Anxiety disorders are among the most common conditions affecting children and adolescents. While antidepressants are frequently used they may be poorly tolerated in children.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) are studying how cognitive therapy that uses mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, quiet reflection and facilitator-led discussion, may serve as an adjunct to pharmacological treatments.
The study looked at brain imaging in youth before and after mindfulness based therapy and saw changes in brain regions that control emotional processing.
This study, taken together with previous research, raises the possibility that treatment-related increases in brain activity during emotional processing may improve emotional processing in anxious youth who are at risk for developing bipolar disorder.
Clinician-rated anxiety and youth-rated trait anxiety were significantly reduced following treatment; the increases in mindfulness were associated with decreases in anxiety.
Increasingly, patients and families are asking for additional therapeutic options, in addition to traditional medication-based treatments. Mindfulness-based therapies for mood disorders is one such example with promising evidence being studied and implemented at UC.