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New Study Suggests Online Meditation Program Reduces Depression in People with MS

February 18, 2022

An online mindfulness (a type of meditation) program lasting eight weeks succeeded in reducing depression significantly more than an untreated control group in an Australian study involving 132 people with MS. This study adds to growing evidence on how wellness strategies can help people with MS to reduce symptoms and enable fuller participation in society.
  • MS can cause emotional changes, such as depression and anxiety. These symptoms can reduce individuals’ quality of life, and researchers have been seeking better ways to address these issues.
  • Mindfulness is a form of meditation aimed at changing a person’s perception and creating awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences, with the goal of reducing reactions that may worsen pain or emotional distress related to health-related changes.
  • A team from the University of Sydney, Australia, developed an online mindfulness-based program with five interactive modules (15 minutes each)  delivered over the course of 8 weeks. Topics include dealing with stress, difficult sensations and emotions, mindful communication, self-compassion, and relapse prevention. Participants receive coaching phone calls up to eight times during the program from a psychologist to promote adherence and to address technical problems.
  • The researchers recruited 132 people with MS who were randomly assigned to complete the program or to a waiting list that served as a control group. The primary goal of the study was to measure the effect on depression, and secondary outcomes included pain, fatigue, anxiety, and quality of life. These outcomes were measured before the program, and three and six months afterward. Participants who were waitlisted were offered access to the program after the study was completed.
  • The results showed that depression was reduced and quality of life improved significantly more among people in the mindfulness program. Depression reduced even more among people who had a history of recurrent depression. These benefits were maintained after six months.
 
Learn more…
Stay calm and focused with mindfulness meditation – from Momentum magazine.
 
To find meditation resources, contact an MS Navigator by calling 1-800-344-4867, emailing ContactUsNMSS@nmss.org or visiting www.nationalMSsociety.org/navigator.
 
“A randomized controlled trial of a web-based mindfulness programme for people with MS with and without a history of recurrent depression” by Amy-Lee Sesel , Louise Sharpe, Heidi N Beadnall, Michael H Barnett, Marianna Szabo and Sharon L Naismith is published In Multiple Sclerosis  Journal (First Published February 7, 2022).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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