People who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis have an unpredictable course. This progressive neurological disease is more commonly diagnosed in young people, particularly women, is often characterized by relapses and remissions. A person can be almost symptom-free for periods of time – followed by painful, sometimes incapacitating relapses.
The uncertain nature of this disease makes a person with MS more prone to depression and fatigue. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of the disease. Now a new study shows that a technique called mindfulness meditation could help to treat multiple sclerosis fatigue and depression – naturally.
The Benefits of Meditation for People Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis: What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation uses the principles of deep breathing and relaxation to focus the mind on the current moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, a person relaxes in a quiet environment, closes their eyes, and allows their mind to focus on the present. If disturbing thoughts enter the mind in this relaxed state, they’re accepted without judgment. This technique trains the mind not to dwell on negative thoughts – but to focus on what’s happening in the current moment.
Mindfulness Meditation: Does It Treat Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue and Depression?
In a study published in the American Academy of Neurology, 150 people diagnosed with mild to moderate multiple sclerosis took part in a two month mindfulness meditation training session – or a control group consisting of “usual care”. Usual care means they were treated medically, but they didn’t take part in meditation sessions. The classes lasted two-and-a-half hours each week and involved forty minute daily meditation session at home, as well as an all-day retreat.
Benefits of Meditation for Multiple Sclerosis: Did It Help?
Did mindfulness meditation help to treat multiple sclerosis fatigue and depression in these MS patients? The experiment was a resounding success. Multiple sclerosis patients who meditated experienced a 30% reduction in their depressive symptoms and had greater energy levels with less fatigue. Even more encouraging was the fact they maintained their improvements six months after the study ended.
Benefits of Meditation for People Diagnosed with MS
In this small study, mindfulness meditation improved depression and fatigue in a group of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Although more research is needed, mindfulness meditation is safe for most MS sufferers – and it could have significant, drug-free benefits. Talk to your doctor about whether meditation is right for you.
Eureakalert.org. “Mindfulness meditation may ease fatigue, depression in multiple sclerosis”