Improve Mental Health and Well-Being with Smartphone APP Mindfulness Training

Improve Mental Health and Well-Being with Smartphone APP Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The seemingly simple act of mindfulness may help reduce the impact of stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to moments of experience with an accepting and friendly attitude so as to observe with all the senses what is happening in each moment. The practice of mindfulness is an effective means of enhancing and maintaining optimal mental health and overall well-being.” – APA

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified 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 programs over the internet and with smartphone apps 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. These online and smartphone app trainings have been shown to be effective. But the question arises as to the relative effectiveness of various online and mobile trainings in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy and Moderation of Mobile App-Based Programs for Mindfulness-Based Training, Self-Compassion Training, and Cognitive Behavioral Psychoeducation on Mental Health: Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231823/ ), Mak and colleagues compared the efficacy of 3 smartphone aps that trained for either mindfulness, self-compassion, or cognitive behavioral psychoeducation, to improve mental health and well-being in adults.

 

They recruited adults online and randomly assigned each to one of the three trainings. The participants downloaded the apps for their smartphones. The trainings were delivered in 28 daily sessions. The mindfulness exercises, included body scan, mindful breathing, mindful eating, and mindful walking. Self-Compassion training consisted compassionate body scan, affectionate breathing, loving-kindness meditation for beginners, compassionate walking, soften-allow-soothe, self-compassion break, and self-compassion journaling. Cognitive behavioral psychoeducation included relaxation skills, coping strategies for stress, problem-solving skills, emotional management skills, and cognitive strategies for negative thoughts.

 

The participants completed online measures of mental well-being, psychological distress, mindfulness, self-compassion, discomfort with emotions, ambiguity tolerance, program satisfaction, and utilization before and after training and 3 months later. There were, unfortunately relatively low participation rates with 28% of the recruited participants who downloaded the apps never activated them. Of those that did only 24% completed their program and only 17% completed the follow-up measures. Most of the attrition occurred in the first week.

 

They found that all three trainings produced significant enhancements of mental well-being and mindfulness and significant reductions in psychological distress that persisted at the 3-month follow-up. Self-compassion, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation trainings, but not mindfulness, resulted in higher self-compassion at the end of training but this was no longer significant at follow-up.

 

This study did not have a control condition for comparison, so the conclusions have to be tempered with the understanding that contaminants such as placebo effects, and time and practice-based contaminants might be responsible for the results. In addition, the high attrition rates may be responsible for the results as those who were not helped by the apps terminated participation leaving only those who were improving left in the sample.

 

On the other hand, other controlled studies have demonstrated the efficacy of mindfulness and self-compassion trainings and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation in improving psychological health and well-being. So, the results from the present study are likely due to the trainings and not contaminants. Hence, these findings are suggestive that the three smartphone apps are able to improve the mental health and well-being of otherwise normal adults. This is important as being able to deliver these trainings over smartphones allows for the distribution of these mental health improving programs economically to widespread audiences.

 

So, improve mental health and well-being with smartphone app mindfulness training.

 

“Fine-tuning which type of mindfulness or meditation someone uses as a prescriptive to treat a specific need will most likely be the next big advance in the public health revolution of mindfulness and meditation. Stay tuned!” – Christopher Bergland

 

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

 

Mak, W. W., Tong, A. C., Yip, S. Y., Lui, W. W., Chio, F. H., Chan, A. T., & Wong, C. C. (2018). Efficacy and Moderation of Mobile App-Based Programs for Mindfulness-Based Training, Self-Compassion Training, and Cognitive Behavioral Psychoeducation on Mental Health: Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial. JMIR mental health, 5(4), e60. doi:10.2196/mental.8597

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based interventions, self-compassion training, and cognitive behavioral therapy have garnered much evidence in its salutary effects on mental health. With increasing application of smartphone and mobile technology on health promotion, this study investigated the efficacy and possible moderators of mindfulness, self-compassion, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation training mobile apps in the improvement of mental health.

Objective

The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of 3 mobile app–based programs: mindfulness-based program, self-compassion program, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation program in improving mental well-being and reducing psychological distress. Changes in mindful awareness and self-compassion were also assessed. To further delineate the suitability of each program for different types of individuals, individual difference variables (ie, discomfort with emotions and tolerance for ambiguity) were explored for potential moderation.

Methods

This study was a 3-arm, randomized, controlled, noninferiority trial examining the efficacy of mindfulness-based program, self-compassion program, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation. Participants were randomized into either 1 of the 3 conditions. Throughout the 4-week, 28-session program, participants spent 10-15 min daily reviewing the course content and practicing various related exercises. At preprogram, postprogram, and 3-month follow-up, participants also completed Web-based measures of mental well-being, psychological distress, mindful-awareness, and self-compassion as well as the proposed moderators.

