(Ivanhoe Newswire) — A recent study stresses the importance of meditating like the masters for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers say that learning mindful meditation may help ease those individuals who experience fatigue and depression that often accompany the disease.
People who participated in the study undertook an eight-week class in mindful meditation, and afterwards reported that the training reduced their fatigue, depression and overall quality of life compared to people with MS who received only usual medical care. The positive effects from the eight-week course continued for at least six months.
“People with MS must often confront special challenges of life related to profession, financial security, recreational and social activities, and personal relationships, not to mention the direct fears associated with current or future physical symptoms and disability. Fatigue, depression and anxiety are also common consequences of having MS.” which study author Paul Grossman, PhD, of the University of Basel Hospital in Switzerland was quoted as saying. “Unfortunately, the treatments that help slow the disease process may have little direct effect on people’s overall quality of life, fatigue or depression. So any complementary treatments that can quickly and directly improve quality of life are very welcome.”
The study randomly assigned 150 people with mild to moderate MS to receive either the eight-week meditation training or standard medical care. The training focused on mental and physical exercises aimed at nonjudgmental awareness of the present. In their endeavors to gain insight as to the true nature of reality, participants trained in two and half hour weekly classes, one all-day retreat and 40 minutes per day of homework assignments.
“MS is an unpredictable disease,” according to Grossman. “People can go for months feeling great and then have an attack that may reduce their ability to work or take care of their family. Mindfulness training can help those with MS better to cope with these changes. Increased mindfulness in daily life may also contribute to a more realistic sense of control, as well as a greater appreciation of positive experiences that continue be part of life.”
Participants in the training program showed exceptional attendance rates (92 percent) — with a 5 percent dropout rate — and reported high levels of satisfaction with their training. Those who remained mindful throughout their training improved in nearly every measure of fatigue, depression, and moreover quality of life, while those who received standard medical care declined slightly on most of the measures. The participants who put ‘mind of matter’ for eight-weeks reduced their depressive symptoms by over 30 percent compared to those with no training.
Significant levels of improvement were most evident in participants who showed higher levels of depression and fatigue prior to the commencement of the training. About 65 percent of the participants admitted to high levels of depression and fatigue at the beginning of the study. The risk group was reduced by a third at the end of training and continued showing results for up to six months. Other benefits were still apparent six-months after the training, although often reduced compared to right after finishing the eight-week program.
This study goes to show that people suffering from multiple sclerosis shouldn’t concentrate on their fatigue and depression, but instead be mindful of it.
SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, September 2010