Improve Weight-Related Eating Behaviors with a Mindfulness App

Improve Weight-Related Eating Behaviors with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and unhealthy choices.” – Harvard Health

 

Eating is produced by two categories of signals. Homeostatic signals emerge from the body’s need for nutrients, is associated with feelings of hunger, and usually work to balance intake with expenditure. Non-homeostatic eating, on the other hand, is not tied to nutrient needs or hunger but rather to the environment and or to the pleasurable and rewarding qualities of food. These cues can be powerful signals to eat even when there is no physical need for food.

 

Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake by affecting the individual’s response to non-homeostatic cues for eating. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity. Hence, mindful eating may counter non-homeostatic eating.

 

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. It is not known if a mindful eating smartphone app may be effective in reducing body weight and weight-related eating behaviors.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Mindfulness App Trial for Weight, Weight-Related Behaviors, and Stress in University Students: Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6479283/), Lyzwinski and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to receive apps for their smartphones for either mindfulness or a self-monitoring diet and exercise diary for an 11 week period. The mindfulness app consisted of body scan, diaphragmatic breathing, observing the breath, loving kindness meditation, concentration meditation, choiceless awareness mindfulness meditation, and Hatha yoga all adapted from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The students were measured before and after the 11-week training for body size, physical activity, eating behavior, mindful eating, mindfulness, perceived stress, and participant retention and adherence.

 

They found in comparison to baseline and to the diet and exercise diary group, the mindfulness group had significant increases in mindfulness and mindful eating, and significant decreases in emotional eating, uncontrolled eating, and perceived stress levels. The diet and exercise diary group had significantly higher levels of exercise. There were no significant changes in body size for either group. 80% of the participants completed the program and of the mindfulness app group only 14% reported completing all modules, while 61% reported sporadic use, and 23% reported using it very seldom.

 

The results are encouraging and suggest that the mindfulness smartphone app is a feasible and acceptable method of increasing mindfulness and improving weight-related eating behaviors. Although retention is good, adherence was not. The students recruited, though, were not particularly motivated to lose weight or practice mindfulness. Perhaps, a more motivated group of participants would have resulted in better adherence. There also may be a need to modify the app to make participation more interesting and fun.

 

The fact there no changes in weight were observed was no surprising as the 11-week period is short to detect significant changes in weight. A long-term study is needed here. In addition, maintaining a diet and exercise diary has been shown to reduce food intake and increase exercise. A comparison of the mindfulness app to a group participating in nutrition education ap might be better able to demonstrate changes in body size. Regardless, the results are encouraging and suggest that an app, training students in mindfulness, may be a convenient and inexpensive means to develop better eating habits.

 

So, improve weight-related eating behaviors with a mindfulness App.

 

Increased mindful eating has been shown to help participants gain awareness of their bodies, be more in tune to hunger and satiety, recognize external cues to eat, gain self compassion, decrease food cravings, decrease problematic eating, and decrease reward-driven eating.” – Carolyn Dunn

 

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

 

Lyzwinski, L. N., Caffery, L., Bambling, M., & Edirippulige, S. (2019). The Mindfulness App Trial for Weight, Weight-Related Behaviors, and Stress in University Students: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7(4), e12210. doi:10.2196/12210

 

Abstract

Background

University students are at risk of weight gain during their studies. Key factors related to weight gain in this population include unhealthy weight-related behaviors because of stress. Mindfulness holds promise for weight management. However, there has not been any previous trial that has explored the effectiveness of a student-tailored mindfulness app for stress, weight-related behaviors, and weight. There is limited evidence that current mindfulness apps use evidence-based mindfulness techniques. A novel app was developed that combined evidence-based, mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindful eating (ME) techniques that were tailored to university students, with student-relevant themes for targeting weight behaviors, weight, and stress.

Objectives

The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness, acceptability, and feasibility of a student-tailored mindfulness app for weight, weight-related behaviors, and stress. Testing this app in a rigorous randomized controlled trial (RCT) for these outcomes is a novelty and contribution to this emerging field.

Methods

A 2-arm RCT of an 11-week duration was undertaken at the University of Queensland. Students were either randomized to the mindfulness app (n=45) or to a behavioral self-monitoring electronic diary (e-diary; n=45) for diet and exercise. Analysis of covariance was used to compare differences in weight, stress, mindfulness, ME, physical activity, and eating behaviors between both groups.

Results

Neither the mindfulness app group nor the e-diary group lost weight and there were no differences between the groups at follow-up. The mindfulness app group had significantly lower stress levels (P=.02) (adherers only), lower emotional eating (P=.02), and uncontrolled eating (P=.02) as well as higher mindfulness (P≤.001) and ME levels overall (P≤.001). The e-diary group had higher metabolic equivalents of moderate activity levels (P≤.01). However, the effect sizes were small. Regular adherence to mindfulness exercises in the app was low in the group. The majority of students (94%) liked the app and found it to be acceptable. Compared with other exercises, the most helpful reported meditation was the short breathing exercise observing the breath (39.4% [13/33] preferred it).

