Improve the Symptoms of Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes with Mindfulness

Improve the Symptoms of Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Central sensitization, in short, is a hypersensitivity to stimuli from things that are not typically painful. . . Stress can heighten pain even more, so various forms of stress management may be recommended to patients. This may include practices such as yoga, mindfulness, or meditation.” – Southern Pain

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes such as fibromyalgia and Migraine headaches are particularly difficult to deal with as they have triggers that are not normally painful.

 

The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain. There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

The research on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for  Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to pause and review what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8235706/ ) Galvez-Sánchez and colleagues review and summarize the published research evidence on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for  Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes. They identified 21 published studies that included a total of 1090 adult participants.

 

They report that 8 studies found that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) significantly improved the symptoms of fibromyalgia especially anxiety and depression and improved pain acceptance, self-efficacy, and psychological flexibility. Six studies found that ACT improved the patient’s acceptance of irritable bowel syndrome and the psychological distress produced by IBS. In 7 studies ACT was shown to significantly improve migraine pain and the affective distress resulting from the disease including anxiety and depression. These improvements were greater than those seen with pharmacological and psychoeducational interventions.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, irritable bower syndrome, and migraine headache. The finding from the currently published research studies of the effectiveness of the mindfulness training of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) suggests that it is similarly effective in treating the symptoms from Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes particularly the psychological distress produced by them and improve the patients’ health related quality of life.

 

So, improve the symptoms of Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes with mindfulness.

 

The goal of meditation is not to eliminate pain or anxiety, but rather to get patients to focus on breathing and relaxation techniques. . . to reverse some of the negative central sensitization that can occur with chronic pain.” – Mel Pohl

 

MCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Galvez-Sánchez, C. M., Montoro, C. I., Moreno-Padilla, M., Reyes Del Paso, G. A., & de la Coba, P. (2021). Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes: A Systematic Review. Journal of clinical medicine, 10(12), 2706. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10122706

 

Abstract

Objectives: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is considered by the American Psychological Association as an evidence-based treatment for a variety of disorders, including chronic pain. The main objective of the present systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of ACT in patients with central pain sensitization syndromes (CPSS). Methods: This systematic review was conducted according to the guidelines of the Cochrane Collaboration and PRISMA statements. The protocol was registered in advance in the Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) international database. The selected articles were evaluated using the Cochrane risk of bias (ROB) assessment tool. The PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were searched. Results: The literature search identified 21 studies (including investigations of fibromyalgia syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraine) eligible for the systematic review. There were no studies regarding the effectiveness of ACT for chronic tension-type headache (CTTH), interstitial cystitis (IC), or temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The evaluation of ROB showed that 12 of the selected studies were of low quality, 5 were of moderate quality, and 4 were high quality. ACT reduces some clinical symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and pain. This positive effect of ACT might be mediated by pain acceptance, psychological flexibility, optimism, self-efficacy, or adherence to values. ACT showed better results in comparison to non-intervention (e.g., “waiting list”) conditions, as well as pharmacological and psychoeducational interventions. It is not entirely clear whether extended ACT treatments are more advantageous than briefer interventions. Conclusions: There are few studies about the effectiveness of ACT on CPSS. However, ACT seems to reduce subjective CPSS symptoms and improve the health-related quality of life of these patients. The absence of studies on the effectiveness of ACT in CTTH, IC, and TMD, indicate the pressing need for further ACT studies in these CPSS.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8235706/

Improve the Well-Being of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents with Mindfulness

Improve the Well-Being of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based parenting program can be an effective intervention for reducing the stress experienced by parents of children with special needs.” – Elizabeth J. Shaffer

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. Children with special health care needs include a variety of conditions from psychological such as anxiety disorders or depression to chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes or chronic pain, to developmental issues such as autism. They place considerable burdens on their caregivers.  Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

There has been accumulating research on the application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of children with special health care needs and their caregivers and there is a need to review and summarize the findings. In today’s Research News article “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345967/ ) Parmar and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of children with special health care needs and their caregivers.

 

They identified 10 published research studies. They report that the published research finds that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) produces significant reductions in depression and perceived stress, and increases in psychological flexibility in the children. On the other hand, the parents did not show similar improvements except for a small improvement in psychological flexibility.

