Life transitions are tough enough with all the mental changes that occur when people move from one life stage to another. One of the more collectively challenging, at least for women, is during menopause.
As a woman’s body shifts and she can no longer bear children, hormone levels change sending many women into an emotional and physical tailspin. And while drugs have been used in the past to control both the physical changes and the emotional symptoms, new research is suggesting that mindfulness meditation might not only be safer, but more effective.
Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden pen this recent Bellingham Herald post on how many menopausal women are choosing meditation over estrogen and progesterone treatments to alleviate their symptoms. According to the doctors, who reference a study published in the journal Menopause, those women who participated in an eight-week mindfulness meditation study experienced a significant decrease in menopausal symptoms. Relief lasted for several months after the study.
One group attended the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, a renowned eight-week meditation training program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, also of the University of Massachusetts. These women attended weekly 2.5-hour classes where they learned the basic skills of mindfulness meditation, as well as body awareness and gentle yoga.
The second group received no intervention. At the end of the eight weeks, the women receiving the meditation training reported a significant reduction in stress and anxiety, as well as a significant improvement in their sleep and overall quality of life. Interestingly though, their hot flash frequency did not change; what changed was their perception of stress and their perceived capacity to deal with whatever symptoms were arising in their body, which ultimately led to the improved quality of life.
The results were sustained for at least three months after the completion of the study.
Read more on using mindfulness meditation to treat menopausal symptoms here.