Anxiety in chronic pain patients

Kim, R. O. D. (2015). Observing The Effects Of Mindfulness-Based Meditation On Anxiety And Depression In Chronic Pain Patients. International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 5(4), 143-147. Full text.

Background: People whose chronic pain limits their independence are especially likely to become anxious and depressed. Mindfulness training has shown promise for stress-related disorders.

Methods: Chronic pain patients who complained of anxiety and depression and who scored higher than moderate in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) as well as moderate in Quality of Life Scale (QOLS) were observed for eight weeks, three days a week for an hour of Mindfulness Meditation training with an hour daily home Mindfulness Meditation practice. Pain was evaluated on study entry and completion, and patients were given the Patients’ Global Impression of Change (PGIC) to score at the end of the training program.

Results: Forty-seven (47) patients completed the Mindfulness Meditation Training program. Over the year-long observation, patients demonstrated noticeable improvement in depression, anxiety, pain, and global impression of change.

Conclusions: Chronic pain patients who suffer with anxiety and depression may benefit from incorporating Mindfulness Meditation into their treatment plans.

Chronic pain and the role of home meditation practice

Rosenzweig, S., et al. (2010). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: Variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 68 (1), 29. Full text.

From the Abstract: This study compared changes in bodily pain, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and psychological symptoms during an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program among groups of participants with different chronic pain conditions.

Outcomes differed in significance and magnitude across common chronic pain conditions. Diagnostic subgroups of patients with arthritis, back/neck pain, or two or more comorbid pain conditions demonstrated a significant change in pain intensity and functional limitations due to pain following MBSR.

Participants with arthritis showed the largest treatment effects for HRQoL and psychological distress. Patients with chronic headache/migraine experienced the smallest improvement in pain and HRQoL. Patients with fibromyalgia had the smallest improvement in psychological distress.

Greater home meditation practice was associated with improvement on several outcome measures, including overall psychological distress, somatization symptoms, and self-rated health, but not pain and other quality of life scales.

Tune out distractions

Studies have shown that meditating regularly can help relieve symptoms in people who suffer from chronic pain, but the neural mechanisms underlying the relief were unclear. Now, MIT and Harvard researchers have found a possible explanation for this phenomenon.

In a study published online April 21 2011 in the journal Brain Research Bulletin, the researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves called alpha rhythms.

“These activity patterns are thought to minimize distractions, to diminish the likelihood stimuli will grab your attention,” says Christopher Moore, an MIT neuroscientist and senior author of the paper. “Our data indicate that meditation training makes you better at focusing, in part by allowing you to better regulate how things that arise will impact you.” Read more.