 

The published research, then, suggests that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective for children with special health care needs in reducing mental distress and increasing their flexibility in dealing with it.  ACT also produce small improvements in their caregivers. This suggests that ACT should be recommended to increase mindfulness in children with special health care needs to improve their psychological well-being.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

cultivating a more mindful way of parenting is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Parents experienced increased mindful awareness and improved psychological well-being, and they were more accepting of their children. Their children also had fewer behavior problems and enhanced positive interaction with their parents.” – Manika Petcharat

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Parmar, A., Esser, K., Barreira, L., Miller, D., Morinis, L., Chong, Y. Y., Smith, W., Major, N., Church, P., Cohen, E., & Orkin, J. (2021). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(15), 8205. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158205

 

Abstract

Context: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an emerging treatment for improving psychological well-being. Objective: To summarize research evaluating the effects of ACT on psychological well-being in children with special health care needs (SHCN) and their parents. Data Sources: An electronic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Ovid/EMBASE and PsycINFO (January 2000–April 2021). Study Selection: Included were studies that assessed ACT in children with SHCN (ages 0–17y) and/or parents of children with SHCN and had a comparator group. Data Extraction: Descriptive data were synthesized and presented in a tabular format, and data on relevant outcomes (e.g., depressive symptoms, stress, avoidance and fusion) were used in the meta-analyses to explore the effectiveness of ACT (administered independently with no other psychological therapy) compared to no treatment. Results: Ten studies were identified (child (7) and parent (3)). In children with SHCN, ACT was more effective than no treatment at helping depressive symptoms (standardized mean difference [SMD] = −4.27, 95% CI: −5.20, −3.34; p < 0.001) and avoidance and fusion (SMD = −1.64, 95% CI: −3.24, −0.03; p = 0.05), but not stress. In parents of children with SHCN, ACT may help psychological inflexibility (SMD = −0.77, 95% CI: −1.07, −0.47; p < 0.01). Limitations: There was considerable statistical heterogeneity in three of the six meta-analyses. Conclusions: There is some evidence that ACT may help with depressive symptoms in children with SHCN and psychological inflexibility in their parents. Research on the efficacy of ACT for a variety of children with SHCN and their parents is especially limited, and future research is needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345967/

 

Improve Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave with Mindfulness

Improve Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Since stress compromises our immune system, becoming caught up in this way can slow down our recovery. Instead, aim to approach your illness with care, seeing things as they are, with acceptance and compassion.” — Mark Bertin

 

Chronic Pain and mental health issues are the most common causes of long-term sick leave. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain. There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain.

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. Even after remission there are a number of symptoms that remain. These include lingering dysphoria, impaired psychosocial functioning, fatigue, and decreased ability to work. These residual symptoms can lead to relapse. Mindfulness training is also an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects, and these drugs are often abused. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. This suggests that ACT may be an effective treatment for women who are on long-term sick leave.

 

In today’s Research News article “Comparing the Efficacy of Multidisciplinary Assessment and Treatment, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, with Treatment as Usual on Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave-A Randomised Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916944/ ) Finnes and colleagues recruited working age women who were on long-term sick leave and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), or ACT in combination with a multidisciplinary team consisting of a physician, a psychologist, an occupational therapist and a social worker. They were measured before and after treatment and at 6 and 12 months after treatment for sick leave, satisfaction with treatment, pain, anxiety, depression, satisfaction with life, and general health well-being.

 

They found that there were no significant differences between Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), or ACT plus team with the women’s satisfaction with treatment. But in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual group, both treatments produced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, pain intensity and significant increases in satisfaction with life, and general health well-being. At one year after treatment the ACT plus team group had significantly more patients classified as recovered than the ACT alone group.

 

These results demonstrate that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective in treating the physical and psychological symptoms of women who were on long-term sick leave. Women on long-term sick leave are very difficult to treat as their issues have resisted improvement for a substantial period of time. So, the ability of ACT to improve these symptoms is impressive. Adding the team produced slightly better outcomes at 12 months but the additional cost of the team is quite significant. So, from a cost effectiveness standpoint, ACT alone is superior.

 

So, improve health outcomes in women on long-term sick leave with mindfulness.

 

Musculoskeletal pain, depression, and anxiety cause the majority of all sick leave. . . Interestingly enough, mindfulness has become an important construct in return-to-work rehabilitation.” – Emily Lipinski

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Finnes, A., Anderzén, I., Pingel, R., Dahl, J., Molin, L., & Lytsy, P. (2021). Comparing the Efficacy of Multidisciplinary Assessment and Treatment, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, with Treatment as Usual on Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave-A Randomised Controlled Trial. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1754. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041754

 

