Interpretation Bias Mediates the Effect of Mindfulness and Acceptance on Anxiety and Depression

Interpretation Bias Mediates the Effect of Mindfulness and Acceptance on Anxiety and Depression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Anxiety softens when we can create a space between ourselves and what we’re experiencing. When you react in ways that aren’t mindful, they can gradually grow into habits that are detrimental to your health and well-being.” – Mindful

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the sufferer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. This may indicate that treating the cognitive processes that underlie the anxiety may be an effective treatment. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in altering cognitive processes and  relieving anxiety.

 

Depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Fortunately, Mindfulness training is also effective for treating depression.

 

A cognitive tendency that can exacerbate anxiety and depression is interpretation bias. This is a tendency to interpret situations in a negative way even when the situation is ambiguous. This can lead to interpreting even neutral situations as threatening. An alternative explanation for the effectiveness of mindfulness training for anxiety and depression is that it may reduce interpretation bias, making it less likely that situations would be interpreted as threatening and thereby lowering anxiety and depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Interpretation Bias, and Levels of Anxiety and Depression: Two Mediation Studies.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320741/ ), Mayer and colleagues performed 2 studies to examine the relationships of mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and interpretation bias.

 

In the first study they recruited college students and had them complete online questionnaires and psychometric tests measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and interpretation bias. The variables were then subjected to regression analysis. They found that the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, and interpretation bias. They further found that the mindfulness association with reduced anxiety and depression was in part the result of mindfulness’ association with reduced interpretation bias. Mindfulness was both directly associated with lower anxiety and depression and indirectly by being associated with lower levels of interpretation bias which, in turn, was associated with lower anxiety and depression.

 

In the second study they recruited a community sample of adults with mixed ages and had them complete online questionnaires measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, interpretation bias, and acceptance of internal sensations. They found similar results for acceptance as they found in study 1 for mindfulness, with the higher the level of acceptance the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, and interpretation bias. Also similar to study 1 they found that the association of acceptance with reduced anxiety and depression was in part the result of acceptance’ association with reduced interpretation bias. Acceptance was both directly associated with lower anxiety and depression and indirectly by being associated with lower levels of interpretation bias which, in turn, was associated with lower anxiety and depression.

 

These are interesting findings but they are correlational. So, no clear conclusions regarding causation can be reached. Previous research, however, has clearly shown a causal connection between mindfulness and acceptance and anxiety and depression. This suggests that the relationships observed in the current study as due to mindfulness and acceptance causing the relief of anxiety and depression.

 

The results suggest that the associations of both mindfulness and acceptance of internal states are associated with lower levels of both anxiety and depression and that these associations are in part due to direct associations with anxiety and depression and also indirect associations involving both mindfulness and acceptance being associated with lower levels of interpretation bias that, in turn, is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. This suggests that mindfulness and acceptance, in part, affect anxiety and depression by altering the cognitive interpretation of situations, lowering the tendency to interpret situations as threatening and thereby lowering the anxiety and depression that results from threatening interpretations.

 

So, interpretation bias mediates the effect of mindfulness and acceptance on anxiety and depression.

 

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.” – 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

 

Mayer, B., Polak, M. G., & Remmerswaal, D. (2018). Mindfulness, Interpretation Bias, and Levels of Anxiety and Depression: Two Mediation Studies. Mindfulness, 10(1), 55-65.

 

Abstract

In two studies, a possible mediation effect was tested of cognitive interpretation bias in the relation between respectively dispositional mindfulness and acceptance, on the one hand, and symptoms of depression and anxiety, on the other hand. An undergraduate student sample (N = 133; 86% female, Mage = 19.8) and a convenience community sample (N = 186; 66% female, Mage = 36.5) were examined by means of an online questionnaire measuring dispositional mindfulness (FFMQ-SF; Study 1) and acceptance (AAQ-II; Study 2), anxiety (STAI-trait) and depressive (BDI-II) symptoms, and interpretation bias (with the interpretation bias task, IBT). Considering both studies, results showed consistently the expected relations of larger mindfulness skills going together with a smaller cognitive interpretation bias and lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. More interestingly, it was found that interpretation bias served as a mediator in the relations between respectively dispositional mindfulness and acceptance, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. With these findings, some more insight in the working mechanisms of mindfulness-based treatments on internalizing psychopathology has been obtained.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320741/

