Study: Meditation Relieves Some Anxiety, Depression Beyond Placebo



We’ve all been there: feeling low, overwhelmed, anxious, or just majorly bummed out about the freezing cold, the dead-end job, the noncompliant spouse, whatever, and we dream of a pill — a quick fix — to put an end to all that negative muck.

Of course, pills have side effects, and don’t always work. But it turns out there’s something that may be more effective with no downside, though it takes a bit of effort: meditation for about 30 minutes a day.

A new analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins find that just a half-hour of “mindfulness meditation” may improve some of these garden variety, not yet full-blown, symptoms of anxiety and depression. The findings, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, also found that some pain symptoms can also be relieved through a consistent meditation practice.

This should not come as breaking news. Many studies over many years link meditation to all kinds of health improvements. But I think it’s worth restating, since meditation is still viewed as a crunchy, ineffective practice by so many — including those in the medical mainstream.

Here’s lead study author Dr. Madhav Goyal, assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, quoted in the news release:

“A lot of people use meditation, but it’s not a practice considered part of mainstream medical therapy for anything,” says Goyal, M.D. M.P.H. “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.” Continue reading

CVS: Mass. Could Save Hundreds Of Millions With Better Med Use

(Dvortygirl/Wikimedia Commons)

(Dvortygirl/Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s another adjective we can now apply to Massachusetts residents: adherent. As in, we tend to adhere to the doctor’s orders on taking our medicines better than many other states.

Which is a very good thing, because non-adherence costs the American health care system over $100 billion a year, according to a recent report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

From the Associated Press:

The report, titled “Avoidable Costs in Healthcare,” found the biggest area of waste is patients not taking medicines prescribed by their doctor, either at all or as directed. IMS estimates the cost of such “non-adherence” at about $105 billion a year.
Reasons for the longstanding problem include patients fearing drug side effects, not understanding complications that can occur without treatment, having mental health issues and not being able to afford their medicines. Price has become less of a factor, though, as there are now relatively inexpensive generic versions of drugs for most diseases.

CVS Caremark, the pharmacy giant, has just cast some new light on this very expensive problem with its latest study: State of the States: Adherence Report. We’ll get to the Massachusetts data in a moment, but first some national highlights. The report looked at medication adherence and the use of generic drugs in four conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression.

From the press release:

•Across all market segments (health plans, employer-sponsored plans and Medicare Part D plans), patients with depression generally had the lowest adherence rates, while patients with hypertension were most adherent.

•Medicare beneficiaries had the highest adherence rates across the three groups.

•Ninety-day dispensing rates were generally highest among members of employer-sponsored plans.

•Regional variations were apparent across the groups. The lowest adherence rates for health plan members with diabetes and depression occurred in the Midwest, while the lowest rates for patients with any condition in employer-sponsored plans and Medicare Part D occurred in the South.

And as for Massachusetts: Continue reading