Posts tagged with "Study Finds"

OM can lead to OMG: Meditation is not for everyone

May 15, 2019

Meditation has been touted by millions worldwide for its ability to lower stress, zap anxiety, and increase focus, among other mental health benefits. But a study conducted at the University College of London has found that fully 25% of those who have tried it say that they don’t feel tranquil or serene; rather, they experience fear and distorted emotions, Study Finds reports.

Of 1,232 frequent meditation practitioners (people who have meditated regularly for at least two months) surveyed by researchers at the college, more than one-quarter admit they have had at least one “unpleasant experience” while meditating.

Researchers say suffering from an unpleasant meditative experience seems to be more prevalent among specific groups—among them, those who:

  • Attend a meditation retreat,
  • Only practice “deconstructive types” of meditation such as Vipassana (insight) and Koan practice used in Zen Buddhism, and
  • Experience higher levels of repetitive negative thinking.

Conversely, women and participants with religious beliefs were less likely to have a negative experience.

“These findings point to the importance of widening the public and scientific understanding of meditation beyond that of a health-promoting technique,” says lead author Marco Schlosser, a professor in UCL’s Division of Psychiatry. “Very little is known about why, when, and how such meditation-related difficulties can occur: More research is now needed to understand the nature of these experiences. When are unpleasant experiences important elements of meditative development, and when are they merely negative effects to be avoided?”

For the study, participants were surveyed online about their meditation history, and completed assessments that measure repetitive negative thinking and self-compassion. They were also asked, “Have you ever had any particularly unpleasant experiences (e.g. anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, altered sense of self or the world), which you think may have been caused by your meditation practice?”

In all, 25.6% said they’ve had an unpleasant experience (28.5% of men, 23% of women). This was especially true for those who did not have a religious affiliation (30.6%), versus 22% who did hold religious beliefs. About 29% of people who had attended a meditation retreat reported negative experiences, compared to only 19.6% of those who had never attended one.

Researchers say the results show there needs to be a greater focus on the downside to meditating, as studies are typically centered around all the good the practice offers.

“Most research on meditation has focused on its benefits, however, the range of meditative experiences studied by scientists needs to be expanded,” says Schlosser. “It is important at this point not to draw premature conclusions about the potential negative effects of meditation.”

The study findings are published in the May 9 edition of the journal, PLOS One.

Research contact: @ucl

‘Man Flu’ may be real, after all

May 9, 2018

We all have heard of the “man cold” and the “man flu.” In fact, this condition is so widely recognized that it even has its own citation in the Cambridge English Dictionary, according to a report released on May 8 by Study Finds.

That venerated tome defines man flu as “an illness such as a cold that is not serious, but that the person has it treats as more serious, usually when this person is a man.”

But, based on a new study, men who come down with a bug may actually not be the peevish, whining babies that we all perceive.

Skeptics have brushed off the man flu as no more than a common upper respiratory ailment that men tend to exaggerate. Intrigued by this phenomenon and by the lack of research specifically on whether man flu is an appropriate or accurate term, Dr. Kyle Sue, a clinical associate professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, decided to see if the condition was real, once and for all.

Examining medical records and other related research, Dr. Sue concluded that men are more likely to be admitted to a hospital and are more susceptible to serious complications and death from respiratory diseases such as influenza than are women across all age groups.

“Men may not be exaggerating symptoms, but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women,” Dr. Sue says in a University press release. “However, there may be an evolutionary benefit to a less robust immune system, as it has allowed men to invest their energy in other biological processes, such as growth, secondary sex characteristics, and reproduction.”

While he can’t conclude for certain whether men have weaker immune systems than women, the doctor found evidence for that claim.

He says more research is needed “because it remains uncertain whether viral quantities, immune response, symptoms, and recovery time can be affected by environmental conditions.”

The study was covered by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Research contact: support@bmj.com