Precipitating factors, such as stress, visual stimuli, and emotions are thought to play a large role in epileptic seizures. However, learning to control those factors through meditation may help improve overall quality of life.
For many patients with chronic illness, support from social services just isn’t enough to maintain a healthy balance between life with a medical condition and everything else. In order to explore the added benefits of meditation, Venus Tang, PhD, of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues compared changes in quality of life in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy who were randomly allocated to sessions of either mindfulness therapy or social support.
Overall, 60 patients with drug-resistant epilepsy were included in the trial, each receiving four biweekly intervention sessions. Following intervention, participants from both the mindfulness therapy (+6.23 [95% CI +4.22 to +10.40]) and social support groups (+3.30 [95% CI +1.03 to +5.58]) showed improved total Patient-Weighted Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventory (QOLIE-31-P) scores; however more patients in the mindfulness therapy group had a clinically significant improvement in QOLIE-31-P score (+11.8 or above) compared to patients who received social support (11 patients vs. 4 patients). Additionally, a greater reduction in depressive and anxiety symptoms, seizure frequency, and improvement in delayed memory was seen in the mindfulness therapy group compared to those in the social support group.
While the study had several limitations, it highlights the importance of screening for psychological comorbidities in patients with epilepsy.
“… Neurologists should work with their patients and family members to help them accept the diagnosis of epilepsy, not only at an intellectual level but an emotional level,” wrote Andres M. Kanner, MD, and Kimford J. Meador, MD, in an accompanying editorial.