Meditation for Mental Health: How Does Mindfulness Compare to Other Treatments?

Posted on January 28, 2019

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In 2015, Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Simon Goldberg, begin to explore the efficacy of mindfulness-based intervention on patients across a range of psychiatric disorders. His aim was to compare the efficacy of these treatment interventions to frontline evidence-based psychotherapies. This was done as a meta-analysis that was conducted over the course of 18 months to obtain more reliable results.

The conditions of his study were as follows, there was a group of individuals randomly assigned to receive mindfulness intervention where mindfulness meditation was a central component of the intervention, an “active control” group that received similar interventions with the absence of the mindful component, and another control group that received no treatment. The random assignment of individuals to these groups is key to minimize any possible individual differences that could possibly skew the experimental results, and the inclusion of the “active control” serves to validate the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions as there could be other elements like social support that is the active ingredient for benefits of treatment.

Through this study, what was found was the equivalence of mindfulness-based interventions to standard treatments, and superiority of it to both control groups in several psychiatric conditions especially for the treatment of depression, pain and addiction. Furthermore, it outperformed the active control groups which indicates that there is something to the practice itself that is beneficial. What this means is that mindfulness can be considered among various psychotherapeutic options.

Goldberg further develops on this to explain the possibility of their findings, he believes that mindfulness is effective as it targets emotional and cognitive mechanisms like rumination, a common characteristic across various psychiatric conditions. Through mindfulness, the belief is that individuals become better able to break the habit of worrying and being fixated on one thought.

Though a meta-analysis is strong in providing reliable results, it is not without its drawbacks. More studies should be conducted to analyse and draw more precise conclusions about the intervention on specific populations or disorders. Additionally, further research should also be conducted to quantify how much meditative practice is required to achieve positive effects and to whom it might be most effective for. Ultimately, there is no one treatment that works for everyone, and similarly, mindfulness might not be for every individual as well but at least through this study, there is evidence that it is a efficacious form of intervention and should be considered as a treatment alternative for individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders.


Category(s):Mindfulness, Mindfulness Meditation

Source material from Mind


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