Results

Among the 2161 study participants, 508 and 349 completed the post- and 3-month follow-up assessment, respectively. All 3 conditions (mindfulness-based program: N=703; cognitive behavioral psychoeducation: N=753; self-compassion program: N=705) were found to be efficacious in improving mental well-being and reducing psychological distress. All conditions enhanced mindful awareness at postprogram. Significant interaction effect was found on self-compassion; cognitive behavioral psychoeducation and self-compassion program, but not mindfulness-based program, significantly enhanced self-compassion at postprogram. No significant differences regarding usage and users’ satisfaction were found among the 3 conditions. None of the proposed moderators were found to be significant.

Conclusions

Mindfulness-based, self-compassion, and cognitive behavioral psychoeducation mobile apps were efficacious in improving mental well-being and reducing psychological distress among adults at postprogram and 3-month follow-up. Future app-based psychological training programs should consider gamification and personalization of content or feedback to enhance engagement and mitigate the high attrition rates that are common in app-based health promotion programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231823/

 

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

Relieve Burnout in Practicing Psychologists with Mindful Self-Compassion Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness interventions in the workplace target workplace functioning: reducing stress and improving decision-making, productivity, resilience, interpersonal communication, organizational relationships, perspective-taking, and self-care,”– M. Janssen

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Mindfulness is also known to improve self-compassion, understanding one’s own suffering. It is possible that this may be a key to understanding mindfulness’ effects on burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A ), Eriksson and colleagues recruited practicing psychologists and randomly assigned them a wait list control condition or to receive mindful self-compassion training online for 6 weeks of 15 minute per day for 6 days per week. The program consisted of mindfulness exercises and compassion-focused exercises with 6 components, “(1) Kind attention, (2) Kind awareness, (3) Loving kindness with oneself and others, (4) Self-compassion—part 1, (5) Self-compassion—part 2, (6) Compassion with others and Quiet Practice.” The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness, self-compassion, perceived stress, and burnout.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group receiving mindful self-compassion training had significantly higher mindfulness and self-compassion and significantly lower self-coldness, perceived stress and burnout symptoms including fatigue, weariness, tension, and listlessness. They also found that the greater the change in self-compassion the greater the reduction in perceived stress and burnout. This suggests that improvements in self-compassion are an important consequence of mindfulness training in reducing burnout.

 

The fact that the program was delivered online and only involved 15 minutes per day is important for the engagement of busy professionals. This resulted in about 4 out of 5 psychologists successfully completing the program. Importantly, the observed sizes of the effects of the training were comparable to those seen in studies employing face-to-face training. Hence, offering the program online appeared to have the major advantages of convenience and wide availability without reducing effectiveness.

 

These results suggest that mindful self-compassion training delivered online is effective in reducing the symptoms of burnout in practicing psychologists. This should not only relieve the suffering of the psychologists but also make them more effective in relieving the suffering of their clients.

 

So, relieve burnout in practicing psychologists with mindful self-compassion training.

 

Self-compassion enhances our careers by increasing our motivation,16 encouraging us to take risks without fear of failure, to persist despite obstacles; it fosters personal growth, and even reduces medical errors.” – Laurie Keefer

 

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

 

Eriksson T, Germundsjö L, Åström E and Rönnlund M (2018) Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention. Front. Psychol. 9:2340. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340

 

Objective: The aims of this study were (a) to examine the effects of a 6 weeks web-based mindful self-compassion program on stress and burnout symptoms in a group of practicing psychologists, and (b) to examine relationships between changes in self-compassion and self-coldness and changes in stress and burnout symptoms.

Method: In a randomized controlled trial, 101 practicing psychologists were assigned to a training group (n = 51) or a wait-list control group (n = 49). The training encompassed 15 min exercises per day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. The participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) pre and post intervention.

Results: Eighty-one participants (n = 40 in the training group, n = 41 in the control group) took part in the pre and post intervention assessments. Selective gains for the intervention group were observed for SCS total scores (d = 0.86; d = 0.94 for the SCS), FFMQ scores (d = 0.60), while levels of self-coldness was reduced (d = 0.73). Critically, levels of perceived stress (d = 0.59) and burnout symptoms (d = 0.44 for SMBQ total) were additionally lowered post intervention. Finally, the results confirmed the hypothesis that the measures of distress would be more strongly related to self-coldness than self-compassion, a pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses and, for burnout, also in the longitudinal analyses.

Conclusions: This training program appeared effective to increase self-compassion/reduce self-coldness, and to alleviate stress and symptoms of burnout and provide support of the distinction between self-compassion and self-coldness. Additional studies, preferably three-armed RCTs with long-term follow-up, are warranted to further evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02340/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_847629_69_Psycho_20181211_arts_A

 

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With the rise of mental illness and the increasingly pressing need for effective treatments, there’s never been a more important moment for mindfulness — the ability to cultivate a focused, non-judgmental awareness on the present moment. Research has shown mindfulness and meditation-based programs to hold promise for treating a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Carolyn Gregoire

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified 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, online mindfulness training programs 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. There is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective. But there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to face-to-face trainings for the treatment of clinical mental health problems.

