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Mindfulness benefits reach new heights

Words by Abi Scaife

Mindfulness is just as effective as medication in treating anxiety, a new study has found. Here's what you need to know.

Wait, really?

Yes! The study was randomly performed on 208 adults with anxiety disorders, comparing the use of the drug escitalopram vs an eight-week mindfulness course.

So, what happened?

Split down the middle, half of the participants were prescribed escitalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) frequently used to treat depression or anxiety. The other half were assigned an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course - or MBSR. This included a 45-minute MBSR session every day, ​​a 2 1/2-hour weekly meeting and a daylong retreat during week five or six. 

Researchers found that there was no significant difference in results between the two treatments - in fact, both groups experienced a 30% drop in anxiety levels from their treatment.

Why's this so important?

Medication doesn’t work for everyone and can have other side effects that may make using it as a treatment for anxiety feel less worthwhile. For others, they may not have access to the medication, whether that is for financial reasons because it interacts badly with other medications they take or for another reason entirely.

Mindfulness sessions may also be much cheaper for healthcare providers and need only be run for a short period of time, rather than the ongoing costs of medication.

There are lots of reasons why mindfulness is a great alternative to medication for treating anxiety - not least because it has a similar effect. But ultimately, it is down to a discussion with your own healthcare practitioner about what is best for you that matters the most. 

Here's how you can do mindfulness for free:

There are many nonprofits that support people all year around with free mindfulness courses. Why not try one of the below?

Breathworks charity offers free mindfulness courses

Access The Free Mindfulness Project for free mindfulness exercises

The Oxford Mindfulness Foundation also offers free daily mindfulness sessions online from 7pm to 7:30pm.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs