(HealthDay News) — A standardized, evidence-based mindfulness intervention is noninferior to pharmacotherapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders, according to a study published online Nov. 9 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Elizabeth A. Hoge, MD, from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, and colleagues assessed whether mindfulness-based stress reduction is noninferior to escitalopram, a commonly used first-line psychopharmacological treatment for anxiety disorders. The analysis included 208 US adults diagnosed with anxiety disorder who were randomly assigned (1:1) to a weekly mindfulness-based stress reduction course or escitalopram (flexibly dosed from 10 to 20 mg).

The researchers found that mean Clinical Global Impression of Severity scale scores dropped by 1.35 for mindfulness vs 1.43 for escitalopram, indicating noninferiority. Noninferiority of mindfulness vs escitalopram was also seen in secondary intent-to-treat analyses using imputed data. Fewer patients who started treatment dropped out due to adverse events in the mindfulness group vs the escitalopram group (0 vs 10). Occurrence of at least 1 study-related adverse event was also lower for mindfulness versus escitalopram (15.4% vs 78.6%).

“It is important to note that although mindfulness meditation works, not everyone is willing to invest the time and effort to successfully complete all of the necessary sessions and do regular home practice which enhances the effect,” Hoge said in a statement.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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