This was the first RCT that tested a mindfulness app for weight and weight-related behaviors in students. The modest level of user adherence likely contributes to the lack of effect on weight loss. However, there was a small, albeit promising, effect on weight-related eating behavior and stress.

Conclusions

A mindfulness app demonstrated effectiveness for stress, eating behaviors, mindfulness, and ME, but the effect sizes were small. Future studies should be conducted over longer periods of time and with greater participant compliance.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6479283/

 

Mindfulness Training and Cognitive Therapy Improves Social Anxiety Disorder

Mindfulness Training and Cognitive Therapy Improves Social Anxiety Disorder

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Using mindfulness, we can begin to notice what happens in the body when anxiety is present and develop strategies to empower clients to “signal safety” to their nervous system. Over time, clients feel empowered to slow down their response to triggers, manage their body’s fear response (fight-or-flight) and increase their ability to tolerate discomfort.” – Jeena Chi

 

It is a common human phenomenon that being in a social situation can be stressful and anxiety producing. Most people can deal with the anxiety and can become quite comfortable. But many do not cope well and the anxiety is overwhelming, causing the individual to withdraw. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. This fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other activities and may negatively affect the person’s ability to form relationships.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been shown to be effective in treating Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

In today’s Research News article “Emotional clarity and attention to emotions in cognitive behavioral group therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction for social anxiety disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5879018/), Butler and colleagues recruited patients diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and a healthy control group and randomly assigned them to receive 12 weekly 2.5 hour sessions of either Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or to a wait-list control condition. They were measured before and after treatment and 12 months later for emotional clarity, attention to emotions, and social anxiety.

 

They found that at baseline the patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) had significantly greater social anxiety and lower emotional clarity than the healthy controls. After treatment the patients who had received either MBSR or CBGT had significantly higher levels of emotional clarity than the wait-list controls. The effect remained 12 months later. They also found that the greater the changes in emotional clarity observed after treatment and at the 12-month follow-up, the greater the improvement in Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). There were no significant effects on attention to emotions.

 

Emotional clarity is an aspect of emotional regulation which involves the ability to identify the emotion that is being experienced. The results suggest that this ability is enhanced by both Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and that this improvement is related to the treatments ability to improve the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). This is in line with the repeated finding that mindfulness training improves emotion regulation. The results further refine this understanding by identifying emotional clarity and not attention to emotions as the component of emotional regulation that’s important for improvements in SAD. So, being more sensitive to what is the identity of the emotion being experienced is helpful in dealing with social anxiety, but paying more attention to emotions is not. This further suggests that treatment focusing on emotional clarity may be even more effective in treating SAD.

 

So, improve social anxiety disorder with mindfulness training or cognitive therapy.

 

The power of a mindfulness practice, however, may come in the realization that one can live a meaningful life even with social anxiety. Schjerning, who participated in Fleming and Kocovski’s group, says that he still feels nervous in social situations but now feels compassion — not judgment — for himself, and sees that “I can be more the person I want to be.” – Jason Drwal

 

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

 

Butler, R. M., Boden, M. T., Olino, T. M., Morrison, A. S., Goldin, P. R., Gross, J. J., & Heimberg, R. G. (2018). Emotional clarity and attention to emotions in cognitive behavioral group therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction for social anxiety disorder. Journal of anxiety disorders55, 31–38. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2018.03.003

 

Highlights

We examined emotional clarity (EC) and attention to emotion in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD).

  • Patients demonstrated lower levels of EC than healthy controls.
  • Cognitive-behavioral group therapy increased EC more than a waitlist.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction did not increase EC more than a waitlist.
  • Changes in emotional clarity predicted changes in social anxiety.
  • Analyses involving attention to emotions were not significant.

Abstract

We examined (1) differences between controls and patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) in emotional clarity and attention to emotions; (2) changes in emotional clarity and attention to emotions associated with cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), or a waitlist (WL) condition; and (3) whether emotional clarity and attention to emotions moderated changes in social anxiety across treatment. Participants were healthy controls (n = 37) and patients with SAD (n=108) who were assigned to CBGT, MBSR, or WL in a randomized controlled trial. At pretreatment, posttreatment, and 12-month follow-up, patients with SAD completed measures of social anxiety, emotional clarity, and attention to emotions. Controls completed measures at baseline only. At pretreatment, patients with SAD had lower levels of emotional clarity than controls. Emotional clarity increased significantly among patients receiving CBGT, and changes were maintained at 12-month follow-up. Emotional clarity at posttreatment did not differ between CBGT and MBSR or between MBSR and WL. Changes in emotional clarity predicted changes in social anxiety, but emotional clarity did not moderate treatment outcome. Analyses of attention to emotions were not significant. Implications for the role of emotional clarity in the treatment of SAD are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5879018/

 

Improve Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” Jennifer Wolkin

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

There is a vast array of techniques for the development of mindfulness. They include a variety of forms of meditationyogamindful movementscontemplative prayer, and combinations of practices. Some are recommended to be practiced for years while others are employed for only a few weeks. Regardless of the technique, they all appear to develop and increase mindfulness. One particularly effective mindfulness training program is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The patients are also encouraged to perform daily practice. It is unclear, however, exactly how the state of mindfulness of the participants at the beginning of training affect the effects of the MBSR program.