 

In today’s Research News article “Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: 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/PMC6231788/ ), Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness on mindfulness training delivered online for the improvement of clinical mental health. They found 12 published studies employing patients with diagnosed mental health issues who received online mindfulness training.

 

They found that the published research literature reported that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in depression and anxiety, especially in patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders. In addition, they found that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in quality of life and mindfulness skills in these clinical patients. The effects were strongest when the control condition was a wait-list and less so, and often non-significant when compared to other active treatments. This suggests the online mindfulness training is not more but equivalently effective as other treatments.

 

These are important results as anxiety disorders and depression are very common diagnoses. It has been well established that mindfulness training improves depression and anxiety. These results extend these prior findings by demonstrating that treatment can be delivered online and to patients with clinical mental health diagnoses. The fact that the treatment was found to be especially effective for patients with anxiety disorders is important as patients with anxiety disorders may be reticent to venture into a clinical environment to receive treatment. Being able to receive treatment without venturing out into the outside world with all of its anxiety evoking situations may be very helpful for these patients.

 

The fact that mindfulness training can be effective when delivered online is very important. Online delivery allows for the application of mindfulness training to a much wider audience at low cost and thus increases the availability of treatment for the relief of suffering,

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness learned over the internet.

 

“Mindfulness helps to be awakening to the patterns of the mind rather than emptying the mind. It helps you to be in touch with your way of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. It is a concept that could be life changing and worth experiencing.” – Christos Papalekas

 

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

 

Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones, J., Santesteban-Echarri, O., Pryor, I., McGorry, P., & Alvarez-Jimenez, M. (2018). Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JMIR mental health, 5(3), e10278. doi:10.2196/10278

 

Abstract

Background

Web-based mindfulness interventions are increasingly delivered through the internet to treat mental health conditions.

Objective

The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in clinical mental health populations. Secondary aims were to explore the impact of study variables on the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions.

Methods

We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating the effects of web-based mindfulness interventions on clinical populations.

Results

The search strategy yielded 12 eligible studies. Web-based mindfulness interventions were effective in reducing depression in the total clinical sample (n=656 g=−0.609, P=.004) and in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=313, g=−0.651, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder subgroup (n=251, P=.18). Similarly, web-based mindfulness interventions significantly reduced anxiety in the total clinical sample (n=756, g=−0.433, P=.004) and the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=413, g=−0.719, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder group (n=251, g=−0.213, P=.28). Finally, web-based mindfulness interventions improved quality of life and functioning in the total sample (n=591, g=0.362, P=.02) in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=370, g=0.550, P=.02) and mindfulness skills in the total clinical sample (n=251, g=0.724, P<.001).

Conclusions

Results support the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in reducing depression and anxiety and in enhancing quality of life and mindfulness skills, particularly in those with clinical anxiety. Results should be interpreted with caution given the high heterogeneity of web-based mindfulness interventions and the low number of studies included.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231788/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse.” – Kelle Walsh

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified 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, online mindfulness training programs 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. There is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective. But there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to face-to-face trainings.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/ ), Querstet and colleagues recruited adult participants online and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 4-week online mindfulness course. The course was implemented with audio and video components and required about 2 hours each week and additional homework. The participants were measured before and after the training for mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. After the wait-list controls completed their mindfulness training they completed follow-up measures at 3 and 6 months after the training.

 

They found that in comparison to the wait-list controls, the participants who received mindfulness training had significant reductions in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. There were also significant increases in mindfulness including the observing, describing, acting with awareness, and non-judging facets. These effects were sustained 3 and 6 months after the completion of training. They also found that the decreases in perceived stress, anxiety, and depression, produced by the intervention were mediated by the increases in the non-judging facet of mindfulness. The effect on depression was also meditated by the describing facet of mindfulness.

 

It is interesting that the facet of mindfulness that appeared to have the greatest impact on the psychological health of the participants was non-judging. Hence, being able to be aware of varied experiences simply as experiences and not judging them is a key to improved psychological well-being. This makes sense as most of the things that happen to an individual are not under their control. What can be controlled are the reactions to the experiences. These are best accomplished if they can be seen as not good or bad, important or trivial, or due to some personal characteristic, but simply as they are.

 

The results add to the accumulating evidence that mindfulness can be trained online and that it produces similar benefits as face-to-face training. This is very important as this makes mindfulness training inexpensive and available to a very large population regardless of schedule and location. This makes it possible to bring the benefits of mindfulness training, promoting psychological health and well-being, to a wide audience.

 

So, improve psychological health with online mindfulness training.

