Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a meditation-based stress management program in patients with anxiety disorder.
Methods: Patients with anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to an 8-week clinical trial of either a meditation-based stress management program or an anxiety disorder education program. The Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Symptom Checklist--90-Revised (SCL-90-R) were used to measure outcome at 0, 2, 4, and 8 weeks of the program.
Results: Compared to the education group, the meditation-based stress management group showed significant improvement in scores on all anxiety scales (HAM-A, P=.00; STAI state, P=.00; STAI trait, P=.00; anxiety subscale of SCL-90-R, P=.00) and in the SCL-90-R hostility subscale (P=.01). Findings on depression measures were inconsistent, with no significant improvement shown by subjects in the meditation-based stress management group compared to those in the education group. The meditation-based stress management group did not show significant improvement in somatization, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and interpersonal sensitivity scores, or in the SCL-90-R phobic anxiety subscale compared to the education group.
Conclusions: A meditation-based stress management program can be effective in relieving anxiety symptoms in patients with anxiety disorder. However, well-designed, randomized, and controlled trials are needed to scientifically prove the worth of this intervention prior to treatment.