Abstract

Background: Chronic pain and mental disorders are common reasons for long term sick leave. The study objective was to evaluate the efficacy of a multidisciplinary assessment and treatment program including acceptance and commitment therapy (TEAM) and stand-alone acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compared with treatment as usual (Control) on health outcomes in women on long-term sick leave. Method: Participants (n = 308), women of working age on long term sick leave due to musculoskeletal pain and/or common mental disorders, were randomized to TEAM (n = 102), ACT (n = 102) or Control (n = 104). Participants in the multidisciplinary assessment treatment program received ACT, but also medical assessment, occupational therapy and social counselling. The second intervention included ACT only. Health outcomes were assessed over 12 months using adjusted linear mixed models. The results showed significant interaction effects for both ACT and TEAM compared with Control in anxiety (ACT [p < 0.05]; TEAM [p < 0.001]), depression (ACT [p < 0.001]; TEAM [p < 0.001]) and general well-being (ACT [p < 0.05]; TEAM [p < 0.001]). For self-rated pain, there was a significant interaction effect in favour of ACT (p < 0.05), and for satisfaction with life in favour of TEAM (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Both ACT alone and multidisciplinary assessment and treatment including ACT were superior to treatment as usual in clinical outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916944/

 

Effectively Treat Substance Use Disorder with Mindfulness

Effectively Treat Substance Use Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness is likely an effective tool in helping people with addiction because it’s a single, simple skill that a person can practice multiple times throughout their day, every day, regardless of the life challenges that arise.” – James Davis

 

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem. There are estimated 22.2 million people in the U.S. with substance dependence. It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly ¼ million deaths yearly as a result of illicit drug use which includes unintentional overdoses, suicides, HIV and AIDS, and trauma. Obviously, there is a need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers relapse and return to substance abuse.

 

Hence, it is important to find an effective method to treat substance abuse and prevent relapse but an effective treatment has been elusive. Most programs and therapies to treat addictions have poor success rates. Recently, mindfulness training has been found to be effective in treating addictions. The research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to pause and take a look at what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Narrative Review of Third-Wave Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies in Addiction.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080172/ ) Balandeh and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapies for the treatment of addictions.

 

They report that the published research demonstrates that the mindfulness-based therapies of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are all effective for the treatment of addictions. These therapies vary greatly in emphasis and techniques. The major common thread is mindfulness training. This would suggest that it’s developing mindfulness per se that is effective in treating addictions.

 

They report that on a number of explanations for the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapies for the treatment of addictions. These include the ability of mindfulness training to change the individual’s responses to the usual triggers for drug use, changing the brain’s response to cravings, and sensing cravings as just another physical sensation. Regardless of the mechanism or mechanisms, it is clear that mindfulness training is effective for the treatment of substance use disorder.

 

So, effectively treat substance use disorder with mindfulness.

 

One reason addiction is so hard to beat is that it’s a pattern of conditioned responses. The part of your brain responsible for higher reasoning essentially gets cut out of the decision-making process and you react reflexively to stimuli associated with drugs and alcohol. Practicing mindfulness gradually undoes this conditioning.” – Renewal Lodge

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Balandeh, E., Omidi, A., & Ghaderi, A. (2021). A Narrative Review of Third-Wave Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies in Addiction. Addiction & health, 13(1), 52–65. https://doi.org/10.22122/ahj.v13i1.298

 

Abstract

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a prevalent health issue with serious social and personal consequences. SUDs are linked to numerous physical health problems. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th Edition (DSM-V), the essential characteristic of a SUD is a collection of cognitive, behavioral, and psychological manifestations indicative of the subject’s unbaiting substance use despite experiencing significant problems due to continued use. Several alternative interventions have been indicated. Among them, mindfulness-based therapies are receiving growing attention. This article reviews evidence for the use of third-wave cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs) in addiction treatment. We have reviewed the literature published from 1990 to 2019. Further research is required to better understand the types of mindfulness-based interventions that work best for specific types of addiction, patients, and situations. Current findings increasingly support third-wave CBTs as a promising complementary therapy for the treatment and prevention of addiction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080172/

 

Improve Pain, Sleep, and the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Internet Mindfulness Training

Improve Pain, Sleep, and the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Internet Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In the context of chronic pain . . . meditation can help you to stop your mind wandering back to your pain when you are trying to focus on something else, therefore improving your ability to give your entire attention to the task at hand and in turn, improve your level of functioning. It gives you the power to take your mind off your pain and refocus it, therefore aiding you in replacing unhelpful, behaviours with healthy ones which can reduce your pain and allow you to take better care of your health.” – Ann-Marie D’arcy-Sharpe

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) requires a scheduled program of sessions with a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy as microlearning for chronic pain: A randomized controlled trial with 1‐year follow‐up.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1723 ) Rickardsson and colleagues recruited adult chronic pain patients and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive an 8-week program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered over the internet. ACT was delivered in daily microlearning short learning interactions. There was a 74% completion rate of the modules. The participants were measured before and after training and at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups for psychiatric problems, pain interference, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, values, and health-related quality of life.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group that received internet-delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significant decreases in pain interference, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, value obstruction, and insomnia. These improvements were long-lasting as they were maintained at the 12-month follow-up.

