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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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/

 

Improve Breast Cancer Symptoms with Mindfulness

Improve Breast Cancer Symptoms with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Results show promise for mindfulness-based interventions to treat common psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression in cancer survivors and to improve overall quality of life.” — Linda E. 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. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast 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. One particularly effective mindfulness training program is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). 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. The research has been accumulating. It is thus important to take a step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on breast cancer symptoms: 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/PMC6282865/ ), Castanhel and Liberali review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training for the symptoms of breast cancer patients. They identified 7 published research studies that included a total of 532 women.

 

They report that the literature finds that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training produces a decrease in fatigue in the breast cancer patients. This is significant as fatigue affects all facet of the patient’s life. Additionally, there is no drug treatments which successfully treat fatigue in these patients. This makes MBSR treatment particularly valuable to be included along with the usual treatments.

 

Mindfulness practices, in general have been shown to be effective in relieving fatigue. One of the components of MBSR treatment, yoga practice, has been previously been shown to also relieve fatigue in breast cancer patients. It is possible that this is the critical component of MBSR practice. But it will require further research to determine exactly which components or combinations of components are essential for the relief of fatigue.

 

So, improve breast cancer symptoms with mindfulness.

 

“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.” — Linda E. Carlson

 

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

 

Castanhel, F. D., & Liberali, R. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on breast cancer symptoms: systematic review and meta-analysis. Einstein (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 16(4), eRW4383. doi:10.31744/einstein_journal/2018RW4383

 

ABSTRACT

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction practices increase the capacity for concentration and attention, and these practices are particularly effective for people with breast cancer. To analyze the effects of the application of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on breast cancer symptoms. Systematic review and meta-analysis were carried out. To find suitable studies, the PubMed/ MEDLINE database was searched using the keywords “breast cancer” and “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction”. Studies included were published between 2013 and 2017, written in English and showed methodological quality through the PEDro scale (score greater than 3). They also presented empirical evidence, had an experimental study design (randomized or non-randomized), and had full text available. For the meta-analysis, we used a random-effects model, with standardized mean differences and 95% confidence intervals. Seven studies were included, one non-randomized and containing only an intervention group of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and six randomized including samples of two or three groups. The non-randomized study showed 6 points on the PEDro scale, the randomized studies of two groups 6 to 7 points and studies with three groups showed 7 points. In the meta-analysis of the two randomized studies, the results, although not significant, revealed a moderate effect for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the outcome of fatigue, with a mean difference of −0.42 (95%CI −0.92- −0.07; p=0.09). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction seems to be a promising alternative for treatment of this disease’s symptoms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6282865/

 

Reduce Painful Diabetic Neuropathy with Mindfulness

Reduce Painful Diabetic Neuropathy with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation techniques can help people struggling with neuropathy symptoms live through their pain. It can help to lower stress, improve your coping skills, and decrease your pain intensity. Taking a mind-body approach is a noninvasive technique that provides you with more control over your condition.” – Healthline

 

Managing Diabetes can be difficult on the health and quality of life of the patient. In addition, Diabetes can lead to a very painful condition known as diabetic neuropathy. The high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can damage nerves and result in a burning pain and numbness, particularly from the legs and feet. It affects the majority of long-term diabetes patients. This is not only painful but is also disruptive to the normal life functions of these patients. There are no cures, but diabetic neuropathy can be prevented by blood glucose control in the diabetic patient with a rigorous program of measured diet and exercise. Treatment for diabetic neuropathy usually involves pain management with drugs.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to help with pain management and with quality of life in diabetes patients. It is possible, then, that mindfulness practices may be effective in reducing pain and improving quality of life in patients with diabetic neuropathy. In today’s Research News article “Randomized Trial of the Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Pain-Related Disability, Pain Intensity, Health-Related Quality of Life, and A1C in Patients With Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5734176/ ), Nathan and colleagues examined the effectiveness of mindfulness training on reducing pain and improving the quality of life in patients with Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN).

