Mindfulness meditation helps lower depression in MS patients: study

(File photo courtesy ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / kwest19)

A London-based study has found mindfulness meditation has a positive effect on people newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Researchers at the Lawson Health Research Institute recruited 24 MS patients from the London Health Sciences Centre for the study. Half of the study participants underwent mindfulness treatment, which is a type of meditation that focuses on bringing people into the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future.

“Immediately after the sessions when we compared the two groups, those in the mindfulness were reporting better coping skills and less perceived stress, and their symptoms of depression had been reduced,” said Neurologist and Lawson Associate Scientist Dr. Sarah Morrow.

Due to the long list of unknowns that come with the neurological disease, newly diagnosed MS patients tend to suffer from mental health complications such as depression and anxiety. This was the case for study participant Mitchell Kuska.

“I went from being a young 26-year-old doing regular things, to having to learn about this disease and everything that goes along with it and how it will affect my life,” said Kuska. “I love cycling, working out, and running. I am a very physically active person, and to know that I might not be able to do that someday is really scary.”

The ten session mindfulness meditation sessions from the Mindfulness Without Borders program helped Kuska control his fears about the future, which improved his mental health.

“During the treatment as part of the study, I did notice myself being more mindful of my symptoms,” the 26-year-old said. “I was more in tune with myself and I felt the mindfulness helped me get into the right mindset to start dealing with MS.”

Morrow and her research team plan to continue to study the impacts of mindfulness treatment, expanding their research to include people who are in more progressive stages of MS.

The findings of the initial study have been published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.