 

These are impressive improvements in the pain and psychological health of these diverse chronic pain patients. These results correspond with the frequent prior observations that mindfulness training produces reductions in pain, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, and insomnia in a wide range of patient types and normal individuals. These results are particularly impressive as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was delivered over the internet. in daily microlearning short learning interactions. This was very convenient for the patients and required only 12.4 minutes per week of therapist time per week and was thus very inexpensive to deliver. Yet ACT was highly effective and lasting in relieving the suffering of these chronic pain patients.

 

So, improve pain, sleep, and the mental health of chronic pain patients with internet mindfulness training.

 

What we want to do as best as we can is to engage with the pain just as it is. It’s not about achieving a certain goal – like minimizing pain – but learning to relate to your pain differently.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jenny Rickardsson, Charlotte Gentili, Linda Holmström, Vendela Zetterqvist, Erik Andersson, Jan Persson, Mats Lekander, Brjánn Ljótsson, Rikard K. Wicksell. Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy as microlearning for chronic pain: A randomized controlled trial with 1‐year follow‐up, European Journal of Pain, 2021;00:1–19, https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.1723

 

Abstract

Background

Studies of Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for chronic pain have shown small to moderate positive effects for pain interference and pain acceptance. Effects on pain intensity, depression, anxiety and quality of life (QoL) have been less favourable, and improvements for values and sleep are lacking. In this randomized controlled trial iACT – a novel format of Internet‐ACT using daily microlearning exercises – was examined for efficacy compared to a waitlist condition.

Methods

Adult participants (mean age 49.5 years, pain duration 18.1 years) with diverse chronic pain conditions were recruited via self‐referral, and randomized to iACT (n = 57) or waitlist (n = 56). The primary outcome was pain interference. The secondary outcomes were QoL, depression, anxiety, insomnia and pain intensity. The process variables included psychological inflexibility and values. Post‐assessments were completed by 88% (n = 100) of participants. Twelve‐month follow‐up assessments were completed by 65% (iACT only, n = 37). Treatment efficacy was analysed using linear mixed models and an intention‐to‐treat‐approach.

Results

Significant improvements in favour of iACT were seen for pain interference, depression, anxiety, pain intensity and insomnia, as well as process variables psychological inflexibility and values. Between‐group effect sizes were large for pain interference (d = 0.99) and pain intensity (d = 1.2), moderate for anxiety and depressive symptoms and small for QoL and insomnia. For the process variables, the between‐group effect size was large for psychological inflexibility (d = 1.0) and moderate for values. All improvements were maintained at 1‐year follow‐up.

Conclusions

Internet‐ACT as microlearning may improve a broad range of outcomes in chronic pain.

Significance

The study evaluates a novel behavioral treatment with positive results on pain interference, mood as well as pain intensity for longtime chronic pain sufferers. The innovative format of a digital ACT intervention delivered in short and experiential daily learnings may be a promising way forward.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1723

 

jenny.rickardsson@ki.se

 

Improve Sleep Quality in People with Insomnia with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep Quality in People with Insomnia with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If you suffer from insomnia, mindfulness helps you be more accepting of your experience when you have difficulty sleeping. It may seem paradoxical, but this willingness to accept the experience of poor sleep can lead to less anxiety and better rest.” – Polan Orzech

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. It would seem reasonable to expect that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) might improve sleep and relieve insomnia.

 

In today’s Research News article “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Improves Sleep Quality, Experiential Avoidance, and Emotion Regulation in Individuals with Insomnia-Results from a Randomized Interventional Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916154/ ) Zakiei and colleagues recruited adults with clinical insomnia and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly sessions of 70 minutes of either Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or group meetings to discuss daily activities and daily problems (active control condition). They were measured before and after treatment and 12 weeks later for experiential avoidance, sleep quality, sleep characteristics, dysfunctional thoughts on sleep, sleep problem acceptance, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that over training and the 12-week follow-up in comparison to the active control condition, the group that received Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significant reductions in experiential avoidance, dysfunctional thoughts on sleep, and significant increases in sleep quality, total sleep time, feelings of being restored by sleep, sleep problem acceptance, and emotion regulation. In addition, the greater the reduction in experiential avoidance the lower the levels of dysfunctional thoughts on sleep and the higher the levels of emotion regulation, sleep quality, and sleep problem acceptance.