 

They recruited adults with Type II Diabetes and with Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN). The participants were maintained on their usual pharmacological treatments and randomly assigned to a wait-list or to receive an additional 8-week program, once weekly 2.5 hour sessions and home practice, of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The mindfulness program consists of group discussion and training in sitting, walking, and body scan meditations, and yoga practice. They were measured before and after training and 3 months later for pain related disability, pain severity, pain catastrophizing, health related and diabetic neuropathy related quality of life, depression, diabetes self-care, blood sugar reactions, and A1C levels, a measure of long-term blood glucose control.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control, the participants who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training had significantly improved scores on all measures including lower pain related disability, pain severity, pain catastrophizing, depression health related and diabetic neuropathy related quality of life, diabetes self-care, blood sugar reactions, and A1C levels. These improvements were maintained at the 3-month follow-up. In addition, there was a high retention rate with 94% of the treated patients completing the 8-week training and the 3-month follow-up.

 

These results are striking and important. Diabetic Neuropathy is a torment for Type II Diabetes patients and mindfulness training was found to markedly improve this condition. It increased quality of life and health and decreased pain and pain associated psychological and physical difficulties. This relief of suffering in important and remarkable and should lead to a recommendation for mindfulness training to be included in the usual care of patients with Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN).

 

So, reduce painful diabetic neuropathy with mindfulness.

 

“When people with diabetes are more mindful – being calmly aware of what is going on around them, inside their bodies and in their minds – they can potentially make healthier lifestyle choices, such as diet, medication and exercise, that help lower their blood glucose. Additionally, stress reduction decreases the amount of stress hormones, such as cortisol, in the blood. When elevated for too long, cortisol can cause anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain and memory and concentration problems.” – Diabetes Canada

 

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

 

Nathan, H. J., Poulin, P., Wozny, D., Taljaard, M., Smyth, C., Gilron, I., Sorisky, A., Lochnan, H., … Shergill, Y. (2017). Randomized Trial of the Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Pain-Related Disability, Pain Intensity, Health-Related Quality of Life, and A1C in Patients With Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. Clinical diabetes : a publication of the American Diabetes Association, 35(5), 294-304.

 

Abstract

IN BRIEF Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN) has a large negative impact on patients’ physical and mental functioning, and pharmacological therapies rarely provide more than partial relief. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a group psychosocial intervention that was developed for patients with chronic illness who were not responding to existing medical treatments. This study tested the effects of community-based MBSR courses for patients with PDPN. Among patients whose PDPN pharmacotherapy had been optimized in a chronic pain clinic, those randomly assigned to treatment with MBSR experienced improved function, better health-related quality of life, and reduced pain intensity, pain catastrophizing, and depression compared to those receiving usual care.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5734176/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Different Brain Responses to Angry Faces

Mindfulness is Associated with Different Brain Responses to Angry Faces

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being mindful of anger means not suppressing, denying or avoiding it and also not acting out in harmful ways. Instead, connect with the direct experience of the anger, and then decide what action you want to take.” — Jessica Morey

 

Anger not only produces changes in our behavior and mood, it also produces changes in our physiology, including the brain. It activates the “fight or flight” system in the body, sympathetic nervous, and releases activating hormones. The net result is an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, sweating, especially the palms, feeling hot in the neck/face, shaking or trembling, and decreased heart rate variability. In addition, anger affects and is affected by the brain. These physical effects can be used to objectively measure anger responses. They are also stressful and if prolonged can be damaging to the individual’s health.

 

If we can control our anger, we will generally be a happier person. But, at times, it is very difficult to do so. Mindfulness and meditation can help. It has been shown to improve our ability to regulate our emotions including anger.  Mindfulness appears to improve our ability not to suppress our emotions, but to fully experience them and yet be better able to respond to them constructively and adaptively.

