Thirty-one patients were offered the mediation course over an eight-week period, followed by a four-month maintenance program. Another 32 patients did not participate but were told they would be offered free meditation training once the study was completed.
With an average age of 54, most of the patients were female, white, married, college-educated, middle-class, and all were free of either psychiatric illness or alcohol or drug addiction.
During the trial, all the patients continued to be treated by their regular doctor and to take whatever medication they'd been taking before the study began.
At the start of the study, and two and six months later, all the patients completed questionnaires to assess depressive symptoms and psychological distress. Also, blood measures of inflammation were taken and an assessment of tender and swollen joints was done to evaluate current RA status.
By the two-month mark, both the meditation and the non-meditation groups had shown equal levels of improvement in terms of depression and emotional symptoms.
But by six months, there was a "significant" difference in perceived psychological distress between the two groups -- those practicing mediation reported a 35 percent reduction in psychological distress.
The researchers emphasized, however, that the meditation had no impact on the progression and activity of RA disease itself.
Pradhan and her team concluded that the meditation technique offered rheumatoid arthritis patients a safe and appealing way to improve their sense of well-being, when offered alongside traditional medical care.
"There's a fair amount of emotional distress that accompanies RA in terms of stability, worrying about the future, worrying about t
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