Yes, apparently, when properly used, according to a recent piece in Scientific American:
Indeed, some support exists for the efficacy of such training in ameliorating symptoms of depression and possibly anxiety. In a 2010 meta-analysis (quantitative review), psychologist Stefan Hofmann of Boston University and his colleagues examined studies that tested both forms of mindfulness meditation as a remedy for anxiety disorders and depression. They found that the meditation sessions led to significant improvements in both conditions immediately after therapy, as well as approximately three months later. Given the relatively small number of well-designed studies available at that time, however, the authors were appropriately cautious in their conclusions.
Still, a 2013 meta-analysis partly backs up the 2010 assessment. In that review, psychologist Bassam Khoury, then at the University of Montreal, and his colleagues found that both types of mindfulness-based therapies were effective for depression and anxiety disorders, though not more so than cognitive therapy without mindfulness.
One problem that afflicts the field is how to classify mental health concerns. As authors Arkowitz and Lilienfeld point out,
… some studies include individuals afflicted with anxiety disorders who also have significant health problems such as cancer, whereas others do not. How well mindfulness works may depend somewhat on the source of a patient’s anxiety.
Yes indeed. Some people, for example, live in dangerous places or with dangerous people, to say nothing of living with life-threatening diseases. Possibly, what’s most relevant here is whether the patient’s anxiety stems from a threat that could just be ignored without risk.
Some people obsess about spiders in the basement; others about the tenant downstairs who is off his meds and has acquired a gun …
Crippling anxiety is not a reasonable reaction to life. But sometimes it has reasonable causes and sometimes not. How mindfulness could help might differ a great deal, depending on a true threat assessment.
One problem that afflicts the whole field is the need to pretend that the mind is just an illusion. Every three months or so, it seems, a new gimcrack “explanation” appears for consciousness. Yet see what great physicists have said about consciousness as immaterial.
By the very nature of the case, part of what is happening to any human person is what they think is happening to them, Watch for my upcoming series on how materialism tackles the mind, and spins out into thin air.
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