 

“Mindfulness helps to train individuals in bringing back the attention time and time again when it has wandered. And it is precisely through helping individuals to not get carried away by their thoughts that mindfulness has been shown to be so effective for conditions like anxiety and depression.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

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

Querstret, D., Cropley, M., & Fife-Schaw, C. (2018). The Effects of an Online Mindfulness Intervention on Perceived Stress, Depression and Anxiety in a Non-clinical Sample: A Randomised Waitlist Control Trial. Mindfulness, 9(6), 1825–1836.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness interventions have been shown to be effective for health and wellbeing, and delivering mindfulness programmes online may increase accessibility and reduce waiting times and associated costs; however, research assessing the effectiveness of online interventions is lacking. We sought to: (1) assess the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on perceived stress, depression and anxiety; (2) assess different facets of mindfulness (i.e. acting with awareness, describing, non-judging and non-reacting) as mechanisms of change and (3) assess whether the effect of the intervention was maintained over time. The sample was comprised of 118 adults (female, n = 95) drawn from the general population. Using a randomised waitlist control design, participants were randomised to either an intervention (INT) or waitlist control (WLC) group. Participants completed the online intervention, with the WLC group starting after a 6-week waitlist period. Participants completed measures of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7) and perceived stress (PSS-10) at baseline, post-treatment, 3- and 6-month follow-up. Participants who completed the mindfulness intervention (n = 60) reported significantly lower levels of perceived stress (d = − 1.25 [− 1.64, − 0.85]), anxiety (d = − 1.09 [− 1.47, − 0.98]) and depression (d = − 1.06 [− 1.44, − 0.67]), when compared with waitlist control participants (n = 58), and these effects were maintained at follow-up. The effect of the intervention was primarily explained by increased levels of non-judging. This study provides support for online mindfulness interventions and furthers our understanding with regards to how mindfulness interventions exert their positive effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6244637/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Mindfulness Smartphone Ap

Improve Psychological Well-Being with a Mindfulness Smartphone Ap

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When it comes to building a mindfulness meditation practice, “there’s no substitute for a live connection with a teacher — and encouragement from a group or class. But for people who have already taken a class or been introduced to the basics apps are a terrific support to the process.” – Steven Hickman

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified 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, Apps for smartphones 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. But, the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Improvements in Stress, Affect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153897/ ), Economides and colleagues recruited meditation naïve adults on-line and randomly assigned them to practice either meditation or psychoeducation with a cellphone ap. They practiced for 10 minutes per day for 10 days. The meditation ap presented meditation instructions and guided meditations while the psychoeducation ap was structured identically but contained a presentation about the concepts of mindfulness and how an individual applied them. They were measured before and after training for stress, positive and negative emotions, and irritability.

 

Approximately 20% of the initial participants in both groups dropped out before completing the study. Of the completers, compared to baseline and the psychoeducation group, the participants who received the meditation training had significantly lower levels of stress and irritability, and greater levels of positive emotions. Hence, a simple meditation training with a smartphone ap produced significant improvements in psychological well-being.

 

These results are interesting and potentially important as they demonstrate that a simple practice guided with brief smartphone instructions can significantly improve psychological health in individuals without mental or physical illness. A strength of the study was that there was an equivalent comparison condition, psychoeducation ap, to the meditation ap. This suggests that meditation practice was responsible for the results and not some confounding factor such as participant bias, attentional effects, practice effects, experimenter bias, or expectancy effects.  Hence, it appears that meditation practice via smartphone ap may be a simple, inexpensive, convenient way to spread the benefits of meditation practice to widespread populations.

 

So, improve psychological well-being with a mindfulness smartphone ap.

 

“Mindfulness based programs in person have been found to be effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. However, it’s unclear if you can reap the same benefits of mindfulness programs with mobile apps. There is only one scientific study on the effectiveness of a mindfulness app . . . showed improvement in mood and fewer symptoms of depression.” – Marilyn Wei

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Economides, M., Martman, J., Bell, M. J., & Sanderson, B. (2018). Improvements in Stress, Affect, and Irritability Following Brief Use of a Mindfulness-based Smartphone App: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1584–1593. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0905-4

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training, which involves observing thoughts and feelings without judgment or reaction, has been shown to improve aspects of psychosocial well-being when delivered via in-person training programs such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Less is known about the efficacy of digital training mediums, such as smartphone apps, which are rapidly rising in popularity. In this study, novice meditators were randomly allocated to an introductory mindfulness meditation program or to a psychoeducational audiobook control featuring an introduction to the concepts of mindfulness and meditation. The interventions were delivered via the same mindfulness app, were matched across a range of criteria, and were presented to participants as well-being programs. Affect, irritability, and two distinct components of stress were measured immediately before and after each intervention in a cohort of healthy adults. While both interventions were effective at reducing stress associated with personal vulnerability, only the mindfulness intervention had a significant positive impact on irritability, affect, and stress resulting from external pressure (between group Cohen’s d = 0.44, 0.47, 0.45, respectively). These results suggest that brief mindfulness training has a beneficial impact on several aspects of psychosocial well-being, and that smartphone apps are an effective delivery medium for mindfulness training

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153897/

 

Improve Anxiety and Depression with Online Mindfulness Training

 

Improve Anxiety and Depression with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

So many people who want and would benefit from mindfulness meditation training do not ever receive it because of schedules, location, and / or an aversion to being in live groups. Offering mindfulness training in an Internet format allows these people to actually receive the training benefits. We are lucky to live in a world where such alternative formats are available.” – Helané Wahbeh

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. They have been shown to be very helpful in treating anxiety and depression. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified 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 programs have been developed to be implemented over the internet. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But, the question arises as to the effectiveness of these programs in inducing mindfulness and improving the treatment of anxiety and depression. In today’s Research News article “). Online mindfulness-enhanced cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and depression: Outcomes of a pilot trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6112099/ ), Kladnitski and colleagues addressed this issue.

