Meditation can be as effective as antidepressants in treating people with depression and anxiety-and it's not down to the placebo effect, or wishful thinking, researchers say.
People who practise the Buddhist mindfulness meditation-where they are aware of their feelings and surroundings without judgement-for eight weeks get as much benefit and relief as they would from taking an antidepressant.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression were all eased by meditation, and cases of insomnia and pain from fibromyalgia were also helped.
In making their discovery, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reanalysed 47 clinical trials that involved 3,515 people, who had a range of health problems, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, substance abuse, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and chronic pain.
On average, the participants practised mindfulness meditation for up to 40 minutes a day, and for eight weeks.
The changes were very real and measurable, say the researchers, and the effects went way beyond placebo, or wishful thinking.
(Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018)