 

These results demonstrate that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) provided to patients with insomnia produces large improvements in sleep and decreases in cognitive-emotional processes related to insomnia. Although not demonstrated in the study, the results suggest that the improvements in sleep may occur due to ACT’s ability to alter dysfunctional thought processes and strengthen adaptive thinking. Mindfulness-based practices have been previously reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The fact that ACT works so well for insomnia suggests that correcting dysfunctional thinking about sleep adds to the effectiveness of mindfulness in improving sleep. The effects were large, significant, and lasting suggesting that ACT should be prescribed for patients with clinical insomnia.

 

So, improve sleep quality in people with insomnia with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness improves regulation of stress and increases a sense of calm that results in a better ability to sleep.” – Melli O’Brien

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Zakiei, A., Khazaie, H., Rostampour, M., Lemola, S., Esmaeili, M., Dürsteler, K., Brühl, A. B., Sadeghi-Bahmani, D., & Brand, S. (2021). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Improves Sleep Quality, Experiential Avoidance, and Emotion Regulation in Individuals with Insomnia-Results from a Randomized Interventional Study. Life (Basel, Switzerland), 11(2), 133. https://doi.org/10.3390/life11020133

 

Abstract

Insomnia is a common problem in the general population. To treat insomnia, medication therapies and insomnia-related cognitive-behavioral interventions are often applied. The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on sleep quality, dysfunctional sleep beliefs and attitudes, experiential avoidance, and acceptance of sleep problems in individuals with insomnia, compared to a control condition. A total of 35 participants with diagnosed insomnia (mean age: 41.46 years old; 62.9% females) were randomly assigned to the ACT intervention (weekly group therapy for 60–70 min) or to the active control condition (weekly group meetings for 60–70 min without interventional and psychotherapeutic character). At baseline and after eight weeks (end of the study), and again 12 weeks later at follow-up, participants completed self-rating questionnaires on sleep quality, dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep, emotion regulation, and experiential avoidance. Furthermore, participants in the intervention condition kept a weekly sleep log for eight consecutive weeks (micro-analysis). Every morning, participants completed the daily sleep log, which consisted of items regarding subjective sleep duration, sleep quality, and the feeling of being restored. Sleep quality, dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes towards sleep, emotion regulation, and experiential avoidance improved over time, but only in the ACT condition compared to the control condition. Improvements remained stable until follow-up. Improvements in experiential avoidance were related to a favorable change in sleep and cognitive-emotional processing. Micro-analyses showed that improvements occurred within the first three weeks of treatment. The pattern of results suggests that ACT appeared to have improved experiential avoidance, which in turn improved both sleep quality and sleep-related cognitive-emotional processes at longer-term in adults with insomnia.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916154/

 

Improve Brain Function and Mental Health in Chronic Pain Patients with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Function and Mental Health in Chronic Pain Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With the ACT approach, learning to let go of behaviors, memories, thoughts, and emotions creates space to explore new experiences, including acceptance of chronic pain sensations.” – Rosemary Black

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

Hence, it is important to find an effective method to treat Chronic pain. There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

Pain experiences are processed in the nervous system. So, it’s likely that mindfulness practices somehow alter the brain’s processing of pain. So, it makes sense to study the how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may affect the brain to improve the mental health of chronic pain patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Neural Mechanisms of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain: A Network-Based fMRI Approach.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7892587/ ) Aytur and colleagues recruited with musculoskeletal pain who did not abuse opioids. They completed 2 sessions per week for 4 weeks of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Before and after therapy they were measured for acceptance, chronic pain acceptance, quality of life, pain interference, and depression. Brain systems were measured before and after therapy with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline after Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) the participants had significant increases in acceptance, chronic pain acceptance, quality of life and significant decreases in pain interference, and depression. In the fMRIs they also observed significant decreases in activation and connectivity in the Default Mode Network (DMN), Salience Network (SN), and Frontal-Parietal Network (FPN) networks of the brain. In addition, they observed that changes in the connectivity between these networks were correlated with decreases in depression and pain interference, and increases in quality of life.

 

These are interesting results that need to be interpreted with caution as there wasn’t a control, comparison condition present opening the findings up to alternative confounded interpretations. But the results replicate previous findings with controlled designs that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) produces improvements in depression, pain, and quality of life. So, the improvements observed in the present study are likely due to causal effects of ACT.

 

These results also show that the psychological improvements produced by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are related to changes in the activity and connectivity within and between significant brain networks. This suggests that these neural alterations may underly the improvements in mental health of chronic pain patients produced by ACT. It remains for future studies to unravel the cause effect relationships.

 

So, improve brain function and mental health in chronic pain patients with mindfulness.