 

They recruited participants through social media who were diagnosed with either generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and/or major depressive disorder. They completed a 7-week online program of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness training. CBT that is designed to address and change maladaptive thought patterns that lead to psychological problems and includes behavioral activation, cognitive restructuring, and graded exposure. They added online mindfulness training also to the program. The entire program was similar to the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program. The participants were measured online before, during, and after the 7-week program and 3 months later for psychiatric symptoms, psychiatric distress, depression, anxiety, mental well-being, disability, worry, rumination, experiential avoidance, emotion regulation, and mindfulness.

 

They found that engagement in the program was low with only 59% of the original participants completing the 7-week program. All of the measures showed significant improvements with moderate to large effect sizes after training compared to baseline and these improvements persisted 3 months later. So, the 7-week online program or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness training reduced the psychological pain and improved the psychological well-being of adults with anxiety or depressive disorders.

 

These results need to be interpreted with caution because of the high drop out rates. The individuals who were not being helped or even harmed by the program may have dropped out leaving only those participants who were improving. Future work needs to improve retention rates for the treatment to be seen as useful. Also, the lack of an active control condition opens the study up to a large array of potential confounds.

 

But, it has been well established in a number of well controlled studies that mindfulness improves the symptoms and mental well being of patients with anxiety and depression. The present study simply demonstrates that presentation of the treatment online is similarly effective. By being able to provide the treatment online it greatly reduces costs, makes the treatment more widely available even to remote locations, and makes it convenient for the patients. That is why it is so important to establish its effectiveness of the online program in relieving the suffering of anxiety and depression patients.

 

So, improve anxiety and depression with online mindfulness training.

 

“participants who completed the online mindfulness course reported significantly lower levels of perceived stress, depression and anxiety.” – Be Mindful

 

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

 

Kladnitski, N., Smith, J., Allen, A., Andrews, G., & Newby, J. M. (2018). Online mindfulness-enhanced cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and depression: Outcomes of a pilot trial. Internet Interventions, 13, 41–50. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.invent.2018.06.003

 

Abstract

Transdiagnostic internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapies (iCBT) are effective for treating anxiety and depression, but there is room for improvement. In this study we developed a new Mindfulness-Enhanced iCBT intervention by incorporating formal and informal mindfulness exercises within an existing transdiagnostic iCBT program for mixed depression and anxiety. We examined the acceptability, feasibility, and outcomes of this new program in a sample of 22 adults with anxiety disorders and/or major depression. Participants took part in the 7-lesson clinician-guided online intervention over 14 weeks, and completed measures of distress (K-10), anxiety (GAD-7), depression (PHQ-9), mindfulness (FFMQ) and well-being (WEMBWS) at pre-, mid-, post-treatment, and three months post-treatment. Treatment engagement, satisfaction, and side-effects were assessed. We found large, significant reductions in distress (Hedges g = 1.55), anxiety (g = 1.39), and depression (g = 1.96), and improvements in trait mindfulness (g = 0.98) and well-being (g = 1.26) between baseline and post-treatment, all of which were maintained at follow-up. Treatment satisfaction was high for treatment-completers, with minimal side-effects reported, although adherence was lower than expected (59.1% completed). These findings show that it is feasible to integrate online mindfulness training with iCBT for the treatment of anxiety and depression, but further research is needed to improve adherence. A randomised controlled trial is needed to explore the efficacy of this program.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6112099/

 

Improve Chronic Conditions with Mindfulness Taught over the Internet

Improve Chronic Conditions with Mindfulness Taught over the Internet

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It’s important for people living with health conditions to recognize what they are feeling, instead of trying to push painful thoughts and emotions away, which can actually amplify them. For those living with serious medical conditions, mindfulness can help them accept and respond to difficult feelings, including fear, loneliness and sadness. By bringing mindfulness to emotions (and the thoughts that may underlie them), we can begin to see them more clearly and recognize that they are temporary.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified 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. This makes delivery to individuals in remote locations nearly impossible.

