be prescribed to those who are hesitant about starting medications.

"Lexapro is a great drug; I prescribe it a lot. But it's not for everyone," she told the outlet, adding that she hopes the study will provide more treatment options for those suffering from anxiety.

She noted that patients should always consult with their healthcare provider for the best treatment plan. "If someone's already taking a medication, they can try meditation at the same time," Hoge said. "If they wanna come off the medication, they should talk to their doctor."