Intensive Meditation Does Not Allay Arthritis Symptoms

Patients in meditation program experience one-third drop in distress symptoms

FRIDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Six months of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction does not ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, but seems to reduce patients' psychological distress levels, researchers report in the October issue of Arthritis Care & Research. The program was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Boston.

Elizabeth Pradhan, Ph.D., of Kernan Hospital Mansion in Baltimore, and colleagues compared depressive symptoms and disease symptoms in 63 rheumatoid arthritis patients, 31 of which were randomly assigned intensive Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for six months and 32 patients receiving the therapy after the study.

The researchers found no significant difference between the two cohorts after two months, but some improvement in depressive symptoms and mindfulness, and major progress in psychological distress and well-being after six months.

Although meditation did not affect disease symptoms, patients who underwent the meditation program experienced a 35 percent drop in psychological distress, the researchers found.

"An eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class was not associated with change in depressive symptoms or other outcomes at two-month follow-up," the authors write. "Significant improvements in psychological distress and well-being were observed following Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction plus a four-month program of continued reinforcement. Mindfulness meditation may complement medical disease management."

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