Mindfulness therapies have been used for years for the treatment of many psychological issues, such as stress, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. But a new study reveals that this versatile form of therapy may also help alleviate symptoms of menopause in women. Mindfulness approaches are designed to help a client redirect their attention away from physical symptoms and emotional disturbances and to focus on the present moment. Through mindfulness, current situations are acknowledged and accepted in nonjudgmental ways that provide the client the inner awareness of experiencing their circumstances without being controlled by them.
The study, conducted by Dr. James Carmody of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, evaluated the menopausal symptoms of over 100 women. Because many of the traditional treatments for menopause, including medication and hormone therapy, can increase a woman’s risk for potentially life threatening illnesses, the researchers wanted to explore alternative, non-pharmacological protocols that could address the severe hot flashes and night sweats of those going through menopause. The women were enrolled in an eight week therapy program involving weekly mindfulness meditation sessions. They were also taught basic yoga moves and body awareness. The control group had no therapeutic intervention. At the conclusion of the study, the women who participated in the mindfulness sessions showed a dramatic decrease in symptoms of anxiety and stress. Their sleep patterns improved significantly, and they reported having a better quality of life, even though they still experienced the same degree of hot flashes. The researchers followed the women for an additional three months and reported that the effects remained the same throughout.
The study demonstrates the effectiveness of mindfulness based therapies in the overall reduction of many different psychological symptoms, regardless of their physical origin. All though more research is necessary to determine how mindfulness affects those taking hormone therapy, the researchers are hopeful that women will realize they have options available to them when it comes to treating their menopausal symptoms.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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