Mindfullness and Epilepsy
What Is Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness is a technique used primarily to manage stress, though benefits have been shown in several other conditions, including epilepsy.
- It is described as “moment-to-moment awareness cultivated by purposefully paying attention to the present experience”
- It is often practiced as a part of meditation, yoga, or other techniques such as “body scanning”
- Mindfulness developed from Eastern culture, but since has been widely adopted as an important therapeutic tool
How Does Mindfulness Relate To Epilepsy?
- Mindfulness can effectively reduce stress.
- Stress has been identified as a trigger for seizures in some people with epilepsy.
- Depression and anxiety are more prevalent among people with epilepsy.
- Both can improve with mindfulness-based interventions.
- While more research is needed, in the largest study to date, people with medically refractory epilepsy who received a mindfulness-based intervention experienced
- Overall improvement in quality of life
- Reduced seizure frequency
- Improvement in depression
- Improved cognition
How Do Mindfulness Techniques Influence The Brain?
- Mindfulness may produce structural and functional changes in areas involved in memory, emotional regulation, and attention, including the limbic system and prefrontal cortex.
- Mindfulness has been associated with reduction of interleukin-6, a substance involved with our body’s response to inflammation.
Where Can I Get More Information Or Get Started With Mindfulness Techniques?
- Talk to your doctor or other health care provider. They may be able to provide you with resources to get started.
- Check out websites like mindful.org.
- Smartphone apps are available. Two of the most frequently recommended apps are Calm and Headspace.
- Khoury B, Sharma M, Rush S, and Fournier C. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2015; 78: 519.
- Wood K, Lawrence M, Jani B, Simpson R, and Mercer SW. Mindfulness-based interventions in epilepsy: a systematic review. BMC Neurology, 2017; 17: 52.
- Tang V, Poon Wai, Kwan P. Mindfulness-based therapy for drug-resistant epilepsy. Neurology, 2015; 85: 1100-1107.
- Tang YY, Hölzel BK, Posner MI. The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews in Neuroscience, 2015; 16: 213.
- Paulus MP. Neural basis of mindfulness interventions that moderate the imact of stress on the brain. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews, 2016; 41: 373
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