Prof. Dr. med. Aybek, Selma

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) Research Group

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) study

In previous research, stress has been found to be involved in symptom occurrence: FND patients have been shown to have higher levels of stress biomarkers, such as cortisol and α-amylase.

Regarding stress reduction treatments for FND, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has gained interest in recent years. MBSR is an 8-week training program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn that aims at promoting stress reduction by teaching to observe situations and think in a non-judgmental, nonreactive and accepting manner. The MBSR program has already shown positive outcomes on mental health in patients with various chronic somatic disorders and in patients with anxiety or mood disorder.

Our MBSR study aims at testing the effects of a MBSR program on perceived stress, stress biomarkers, neurological processes, and symptoms in FND patients. For this purpose, a group of FND patients will undergo a MBSR program for 8 weeks, while a control group will follow the therapy as usual for the same amount of time. We will measure both groups before and after this intervention. Additionally, a follow-up after 6 months will be performed, in order to study potential long-term effects.

Methodologically, this project uses neuroimaging, analysis of stress biomarkers, objective neurological examinations and questionnaires.