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minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of
anxiety and depression.
"A lot of people use meditation, but it's not a practice
considered part of mainstream medical therapy for
anything," says Madhav Goyal, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant
professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at
the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader
of the study. "But in our study, meditation appeared
to provide as much relief from some anxiety and
depression symptoms as what other studies have found
from antidepressants." These patients did not
typically have full-blown anxiety or depression.
The researchers evaluated the degree to which those
symptoms changed in people who had a variety of medical
conditions, such as insomnia or fibromyalgia,
although only a minority had been diagnosed with a mental
Goyal and his colleagues found that so-called "mindfulness
meditation" — a form of Buddhist self-awareness designed
to focus precise, nonjudgmental attention to the moment at
hand — also showed promise in alleviating some pain
symptoms as well as stress.
They also found no harm came from meditation.
"A lot of people have this idea that meditation means
sitting down and doing nothing," Goyal says. "But that's
not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to
increase awareness, and different meditation programs
approach this in different ways."
Other Johns Hopkins researchers involved in
the study include Sonal Singh, M.D., M.P.H.; Erica M.S.
Sibinga, M.D., M.H.S.; Neda F. Gould, Ph.D.; Anastasia
Rowland-Seymour, M.D.; Ritu Sharma, B.Sc.; Zackary Berger,
M.D., Ph.D.; Dana Sleicher, M.S., M.P.H.; David D. Maron,
M.H.S.; Hasan M. Shihab, M.B.Ch.B., M.P.H.; Padmini D.
Ranasinghe, M.D., M.P.H.; Shauna Linn, B.A.; Shonali Saha,
M.D.; Eric B. Bass, M.D., M.P.H.; and Jennifer A.
Haythornthwaite, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University School of
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