Mindfulness meditation may alleviate fatigue, depression in MS patients

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Washington, Sep 28 (ANI): A new study has found that learning mindfulness meditation may help people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) with the fatigue, depression and other life challenges that commonly accompany the disease.

For the study, 150 people with mild to moderate MS were randomly assigned to receive either the eight-week meditation training or only usual medical care for MS. The class focused on mental and physical exercises aimed at developing nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, or mindfulness. The training included weekly classes lasting two and a half hours, plus one all-day retreat and 40 minutes per day of homework assignments.

"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," said study author Paul Grossman, PhD, of the University of Basel Hospital in Switzerland.

Participants in the mindfulness program showed extremely good attendance rates (92 pc) and reported high levels of satisfaction with the training. Furthermore, very few (5 pc) dropped out of the course before completion.

Those who went through the mindfulness program improved in nearly every measure of fatigue, depression and quality of life, while those who received usual medical care declined slightly on most of the measures. For example, those with mindfulness training reduced their depressive symptoms by over 30 percent compared to those with no training.

Improvements among mindfulness participants were particularly large for those who showed significant levels of depression or fatigue at the beginning of the study. About 65 percent of participants showed evidence of serious levels of depression, anxiety or fatigue at the start of the study, and this risk group was reduced by a third at the end of training and six months later.

The study has been published in the September 28, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. (ANI)

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