 

In today’s Research News article “The many facets of mindfulness and the prediction of change following mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5815955/), Gawrysiak and colleagues recruited participants in an 8-week, one 2.5-hour session per week of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. They were measured before and after treatments for perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, mindfulness, and decentering.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after the MBSR program there were large significant improvements in all measures including increases in mindfulness, positive emotions, and decentering and decreases in negative emotions, and perceived stress. They then examined the relationship of the levels of mindfulness facets at baseline and the changes in emotions and stress produced by the MBSR program. They found that in general, participants with high levels of mindfulness facets of awareness, acceptance, and decentering had significantly greater increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions. On the other hand, participants with low levels of acceptance, and decentering had significantly greater decreases in stress, negative emotions.

 

These results clearly demonstrate that participating in an MBSR program produces improved mindfulness, emotional health, and stress reduction. These are in line with a number of previous findings that mindfulness training improves emotions and perceived stress levels. But, the results regarding baseline mindfulness facets on emotions and stress are complex and a bit counterintuitive. They suggest that participants who are already high in awareness, acceptance, and decentering benefited the most in regards to their emotions from the MBSR program. While, those low in acceptance, and decentering benefited the most in regards to their perceived stress levels. More research is needed to better understand these complex relationships.

 

So, improve mental well-being with mindfulness.

 

“The practice of mindfulness is an effective means of enhancing and maintaining optimal mental health and overall well-being, and can be implemented in every aspect of daily living.” – Rezvan Ameli

 

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

 

Gawrysiak, M. J., Grassetti, S. N., Greeson, J. M., Shorey, R. C., Pohlig, R., & Baime, M. J. (2017). The many facets of mindfulness and the prediction of change following mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Journal of clinical psychology, 74(4), 523–535. doi:10.1002/jclp.22521

 

Abstract

Objectives

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) promotes numerous psychological benefits, but few studies have identified for whom MBSR is most effective. The current study tested the hypothesis that lower baseline mindfulness invites more “room to grow” and, thus, predicts greater improvement during MBSR.

Design

We examined three facets of mindfulness (awareness, acceptance, decentering), among 131 MBSR participants prior to enrollment, to test the hypothesis that lower baseline mindfulness predicts greater improvements in perceived stress, positive affect (PA), and negative affect (NA) following MBSR.

Results

Lower acceptance and decentering predicted greater decreases in perceived stress. Higher awareness, acceptance, and decentering predicted greater increases in PA. Higher awareness predicted greater reductions in NA. Lower decentering predicted greater reductions in NA.

Conclusions

Findings partly supported the hypothesis that lower baseline mindfulness predicts greater improvement following MBSR and emphasize the importance of assessing multiple mindfulness facets given their unique, contrasting relations to outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5815955/

 

Improve the Psychological State of Heart Disease Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological State of Heart Disease Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Not only can meditation improve how your heart functions, but a regular practice can enhance your outlook on life and motivate you to maintain many heart-healthy behaviors, like following a proper diet, getting adequate sleep, and keeping up regular exercise,” – John Denninger

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” (Centers for Disease Control). A myriad of treatments has been developed for heart disease including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of heart failure patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease are contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. These practices have also been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress and to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to continue studying the effects of mindfulness training on patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction program on quality of life in cardiovascular disease patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465573/), Jalali and colleagues recruited patients with cardiovascular disease and randomly assigned them either to a wait-list control or to receive and 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)  that includes body scan and focused meditations, yoga practice, and discussion. Training occurred once a week for 2.5 hours and included daily home practice. They were measured before and after training and 3 months later for self-efficacy and their health.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group that received the program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly increased self-efficacy and quality of life that persisted 3 months after treatment. Hence. MBSR training appears to be safe, effective, and lasting treatment that is very helpful for patients with cardiovascular disease, improving self-efficacy and quality of life.

 

The improved self-efficacy is very important. It suggests that the patients feel better able to control their health. It suggests that they are more willing to take control of their lives to improve their health. It is well known that changes in lifestyle are very important for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. So, improved self-efficacy would predict that the patients would be more likely to adopt and maintain these lifestyle changes. This would inevitably lead to an improved health and quality of life.

 

So, improve the psychological state of heart disease patients with mindfulness.

 

“Given the proven role of stress in heart attacks and coronary artery disease, effective meditation would be appropriate for almost all patients with coronary artery disease.” – Joon Sup Lee

 

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

 

Jalali, D., Abdolazimi, M., Alaei, Z., & Solati, K. (2019). Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction program on quality of life in cardiovascular disease patients. International journal of cardiology. Heart & vasculature, 23, 100356. doi:10.1016/j.ijcha.2019.100356

 

Abstract

Introduction

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most fatal physical illnesses that impose many financial losses on societies every year.