 

ACT can help us to break out of that box that we have created for ourselves. To understand that the key to living with our condition is not to limit our lives and miss out on experiences, but instead to face things head on and be dedicated to working with our pain and doing things that bring us joy. ACT’s goal is not necessarily to reduce the pain but to help you to live your life with it, to feel more confident in engaging in activities that you might have otherwise swayed away from.” – Ann-Marie D’arcy-Sharpe

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Aytur, S. A., Ray, K. L., Meier, S. K., Campbell, J., Gendron, B., Waller, N., & Robin, D. A. (2021). Neural Mechanisms of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain: A Network-Based fMRI Approach. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 15, 587018. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2021.587018

 

Abstract

Over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain (CP), which causes more disability than any other medical condition in the United States at a cost of $560–$635 billion per year (Institute of Medicine, 2011). Opioid analgesics are frequently used to treat CP. However, long term use of opioids can cause brain changes such as opioid-induced hyperalgesia that, over time, increase pain sensation. Also, opioids fail to treat complex psychological factors that worsen pain-related disability, including beliefs about and emotional responses to pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be efficacious for CP. However, CBT generally does not focus on important factors needed for long-term functional improvement, including attainment of personal goals and the psychological flexibility to choose responses to pain. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been recognized as an effective, non-pharmacologic treatment for a variety of CP conditions (Gutierrez et al., 2004). However, little is known about the neurologic mechanisms underlying ACT. We conducted an ACT intervention in women (n = 9) with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected pre- and post-ACT, and changes in functional connectivity (FC) were measured using Network-Based Statistics (NBS). Behavioral outcomes were measured using validated assessments such as the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II), the Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire (CPAQ), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and the NIH Toolbox Neuro-QoLTM (Quality of Life in Neurological Disorders) scales. Results suggest that, following the 4-week ACT intervention, participants exhibited reductions in brain activation within and between key networks including self-reflection (default mode, DMN), emotion (salience, SN), and cognitive control (frontal parietal, FPN). These changes in connectivity strength were correlated with changes in behavioral outcomes including decreased depression and pain interference, and increased participation in social roles. This study is one of the first to demonstrate that improved function across the DMN, SN, and FPN may drive the positive outcomes associated with ACT. This study contributes to the emerging evidence supporting the use of neurophysiological indices to characterize treatment effects of alternative and complementary mind-body therapies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7892587/

 

Change the Brain to Improve Chronic Pain with Mindfulness

Change the Brain to Improve Chronic Pain with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“we should consider one’s level of mindfulness when calculating why and how one feels less or more pain.” – Fadel Zeidan

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. Pain experiences are processed in the nervous system. The nervous system changes in response to how it is used and how it is stimulated in a process called neuroplasticity. Highly used areas grow in size, metabolism, and connectivity. So, the nervous system changes in response to chronic pain. Mindfulness practices in general are known to produce neuroplastic changes in the structure and activity of the brain. So, it’s likely that mindfulness practices somehow alter the brain’s processing of pain.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Network Analysis of Induced Neural Plasticity Post-Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7823706/ ) Meier and colleagues recruited adult female patients who were diagnosed with chronic musculoskeletal pain. They were provided a 4-week group program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It met twice a week for 90 minutes. They were measured before and after ACT for pain intensity, pain interference, anxiety, depression, sleep, quality of life, and cognitive ability. ACT was previously found to improve these symptoms of chronic pain.

 

They also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (f-MRI). The researchers examined the functional connectivity in 4 brain systems; the pain network, default mode network, frontoparietal network, and salience network. They found that after Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) there were significant reductions in functional connectivity within all four networks.

 

Previous work revealed that the chronic pain patients had very high levels of connectivity in these 4 networks. This hyperconnectivity was interpreted as a neuroplastic change in the brain produced by chronic pain. The present findings that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) reduces this connectivity suggest that ACT normalizes the connectivity in these networks, making it easier for the patients to cope with their pain. This, in turn, improves their mood and quality of life.