 

As an alternative, applications over the internet and on smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations, and being available to patients in remote areas. But, the question arises as to the level of compliance with the training and the effectiveness of these internet applications in inducing mindfulness and improving physical and psychological health in chronically ill patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Digital Characteristics and Dissemination Indicators to Optimize Delivery of Internet-Supported Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People With a Chronic Condition: Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6107686/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6123540/  ), Russell and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of internet based mindfulness training programs for the treatment of patients with chronic diseases. They identified 10 randomized controlled studies that contained a control group where mindfulness training was performed over the internet. The patients were afflicted with chronic pain in 3 of the studies, and in single studies with fibromyalgia, heart disease, cancer post-treatment, anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, residual depressive symptoms, and psychosis.

 

They found that internet-based mindfulness interventions in general had significant beneficial effects that improved patient functioning in comparison to the control groups. Half of the studies reported follow-up measurements that reflected persisting benefits. They noted that when measured participant adherence to the programs was in general low.

 

Hence, it appears that internet-based mindfulness interventions are safe and effective treatments for the well-being of patients with chronic diseases. This is potentially very important as these interventions can be administered inexpensively, conveniently, and to large numbers of patients regardless of their locations, greatly increasing the impact of the treatments.

 

There are some caveats. The majority of the participants by far were women and there was no study that compared the efficacy of the internet-based intervention to the comparable face-to-face intervention or another treatment. So, it was recommended that future studies include more males and a comparison to another treatment.

 

So, improve chronic conditions with mindfulness taught over the internet.

 

“MBSR programs might not reverse underlying chronic disease, but they can make it easier to cope with symptoms, improve overall well-being and quality of life and improve health outcomes.” – Monika Merkes

 

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

Russell, L., Ugalde, A., Milne, D., Austin, D., & Livingston, P. M. (2018). Digital Characteristics and Dissemination Indicators to Optimize Delivery of Internet-Supported Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People With a Chronic Condition: Systematic Review. JMIR Mental Health, 5(3), e53. http://doi.org/10.2196/mental.9645

 

Abstract

Background

Internet-supported mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly being used to support people with a chronic condition. Characteristics of MBIs vary greatly in their mode of delivery, communication patterns, level of facilitator involvement, intervention period, and resource intensity, making it difficult to compare how individual digital features may optimize intervention adherence and outcomes.

Objective

The aims of this review were to (1) provide a description of digital characteristics of internet-supported MBIs and examine how these relate to evidence for efficacy and adherence to the intervention and (2) gain insights into the type of information available to inform translation of internet-supported MBIs to applied settings.

Methods

MEDLINE Complete, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases were searched for studies assessing an MBI delivered or accessed via the internet and engaging participants in daily mindfulness-based activities such as mindfulness meditations and informal mindfulness practices. Only studies using a comparison group of alternative interventions (active compactor), usual care, or wait-list were included. Given the broad definition of chronic conditions, specific conditions were not included in the original search to maximize results. The search resulted in 958 articles, from which 11 articles describing 10 interventions met the inclusion criteria.

Results

Internet-supported MBIs were more effective than usual care or wait-list groups, and self-guided interventions were as effective as facilitator-guided interventions. Findings were informed mainly by female participants. Adherence to interventions was inconsistently defined and prevented robust comparison between studies. Reporting of factors associated with intervention dissemination, such as population representativeness, program adoption and maintenance, and costs, was rare.

Conclusions

More comprehensive descriptions of digital characteristics need to be reported to further our understanding of features that may influence engagement and behavior change and to improve the reproducibility of MBIs. Gender differences in determinants and patterns of health behavior should be taken into account at the intervention design stage to accommodate male and female preferences. Future research could compare MBIs with established evidence-based therapies to identify the population groups that would benefit most from internet-supported programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6123540/

 

Relieve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Relieve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“People at risk for depression are dealing with a lot of negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs about themselves and this can easily slide into a depressive relapse. MBCT helps them to recognize that’s happening, engage with it in a different way and respond to it with equanimity and compassion.” – Willem Kuyken

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But, drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is 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.

 

The most commonly used mindfulness technique for the treatment of depression is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. MBCT has been shown to be as effective as antidepressant drugs in relieving the symptoms of depression and preventing depression reoccurrence and relapse. In addition, it appears to be effective as either a supplement to or a replacement for these drugs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with depression: current perspectives.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018485/ ), MacKenzie and colleagues review the published research literature on the application of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to the treatment of depression. They find that the published research makes a very strong case that MBCT is a safe and effective treatment for depression, reducing depression when present and preventing relapse when in remission. The literature also finds that MBCT appears to act on depression by heightening mindfulness, increasing self-compassion and positive emotions and by reducing repetitive negative thoughts (rumination) and cognitive and emotional reactivity.

 

MBCT, however, classically requires a certified trained therapist. This produces 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. As a result, on-line mindfulness training programs and workbook programs have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs and making training schedules much more flexible. MacKenzie and colleagues report that the research demonstrates that MBCT, delivered either over the web or via study-at-home workbooks is also a safe and effective treatment for depression.

 

The review suggests that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has a wide variety of positive psychological effects on the participant that work to counter and prevent depression and that MBCT is effective delivered either by a trained therapist or over the web or via study-at-home workbooks.

