Multiple sclerosis sufferers can help the fatigue and depression associated with their condition through mindfulness meditation.
A group of sufferers who took part in an eight week meditation class reduced their tiredness and depression and improved their overall quality of life, compared to a group who only received the usual medical care.
The positive effects of the meditation continued for at least six months, according to the study published in Neurology – the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
People with MS must often confront challenges related to their profession, their financial security, recreation and personal relationships, explains study author Dr Paul Grossman of the University of Basel Hospital in Switzerland.
“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.”
Mental and physical focus
The study included 150 people with mild to moderate MS who focused on mental and physical exercises aimed at developing “non judgmental awareness of the present moment, or mindfulness.”
Dr Grossman pointed out that MS is unpredictable where people can go for months feeling great and then have an attack.
“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 to be part of life”
Improvement of 30pc
Those who went through the programme improved in nearly every measure of fatigue, depression and quality of life.
Their depressive symptoms improved by over 30pc compared to those with no training.
More than two thirds of the group had shown evidence of serious levels of depression, anxiety or fatigue at the start of the study.
Reductions in fatigue were stable from the end of treatment to six months later.