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Assessing the Impact of Isha Kriya Meditation on Anxiety and Depression - a Pilot Study

In 2019, over 15% of the population experienced symptoms of anxiety. This was highest amongst 18-29-year-olds. Amongst these adults, 9.5% experienced mild, 3.4% experienced moderate, and 2.7% experienced severe symptoms of anxiety. About 1 in 6 adults is expected to suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Due to the pandemic, rates of anxiety and depression increased significantly. In December 2020, 42% of people surveyed by the US Census Bureau had symptoms associated with anxiety or depression. This is compared to 11% of adults having similar symptoms from Jan-June 2019. The rapidly diminishing mental health in the general population, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, has raised the concern for an emerging new pandemic: the mental health pandemic. Mental health leaders and organizations are urging the federal and state authorities to make mental health a top priority and allocate resources to areas including early identification and prevention, establishing integrated health and mental health care to ensure "whole-person" well-being, assuring evidence-based standards of prevention, treatment and care.

Meditation has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. A recent study using a meditation called Isha Kriya showed improved perceived stress amongst operating room professionals in one sitting. Isha Kriya is a simple meditation practice (15minutes) that can be done by anyone over 12 years of age. It is offered free globally via in-person sessions, online webinars, and online videos. A meditation which is available electronically and freely could be an attractive option to include in prevention and treatment strategies for anxiety and depression. Furthermore, such intervention is easily scalable and accessible to everyone with access to the internet and if found effective, can be a valuable resource for addressing disparities in access to mental health resources in minority and underserved populations. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of this meditation on reducing symptoms associated with anxiety and depression over 6 weeks.