The course that helped with MS depression

Published 29 march 2022

A new report from Australia has found an eight-week online course lowered levels of depression and improved life quality in people with multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at the University of Sydney created an eight-week course with five interactive sessions. These were an introduction to mindfulness management and simple awareness, dealing with stress, dealing with difficult emotions and pain, dealing with thoughts, and mindful communication, compassion, and relapse prevention.

The participants were taught how mindfulness techniques can be applied to living with MS. Each module was spaced one to two weeks apart.

Once a week, participants soke on the phone to a psychologist who offered guidance and encouraged them to keep up the techniques learned. They were asked to do 30 minutes of mindful meditation every day using audio tapes and keep mindfulness logs to track these activities.

The main goal of the study was to measure if the mindfulness practice helped ease depressive symptoms. The secondary aim was to see if aspects like anxiety, quality of life, pain and fatigue were affected.

Participants were evaluated at the start of the study, at week nine and then at three and six months after the end.

There was a control group of people with MS who were put on a waiting list to take part in a future mindfulness course.

People who completed the programme had a significant lessening in depression compared to the waiting list group. Those who had a history of recurring depression showed even greater benefit.

Patients given the mindfulness program reported a significant lessening in depression compared with those on the waiting list. People with a history of recurrent depression showed a significantly greater benefit.

Health-related quality of life also significantly improved with use of mindfulness, regardless of depression history, the researchers reported. No significant changes were evident in anxiety, pain severity, or fatigue.

The results suggest mindfulness can be a useful and effective way to help relieve depression and increase quality of life in people with MS.

At MS-UK Online, we run virtual mindfulness courses. If you would like to know more about the mindfulness courses or when the next courses start, please email register@ms-uk.org.