Mult Scler Relat Disord. Apr 12, 2022;62:103804. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2022.103804. Online before print.
BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis is a demyelinating autoimmune disease with heterogeneous symptoms that interfere with daily living. Stress-reducing activities can reduce symptoms like depression and fatigue and improve mastery, a sense of control over one’s life. We assessed cross-sectional associations of performing stress-reducing activities or meditation on depression, fatigue, and coping, and prospective 5-year relationships between meditation and these outcomes.
METHODS: Data were extracted from the longitudinal study Health Outcomes and Lifestyle In a Sample of People with Multiple Sclerosis (HOLISM). Stress-reducing activities were categorized into relaxation, body, mind-body, and spiritual. Meditation was analyzed as a dichotomous term and by duration and frequency of practice. Depression, fatigue, and coping were assessed using the Patient’s Health Questionnaire-9, the Fatigue Severity Scale, and the Pearlin Mastery Scale, respectively. Associations with depression, fatigue, and coping were assessed by log-binomial regression. The models were adjusted as needed for age, gender, symptoms due to relapse, socioeconomic status, employment status, and use of antidepressant and antifatigue medications.
RESULTS: Cross-sectionally, physical activity and recreational activity were associated with a 40% and 33% lower incidence of depression, respectively. Physical activity was also associated with a 19% lower incidence of fatigue. Meditation was associated with a 30% lower incidence of depression and a 17% higher level of mastery. Prospectively, meditation was associated with a 28% reduced depression and a 48% reduced development of depression at the 5-year follow-up.
CONCLUSION: Potential benefits of stress-reducing activities or meditation on depression, fatigue, and coping are promising and should be further evaluated prospectively. Meditation practice should be promoted as a safe and inexpensive intervention to prevent depression.