Can Meditation Help Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health conditions in the world, with millions of people diagnosed with it in the United States alone. In fact, almost anyone who you ask either has an anxiety disorder or knows someone with one, as it is that pervasive.


This type of mental health condition is often very misunderstood, as those who do not have it or are uneducated about how and why it occurs often find it difficult to understand why an individual can’t just “relax”. Sadly, this kind of thought process adds to the stigma that those who have anxiety disorders overreact or are in some way weak-minded.


However, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has listed several different facts about anxiety disorders on their website that help shed light on this condition. Some of these facts include the following:


  • Anxiety disorders are present in 40 million adults (ages 18 and older) in the United States, which breaks down to 18.1% of the population
  • Even though anxiety disorders can be easily treated, only 36.9% of individuals with an anxiety disorder get treated
  • Someone with an anxiety disorder is three to five times more likely to go to the doctor, as well as six times more likely to be placed in the hospital due to a psychiatric disorder than individuals who do not have anxiety disorders
  • Anxiety disorders develop because of a number of factors, such as genetics, environment, life events, and brain chemistry


Kinds of Anxiety Disorders

There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders that impact people throughout the world. Despite misconceptions, anxiety disorders are very complex conditions and do not simply cause people to worry about everything. Instead, people can struggle with symptoms of one or more of the following anxiety disorders:


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder impacts approximately 2.7% of the US population, according to ADAA. The symptoms of GAD include:

Persistent worrying

  • Viewing situations as threatening even when they are not
  • Fear of making bad decisions
  • Inability to relax or free oneself from worry or concern


Panic Disorder

Women are more likely than men to experience panic disorder. Symptoms include:

Pounding heart

  • Feeling short of breath
  • Depersonalization
  • Fear of losing control


Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Social anxiety is one of the most common types of anxiety disorder in the country, as almost 7% of the population struggles with it. Characteristics of SAD include the following:

Intense fear of judgment

  • Fear surrounding speaking with others
  • Avoiding doing things with others out of fear of embarrassment
  • Feeling anxious prior to the event


Specific Phobias

Currently, 19 million adults are faced with challenges associated with specific phobias. The symptoms of this condition include:

Feeling imminent danger or doom

  • Having a “flight” instinct
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Most people who experience OCD experience onset by 19 years old; however, others can have an onset of OCD around age 14. The traits of OCD include:

Experiencing intrusive thoughts

  • Feeling the overwhelming need to “check” things
  • Needing things to be in order
  • Fear of doing harm to oneself or others


One of the most common treatments associated with all types of anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. This form of treatment works to help an individual identify, understand, and change his or her thinking patterns surrounding how he or she feels from an emotional standpoint. This treatment is usually conducted in a one-on-one therapeutic setting. And while CBT is renowned for its effectiveness in treating anxiety, other approaches have also proven to be highly effective, too, including meditation.


Meditation and Anxiety

Meditation is something that has been utilized for centuries, as people have relied on it to help quiet their minds and encourage transformation. The key aspects of meditation include establishing the following:


  • Clarity
  • Emotional positivity
  • A sense of calm

When someone is experiencing a mental health condition as upsetting as an anxiety disorder, a skill such as meditation can be extremely helpful in allowing that person to regain control and develop some psychological relaxation.

These benefits are not lost on researchers or medical professionals. In fact, researchers out of Johns Hopkins University published findings in JAMA Internal Medicine stating that mindful meditation can help calm psychological problems like anxiety. In fact, meditation has proven to help connect broken pathways in the brain, helping to decrease problem symptoms related to anxiety. Therefore, if you are someone with anxiety, considering involving meditation into your life can be extremely effective in helping you cope with the symptoms of your condition.

Meditation can be a little difficult to begin incorporating into your lifestyle, however even after a few times of trying it, you may find that it is helpful in calming your anxiety. Here is how to meditate:


  1. Find a stable place to sit
  2. Keep your feet on the floor or cross your legs
  3. Sit for a few minutes and try to bring your attention to your breathing and the feelings in your body
  4. Follow your breath by noting the physical sensation of your breathing, and emphasize your exhale by breathing out as long as comfortably possible.
  5. Your attention will shift at some point, and your mind may wander, but do not fight your thoughts
  6. Slowly bring yourself back to your surroundings through breathing and notice your thoughts and emotions
  7. Prior to standing up, make a plan on how to proceed with your day

By repeating these simple meditation steps, you can begin to center yourself and your thoughts in ways that allow you to cope with your anxiety at any time, anywhere.


Getting Help

As previously mentioned, many of those who have anxiety disorders do not reach out for the help they need. Sadly, those individuals often struggle with the symptoms of their type of anxiety disorder and experience consequences of their condition throughout all areas of their lives. However, it does not have to be that way.

If you are affected by one or more anxiety disorders, you do not have to continue living a life of constant worry or fear. Instead, you can obtain professional treatment geared towards helping you retrain your brain in ways that support long-lasting recovery. And, through that treatment, you can develop coping skills such as meditation to help you navigate through the times where your anxiety feels like its too much to handle.

Therefore, if you are ready to get treatment for your anxiety disorder, do not spend one more minute trying to deal with it on your own. We are here to help you overcome the many challenges you face through support and guidance. Call us right now

The Addiction Blog