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Meditation May Help Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers
Date:9/28/2007

It eases the depression that often accompanies the condition, study finds

FRIDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- For rheumatoid arthritis sufferers whose painful illness prompts depression, relief may come from the practice of an age-old technique already embraced by millions around the world: meditation.

Researchers found that a half-year exposure to meditation techniques helped patients shave as much as one-third of their psychological distress.

The research team, led by Elizabeth K. Pradhan of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Integrative Medicine, based its conclusions on an analysis of a specific training course called "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction" (MBSR).

Pradhan and her colleagues said the MBSR concept of "mindfulness" is designed to guide patients to focus on the "here and now," while emphasizing the value of calmness, clarity, well-being, and a compassion for oneself and others.

The Arthritis Foundation has said that several so-called "mind-body practices" may help arthritis patients alleviate stress, pain, anxiety and depression.

In addition to meditation, the organization acknowledges the potential of electronic monitoring techniques such as biofeedback; the mental health benefits of guided imagery and hypnosis; and the ability of physical activities such as yoga and tai chi to both calm and energize patients.

The Maryland researchers noted that prior studies had already shown that the MBSR course, in particular, seems to have a positive impact on the psychological symptoms of patients with conditions such as anxiety disorders, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Patients recovering from organ transplant surgery also seem to derive some benefit, the researchers said.

For their study, published in the October issue of Arthritis Care & Research, Pradhan and her colleagues focused specifically on rheumato
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