 

So, relieve depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

 

MBCT therapists teach clients how to break away from negative thought patterns that can cause a downward spiral into a depressed state so they will be able to fight off depression before it takes hold.” – Psychology Today

 

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

 

MacKenzie, M. B., Abbott, K. A., & Kocovski, N. L. (2018). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with depression: current perspectives. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 14, 1599–1605. http://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S160761

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was developed to prevent relapse in individuals with depressive disorders. This widely used intervention has garnered considerable attention and a comprehensive review of current trends is warranted. As such, this review provides an overview of efficacy, mechanisms of action, and concludes with a discussion of dissemination. Results provided strong support for the efficacy of MBCT despite some methodological shortcomings in the reviewed literature. With respect to mechanisms of action, specific elements, such as mindfulness, repetitive negative thinking, self-compassion and affect, and cognitive reactivity have emerged as important mechanisms of change. Finally, despite a lack of widespread MBCT availability outside urban areas, research has shown that self-help variations are promising. Combined with findings that teacher competence may not be a significant predictor of treatment outcome, there are important implications for dissemination. Taken together, this review shows that while MBCT is an effective treatment for depression, continued research in the areas of efficacy, mechanisms of action, and dissemination are recommended.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018485/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga. Training helps people to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, they are better able to manage them. Practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration, and improve relationships.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified 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, online mindfulness training programs 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.

 

One difficulty with understanding the effects of mindfulness training is that they often contain multiple components such as training on the ideas of mindfulness, practicing mindfulness in everyday activities, meditation, chanting, body scanning, yoga, etc. It cannot be determined then what component or combination of components are responsible for the effects. It would be helpful to compare one form of training with the same training minus single components to begin to isolate what components are necessary and sufficient for the benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention in a Non-clinical Population: Replication and Extension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061247/ ), Cavanagh and colleagues compared a 2-week online mindfulness training containing meditation with the same training without meditation. They recruited university students and staff to participate in a “Learning Mindfulness online” course and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness training, mindfulness training without meditation, or a wait-list control condition.

 

The mindfulness training consisted of a 5-minute mindfulness video and a 2000-word teaching on mindfulness that recommended performing one activity per week mindfully. The training also had a daily guided walking exercise. When meditation was included it consisted of instructions on meditation and a daily 10-minute guided meditation. The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, perseverative thinking, and a daily questionnaire on the use of training components.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control, both mindfulness training groups had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and significantly lower levels of perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and perseverative thinking. They also found that perseverative thinking mediated the effects of mindfulness on perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. That is mindfulness was associated with decreased perseverative thinking (worry, rumination) which was, in turn, associated with lower perceived stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

The primary findings that mindfulness training decreases perseverative thinking, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and that rumination (perseverative thinking is an important mediator http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/research-news/anxiety/of the effects, are not new as have been documented repeatedly elsewhere. What is new is that a relatively brief, online, training is sufficient to produce these benefits. The fact that it could be taught exclusively online is important and suggests that mindfulness training can be implemented broadly, at low cost, and great convenience.

 

It was surprising that the inclusion of meditation in the mindfulness training did not add any extra benefits. This may suggest that training on the application of mindfulness to day to day living is the most important component of mindfulness training for producing improvements in the psychological state of otherwise healthy individuals. This suggests that it is using mindfulness in ongoing day to day activities is very important for the training to be effective.

 

So, improve psychological health with mindfulness.

 

“Their analysis indicated that one skill—the ability to consciously focus on moment-to-moment experiences—fully predicted the benefits of mindfulness for work-related maladies.” – Adam Hoffman

 

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

 

Cavanagh, K., Churchard, A., O’Hanlon, P., Mundy, T., Votolato, P., Jones, F., … Strauss, C. (2018). A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention in a Non-clinical Population: Replication and Extension. Mindfulness, 9(4), 1191–1205. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0856-1

 

Abstract

Building on previous research, this study compared the effects of two brief, online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs; with and without formal meditation practice) and a no intervention control group in a non-clinical sample. One hundred and fifty-five university staff and students were randomly allocated to a 2-week, self-guided, online MBI with or without mindfulness meditation practice, or a wait list control. Measures of mindfulness, perceived stress, perseverative thinking and anxiety/depression symptoms within were administered before and after the intervention period. Intention to treat analysis identified significant differences between groups on change over time for all measured outcomes. Participation in the MBIs was associated with significant improvements in all measured domains (all ps < 0.05), with effect sizes in the small to medium range (0.25 to 0.37, 95% CIs 0.11 to 0.56). No significant changes on these measures were found for the control group. Change in perseverative thinking was found to mediate the relationship between condition and improvement on perceived stress and anxiety/depression symptom outcomes. Contrary to our hypotheses, no differences between the intervention conditions were found. Limitations of the study included reliance on self-report data, a relatively high attrition rate and absence of a longer-term follow-up. This study provides evidence in support of the feasibility and effectiveness of brief, self-guided MBIs in a non-clinical population and suggests that reduced perseverative thinking may be a mechanism of change. Our findings provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a mindfulness psychoeducation condition, without an invitation to formal mindfulness meditation practice. Further research is needed to confirm and better understand these results and to test the potential of such interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061247/

