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Mindfulness Research: Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety

Mindfulness-Based Therapy Reduces Anxiety and Depression

In their 2010 research “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review” Hoffman et al. looked at 39 studies, totaling 1,140 participants, to examine the overarching effect of mindfulness practices on clinical illnesses from cancer, to generalized anxiety disorder, to depression. The particular focus was on the emotional state of anxiety or depression, and what the conclusions have been so far on the ability of mindfulness practices to be impactful in a way that is truly revolutionary. Their findings proved that, in fact, the effects of mindfulness practices were outstanding in alleviating anxiety and depression, and that the results were consistent in increase regardless of chronological year or number of sessions a patient engaged in. So, it can be understood that mindfulness is a time-tested and comprehensive way to approach the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Meditation Encourages Openness, Curiosity, and Acceptance

The importance here is that the focus was on clinical populations. Where much research may focus on individuals who deem themselves as battling with the emotions of anxiety and depression, having science back meditation as a practice that is useful in the medical world, and in a consistent way, is important. This study defines mindfulness as “a process that leads to a mental state characterized by non-judgmental awareness of the present moment experience, including one’s sensations, thoughts, bodily states, consciousness, and the environment, while encouraging openness, curiosity, and acceptance.” What they have found in their examination of many studies that have been conducted, is that the effectiveness of mindfulness practices in relation to reducing stress, anxiety, and depression has a lot to do with it’s ability to shift the individual focus from the past or future to the present. In general, this means that being able to be present can reduce these symptoms because much of the experience of anxiety and depression is provoked by placing awareness on the past or future, neither of which are actually happening in the present.

Photo source: Nedra.

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