Meditation and Yoga for Heightened Anxiety related to COVID-19: an online study

Brian A Fallon, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry

The primary purpose of this study is to determine whether heightened anxiety in the context of COVID-19 can be reduced through web-based interventions. While a certain level of anxiety is appropriate during a pandemic of infection that may have profound consequences to self and others, excessive anxiety can lead to impaired mood, thoughts, and behaviors. After confirming eligibility remotely, we will randomly assign participants to one of three on-line treatments: a) Meditation with anxiety reduction training; b) Kundalini Yoga with anxiety reduction training; and c) Anxiety reduction training alone. All 3 treatment groups therefore will receive anxiety reduction training. Two of the groups will also receive a mind-body therapy (mindfullness meditation or Kundalini Yoga) so we can assess whether a mind-body therapy confers additional benefit. This study will enroll individuals age 18-70 who report elevated anxiety or distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it sequelae and who do not currently have COVID-19 symptoms or known current infection. Individuals can participate from throughout the United States. Our research team is uniquely qualified to conduct this study given its expertise in anxiety disorders, stress reduction, and infectious disease.
This study is conducted entirely on-line. Through an on-line portal (ProofPilot), participants will be screened, provide consent, and complete self-report questionnaires. 450 patients will be enrolled. Each person’s study treatment is 8 weeks with a follow-up assessment at 12 weeks. All participants who complete the 12 week study will receive a free 8 week subscription to a LIVE meditation program (\Journey\) delivered through an APP. Our hope is that by participating in this study, individual resilience and coping skills will be strengthened and excessive and disabling anxiety will be reduced.