 

Improve Well-Being and Psychological Flexibility with Mindfulness Practice

Improve Well-Being and Psychological Flexibility with Mindfulness Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There are an endless variety of ways to meditate and practice mindfulness. . . specific types of mindfulness-meditation seem to have specific benefits. Fine-tuning which type of mindfulness or meditation someone uses as a prescriptive to treat a specific need will most likely be the next big advance in the public health revolution of mindfulness and meditation.” – Christopher Bergland

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Mindfulness practice, however, is a complex involving formal and informal practices, and great differences in the frequency and duration of practice. It is not known which of these facets or which combinations of facets are responsible for the beneficial effects of mindfulness. In addition, learning and implementing mindfulness practices can be difficult with a number of impediments and problems present. Hence there is a need to investigate the characteristics of mindfulness practices and the impediments to and supports for practicing mindfulness and their relationship to the well-being and psychological flexibility of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “An Exploration of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice and Associations with Wellbeing.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320743/  ), Birtwell and colleagues recruited mindfulness practitioners and had them complete a questionnaire on their mindfulness practice, difficulties encountered with practice, and factors that supported their practice. They also completed scales measuring mental well-being and psychological flexibility.

 

They found 37% of the participants learned mindfulness practice through a formal course while the rest learned on their own through books, the internet, or through therapists. Most practiced several times per week or daily for 10 to 45 minutes. 57% of the participants indicated that falling asleep during practice was an impediment to practice and many indicated that finding time to practice was a problem. In support of their practice they reported that it was helpful to set up particular times for practice, to practice with others in groups, and having an accepting and kind attitude toward themselves, particularly during lapses in practice.

 

Correlating practice factors with mental well being and psychological flexibility they found that the greater the frequency and duration of formal and informal practice the greater the levels of mental well-being and psychological flexibility. But, when all of the practice factors were considered they found that the frequency of informal practice was the only one that significantly predicted improved mental well-being and psychological flexibility.

 

Informal practices involved everyday mindful moments such as being mindful while engaged in everyday activities such as “washing the dishes, eating, driving, brushing teeth, walking the dog, drinking coffee, and watching a wild bird or flower.” Hence, it would appear that integrating mindfulness into everyday life is essential for mindfulness to be associated with good mental well-being and psychological flexibility. In other words, feeling psychologically better and being able to approach psychological issues with acceptance and flexibly is best supported by engaging in daily activities mindfully.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these findings are correlational and conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. It is possible that people who are flexible and have mental well-being are those who engage in informal practices or some other factor may be responsible for both. There is a need for future manipulative research to determine causation.

 

So, improve well-being and psychological flexibility with mindfulness practice.

 

“Daily meditation is a powerful tool for managing your stress and enhancing your health. But bringing present-moment awareness to all your daily activities is important.” Melissa Young

 

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

 

Birtwell, K., Williams, K., van Marwijk, H., Armitage, C. J., & Sheffield, D. (2018). An Exploration of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice and Associations with Wellbeing. Mindfulness, 10(1), 89-99.

 

Abstract

Mindfulness has transdiagnostic applicability, but little is known about how people first begin to practice mindfulness and what sustains practice in the long term. The aim of the present research was to explore the experiences of a large sample of people practicing mindfulness, including difficulties with practice and associations between formal and informal mindfulness practice and wellbeing. In this cross-sectional study, 218 participants who were practicing mindfulness or had practiced in the past completed an online survey about how they first began to practice mindfulness, difficulties and supportive factors for continuing to practice, current wellbeing, and psychological flexibility. Participants had practiced mindfulness from under a year up to 43 years. There was no significant difference in the frequency of formal mindfulness practice between those who had attended a face-to-face taught course and those who had not. Common difficulties included finding time to practice formally and falling asleep during formal practice. Content analysis revealed “practical resources,” “time/routine,” “support from others,” and “attitudes and beliefs,” which were supportive factors for maintaining mindfulness practice. Informal mindfulness practice was related to positive wellbeing and psychological flexibility. Frequency (but not duration) of formal mindfulness practice was associated with positive wellbeing; however, neither frequency nor duration of formal mindfulness practice was significantly associated with psychological flexibility. Mindfulness teachers will be able to use the present findings to further support their students by reminding them of the benefits as well as normalising some of the challenges of mindfulness practice including falling asleep.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320743/