Aim

This study was to investigate the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on self-efficacy and quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease.

Material and methods

The samples of this clinical trial were 60 patients who were selected by convenience sampling from patients were diagnosed, clinically interviewed by a cardiologist and randomized to two groups; experimental and control, and then completed Sherer et al. General Self-Efficacy Scale and 36-item Short Form Survey three times; pre-test, post-test, and after 3 months of follow-up. MBSR Program includes the methods that patients learn to calm their minds and body to help them cope with disease that was based on self-efficacy and quality of life. Data analysis was performed by the SPSS v22 using t-test and ANOVA.

Results

The results show that the mean pre-test scores of self-efficacy and quality of life of patients were not significantly different between the experimental and control groups (P > 0.05). However, the mean scores of the two variables were found to be significantly different between the experimental group and the control group on the post-test and follow-up as the research hypotheses were examined (P < 0.01). So that the means of self-efficacy were 60.80 ± 5.91 and 60.40 ± 7.03 and quality of life were 103.80 ± 9.35 and 101.10 ± 9.13 at post-test and 3 months later respectively in experimental group.

Conclusion

Self-efficacy and quality of life of cardiovascular patients could be improved by providing an MBSR program.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465573/

 

Relieve Stress and Burnout in Primary Care Physicians with Mindfulness

Relieve Stress and Burnout in Primary Care Physicians with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Dealing with sick, scared, suffering and dying patients is draining all by itself. Throw in distraction by negative emotions like worry, anger, frustration, righteous indignation … and you can easily double the energy drain. . . With an effective mindfulness practice you can notice when you are distracted by thoughts and feelings and release them quickly and effectively — without judging yourself in the process.” – Dike Drummond

 

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. On the front lines of medical practice are the primary care physicians. It is thus important to assess the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing stress and burnout in these physicians.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of mindfulness training on perceived stress, self-compassion, and self-reflection of primary care physicians: a mixed-methods study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6348323/ ), Wietmarschen and colleagues recruited primary care physicians and provided them with an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that includes body scan and focused meditations, yoga practice, and discussion that was modified for physicians’ needs. Training occurred once a week for 2.5 hours and included daily home practice. The physicians were measured before and after the training and 6 months later for perceived stress, self-compassion, and self-reflection ability. A subset of these physicians was also interviewed 3 months after training.

 

They found that immediately after training the physicians has significantly lower perceived stress and significantly improved self-compassion and self-reflection. Six months later the improvements in perceived stress and self-compassion were still large and highly significant. The interviews revealed that “participation in the mindfulness training made the participants more aware of their own feelings and thoughts, and better able to accept situations, experience more peacefulness, and have more openness to the self and others.”

 

It needs to be recognized that the study did not contain a control group for comparison leaving open a number of potentially confounding factors. But, prior published randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that mindfulness training markedly reduces stress and burnout. So, the present results are most likely due to the effects of MBSR training.

 

These are important findings as burnout is a threat to medical careers and the quality of health care. The fact, that a relatively brief training can have lasting effects on the well-being of primary care physicians suggests that mindfulness training should be routinely included in physician training and continuing education.

 

So, relieve stress and burnout in primary care physicians with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness can be thought of as ‘preventive medicine’ for future doctors, helping them cultivate a way of being that may foster healing and growth in their own lives as well as skills to effectively help others heal and grow in the future.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

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

 

van Wietmarschen, H., Tjaden, B., van Vliet, M., Battjes-Fries, M., & Jong, M. (2018). Effects of mindfulness training on perceived stress, self-compassion, and self-reflection of primary care physicians: a mixed-methods study. BJGP open, 2(4), bjgpopen18X101621. doi:10.3399/bjgpopen18X101621

 

Abstract

Background

Primary care physicians are subjected to a high workload, which can lead to stress and a high incidence of burnout. A mindfulness training course was developed and implemented for primary care physicians to better cope with stress and improve job functioning.

Aim

To gain insight into the effects of the mindfulness training on perceived stress, self-compassion, and self-reflection of primary care physicians.

Design & setting

A pragmatic mixed-methods pre–post design in which physicians received 8 weeks of mindfulness training.

Method

Participants completed validated questionnaires on perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale [PSS]), self-compassion (Self-Compassion Scale [SCS]), and self-reflection (Groningen Reflection Ability Scale [GRAS]) before the training, directly after, and 6 months later. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six participants after the training and a content analysis was performed to gain in depth understanding of experiences.

Results

A total of 54 physicians participated in the study. PSS was reduced (mean difference [MD] -4.5, P<0.001), SCS improved (MD = 0.5, P<0.001), and GRAS improved (MD = 3.3, P<0.001), directly after the 8-week training compared with before training. Six months later, PSS was still reduced (MD = -2.9, P = 0.025) and SCS improved (MD = 0.7, P<0.001). GRAS did not remain significant (MD = 2.5, P = 0.120). Qualitative analysis revealed four themes: being more aware of their own feelings and thoughts; being better able to accept situations; experiencing more peacefulness; and having more openness to the self and others.

