Four weeks of mindfulness meditation helped to improve thinking skills and a sense of emotional balance in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and to a greater extent than cognitive training given to a separate patient group, a pilot clinical trial reports.
These results were detailed in two studies,“Mindfulness training for emotion dysregulation in multiple sclerosis: A pilot randomized controlled trial,” published in the journal Rehabilitation Psychology, and “Effects of 4-week mindfulness training versus adaptive cognitive training on processing speed and working memory in multiple sclerosis” published in the journal Neuropsychology.
Both studies were led by Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, and funded by a National MS Society award given to Prakash, the society reported in a news release.
Estimates show that, compared to the general population, people with MS have significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety, and these emotional changes negatively affect both cognition (thinking and memory abilities) and quality of life.
Researchers are looking for better ways to help patients address these mental health issues.
A research team led by Prakash explored the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness with MS patients in a pilot trial. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on perceptions, by generating awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences. The technique aims to lessen reactions to pain or distress caused by changes in a patient’s health.
The study (NCT02717429) randomized 61 patients to three groups: one was given four weeks of mindfulness-based training (MBT), another four weeks of adaptive computerized cognitive training (aCT), and the final group served as controls on a waiting list.
Mindfulness practice consisted of two hours of in-person sessions each week, and homework assignments performed daily for 40 minutes. Exercises included breathing awareness, body scanning, and sitting meditation. Participants were asked to focus on thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
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