#HappyNewYear: is mindfulness part of the answer for 2017?

Happy New Year; we are determined to make 2017 count for people with MS. #HappyNewYear #BeMindful

There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that mindfulness improves outcomes for pwMS. I was initially very sceptical of mindfulness as a therapy for MS, but the feedback from my own patients has been overwhelmingly positive. I have now taken to referring my patients for courses on mindfulness to help them with anxiety and better cope with their disease and life in general. In fact, all people should practice mindfulness it would improve their wellbeing. 

If mindfulness is new to you NHS Choices has a useful web resource that explains it very well. 

  1. What is mindfulness?
  2. How mindfulness helps mental wellbeing
  3. How to be more mindful
  4. Different mindfulness practices
  5. Is mindfulness helpful for everyone?
  6. Tips on wellbeing

I would be interested in any experiences you have had with mindfulness therapy? Would you recommend it to others? Thanks. 

Nejati et al. The Effect of Group Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Consciousness Yoga Program on Quality of Life and Fatigue Severity in Patients with MS. J Caring Sci. 2016 Dec 1;5(4):325-335.

Introduction: The chronic nature of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), have can leave devastating effects on quality of life and fatigue. 

Aim: The present research aimed to study the effect of group Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and conscious yoga program on the quality of life and fatigue severity among patients with MS. 

Methods: This study was quasi-experimental with intervention and control groups. The statistical population included all members to MS Society of Tehran Province, 24 of whom diagnosed with MS were selected as the sample based on the inclusion criteria. The subjects were randomly assigned into the test group (12 patients) and the control group (12 patients). MS Quality of Life-54 (MSQOL-54) and Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) were used for data collection. Subjects in the test group underwent a MBSR and conscious yoga program in 8 two-hour sessions. The data were analyzed using the SPSS ver.13 software. 

Results: The study findings showed that there was a significant difference between subjects in the experimental and control groups in terms of mean score of some subscales of quality of life including physical health, role limitations due to physical and emotional problems, energy, emotional well-being, health distress, health perception, and satisfaction with sexual function, overall quality of life, and fatigue severity. 

Conclusion: The results show that the program is effective in reduction of fatigue severity and improving some subscales of quality of life in MS patients. Hence, this supportive method can be used as an effective way for improving quality of life and relieving fatigue in MS patients.

8 thoughts on “#HappyNewYear: is mindfulness part of the answer for 2017?”

  1. MD what do you now make of mindfulness for MS and people in general? You too seemed very sceptical about it in the past.

  2. Ah yes suspend the inner cynic and get practicing. I feel very confident that my year relapse free is down to both diet, daily meditation/ mindfulness practice, exercise and effective drugs (figolimod). I definitively think it helps to stay calm and respond resourcefully to any frustrations of immediate day to day life but doesn't seem to have chilled the irate politically ranting.

  3. Could daily mindfulness and meditation slow down MS related atrophy? Now that would be interesting research. Research shows meditation slows down age-related brain atrophy. Neuroimage. 2016 Jul 1 j.neuroimage.2016.04.007. Epub 2016 Apr 11.Estimating brain age using high-resolution pattern recognition: Younger brains in long-term meditation practitioners.Luders E1, Cherbuin N2, Gaser C3.

  4. I was sceptical too until I gave it a try. I don't know about the relapses as I'm on Ty and relapse-free for about a year (finger-crossed). It really helped me to manage anxiety and drastically improved my quality of life. I would never have imagined how much ^^ I definitely recommand it.

  5. I have found mindfulness meditation hugely beneficial in managing MS related symptoms and general life stresses. I cannot say whether this has contributed to my being relapse free for 6 years after being a highly active MSer, however I feel it has played a role, along with diet, exercise, tysabri, fingolimod and the brilliant Barts MS team. When i am not meditating regularly, like for the last few months :-/ I feel more anxious, less whole and contented, and more fatigued. The Buddhist term for this is Dukkha-unsatisfactoriness. I have non ms friends who have had similar positive experiences of meditation. I'm my view we are at the tip of the iceberg in terms of scientifically understanding the impacts of more 'spiritual' experiences. Hopefully the icebergs won't melt too much before we have a chance to understand further! One of my news years resolutions is to meditate regularly! Body scans, meditation of breathing and loving-kindness meditations. Jon kabat-zinn is an excellent mediation speaker/writer/teacher who started out as a research scientist in molecular biology.Emily

  6. A long period of anxiety can lead to depression I've been reading. I know there can be various reasons for depression in MS but if mindfulness can reduce anxiety then it might help hold back depression for some pwMS.

  7. I have to say that I strongly recommend mindfulness practice and can't really see what the fuss is about. It is not a panacea, it is not a cult, it is not an addictive substance, what's the worry?I don't think it reduces my fatigue but who knows how much worse it would be without? It helps me manage pain but it does not make it go away. It helps calm and centre me and I really like the thought that the 'power' comes from my (damaged) brain. If people think it is all placebo well that is well and good and just means that I am using a power within me that we have not learnt to harness but just dismiss as placebo as though placebo is not a real power.So strongly recommended. My practice is entwined with Buddhism as well but secular mindfulness practice is just as powerful for all of us. To all sceptics; give it a try, pushing all scepticism aside for a few weeks and be open. You may get a wonderful surprise and if it is not for you then so be it.Metta (loving kindness)

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