TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A new Swiss study reports that a form of meditation known as mindfulness could help patients with multiple sclerosis, who often suffer from depression and anxiety.
The study is small and only compared multiple sclerosis patients who meditated to MS patients who didn't. Still, meditation is safe and cheaper than the drugs that MS patients take, said neurologist Dr. Moses Rodriguez, who's familiar with the study's findings.
"Patients should try it and see if it is helpful for them," added Rodriguez, a professor of neurology and immunology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Previous research has suggested that half of MS patients suffer from depression during their lives and that anxiety disorders affect 1 in four. About two-thirds say they feel fatigued, with up to 50 percent saying fatigue is their most disabling symptom.
Researchers at University Hospital Basel randomly assigned 150 patients to either take part in an eight-week meditation program based on "mindfulness" or receive regular medical care. The study defined the meditation, which included yoga, as "nonjudgmental awareness of moment-to-moment experience."
The participants in the mindfulness meditation program reported lower levels of fatigue and depression for up to six months than those receiving standard care and had better quality of life, according to the study findings, published in the Sept. 28 issue of the journal Neurology.
Those in the meditation program, in fact, improved in almost all the measures of fatigue, depression, anxiety and quality of life, while those who received usual medical care declined slightly on most of the measures.
In an accompanying commentary in the journal, two physicians from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio noted that the findings of the study, which they called "solidly designed," were limited because the
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