 

Improve Attention in Children and Adults with ADHD with Mindfulness

Improve Attention in Children and Adults with ADHD with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Unlike many tools for ADHD, mindfulness develops the individual’s inner skills. It improves your ability to control your attention by helping to strengthen your ability to self-observe, to train attention, and to develop different relationships to experiences that are stressful. In other words, it teaches you to pay attention to paying attention, and can also make people more aware of their emotional state, so they won’t react impulsively. That’s often a real problem for people with ADHD.” – Carl Sherman

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is most commonly found in children, but for about half it persists into adulthood. It’s estimated that about 5% of the adult population has ADHD. Hence, this is a very large problem that can produce inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and emotional issues, and reduce quality of life. The most common treatment is drugs, like methylphenidate, Ritalin, which helps reducing symptoms in about 30% of the people with ADHD. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the drugs appears to be markedly reduced after the first year. In addition, the drugs often have troublesome side effects, can be addictive, and can readily be abused. So, drugs, at present, do not appear to be a good solution, only affecting some, only for a short time, and with unwanted side effects.

 

There are indications that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for ADHD. It makes sense that it should be, as the skills and abilities strengthened by mindfulness training are identical to those that are defective in ADHD,  attentionimpulse controlexecutive functionemotion control, and mood improvement. In addition, unlike drugs, it is a relatively safe intervention that has minimal troublesome side effects. Since mindfulness is so promising as a treatment, it is important to step back and summarize what has been learned in the scientific research of the effectiveness of mindfulness training for ADHD.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Attention on Individuals with ADHD: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6092011/ ), Lee and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. They found 9 articles, 5 with adults, 1 with adults and adolescents, 2 with adolescents, and 1 with children.

 

They report that the published studies on adults with ADHD found that mindfulness training produced significant improvements in attention. With both adolescents and children both teachers and parents reported that after mindfulness training there were significant improvements in attention. Unfortunately, many of these studies used weak experimental designs. Hence, there is a need to perform large scale randomized controlled studies with active controls before firm conclusions can be reached.

 

Mindfulness training, however, focuses on attention, with training to maintain attention in the present moment on a target, such as the breath or feelings from the body. It has been repeatedly shown to improve attention in a wide range of healthy and ill individuals of varying ages. So, it would seem reasonable to predict that mindfulness training would also improve attention in people with ADHD.

 

So, improve attention in children and adults with ADHD with mindfulness training.

 

“ADHD is characterized by difficulties with executive function, not just attention, and mindfulness is an avenue to developing interrelated cognitive skills, many related to executive function, not just attention.” – Mark Bertin

 

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, C., Ma, M. T., Ho, H. Y., Tsang, K. K., Zheng, Y. Y., & Wu, Z. Y. (2017). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Attention on Individuals with ADHD: A Systematic Review. Hong Kong journal of occupational therapy : HKJOT, 30(1), 33-41.

 

Abstract

Background/Objective

Mindfulness-based intervention has received more clinical interest and empirical support for individuals with ADHD especially to improve attention. However, no systematic review has been done to analyze and compare the effectiveness of mindfulness-based intervention on individuals with ADHD in different age groups. This review examined its effectiveness for individuals (children, adolescents and adults) with ADHD to improve attention.

Methods

In 7 databases, totally of 152 studies were identified; 9 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and were reviewed. Five of the studies recruited adults as the participants, two recruited adolescents as the participants, one recruited both adults and adolescents as the participants and one recruited children as the participants.

Results

It was found that mindfulness-based intervention was comparatively more popularly used in adults with ADHD to improve attention, and the improvement was significant.