Improve Quality of Life with Migraine Headaches with Mindfulness

Improve Quality of Life with Migraine Headaches with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Be mindful of your breathing. If you notice that your respirations are fast and shallow, concentrate on taking slower, deeper and longer breaths. As your breathing slows, your body will begin to relax. Tensions and stress slowly will ebb from your body, allowing you to release the some of the pain and discomfort associated with your headaches.” – National Headache Institute

 

Migraine headaches are a torment far beyond the suffering of a common headache. It is an intense throbbing pain usually unilateral, focused on only one side of the head and lasts from 4 hours to 3 days. They are actually a collection of neurological symptoms. Migraines often include: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. Migraines are the 8th most disabling illness in the world. While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, about 4% have chronic daily headaches. Migraines are very disruptive to the sufferer’s personal and work lives as most people are unable to work or function normally when experiencing a migraine.

 

There is no known cure for migraine headaches. Treatments are targeted at managing the symptoms. Prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers are frequently used. There are a number of drug and drug combinations that appear to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. These vary in effectiveness but unfortunately can have troubling side effects and some are addictive. Behaviorally, relaxation and sleep appear to help lower the frequency of migraines. Mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce stress and improve relaxation. So, they may be useful in preventing migraines. Indeed, it has been shown that mindfulness practice can reduce headache pain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness for female outpatients with chronic primary headaches: an internet-based bibliotherapy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6036307/ ), Tavallaei and colleagues recruited women suffering with migraine headaches and randomly assigned them to receive either an on-line mindfulness training based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or medical treatment as usual. The mindfulness training program was presented over the internet in 8 weekly sessions and included meditation, body scan, and didactic presentation. The participants were measured before and after treatment for mindfulness, migraine disability, pain, and distress including depression, anxiety, and stress.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the treatment-as-usual control group that the group who received mindfulness training had significantly lower levels of migraine disability, distress, and pain and significantly higher levels of mindfulness. They found that the reductions in pain were due to changes in the emotional reactions to pain and not the sensory experiences of pain. So, the pain was perceived normally but the women did not react to the sensations emotionally and this resulted in a lower impact of the headache pain.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training increases the quality of life and reduces the psychological distress of women with migraine headaches. Similar findings have been reported in other prior research studies. The importance of the present study resides in the presentation of the program over the internet. Presentation over the internet is important as in-person programs are inconvenient and expensive. Presentation over the internet allows for widespread, convenient, and inexpensive distribution of the therapy to affected populations. This makes mindfulness training more readily available to migraine sufferers.

 

So, improve quality of life with migraine headaches with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness has been examined as a treatment for chronic pain and pain-related conditions, finding positive results such as reduction in medication usage, improved physical functioning, and physical-health-related quality of life.” – Monika Tomova

 

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

 

Tavallaei, V., Rezapour-Mirsaleh, Y., Rezaiemaram, P., & Saadat, S. H. (2018). Mindfulness for female outpatients with chronic primary headaches: an internet-based bibliotherapy. European Journal of Translational Myology, 28(2), 7380. http://doi.org/10.4081/ejtm.2018.7380

 

Abstract

Our aim was to investigate effectiveness of mindfulness by bibliotherapy on disability, distress, perceived pain and mindfulness in women with tension headaches and migraines. Primary headaches have been of great interest to mental health researchers because of the high prevalence, as well as significant disability and distress in the affected people. Despite the promising results of in-person treatment and some limitations that such interventions may cause, patients may be encountered with problems when using health care services. The present study is a quasi-experimental randomized design with pre-test, post-test, and control group. The study population consisted of 1396 women with migraine headache referring to headache clinic of Baqiyatallah Hospital in Tehran. Of these, 30 patients (including tboh experimental and control group) were selected by objective sampling method and were randomly assigned to the two groups. The experimental group, in addition to medical treatment as usual, was treated for a period of 8 sessions by Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Internet-based Bibliotherapy, but the control group used only the medical treatment. The sample had no attritions. Data were collected by the four scales of (DASS-21), Migraine Disability Assessment Test (MIDAS), McGill’s Short Form Questionnaire (MPQ-SF), and Mindfulness Inventory (MAAS). We used covariance analysis to analyze the findings in the measured scales. MBSR-IBB treatment had no significant effect on pain sensory dimension (P <0.44), despite improvement of mindfulness (P <0.0001). In contrast, the greatest effect was on the level of disability (P <0.0001). We observed also a significant improvement in distress (P <0.0001). In conclusion, in spite of the presence of headaches, the mindfulness improved the quality of life and reduced the level of mental distress. In addition, using the Internet-based bibliotherapy method, these services can be used with easier access, lower cost, and more flexibility.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6036307/