Menopause and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) focuses on recognizing the components of an experience: thoughts, reactions, feelings, and sensations, and developing a nonreactive awareness of your internal and external environment. It can be practiced in a class setting or independently. Classes may include seated meditation, mindful stretching, and mental body scans to develop awareness and acceptance of the internal landscape.
The strength of the MBSR practice is not in curing menopause symptoms, but in increasing resiliency and coping ability. Research has shown it to be effective in treating sleep disturbances, stress, and anxiety.
A 2011 study on 110 women who experienced five or more moderate to severe hot flashes or night sweats a day provided MBSR classes once a week for eight weeks. The classes focused on stress reduction in the moment as well as on developing life skills transferable to outside contexts. The primary outcome being evaluated was the degree of bother from hot flashes and night sweats, and the secondary outcomes were hot flash intensity, quality of life, insomnia, and perceived stress.
Degree of Bother
- After eight weeks, the degree of bother from hot flashes and night sweats in the MBSR group decreased by 14.77%
- At 20 weeks, the total baseline-adjusted reduction in bother for MBSR was 21.62%
- At the end of the intervention, hot flash intensity in the MBSR arm had decreased on average by 32.25%
- In the twelve weeks following the treatment, average additional decrease for MBSR was 12.31%
- Though the control group had a comparable response during the treatment weeks, hot flash intensity did not continue to decrease after treatment was over. 1
1Carmody, JF et al. “Mindfulness training for coping with hot flashes: results of a randomized trial,” Menopause 18, no 6 (2011): 611-620.