Conclusion

It is still unclear whether mindfulness-based intervention is effective for children and adolescence with ADHD due to limited studies available and the limitations of the study design in the reviewed studies. Therefore, more research in the future is required to answer the question.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6092011/

 

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/

 

Reduce Aging Cognitive Decline with Mindfulness

Reduce Aging Cognitive Decline with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We know that approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment—the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia—may develop dementia within five years.” – Rebecca Erwin Wells

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities (cognition) which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving abilities. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Before active dementia occurs, patients show problems with attention, thinking, and memory known as mild cognitive impairment. Intervening at this point may be able to delay or even prevent full blown dementia, So, it is important to study the effectiveness of mindfulness training on older adults with mild cognitive impairment to improve their cognitive performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness on Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6159696/ ), Wong and colleagues recruited healthy older adults (> 60 years of age) who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and were meditation naïve. They participated in an 8-week, 1.5 hours per week, program of mindfulness training that included body scan meditation, breath meditation, loving kindness meditation, and everyday mindfulness practice. The participants were also encouraged to practice at home. They were measured before and after training and one year later for cognitive function, psychological health, mindfulness, mindfulness adherence, and daily living functionality.

 

They found that after training the participants had significant improvements in mindfulness and cognitive function. These improvements were no longer significant at the one year follow up. This appears, however, to be due to the level of continuing practice as the greater the amount of meditation practice during the 1-year follow-up period the greater the level of cognitive function. Indeed, those who practiced above the group average had significantly better cognitive performance at the 1-year follow-up than those who were below average in practicing.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training produces significant cognitive benefits for elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairments. But continued practice is necessary to maintain the benefits. Hence, long-term mindfulness practice may be able to restrain further cognitive decline in these patients and may delay or prevent the onset of dementia. It is clear however, that continuing mindfulness practice is required.

 

So, reduce aging cognitive decline with mindfulness.

 

“What we do know is that long-term engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained. That’s great news for the millions of aging adults working to combat the negative effects of aging on the brain.” – Grace Bullock

 

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

 

Wong, W. P., Coles, J., Chambers, R., Wu, D. B., & Hassed, C. (2017). The Effects of Mindfulness on Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease reports, 1(1), 181-193. doi:10.3233/ADR-170031

 

Abstract

Background:

The current lack of an effective cure for dementia would exacerbate its prevalence and incidence globally. Growing evidence has linked mindfulness to cognitive and psychological improvements that could be relevant for mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Objective:

To investigate whether mindfulness practice can improve health outcomes of MCI.

Methods:

The study is the first longitudinal mixed-methods observational study with a one-year follow-up period, that customized an eight-week group-based mindfulness training program for older adults with MCI (n = 14). Measures included cognitive function, psychological health, trait mindfulness, adherence to mindfulness practice, and everyday activities functioning as assessed at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and one-year follow-up. Repeated measures ANOVAs, Pearson’s correlation analyses, and Mann-Whitney U tests were performed.

Results:

The MCI participants showed significant improvements in cognitive function (p < 0.05) and trait mindfulness (p < 0.05) after completing the intervention. Between program intervention and one-year follow-up (59 weeks), positive correlations were found between their cognitive function (p < 0.05) and everyday activities functioning (p < 0.05) with the duration of mindfulness meditation; and between trait mindfulness and the level of informal mindfulness practice (p < 0.05). Those who meditated more during these 59 weeks, showed greater improvements in cognitive function (p < 0.05) and everyday activities functioning (p < 0.05), with large effect sizes at the one-year follow-up. Qualitative findings will be reported separately.

Conclusion:

Long-term mindfulness practice may be associated with cognitive and functional improvements for older adults with MCI. Mindfulness training could be a potential efficacious non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention for MCI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6159696/

Reduce Pain Catastrophizing and Pain with Mindfulness

Reduce Pain Catastrophizing and Pain with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

People often increase the pain experience by adding to the physical sensations with a host of thoughts and feelings, like catastrophizing the pain or trying to suppress and ignore the pain. Mindfulness is a practice of attending to pain — or body sensations — and thoughts and feelings with that present-moment attention in an accepting and curious manner.” – Susan Smalley

 

Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disorder whose causes are unknown. It is very common affecting over 5 million people in the U.S., about 2% of the population with about 7 times more women affected than men. It is characterized by widespread pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance, and fatigue that lead to psychological distress. Fibromyalgia may also have morning stiffness, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, headaches, including migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disturbances, thinking and memory problems, and painful menstrual periods. The symptoms are so severe and debilitating that about half the patients are unable to perform routine daily functions and about a third have to stop work. Although it is not itself fatal, suicide rates are higher in fibromyalgia sufferers.

