Mindfulness Anxiety and Depression
I have written before about the value of meditation/mindfulness in coping with the difficulties of cancer or of life. We all know that recent converts are apt to be the most zealous, and I took a meditation course last January, so am still fairly new at this. It has pleased and rather shocked me that I have kept up with the practice of twice daily meditation. I have been quite motivated because I do experience positive changes in my life. The most apparent one is that I am do okay with not enough sleep, and I am someone who really needs at least 7 hours/night. Until last January, if that did not happen, I had a mild headache, muscle discomfort, and general crabbiness all day. Now I feel fine (suspect that there is some limit to this benefit, probably would not work if I had only two hours sleep). The second benefit has been a real change in my tolerance/frustration level. I first noticed that one at the Dallas airport last February. We were lined up to board a plane when an indefinite delay was announced. Instead of the usual rise of irritation, I was completely nonchalant and sat down again with my book. This has been so satisfying and surprising that I have recommended meditation to many of my patients over the past year and even referred a few to my wonderful teacher.
This is a report from Denmark about the value of mindfulness meditation for women going through breast cancer. Here is the abstract and a link to read more:
Mindfulness significantly reduces self-reported levels of anxiety and depression: Results of a randomised controlled trial among 336 Danish women treated for stage I–III breast cancer
Hanne Wu ̈rtzen⇑, Susanne Oksbjerg Dalton, Peter Elsass, Antonia D. Sumbundu, Marianne Steding-Jensen, Randi Valbjørn Karlsen, Klaus Kaae Andersen, Henrik L. Flyger, Anne E. Pedersen, Christoffer Johansen
As the incidence of and survival from breast cancer continue to raise, interventions to reduce anxiety and depression before, during and after treatment are needed. Previous studies have reported positive effects of a structured 8-week group mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) among patients with cancer and other conditions.
To test the effect of such a programme on anxiety and depression among women with breast cancer in a population-based randomised controlled study.
A total of 336 women who had been operated on for breast cancer (stage I–III) were randomised to usual care or MBSR+usual care. Questionnaires including the Symptom Checklist-90r anxiety and depression subscales and the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale were administered before randomisation and immediately, 6 and 12 months after the intervention.
Intention-to-treat analyses showed differences between groups in levels of anxiety (p=0.0002) and depression (SCL-90r, p<0.0001; CES-D, p=0.0367) after 12 months. Graphical comparisons of participants with higher levels of anxiety and depression at baseline showed a significantly greater decrease in the intervention group throughout follow-up and no differences among least affected participants. Medium-to-large effects were found for all outcomes in the intervention group in analyses of change scores after 12 months’ follow-up.