New Study Offers Scientific Proof That Meditation Can Help With Anxiety
We’ve all heard that practicing meditation on a regular basis can help reduce stress levels and alleviate anxiety. But whether or not these benefits are scientific or all in our heads (no pun intended) has been up for debate… until now! A new study published in Biological Psychiatry has finally provided evidence to suggest that meditation does, in fact, modify our neurological functions in a way that helps combat the imagined fears that characterize an anxiety attack.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School asked 42 participants to complete an eight-week yoga and meditation course designed to reduce stress. They also asked a control group of 25 participants to complete an eight-week course in which they engaged in light aerobic exercise and were taught about the impact of stress. MRI brain scans showed that those who completed the yoga and meditation course showed changes in the hippocampus—the area of the brain associated with learning and emotions—in ways that helped mitigate their feelings of unreal or imaginary threat.
“Mindfulness training may improve emotion regulation through changing neurobiological responses associated with our ability to remember that a stimulus is no longer threatening,” Gunes Sevinc, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “The data suggest that mindfulness is also enhancing our ability to remember this new, less fearful reaction to these stimuli, and break the anxiety habit.”
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