Meditation-induced psychosis: a narrative review and individual patient data analysis.

Author: Sharma P1, Mahapatra A2, Gupta R3
1Department of Psychiatry, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Lalitpur, Nepal.
2Department of Psychiatry, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and PGIMER, New Delhi, India.
3Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA.
Conference/Journal: Ir J Psychol Med.
Date published: 2019 Oct 31
Other: Volume ID: 1-7 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1017/ipm.2019.47. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 257

BACKGROUND: Meditation is associated with health benefits; however, there are reports that it may trigger or exacerbate psychotic states. In this review, we aim to collate case reports of psychotic disorders occurring in association with meditative practice and to discuss the relationship between psychosis and meditation.

METHODOLOGY: We performed case-based analysis of all the existing studies published in English language using PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane, Scopus, EMBASE, CINAHL and Google Scholar with the search terms; 'Psychosis' OR 'Psychotic Symptoms' OR 'Schizophrenia' AND 'Meditation.'

RESULTS: A total of 19 studies and 28 cases were included in the review. The patients described had an age range of 18-57 years; there was equal distribution of males and females. The diagnoses included acute psychosis in 14 cases, schizophrenia in 7 cases, mania with psychotic symptoms in 3 cases, and schizoaffective disorder in 1 case. The types of meditation described were Transcendent, Mindfulness, Buddhist Meditation like Qigong, Zen, and Theraveda, and others like Bikram yoga, Pranic Healing, and Hindustan Type meditation. Of the 28 cases reported, 14 patients had certain precipitating factors like insomnia, lack of food intake, history of mental illness, stress, and psychoactive substance use.

CONCLUSION: There are case reports of psychotic disorder arising in association with meditative practice; however, it is difficult to attribute a causal relationship between the two. At the same time, there is a body of research describing the beneficial effect of meditative practice in clinical settings for patients with psychotic disorders. Appropriately designed studies are needed to further investigate the relationship between meditative practice and psychosis.

KEYWORDS: Meditation; psychosis; schizophrenia

PMID: 31668156 DOI: 10.1017/ipm.2019.47