Conclusion

Mindfulness training might be an effective approach for improving stress resilience, self-compassion, and self-reflection in primary care physicians.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6348323/

 

Mindfulness Practice Quality not Quantity Predicts Psychological Improvement

Mindfulness Practice Quality not Quantity Predicts Psychological Improvement

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Ultimately, engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits. With impacts so great it is important to know how to  measure and optimize the development of mindfulness.

 

There is a vast array of techniques for the development of mindfulness. They include a variety of forms of meditationyogamindful movementscontemplative prayer, and combinations of practices. Some are recommended to be practiced for years while others are employed for only a few weeks. Regardless of the technique, they all appear to develop and increase mindfulness. One particularly effective mindfulness training program is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The patients are also encouraged to perform daily practice. It is unclear, however, exactly whether it is the quantity or the quality of practice that is essential to producing maximum benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “The secret ingredient in mindfulness interventions? A case for practice quality over quantity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333205/ ), Goldberg and colleagues recruited adults for a “Quit Smoking Trial” and had them participate in an 8 week, once a week for 1.5 hours, mindfulness training program based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program but targeting smoking cessation. They also practiced at home for 30 minutes per day. In addition, for the first 4 weeks they also received nicotine patches. They were measured before and after the program and 5 months later for smoking, mindfulness, psychological functioning, emotion regulation, negative emotions, and quality of life. At each of the 8 practice sessions the participants also reported on the amount of time they practiced during the week and quality of these practices. The measure of practice quality was “composed of two dimensions: perseverance (e.g., “During practice, I attempted to return to my present-moment experience, whether unpleasant, pleasant, or neutral”) and receptivity (e.g., “During practice I was actively avoiding or ‘pushing away’ certain experiences”).”

 

They found that after treatment there was a significant relationship between practice time and the change in practice quality and the psychological functioning of the individuals with small to moderate effect sizes. In particular, the greater the amount of time spent practicing and also the greater the change in the quality of practice, the greater the improvement in psychological function in the participants. At the 5-month follow-up, however, only the change in quality of practice was associated with improved psychological function. Neither the amount of time spent practicing or the quality of practice was associated with smoking cessation at the end of treatment or 5 months later.

 

These results are interesting and suggest the importance of quality of practice in influencing the effectiveness of mindfulness practice on the psychological function of the individual. The quality measure components of perseverance and receptivity reflect exactly what is taught in mindfulness training where the meditator is asked to return to mindfulness whenever they detect mind wandering and to simply let things be as they are without attempts to change or control them. How well these skills are mastered, as evidenced by their change over the 8 weeks of training appears to be very important for maintaining the benefits.

 

This is an unusual study as most research on mindfulness training do not measure either amount or quality of the trained practice, while only a few, monitor the amount of time spent practicing. The current study underlines the importance of measuring quality. It appears to be important for assessing benefits but also may be used to examine practice methods that maximize the quality and quantity of practice and their importance for their benefits.

 

“Mindfulness is an important part of mental wellbeing; it can help us take stock of the fast-paced world around us and understand our emotions and feelings better. Practising mindfulness regularly can help reduce stress and improve mood; it can also help people to become more emotionally alert, to listen more attentively, communicate more clearly, and can increase self-awareness and the awareness of others.” – Fit for Work

 

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Study Summary

 

Goldberg, S. B., Del Re, A. C., Hoyt, W. T., & Davis, J. M. (2014). The secret ingredient in mindfulness interventions? A case for practice quality over quantity. Journal of counseling psychology, 61(3), 491-7.

 

Abstract

As mindfulness-based interventions become increasingly widespread, interest has grown in better understanding which features of these treatments produce beneficial effects. The present study examined the relative contribution of mindfulness practice time and practice quality in predicting psychological functioning (negative affect, emotion regulation, quality of life, mindfulness). Data were drawn from a randomized clinical trial of mindfulness training for smokers and assessed outcomes at posttreatment (n = 43) and 5-month follow-up (n = 38). The intervention included instruction in mindfulness techniques targeted to smoking cessation and relapse prevention and was composed of 10 group meetings over 8 weeks. Data from 8 treatment groups were used. Mindfulness practice quality was measured weekly over the course of treatment, and multilevel modeling was used to estimate trajectories of change in practice quality. The measure of practice quality was shown to be valid and reliable, with change in practice quality predicting change in psychological functioning at both posttreatment (β= .31, 95% CI =[0.04, 0.56], p = .022) and follow-up (β= .45 [0.16, 0.73], p = .002), even when controlling for practice time. Practice time predicted outcomes at posttreatment (β= .31 [0.05, 0.57], p = .019) but not at follow-up (β= .16 [[H11002]0.14, 0.47], p = .293). Neither practice time nor change in practice quality predicted smoking abstinence at 1 month or 6 months postquit. Results support the importance of practice quality as a relevant aspect of mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333205/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Thyroid Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Thyroid Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It turns out that some of the most difficult elements of the cancer experience are very well-suited to a mindfulness practice. When a person gets diagnosed, there’s fear and uncertainty about the future. There’s the loss of routine and predictability. There’s the physical aspect, the treatment or surgery, pain, insomnia, which almost everybody gets, and the post-treatment fatigue. A lot of people find the hardest time is from active treatment to survivorship or post-treatment period where all of a sudden, it’s time to get back to one’s life, but what’s the new normal? For many people, it’s a catalyst or transition period. They look at their life and wonder what’s important. What are my values? What does an authentic life look like? What brings me meaning and purpose?” – Linda Carlson

