Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may be just as effective as the popular first-line anxiety medication escitalopram, commonly known as Lexapro. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry in early November, is making mainstream news headlines for being the first to compare mindfulness training with an antidepressant directly. In addition, the results suggest that antidepressants need not be the only first-line intervention for anxiety.
The authors, Elizabeth A. Hoge, Eric Bui, Mihriye Mete, Mary Ann Dutton, Amanda W. Baker, and Naomi M. Simon, in their randomized control trial, found a noninferior reduction in symptoms of anxiety in participants that were taught mindfulness and mediation compared to participants who were given escitalopram.
“Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorder, currently affecting an estimated 301 million people globally,” the authors write.
“Mindfulness meditation has been found to help reduce anxiety; a recent meta-analysis of trials with anxiety disorders found a significant benefit with mindfulness meditation compared with treatment as usual…Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR) is the most widely researched [mindfulness-based intervention] MBI (over 1000 citations in PubMed and is available internationally). To our knowledge, no clinical trial comparing evidenced based MBI, such as MBSR, with a first-line pharmacological treatment for anxiety disorders has been published.”