 

In today’s Research News article “Relationship of mindful awareness to neural processing of angry faces and impact of mindfulness training: A pilot investigation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480240/ ), Lee and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to the brain’s activity in response to angry stimuli.

 

They recruited right handed healthy adults. Ten of the 18 participants received an 8-week, once a week for 2.5 hours, program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). ”It includes training in formal meditation practices like body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindful movement, as well as informal practices to integrate mindfulness into everyday life.” Participants were asked to practice at home for 45 minutes a day for 6 days per week. The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness and anger. They were also tested for their brain’s response to pictures of angry or neutral faces while simply indicating whether the face was male or female. While viewing the faces their brains were scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found at baseline, before training, that in response to angry faces the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the activation of the parietal lobe while the higher the level of anger the greater the activation of the middle frontal gyrus and bilateral angular gyrus. Hence, the participants’ brains responded to the angry faces differently than to the neutral faces and the level of response depended upon their baseline levels of mindfulness and anger. After MBSR training there was a significant increase in mindfulness but no significant change in the fMRI responses to the faces.

 

It is interesting that MBSR training did not change the neural responses to angry faces as it has been shown previously that MBSR training decreases anger in the participants and it would be assumed that changes in anger would be associated with changes in the brains activity in response to stimuli associated with anger. It may well be that viewing angry faces is totally different from actually being personally angry. Regardless, it is clear that mindfulness is associated with different brain responses to angry faces.

 

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.” — Charles Swindoll

 

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

 

Lee, A., Gansler, D. A., Zhang, N., Jerram, M. W., King, J. A., & Fulwiler, C. (2017). Relationship of mindful awareness to neural processing of angry faces and impact of mindfulness training: A pilot investigation. Psychiatry research. Neuroimaging, 264, 22-28.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is paying attention, non-judgmentally, to experience in the moment. Mindfulness training reduces depression and anxiety and influences neural processes in midline self-referential and lateralized somatosensory and executive networks. Although mindfulness benefits emotion regulation, less is known about its relationship to anger and the corresponding neural correlates. This study examined the relationship of mindful awareness and brain hemodynamics of angry face processing, and the impact of mindfulness training. Eighteen healthy volunteers completed an angry face processing fMRI paradigm and measurement of mindfulness and anger traits. Ten of these participants were recruited from a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class and also completed imaging and other assessments post-training. Self-reported mindful awareness increased after MBSR, but trait anger did not change. Baseline mindful awareness was negatively related to left inferior parietal lobule activation to angry faces; trait anger was positively related to right middle frontal gyrus and bilateral angular gyrus. No significant pre-post changes in angry face processing were found, but changes in trait mindful awareness and anger were associated with sub-threshold differences in paralimbic activation. These preliminary and hypothesis-generating findings, suggest the analysis of possible impact of mindfulness training on anger may begin with individual differences in angry face processing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5480240/

 

Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Mindfulness

Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“IBS causes a huge public health and economic burden in the U.S. The standard of care currently has been diet changes along with medications. A mind-based . . . has the potential to minimize both the public health and economic burden of this debilitating disease,” – Saurabh Sethi

 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder with worldwide prevalence rates ranging from 9–23%. In the U.S. the rates generally in the area of 10–15% affecting between 25 and 45 million people. IBS is not life threatening but it is very uncomfortable producing changes in bowel movement patterns, bloating and excess gas, and pain in the lower belly. It is also a major source of absenteeism both at work and in school. IBS is also associated with a marked reduction in the individual’s health quality of life, with disruption of the physical, psychological and social routines of the individuals. At present, there are no known cures for IBS and treatments involve symptomatic relief, often with fairly radical dietary changes.

