Mindfulness: A New Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis Patients

by Jenna Mallon (’18)

Mindfulness

Fig. 1: Practicing mindfulness teaches people to be more self-aware, have an undistorted view of reality, and increase strength during difficulties.

Along with the disabilities caused by damage to the Central Nervous System (CNS), stress, depression, and anxiety are common occurrences for patients who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In many cases, these mental illnesses will exacerbate the physical side effects of MS. In order to combat this, psychological treatments like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been used in conjunction with traditional forms of MS treatment like physical therapy. Unfortunately, there are still drawbacks in this strategy that make alternative options, like mindfulness, more attractive to doctors and researchers.

Mahsa Amiri of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the Islamic Azad University in Iran, and a team of researchers set out to determine the effects of mindfulness on MS patients. The team selected a group of 40 MS patients (20 for the experimental group and 20 for the control group) who were members of the Iranian MS Society. The participants were then introduced to mindfulness through two-hour group training sessions that were held once a week for eight weeks. In order to judge the effectiveness of mindfulness, the team conducted The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), The Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), and The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) on the participants before and after the eight weeks. The results were extremely positive: practicing mindfulness was able to reduce stress and anxiety in the MS patients.

As a result of the small sample size and relatively short amount of time the study was conducted, these results cannot be considered absolute. A long examination of its effects will need to be conducted in order to support the results of this study. However, the results of this study show the possibility of a promising future for MS patients who practice mindfulness.

 

References:

  1. Amiri, M. Rabiei, V. Donyavi, Effectiveness of mindfulness training in enhancing executive function and decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science 6, 329-336 (2016). doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2016.68032.
  2. Image retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2014/11/01/04/51/meditation-511563_960_720.jpg
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