 

So, change the brain to improve chronic pain with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness meditation can be used as a tool to create more awareness of the sensation of pain itself, without the judgment or resistance, and the affective and cognitive evaluation that we often project upon it. When we impose a litany of negativity upon our pain, it only becomes worse, and potentially elicits other difficulties including depression and anxiety. When we become more aware of what we are actually experiencing, without the overlay of our judgment, the overall perception of pain is reduced.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Meier, S. K., Ray, K. L., Waller, N. C., Gendron, B. C., Aytur, S. A., & Robin, D. A. (2020). Network Analysis of Induced Neural Plasticity Post-Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain. Brain sciences, 11(1), 10. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010010

 

Abstract

Chronic musculoskeletal pain is a costly and prevalent condition that affects the lives of over 50 million individuals in the United States. Chronic pain leads to functional brain changes in those suffering from the condition. Not only does the primary pain network transform as the condition changes from acute to persistent pain, a state of hyper-connectivity also exists between the default mode, frontoparietal, and salience networks. Graph theory analysis has recently been used to investigate treatment-driven brain network changes. For example, current research suggests that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may reduce the chronic pain associated hyper-connectivity between the default mode, frontoparietal, and salience networks, as well as within the salience network. This study extended previous work by examining the associations between the three networks above and a meta-analytically derived pain network. Results indicate decreased connectivity within the pain network (including left putamen, right insula, left insula, and right thalamus) in addition to triple network connectivity changes after the four-week Acceptance and Commitment Therapy intervention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7823706/

 

Improve the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Mindfulness Training Over the Internet.

Improve the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Mindfulness Training Over the Internet.

 

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Daily mindfulness practice can be helpful for people living with chronic pain because sometimes there are negative or worrisome thoughts about the pain. These thoughts are normal, and can affect mood and increase pain. Being able to focus on relaxing the body, noticing the breath and body sensations as being there just as they are, can help manage pain, as well as reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.” – Amanda Necker

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) requires a scheduled program of sessions with a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (iACT) for chronic pain-feasibility and preliminary effects in clinical and self-referred patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7327284/ ) Rickardsson and colleagues recruited chronic pain patients and provided them with 10 weeks of 4 times per week 15 minute programmed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered via the internet. Therapists interacted with the individual participants via text once a week for 12 weeks. They were measured before and after training and at 3 and 12-month follow-ups for pain interference, psychological flexibility, value orientation, quality of life, pain intensity, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that following treatment there were significant improvements in pain interference, psychological inflexibility, value progress, value obstruction, QoL, depressive symptoms, pain intensity, anxiety and insomnia. These improvements were maintained at the 3 and 12-month follow-ups.

 

This was a pilot study without a comparison condition. As such, it must be interpreted with caution. But the results suggest that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be effectively delivered via the internet with the suggestion that it produced lasting improvements in the psychological health of the chronic pain patients. The internet delivery is important as it allows for convenient, cost-effective, mass delivery of the program. This makes it a particularly desirable therapeutic method for the treatment of patients with chronic pain.

 

So, improve the mental health of chronic pain patients with mindfulness training over the internet.

 

Mindfulness can help you . . . to reduce the suffering associated with pain without necessarily reducing the severity of the pain itself. It can also help you approach your pain with less fear and more acceptance, allowing you to live life fully, even though you have pain.” – Andrea Uptmor

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Rickardsson, J., Zetterqvist, V., Gentili, C., Andersson, E., Holmström, L., Lekander, M., Persson, M., Persson, J., Ljótsson, B., & Wicksell, R. K. (2020). Internet-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (iACT) for chronic pain-feasibility and preliminary effects in clinical and self-referred patients. mHealth, 6, 27. https://doi.org/10.21037/mhealth.2020.02.02

 

Abstract

Background

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based treatment to improve functioning and quality of life (QoL) for chronic pain patients, but outreach of this treatment is unsatisfactory. Internet-delivery has been shown to increase treatment access but there is limited evidence regarding feasibility and effectiveness of web-based ACT for chronic pain. The aim of the study was to evaluate and iterate a novel internet-delivered ACT program, iACT, in a clinical and a self-referred sample of chronic pain patients. The intervention was developed in close collaboration with patients. To enhance learning, content was organized in short episodes to promote daily engagement in treatment. In both the clinical and self-referred samples, three critical domains were evaluated: (I) feasibility (acceptability, practicality and usage); (II) preliminary efficacy on pain interference, psychological inflexibility, value orientation, QoL, pain intensity, anxiety, insomnia and depressive symptoms; and (III) potential treatment mechanisms.

Methods

This was an open pilot study with two samples: 15 patients from a tertiary pain clinic and 24 self-referred chronic pain participants, recruited from October 2015 until January 2017. Data were collected via an online platform in free text and self-report measures, as well as through individual oral feedback. Group differences were analyzed with Chi square-, Mann-Whitney U- or t-test. Preliminary efficacy and treatment mechanism data were collected via self-report and analyzed with multilevel linear modeling for repeated measures.