 

The cause(s) of IBS are not known. But emotion dysregulation is suspected to be involved. It is clear that psychological stress exacerbates the illnesses and anxiety amplifies the symptoms. This suggests that mindfulness or the lack thereof may be involved as mindfulness is known to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physical responses to stress and mindfulness is known to improve emotion regulation. In addition, It has been shown that meditation and yoga can help relieve IBS symptoms.  So, it would make sense to further investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training and emotion regulation for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

 

In today’s Research News article “Comparing the Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy with Emotion Regulation Treatment on Quality of Life and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178327/ ), Ghandi and colleagues recruited patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and randomly assigned them to receive either an 8-week, once a week for 90 minutes program of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Emotion Regulation group training, or a wait-list. The MBSR treatment consisted of body scan, meditation, and yoga practices and group discussion with homework. Emotion Regulation training consisted in training on “emotional awareness” and “acceptance”. The patients were measured before and after training and 2 months later for IBS severity and quality of life with IBS.

 

They found that both Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Emotion Regulation training produced significant improvements in IBS severity and the quality of life with IBS and that this effectiveness was maintained 2 months later. There were no significant differences in the effectiveness of MBSR and emotion regulation training. Hence, both MBSR and emotion regulation training produce large and lasting improvements in the symptoms of IBS and the quality of life of the patients.

 

Since MBSR training is known to improve emotion regulation, the fact that MBSR and emotion regulation training produced equivalent benefits suggests that MBSR may be effective for IBS because of its ability to improve emotion regulation, particularly improving the emotional responses to stress. It will require further research to examine this possibility.

 

So, improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with mindfulness.

 

“For a person who has IBS, mindfulness-based therapies are thought to help to reduce anxiety related to digestive symptoms. Due to our body’s natural stress response, such anxiety can actually exacerbate the very digestive symptoms that a person with IBS is most concerned about. The theory behind mindfulness-based therapies for IBS is that when you experience less reactivity to physical sensations related to your digestive system, you will experience less unwanted symptoms.” – Barbara Bolen

 

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

Abstract

 

Ghandi, F., Sadeghi, A., Bakhtyari, M., Imani, S., Abdi, S., & Banihashem, S. S. (2018). Comparing the Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy with Emotion Regulation Treatment on Quality of Life and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Iranian journal of psychiatry, 13(3), 175-183.

 

Objective: Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder. The perception of stress and GI-specific anxiety play a key role in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The present study aims at comparing the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy with emotion regulation on the quality of life and severity in patients IBS.

Method : This randomized clinical trial was conducted in 3 phases: pretest, posttest, and follow-up. Follow-up was performed 2 months after the last intervention. The study population consisted of 24 IBS patients who were randomly selected according to Rome-IV Criteria and were then divided into 3 eight-member groups: (1) mindfulness-based stress reduction, (2) emotion regulation, and (3) control group. IBS-QOL34 and IBS-SSS were administered as assessment tools to all the 3 groups. The experimental groups were subjected to MBSR and ER psychotherapy, while the control group received no psychological intervention. After the 2-month follow-up, the 3 groups were evaluated again.

Results: The results revealed that MBSR improved the quality of life of IBS patients and dicreased severity of their condition. The findings of between and within subjects design revealed that the difference between MBSR and control groups was significant in IBS at follow-up (p = 0.01).

Conclusion: MBSR could be considered as a new, effective, and stable method in psychotherapy, in irritable bowel syndrome.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178327/

 

Mindfulness Improves the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by Altering Gene Expression

Mindfulness Improves the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by Altering Gene Expression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective stress reduction practices in general, but there may be other ways it works for people with PTSD as well. Recent research suggests that mindfulness may help to mitigate the relationship between maladaptive thinking and posttraumatic distress.” – Matthew Tull