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. In the case of Thyroid cancer that number is over 95%. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia and reduced quality of life are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based stress reduction in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer receiving radioactive iodine therapy: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6324610/ ), Liu and colleagues recruited patients with Thyroid cancer who were receiving radioactive iodine treatment and randomly assigned them to either a usual care control condition or to receive a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) treatment. The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The patients are also encouraged to perform daily practice for 15-45 minutes. They were measured before and after treatment and 3 months later for cancer specific quality of life, depression, and anxiety.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual control group, the patients who participated in MBSR treatment had significantly improved overall cancer specific quality of life, including emotional function and fatigue, and they reported significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression. Importantly, these improvements were still present and significant 3 months after the conclusion of treatment.

 

These are impressive results that suggest that mindfulness training produces significant and lasting benefits for the psychological well-being of Thyroid cancer patients. These patients have a lot to deal with in fighting their disease. The improvements in psychological well-being are important producing relief of one aspect of cancer so that the patient can better focus on the physical side. These results add Thyroid cancer patients to the growing list of cancer patients helped by mindfulness training.

 

So, improve the psychological health of thyroid cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

“MBSR can help to relieve particular symptoms and improve quality of life for people with cancer. It might, improve mood, improve concentration, reduce depression and anxiety, reduce symptoms and side effects, such as feeling sick (nausea), boost the immune system. . . There is no evidence that meditation can help to prevent, treat or cure cancer, or any other disease.” – Cancer Research UK

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, T., Zhang, W., Xiao, S., Xu, L., Wen, Q., Bai, L., Ma, Q., … Ji, B. (2019). Mindfulness-based stress reduction in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer receiving radioactive iodine therapy: a randomized controlled trial. Cancer management and research, 11, 467-474. doi:10.2147/CMAR.S183299

 

Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on health-related quality of life (QoL), depression, and anxiety in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) receiving radioactive iodine therapy (RIT).

Patients and methods

A randomized controlled trial of MBSR with 120 DTC patients was performed. They were randomly assigned into the MBSR intervention group and usual care (UC) group. An 8-week MBSR program was administered to the MBSR group starting 8 weeks before RIT. Health-related QoL, depression, and anxiety were measured immediately before the start of MBSR (T1), immediately after RIT hospitalization was concluded (1 week after concluding the last MBSR session, T2), and 3 months after RIT hospitalization (T3), using the QoL Questionnaire Core 30 Items (QLQ-C30), Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS), and Self-rating Anxiety Scale (SAS).

Results

Fifty-three patients in the UC group and 49 patients in the MBSR group completed the study and were analyzed. Both the UC and MBSR groups reported low QoL and high SDS and SAS scores immediately after RIT hospitalization. Patients randomly assigned to the MBSR group showed significantly greater improvements in emotional function (P=0.012, d=–0.03 for T2 and d=1.17 for T3), fatigue (P=0.037, d=1.00 for T2 and d=–0.69 for T3), global QoL (P=0.015, d=1.61 for T2 and d=1.56 for T3), depression (P=0.027, d=–1.19 for T2 and d=–0.83 for T3), and anxiety (P=0.043, d=–1.00 for T2 and d=–0.86 for T3).

Conclusion

An 8-week MBSR program significantly improved a wide range of scales in health-related QoL and mitigated depression and anxiety among DTC patients receiving RIT.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6324610/

 

Improve the Well-Being of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis with Mindfulness

Improve the Well-Being of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Studies in MS have shown that mindfulness can improve quality of life and help people cope better with their MS. Various studies found that mindfulness decreased pain, stress, anxiety and depression. People undergoing mindfulness training also reported better sleep.” – MS Trust

 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive demyelinating disease which attacks the coating on the neural axons which send messages throughout the body and nervous system. It affects about 2 million people worldwide and about 400,000 in the U.S. It is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 years.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. There are a number of approved medications that are used to treat MS but are designed to lessen frequency of relapses and slow the progression of the disease, but they don’t address individual symptoms.

