Patients and their doctors work hard to find the best possible methods of dealing with their epilepsy. In the case of some patients, this might mean taking medications to control the seizures. For other patients, it might mean having surgery for their epilepsy. However, another approach that some doctors and patients have been taking is mindfulness therapy. A study published in Neurology delved into this topic.
What is Mindfulness Therapy?
For those who are not familiar with mindfulness therapy, it is a type of psychotherapy. The goal is to teach people to be “in the moment.” The therapy helps people to accept whatever their current thoughts or sensations might be without judging them. Judgment can take people out of the moment and it can cause feelings of distress. By eliminating these feelings, this complementary treatment has shown to provide quite a few benefits to health.
This method of training the mind to stop negative thoughts has also helped with mental health issues and cognitive function in some patients. Patients who suffer from epilepsy often have other issues besides seizures, such as anxiety or depression. Concerns about whether a seizure will occur in public can cause stress, which can lead to issues such as lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can be the cause of seizures for some patients. Naturally, finding a way to combat this problem is essential. Some feel that mindfulness for epilepsy could help. People who undergo this type of therapy have been able to reduce their pain and their feelings of stress.
How Was The Study Set-up?
To understand more about mindfulness and epilepsy, the researchers recruited 60 patients who were not responding well to anti-seizure medications to be in the study. All of the patients had similar baseline seizure rates and were on similar medications. The group was split into two, one as the experimental group and the other as the control group.
Each group of patients had the support of a group environment throughout the study and everyone recorded any seizures that they had during the study in a seizure diary. The only difference between the two groups was that the experimental group received mindfulness training. This type of training involves various mindfulness techniques. These patients learned to use active acceptance as a method of coping with disturbances regarding their seizures and were instructed to practice these techniques daily. Although the control group had the support of a group environment, they were not practicing any of the mindfulness therapy techniques that the experimental group did.
Yoga, meditation and other peaceful practices teach mindfulness. If you are curious whether it might be right for you, read our blog on yoga.
What Did The Study Find?
The results were surprising. The patients who were a part of the mindfulness group had improvements in their levels of anxiety, quality of life and the overall way that they felt when compared with the control group. The members in the mindfulness group also had improvements to their memory and they performed better intellectually. Each of the groups saw a reduction in the frequency of their seizures both during the study as well as after it ended. Researchers postulate that the social interaction everyone in the study experienced helped both groups in ways that improved their well-being.
This study shows that patients who are dealing with epilepsy that is not treatable with anti-seizure medications could benefit from mindfulness training. Mindfulness therapy helped to increase the quality of life of these patients regarding more than just their seizures, and it is certainly a type of therapy that is not harmful. When choosing this type of treatment, it is important to work with a professional who understands the accepted techniques and who can provide you with the help you need.