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effectiveMindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been found to improve PTSD symptoms. It has been shown that mindfulness practices can alter the brain structures and connectivity and this may underlie the beneficial effects of mindfulness on PTSD. These alterations probably involve changes in the chemistry of the brain particularly with systems associated with stress and depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Methylation of FKBP5 and SLC6A4 in Relation to Treatment Response to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153325/ ), Bishop and colleagues examine the activation of genes associated with stress and depression in patients with PTSD who responded and did not respond to treatment with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), They examined patients from a previous study of the effectiveness of MBSR for the treatment of PTSD who showed a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms and those that did not. The MBSR treatment consisted of body scan, meditation, and yoga practices and group discussion and occurred in 9 weekly, 2.5 hour sessions. with homework. Blood samples were drawn before and after treatment. They measured the degree of methylation of genes in the he promoter region of SLC6A4 previously associated with depression risk and symptoms and genes in the FKBP5 Intron 7 region identified as a functional regulator of glucocorticoid signaling.

 

They found that after Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) treatment there was a significant reduction in methylation of genes in the FKBP5 Intron 7 region in responders but an increase in non-responders. These genes are associated with stress related responding. Methylation tends to suppress gene expression, So, decreased methylation indicates an increased level of activity in stress related hormonal pathways.

 

These findings are interesting but not surprising as MBSR was developed specifically to improve stress responses. It is interesting that only patients who responded to treatment had this change to the genes underlying stress responding. So, it appears that MBSR is effective for PTSD symptoms but only if it changes stress related gene expression. It will be interesting to examine in the future the factors that result in non-responders being resistant to treatment with MBSR.

 

So, improve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by altering gene expression with mindfulness.

 

Many people cope with trauma by distancing themselves from the sensations in their bodies and minds (the most extreme example of this is dissociation). Therefore, bringing one’s attention deliberately back to the body can unzip trauma symptoms they may not be prepared to address. However, mindfulness meditation can be helpful to those with PTSD and a history of trauma when practiced under the guidance of a mental healthcare provider and modified to be better suited for trauma survivors.” – Julia Ozog

 

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

Bishop, J. R., Lee, A. M., Mills, L. J., Thuras, P. D., Eum, S., Clancy, D., Erbes, C. R., Polusny, M. A., Lamberty, G. J., … Lim, K. O. (2018). Methylation of FKBP5 and SLC6A4 in Relation to Treatment Response to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 418. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00418

 

Abstract

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an effective non-pharmacologic treatment for veterans with PTSD. Extensive work has identified epigenetic factors related to PTSD disease risk and pathophysiology, but how these factors influence treatment response is unclear. Serotonin signaling and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning may be perturbed in PTSD and are molecular pathways targeted by PTSD treatments. To identify potential biomarkers for treatment response, we utilized genomic DNA isolated from peripheral blood samples from veterans with PTSD who were responders (n = 11) or non-responders (n = 11) to MBSR as part of a clinical trial. We assessed methylation levels at CpG sites in regions of the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) previously associated with expression and depression outcomes, as well as the Intron 7 region of the FK506 binding protein 5 (FKBP5) containing known glucocorticoid response elements suggested to regulate this gene. Selected subjects were matched across MBSR responder status by baseline symptoms, age, sex, current smoking status, and current antidepressant use. Percent methylation was compared between responders and non-responders at baseline (pre-MBSR treatment). Additionally, percent change in methylation from baseline to post-treatment was compared between responders and non-responders. There was a significant time x responder group interaction for methylation in FKBP5 intron 7 bin 2 [F(1, 19) = 7.492, p = 0.013] whereby responders had a decrease in methylation and non-responders had an increase in methylation from before to after treatment in this region. Analyses of the three CpG sites within bin 2 revealed a significant time x responder group interaction for CpG_35558513 [F(1, 19) = 5.551, p = 0.029] which resides in a known glucocorticoid response element (GRE). Decreases in FKBP5 methylation after treatment in responders as compared to increases in non-responders suggest that effective meditation intervention may be associated with stress-related pathways at the molecular level. These preliminary findings suggest that DNA methylation signatures within FKBP5 are potential indicators of response to meditation treatment in PTSD and require validation in larger cohorts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153325/