Anxiety symptoms improve after just one mindfulness meditation session, study finds

SAN DIEGO — Just one mindfulness meditation session can reduce anxiety, a recent study finds.

The research found that patients show immediate psychological and physiological benefits after a single one-hour session of the relaxation technique.

“Our results show a clear reduction in anxiety in the first hour after the meditation session, and our preliminary results suggest that anxiety was significantly lower one week after the meditation session,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. John J. Durocher, an assistant professor of physiology at Michigan Technological University, in a press release. “Participants also had reduced mechanical stress on their arteries an hour after the session. This could help to reduce stress on organs like the brain and kidneys and help prevent conditions such as high blood pressure.”

Durocher believes that this study will help lead the design of further treatments for anxiety in the future.

Previous research has shown that anxiety can lead to many other health defects, including cardiovascular issues. Arterial stiffness, or the lack of elasticity of the veins and arteries, is a common predictor of cardiovascular issues later in life, and is often worsened by depression, anxiety, stress, and traumatic life events.

The researchers for this study recruited 14 individuals who had normal blood pressure and high levels of anxiety. Each participant’s cardiovascular functions were measured, including heart rate, blood pressure, aortic blood pressure, and arterial stiffness before and after a 60-minute introductory mindfulness meditation session with an expert.

The results showed improvement in key cardiovascular health indicators after one session. The researchers found that after the experiment, participants started to sign up for mindfulness meditation sessions on their own.

“This study is different because we examined the effect of a single mindfulness meditation session on anxiety and cardiovascular outcomes, while other studies have examined the effect of several days or weeks of mindfulness meditation,” notes Durocher. “The results suggest that a single mindfulness meditation session may help to reduce cardiovascular risk in those with moderate anxiety.”

The study’s findings were presented at the American Psychological Society’s 2018 Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego in April 2018.