The Effects of Meditation on Perceived Stress and Related Indices of Psychological Status and Sympathetic Activation in Persons with Alzheimer's Disease and Their Caregivers: A Pilot Study

Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 9190, Morgantown, WV 26506-9190, USA.
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.88). 02/2012; 2012:927509. DOI: 10.1155/2012/927509
Source: PubMed


Objective. To investigate the effects of an 8-week meditation program on perceived stress, sleep, mood, and related outcomes in adults with cognitive impairment and their caregivers. Methods. Community-dwelling adults with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer's disease, together with their live-in caregivers, were enrolled in the study. After a brief training, participants were asked to meditate for 11 minutes, twice daily for 8 weeks. Major outcomes included measures of perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale), sleep (General Sleep Disturbance Scale), mood (Profile of Mood States), memory functioning (Memory Functioning Questionnaire), and blood pressure. Participants were assessed pre- and post-intervention. Results. Ten participants (5 of 6 dyads) completed the study. Treatment effects did not vary by participant status; analyses were thus pooled across participants. Adherence was good (meditation sessions completed/week: X = 11.4 ± 1.1). Participants demonstrated improvement in all major outcomes, including perceived stress (P < 0.001), mood (overall, P = 0.07; depression, P = 0.01), sleep (P < 0.04), retrospective memory function (P = 0.04), and blood pressure (systolic, P = 0.004; diastolic, P = 0.065). Conclusions.
Findings of this exploratory trial suggest that an 8-week meditation program may offer an acceptable and effective intervention for
reducing perceived stress and improving certain domains of sleep, mood, and memory in adults with cognitive
impairment and their caregivers.

Download full-text


Available from: Kim E Innes, Oct 29, 2014
  • Source
    • "Stress, via the cortisol connection, causes neurotoxic damage to cells in the hippocampus and elsewhere in the brain which may increase AD risk. Beyond that, stress has a causative association with multiple risk factors for AD, including inflammation, calcium dysregulation, cardiovascular disease including hypertension, diabetes/insulin resistance , depression, anxiety, physical inactivity, sleep deprivation, and smoking [7] [8]. A recent study of 1,796 elderly people with AD compared to 7,184 without an AD diagnosis highlighted the direct connection between anxiety, insomnia, benzodiazepine use, and AD [9]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although meditation is believed to be over five thousand years old, scientific research on it is in its infancy. Mitigating the extensive negative biochemical effects of stress is a superficially discussed target of Alzheimer's disease (AD) prevention, yet may be critically important. This paper reviews lifestyle and stress as possible factors contributing to AD and meditation's effects on cognition and well-being for reduction of neurodegeneration and prevention of AD. This review highlights Kirtan Kriya (KK), an easy, cost effective meditation technique requiring only 12 minutes a day, which has been successfully employed to improve memory in studies of people with subjective cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment, and highly stressed caregivers, all of whom are at increased risk for subsequent development of AD. KK has also been shown to improve sleep, decrease depression, reduce anxiety, down regulate inflammatory genes, upregulate immune system genes, improve insulin and glucose regulatory genes, and increase telomerase by 43%; the largest ever recorded. KK also improves psycho-spiritual well-being or spiritual fitness, important for maintenance of cognitive function and prevention of AD. KK is easy to learn and practice by aging individuals. It is the premise of this review that meditation in general, and KK specifically, along with other modalities such as dietary modification, physical exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization, may be beneficial as part of an AD prevention program.
    Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 10/2015; 48(1):1-12. DOI:10.3233/JAD-142766 · 4.15 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "In another study that included elders with subjective memory impairment, MCI, or mild AD all groups showed memory enhancement following MBI [49] [50]. One such study conducted with AD patients and their caregivers reported gains in retrospective memory, for both groups pooled together, after an 8-week meditation program [51]. In healthy adult men, memory performance was higher after 6 months of yoga training contrasted with physical exercise, and there were also significant improvements in depressive and anxious symptoms [52]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present article is based on the premise that the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) from its prodromal phase (mild cognitive impairment; MCI) is higher when adverse factors (e.g., stress, depression, and metabolic syndrome) are present and accumulate. Such factors augment the likelihood of hippocampal damage central in MCI/AD aetiology, as well as compensatory mechanisms failure triggering a switch toward neurodegeneration. Because of the devastating consequences of AD, there is a need for early interventions that can delay, perhaps prevent, the transition from MCI to AD. We hypothesize that Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBI) show promise with regard to this goal. The present review discusses the associations between modifiable adverse factors and MCI/AD decline, MBI's impacts on adverse factors, and the mechanisms that could underlie the benefits of MBI. A schematic model is proposed to illustrate the course of neurodegeneration specific to MCI/AD, as well as the possible preventive mechanisms of MBI. Whereas regulation of glucocorticosteroids, inflammation, and serotonin could mediate MBI's effects on stress and depression, resolution of the metabolic syndrome might happen through a reduction of inflammation and white matter hyperintensities, and normalization of insulin and oxidation. The literature reviewed in this paper suggests that the main reach of MBI over MCI/AD development involves the management of stress, depressive symptoms, and inflammation. Future research must focus on achieving deeper understanding of MBI's mechanisms of action in the context of MCI and AD. This necessitates bridging the gap between neuroscientific subfields and a cross-domain integration between basic and clinical knowledge.
    Behavioural Brain Research 06/2014; In press. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2014.05.058 · 3.03 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "In addition, recent research suggests that meditation programs can enhance immune response (109) and clinical outcomes (82, 85), and reduce blood pressure (85, 90, 100, 110), insulin resistance and glucose intolerance (97, 111), oxidative stress (84, 112), inflammation (93), and other related risk indices (84, 85). While research in cognitively impaired populations remains limited, findings from previous observational studies (113, 114) and two recent small clinical trials (90, 91, 95, 105) suggest that meditation practice may reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure; improve cognition; promote beneficial changes in brain structure and function; and improve health outcomes in adults with memory disorders. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a chronic, progressive, brain disorder that affects at least 5.3 million Americans at an estimated cost of $148 billion, figures that are expected to rise steeply in coming years. Despite decades of research, there is still no cure for AD, and effective therapies for preventing or slowing progression of cognitive decline in at-risk populations remain elusive. Although the etiology of AD remains uncertain, chronic stress, sleep deficits, and mood disturbance, conditions common in those with cognitive impairment, have been prospectively linked to the development and progression of both chronic illness and memory loss and are significant predictors of AD. Therapies such as meditation that specifically target these risk factors may thus hold promise for slowing and possibly preventing cognitive decline in those at risk. In this study, we briefly review the existing evidence regarding the potential utility of meditation as a therapeutic intervention for those with and at risk for AD, discuss possible mechanisms underlying the observed benefits of meditation, and outline directions for future research.
    Frontiers in Psychiatry 04/2014; 5:40. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00040
Show more