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Meditation can decrease depression in caregivers (USA)

March 22, 2012

The stress of caring for a loved one with dementia can be a cause of clinical depression. According to UCLA’s Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program, the incidence of depression in family dementia caregivers is almost 50 per cent, and the probability of high emotional distress is twice the average present in the general population. Added to the fact that caregivers themselves are older people, and their ability to cope with stressful situations may be less than that found in younger individuals, there is also an impact on cardiovascular health and subsequent mortality.

Researchers at UCLA wanted to find out if mind-body interventions would be beneficial for these caregivers in reducing stress. They divided their subjects into two groups: one group was taught meditation, the second group relaxed in a quite place listening to music.

At the end of eight weeks, researchers found that the meditation group had significantly lower signs of depression, and greater mental health and cognitive function than the relaxation group.

Also of note, the study showed that the meditation group subjects had a 43 per cent increase in telomerase activity compared to the second group, which experienced a 3.7 per cent increase. (High telomerase activity is desirable in the maintenance of telomeres, necessary for immune cell health.)

To read the online article, “Simple, Low-Cost Yoga Program Can Enhance Coping and Quality of Life for the Caregivers” in Science Daily, go to www.sciencedaily.com.

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