Study: Mindfulness Meditation Can Trigger Depression

A new study has found that at least eight percent of persons who practice mindfulness meditation experience a worsening in depression or anxiety, and even an onset of these conditions for the first time.

According to an article in New Scientist, research conducted by Miguel Farias, Ph.D., of Coventry University in the UK, found that one in 12 people who try meditation experience an unwanted negative effect that usually concerns either a worsening of depression or anxiety, or causes the onset of these conditions.

“Farias’s team combed through medical journals and found 55 relevant studies,” writes Clare Wilson for New Scientist. “Once the researchers had excluded those that had deliberately set out to find negative effects, they worked out the prevalence of people who experienced harms within each study and then calculated the average, adjusted for the study size, a common method in this kind of analysis.”

Eight percent of people who tried this meditation experienced an unwanted effect, including instances of psychosis or thoughts of suicide.

“People have experienced anything from an increase in anxiety up to panic attacks,” says Farias. “For most people it works fine but it has undoubtedly been overhyped and it’s not universally benevolent.”

Because the use of mindfulness therapy is so prevalent in the mental health field, it’s important for people to be aware of the research so that if they do experience negative effects from the therapy they will know it is not uncommon and they should feel free to alert their therapist.

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