Mindfulness and Anxiety

More evidence for Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices continue to gain in acceptability and evidence of effectiveness in a variety of settings.  MoodSurfing has reported on several of these studies in the past, and we continue to monitor the state of the current research.  A recent study1 looked at anxiety and considered pharmaceutical intervention compared with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), finding similar outcomes and acceptability with fewer adverse events during treatment for the MBSR intervention.

MBSR consists of an 8-week training program with a one-day retreat mid-way, and a daily at-home 45 minute practice session.  While noting that this is a considerably higher commitment than taking a pill (Escitalopram) daily, we do find that people committed to this type of practice have been willing to comply with the instructions to the level necessary to experience significant improvement in their self-rated levels of anxiety. The authors note that: 

“Problematic habitual thought patterns characterize anxiety disorders, and mindfulness training specifically focuses the mind on the present moment; thus, individuals practice seeing thoughts and sensations as merely transient mental phenomena and not necessarily accurate reflections of reality. This reappraisal process improves emotion regulation, and individuals become less reactive to thoughts and sensations.  In addition, mindfulness is practiced with a nonjudgmental, accepting attitude, which over time appears to increase self-acceptance and self-compassion.”

Another recent study2 looked at 21 previously-published studies for a meta-analysis of mindfulness based practices compared with treatment as usual (TUA).  This study looked at three mindfulness protocols, including MBSR as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and a program combining mindfulness training with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  The meta-analysis found a great deal of difficulty comparing across studies, and continuing barriers related to study design incorporating mindfulness practice, which can differ greatly by individual.  However, overall, the study authors reported significant results for mindfulness compared with pharmaceutical interventions and recommend further research.

The takeaway for MoodSurfing readers is that there is real evidence in favor of mindfulness practices such as breath awareness, body scan, and mindful movement being of help in controlling anxiety, depression and other negative moods and in developing more stable and balanced mindsets.  Please share your own experience with mindfulness in the comments section below.



  1. Hoge EA, Bui E, Mete M, Dutton MA, Baker AW, Simon NM. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Escitalopram for the Treatment of Adults With Anxiety Disorders: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2023;80(1):13–21. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3679
  2. Haller, H., Breilmann, P., Schröter, M. et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of acceptance- and mindfulness-based interventions for DSM-5 anxiety disorders. Sci Rep 11, 20385 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-99882-w