Results

Feasibility: patient feedback guided modifications to refine the intervention and indicated that iACT was acceptable in both samples. User insights provided input for both immediate and future actions to improve feasibility. Comprehensiveness, workability and treatment credibility were adequate in both samples. Psychologists spent on average 13.5 minutes per week per clinical patient, and 8 minutes per self-referred patient (P=0.004). Recruitment rate was 24 times faster in the self-referred sample (24 patients in 1 month, compared to 15 patients in 15 months, P<0.001) and the median distance to the clinic was 40 km in the clinical sample, and 426 km in the self-referred sample (P<0.001). Preliminary effects: post-assessments were completed by 26 participants (67%). Significant effects of time were seen from pre- to post-treatment across all outcome variables. Within group effect sizes (Cohen’s d) at post-treatment ranged from small to large: pain interference (d=0.64, P<0.001), psychological inflexibility (d=1.43, P<0.001), value progress (d=0.72, P<0.001), value obstruction (d=0.42, P<0.001), physical QoL (d=0.41, P=0.005), mental QoL (d=0.67, P=0.005), insomnia (d=0.31, P<0.001), depressive symptoms (d=0.47, P<0.001), pain intensity (d=0.78, P=0.001) and anxiety (d=0.46, P<0.001). Improvements were sustained at 1-year follow-up. Psychological inflexibility and value progress were found to be potential treatment mechanisms.

Conclusions

The results from the present study suggests that iACT was feasible in both the clinical and the self-referred sample. Together with the positive preliminary results on all outcomes, the findings from this feasibility study pave the way for a subsequent large randomized efficacy trial.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7327284/

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is Effective in Treating Substance Use Disorders

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is Effective in Treating Substance Use Disorders

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness reminds us that in stillness we find the wisdom to become a human being instead of a human doing. . .  Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Stillness opens our hearts and minds to the vast potential within us as we move through treatment.” – Beverly Conyers

 

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem. There are estimated 22.2 million people in the U.S. with substance dependence. It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly ¼ million deaths yearly as a result of illicit drug use which includes unintentional overdoses, suicides, HIV and AIDS, and trauma. Obviously, there is a need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers relapse and return to substance abuse.

 

Hence, it is important to find an effective method to treat substance abuse and prevent relapse but an effective treatment has been elusive. Most programs and therapies to treat addictions have poor success rates. Recently, mindfulness training has been found to be effective in treating addictionsAcceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

The evidence has been accumulating on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of substance use disorders. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned in the most recent studies. In today’s Research News article “The Use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Substance Use Disorders: A Review of Literature.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7524566/ ) Osaji and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of ACT in treating patients with substance use disorders.

 

They identified 22 published research studies and report that the published research found that  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was effective for the treatment of substance use disorders. They report that the research demonstrates that ACT is effective when used alone or in combination with other therapies. ACT successfully reduced substance use or produced discontinuation. It has been shown that various forms of mindfulness training are effective in treating addictions. The present findings simply extends this to ACT.

 

So, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is effective in treating substance use disorders.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

“mindfulness can play a very important role in substance abuse recovery: patients learn how to rethink the nature of stressful situations and stimuli that may otherwise trigger a harmful train of thought that leads to drinking or using. Prior to a mindfulness intervention, patients may have been oblivious to the various factors that start the chain reaction of negative thought and unhealthy behavior. Mindfulness treatment gives them the chance to examine those factors on a level playing field, in a calm, supportive and safe environment. In time, the triggers become less daunting and more manageable.” – Foundations Recovery Network

 

Study Summary

 

Osaji, J., Ojimba, C., & Ahmed, S. (2020). The Use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Substance Use Disorders: A Review of Literature. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 12(10), 629–633. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4311

 

Abstract

Background

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of behavioral therapy that teaches people to learn to accept rather than avoid challenging situations in their lives. ACT has shown to be an intervention with great success in the reduction of various mental disorders and substance use disorders (SUDs). The core of ACT when used in SUD treatment is guiding people to accept the urges and symptoms associated with substance misuse (acceptance) and use psychological flexibility and value-based interventions to reduce those urges and the symptoms (commitment). The purpose of this study is to review the existing literature to examine the evidence on the use of ACT in the management of SUD.

Methods

A thorough search of four databases (CINAHL, PubMed.gov, PsycINFO and PsycNET) from 2011 to 2020 was conducted using search terms like ACT, ACT and SUD, ACT, and substance misuse. The articles retrieved were critically appraised using the Critically Appraised Topic (CAT) Checklist.

Results

Most of the studies showed that ACT was effective in the management of SUD showing significant evidence of a reduction in substance use or total discontinuation with subsequent abstinence.

Conclusions

The literature review concluded that success has been achieved using ACT either as monotherapy or in combination with other therapy in the treatment of individuals with SUD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7524566/