 

Although there is a progressive deterioration, MS is not fatal with MS patients having about the same life expectancy as the general population. Hence, most MS sufferers have to live with the disease for many years. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. But mindfulness training is complex as there are a wide variety of different programs and practices and it is not known how long the effects of mindfulness training last with MS patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Longitudinal associations between mindfulness and well-being in people with multiple sclerosis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6300715/ ), Pagnini and colleagues recruited adult patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) that had been stable for at least 3 months and randomly assigned them to receive an 8-week program of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or psychoeducation. MBSR consisted of once a week trainings of 2.5 hours, including meditation, body scan, and yoga practices and discussion and home practice. Psychoeducation consisted of “online videos and home exercises that dealt with stress management, relaxation training, sleep hygiene, fatigue, and social relationships.” The participants were measured before and after training and 6 months later for mindfulness, Multiple Sclerosis quality of life, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep quality.

 

They found that MBSR produced significantly higher quality of life at the end of treatment but this was not maintained 6 months later. They did not find any further significant differences between groups but found overall and 6 months after treatment that the higher the patients’ levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems and the higher the quality of life.

 

The fact that MBSR did not produce superior benefits to psychoeducation is disappointing as previous studies have shown that mindfulness training is effective in relieving the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. It has been previously shown with a variety of healthy and ill individuals that mindfulness can improve depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep quality. So, the present findings further extend these findings to patients with MS.

 

Living with Multiple Sclerosis can produce lower levels of well-being and quality of life. Since these patients will be spending the rest of their lives with the disease it is important to implement treatments that can improve their well-being and quality of life. Mindfulness appears to be just such treatment.

 

So, improve the well-being of patients with Multiple Sclerosis with mindfulness.

 

I think it’s important that one of the underpinning attitudes of being more mindful is that of non-striving, which is sometimes described as “trying less and being more”; this notion of acceptance can be a useful message for anyone with MS. This disease brings about some inevitable changes to how we live our lives, how we work, how we parent and so on. This particular aspect of mindfulness can help us to reclaim our lives by responding to the here-and-now present moment.” – MS Trust

 

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

 

Pagnini, F., Cavalera, C., Rovaris, M., Mendozzi, L., Molinari, E., Phillips, D., & Langer, E. (2018). Longitudinal associations between mindfulness and well-being in people with multiple sclerosis. International journal of clinical and health psychology : IJCHP, 19(1), 22-30.

 

Abstract

Background/Objective: Depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems are typical conditions reported in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), often resulting in a reduction of their quality of life (QOL) and well-being. Mindfulness is a multifaceted and complex construct that has been increasingly explored for its correlated to well-being. Despite preliminary evidence, longitudinal data about the impact of mindfulness on QOL in MS remain limited. In addition, Langerian mindfulness, one of the prominent approaches to mindfulness, is yet unexplored in this field. The study aims to examine the longitudinal relationships between two forms of mindfulness (Langerian and contemplative) and QOL, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep. Method: Within a larger randomized controlled trial of an online mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention, a cohort of 156 people with MS was recruited and assessed for both mindfulness constructs, QOL, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep problems. Assessments were repeated after 2 and after another 6 months. Results: Both mindfulness constructs were highly correlated with all investigated outcomes. Both Langerian and contemplative mindfulness predicted higher QOL, lower anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep, over time. Conclusions: In both approaches dispositional mindfulness is a protective factor against depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep in people with MS.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6300715/

 

Improve the Mental Health of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve the Mental Health of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness-based meditation can help ease the stress, anxiety, fear, and depression that often come along with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.” – BreastCancer,org

 

About 12.5% of women in the U.S. develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetimes and every year about 40,000 women die. Indeed, more women in the U.S. die from breast cancer than from any other cancer, besides lung cancer. Breast cancer diagnosis, however, is not always a death sentence. Death rates have been decreasing for decades from improved detection and treatment of breast cancer. Five-year survival rates are now at around 95%. The improved survival rates mean that more women are now living with cancer.

 

Surviving cancer, however, carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” (National Cancer Survivors Day). Also, breast cancer survivors can have to deal with a heightened fear of reoccurrence. This is particularly true with metastatic cancer. Additionally, cancer survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, loss of personal control, impaired quality of life, an alteration of their body image, and psychiatric symptoms which have been found to persist even ten years after remission. So, safe and effective treatments for the symptoms in breast cancer and the physical and psychological effects of the treatments are needed.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery and breast cancer recovery. Mindfulness helps to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Hence, there is a need to intensively study the effectiveness of these programs to help alleviate the mental and physical sequelae of breast cancer survival.

 

In today’s Research News article “Investigating the Effect of Mindfulness-Based Training on Psychological Status and Quality of Life in Patients with Breast Cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165667/ ), Pouy and colleagues recruited women with diagnosed breast cancer at least 6 months after diagnosis and randomly assigned them to either receive either routine care plus 4 weeks of twice a week for 1.5 hours group based mindfulness training or routine care only. The mindfulness training was based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that includes body scan and focused meditations, yoga practice, and discussion. They were measured before the training and 2 months later for anxiety, depression, stress, physical health, mental health, social relationships, environmental health, quality of life, and life expectancy questionnaire.

