Anxiety and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

The training of mindfulness may be beneficial for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a group treatment applying cognitive strategies focusing on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). It integrates the practice of mindfulness meditation with cognitive theory.

The core component of the MBSR program is mindfulness meditation training. MBSR was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues (Koszycki et al., 2007). MBSR has been reported to relieve anxiety in a variety of clinical populations. MBCT has been suggested effective in preventing relapse among patients with major depression (Teasdale et al., 2000).

A study of six female and five male participants with a mean age of 49 was done in the U.S. to investigate the effects of MBCT on anxiety (Evans et al., 2008). The researchers observed significant improvements in anxiety and depressive symptoms after the MBCT training. The training also helped promote the awareness of everyday experiences. The study indicated that MBCT may be beneficial for relieving anxiety and other mood symptoms among the patients with GAD.

Another study done in the U.S. assessed the effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety, negative affect, positive affect, and hope in college students (Sears and Kraus, 2009). Different types of meditation were compared in four groups, including brief meditation focusing on attention, brief meditation focusing on loving kindness, longer meditation combining both of the two aspects of mindfulness, as well as the control group without any intervention.

In the study, each group met weekly in one semester (Sears and Kraus, 2009). The study indicated that longer combined meditation had remarkable results on decreasing anxiety and negative affect. Such method may also enhance hope. These beneficial effects may be mediated by changes in cognitive distortions.


Evans, S., Ferrando, S., et al. (2008) Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Anxiety Disord 22, 716-721.

Koszycki, D., Benger, M., et al. (2007) Randomized trial of a meditation-based stress reduction program and cognitive behavior therapy in generalized social anxiety disorder. Behav Res Ther 45, 2518-2526.

Sears, S. and Kraus, S. (2009) I think therefore I om: cognitive distortions and coping style as mediators for the effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety, positive and negative affect, and hope. J Clin Psychol 65, 561-573.

Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., Ridgeway, V., Soulsby, J., & Lau, M. (2000). Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 6, 615-623.

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