Meditation: A stress reliever, but not a cure-all, study finds

March 4, 2014

A new study finds that research on mindfulness meditation has yielded moderate evidence that the practice can reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms and pain, but little to no evidence that it can reduce substance abuse or improve mood, sleep or weight control. And no evidence was found that meditation programs were better than drugs, exercise or other behavioral therapies at addressing issues of mental health.

The latest word on meditation's effects comes from a meta-analysis - essentially a study of that sifts, consolidates and distills their findings. It was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The analysis showed a "small and consistent signal" that different components of negative effect - stress, distress, anxiety and depression -I mproved in subjects who were trained in and practiced , the study's authors wrote. The scale of benefits found ranged from 22 percent to 38 percent for anxiety symptoms, and 23 percent to 30 percent for . Its effect on pain was more robust, yielding an average improvement of about 33 percent.

The authors of the study suggest that little or poorly designed research may have led to their less-than-robust findings in favor of meditation's benefits. Of 18,753 studies of meditation, only 47 were clinical trials designed and conducted with sufficient rigor to be included in the meta-analysis. And the authors cautioned that, despite evidence that the meditator's proficiency matters, there was wide variation in trainer expertise, the amount of training study participants got, and their skill in meditating.

If meditation's widely touted benefits are to win adherents in the examination room, the authors suggested, there will have to be more and better research on , focusing on specific patient populations and looking for well-established outcomes.

Explore further: Suggests meditation may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression

Related Stories

Suggests meditation may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression

January 6, 2014
Some 30 minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, a new Johns Hopkins analysis of previously published research suggests.

Anxious? Activate your anterior cingulate cortex with a little meditation

June 4, 2013
Scientists, like Buddhist monks and Zen masters, have known for years that meditation can reduce anxiety, but not how. Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, however, have succeeded in identifying the brain functions ...

Can meditation make you a more compassionate person?

April 1, 2013
Scientists have mostly focused on the benefits of meditation for the brain and the body, but a recent study by Northeastern University's David DeSteno, published in Psychological Science, takes a look at what impacts meditation ...

New study shows meditating before lecture leads to better grades

April 9, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Practicing a little Zen before class can lead to better grades, according to a new experimental study by George Mason University professor Robert Youmans and University of Illinois doctoral student Jared ...

Meditation training may lower respiratory illness burden

July 10, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Training in mindfulness meditation or exercise is linked to a decrease in the severity and duration of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in adults, according to a study published in the July/August issue ...

Time perception altered by mindfulness meditation

June 21, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—New published research from psychologists at the universities of Kent and Witten/Herdecke has shown that mindfulness meditation has the ability to temporarily alter practitioners' perceptions of time – ...

Recommended for you

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.