 

They found that after the mindfulness training the breast cancer survivors had significantly improved quality of life and life expectancy and significantly less anxiety, depression, and stress. Hence, mindfulness training was found to be of great benefit to the patients, improving their quality of life and psychological health. These findings are similar to previous findings that mindfulness training reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and improves quality of life in cancer patients. The current study adds to the accumulating scientific evidence that mindfulness practice significantly beneficial for breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve the mental health of breast cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients. Scientists caution, however that sustained benefit requires ongoing mindfulness practice.” – BCRF

 

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Study Summary

 

Pouy, S., Attari Peikani, F., Nourmohammadi, H., Sanei, P., Tarjoman, A., & Borji, M. (2018). Investigating the Effect of Mindfulness-Based Training on Psychological Status and Quality of Life in Patients with Breast Cancer. Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention : APJCP, 19(7), 1993-1998. doi:10.22034/APJCP.2018.19.7.1993

 

Abstract

Cancer poses substantial challenges to both physical and mental health of patients. On the other hand, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among Iranian women. Therefore, the present study was conducted to investigate the effect of mindfulness-based training on psychological status and quality of life (QoL) of patients with breast cancer living in Ilam, Iran. This quasi-experimental study was performed on 66 patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The patients assigned into two groups of experimental and control. Experimental group received mindfulness-based group training through eight 90-min sessions. Sessions were conducted twice a week and were completed within 1 month. The research tools included a QoL questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF), Schneider’s life expectancy questionnaire, and the depression anxiety stress scale (DASS-21). The questionnaires were completed before and during the interviews with the patients 2 months after intervention. Data were analyzed using SPSS (version 16) and running descriptive and analytical statistics. Before the intervention, there was no significant difference between he experimental and control groups considering QoL, life expectancy, depression, anxiety, and stress (p>0.05). However, after the intervention, the patients in the experimental group reported higher QoL and life expectancy and less severe depression, anxiety, and stress (p < 0.05). Considering the positive effect of mindfulness-based training on the psychological status and QoL of patients with breast cancer, we recommend health nurses conduct mindfulness-based training for patients receiving clinical care services.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165667/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

Reduce Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Being unwilling to experience negative thoughts, feelings, or sensations is often the first link in a mental chain that can lead to automatic, habitual, and critical patterns of mind becoming re-established. By accepting unpleasant experiences, we can shift our attention to opening up to them. Thus, “I should be strong enough” shifts to “Ah, fear is here,” or “Judgment is present.”—Zindel Segal,

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. Meditation practice has been found to improve the regulation of emotions and reduce difficult emotional states such as anxiety and depression.

 

A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in relieving anxiety. Anxiety often co-occurs with depression and mindfulness training is also effective for treating depression. Anxiety disorders and depression have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Since mindfulness- based treatments are relatively new, it makes sense to step back and summarize what is known regarding the effectiveness of mindfulness training for anxiety disorders and for depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Anxiety and Depression. The Psychiatric clinics of North America.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5679245/ ), Hofmann and Gomez review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the relief of anxiety and depression.

 

They report that randomized controlled trials found that Mindfulness-Based interventions including the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy treatment programs were “moderately-to-largely effective at reducing anxiety and depression symptom severity among individuals with a broad range of medical and psychiatric conditions.” They also report that these programs are effective whether provided in person or over the internet. They are consistently more effective than health education, relaxation training, and supportive psychotherapy, but equivalently effective as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

 

Hence, accumulating controlled research has built a strong case for the use of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Since, these treatments are generally safe and effective with little if any side effects, they would appear to be preferable to pharmacological treatments.

 

So, reduce anxiety and depression with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness keeps us focused on the present, and helps us meet challenges head on while we appreciate all our senses absorb. On the contrary, focus on the future contributes to anxiety, while perseveration on the past feeds depression. Far too often when we look to the future, we ask ourselves, “What if,” and the answer we give ourselves is often a prediction of a negative result.” – Vincent Fitzgerald

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Hofmann, S. G., & Gómez, A. F. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Anxiety and Depression. The Psychiatric clinics of North America, 40(4), 739-749.

 

Key Points

  • Research on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for anxiety and depression has increased exponentially in the past decade. The most common include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
  • MBIs have demonstrated efficacy in reducing anxiety and depression symptom severity in a broad range of treatment-seeking individuals.
  • MBIs consistently outperform non-evidence-based treatments and active control conditions, such as health education, relaxation training, and supportive psychotherapy.
  • MBIs also perform comparably to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The treatment principles of MBIs for anxiety and depression are compatible with those of standard CBT.

Synopsis

This article reviews the ways in which cognitive and behavioral treatments for depression and anxiety have been advanced by the application of mindfulness practices. Research on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) has increased exponentially in the past decade. The most common include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBIs have demonstrated efficacy in reducing anxiety and depression symptom severity in a broad range of treatment-seeking individuals. MBIs consistently outperform non-evidence-based treatments and active control conditions, such as health education, relaxation training, and supportive psychotherapy. MBIs also perform comparably to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The treatment principles of MBIs for anxiety and depression are compatible with those of standard CBT.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5679245/