Objective: This study was designed to determine the effectiveness of a group stress reduction program based on mindfulness meditation for patients with anxiety disorders.
Method: The 22 study participants were screened with a structured clinical interview and found to meet the DSM-III-R criteria for generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. Assessments, including self-ratings and therapists' ratings, were obtained weekly before and during the meditation-based stress reduction and relaxation program and monthly during the 3-month follow-up period.
Results: Repeated measures analyses of variance documented significant reductions in anxiety and depression scores after treatment for 20 of the subjects--changes that were maintained at follow-up. The number of subjects experiencing panic symptoms was also substantially reduced. A comparison of the study subjects with a group of nonstudy participants in the program who met the initial screening criteria for entry into the study showed that both groups achieved similar reductions in anxiety scores on the SCL-90-R and on the Medical Symptom Checklist, suggesting generalizability of the study findings.
Conclusions: A group mindfulness meditation training program can effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic and can help maintain these reductions in patients with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or panic disorder with agoraphobia.