 

There are no completely effective treatments for fibromyalgia. Symptoms are generally treated with pain relievers, antidepressant drugs and exercise. But these only reduce the severity of the symptoms and do not treat the disease directly. Mindfulness practices have also been shown to be effective in reducing pain from fibromyalgia. Some of the effects of mindfulness practices are to alter thought processes, changing what is thought about. In terms of pain, mindfulness training, by focusing attention on the present moment has been shown to reduce worry and catastrophizing. Pain is increased by worry about the pain and the expectation of greater pain in the future. So, mindfulness may reduce worry and catastrophizing and thereby reduce fibromyalgia pain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Interactive effects of pain catastrophizing and mindfulness on pain intensity in women with fibromyalgia.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6198401/ ), Dorado and colleagues recruited adult women suffering with fibromyalgia and had them complete questionnaires measuring mindfulness, pain, pain catastrophizing and fibromyalgia interference in daily activities and keeping a 7-day diary of their daily levels of pain and pain catastrophizing. They then examined predictors of the daily pain intensity and pain catastrophizing.

 

They found a strong positive relationship between pain catastrophizing and pain intensity indicating that the higher the daily levels of catastrophizing the greater the levels of pain. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of daily pain catastrophizing and daily levels of pain. They found that this relationship was modified by facets of mindfulness. In particular, the greater the observing facet of mindfulness the smaller the relationship between daily pain catastrophizing and daily pain intensity. On the other hand, when the mindfulness facets of non-judging and acting with awareness were high then the greater the daily levels of catastrophizing the greater the levels of pain.

 

These relationships suggest that observing mindfully tends to mitigate the relationship of catastrophizing to pain while mindfully non-judging and acting with awareness tends to amplify the relationship. But, overall, mindfulness tends to be associated with lower catastrophizing. It has been shown in other work that mindfulness tends to lower fibromyalgia pain, The present study suggests that it may do so by reducing pain catastrophizing. Even though mindfulness, in general lowers pain and catastrophizing not judging the situation and acting toward it with awareness can actually heighten the effects of catastrophizing on pain.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and conclusions about causation cannot be made. In addition, the results are complicated suggesting complex relationships between mindfulness and daily pain and catastrophizing levels. This indicates that further research is needed especially work in which mindfulness is altered by training and then observing the effects of this change on pain levels and catastrophizing and their relationships with each other.

 

So, reduce pain catastrophizing and pain with mindfulness.

 

When pain is consistently part of your day, you can start to dwell on it. You may feel stress and anxiety about the pain you’re feeling now, as well as pain that may occur in the future. Mindfulness may lead to changes in the brain that provide benefits for those with fibromyalgia.” – Peggy Pletcher

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

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

 

Study Summary

 

Dorado, K., Schreiber, K. L., Koulouris, A., Edwards, R. R., Napadow, V., & Lazaridou, A. (2018). Interactive effects of pain catastrophizing and mindfulness on pain intensity in women with fibromyalgia. Health psychology open, 5(2), 2055102918807406. doi:10.1177/2055102918807406

 

Abstract

The objective of this study was to examine the association between facets of trait mindfulness, pain catastrophizing, and pain severity in a sample of patients with fibromyalgia. Patients with fibromyalgia completed validated baseline and diary assessments of clinical pain, mindfulness, and pain catastrophizing. Multilevel modeling analyses indicated that the daily association between catastrophizing and pain intensity was moderated by certain mindfulness facets. Our findings suggest that various aspects of mindfulness may interact differently with pain and catastrophizing, which may have implications for the design and testing of interventions targeting mindfulness and catastrophizing in fibromyalgia patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6198401/

 

Increase Wellness and Decrease Burnout in Medical Students with Mindfulness

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Increase Wellness and Decrease Burnout in Medical Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“training in mindfulness – focusing controlled attention on physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions in the present moment – helps students to acknowledge and process the stresses and strains of their work.” – Cathy Kerr

 

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. It would be best to provide techniques to combat burnout early in a medical career. Medical School is extremely stressful and many students show distress and express burnout symptoms. Medical school may be an ideal time to intervene.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Targeted Mindfulness Curriculum for Medical Students During Their Emergency Medicine Clerkship Experience.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040904/ ), Chung and colleagues in an uncontrolled pilot study delivered a mindfulness curriculum to students during their training in emergency medicine. The training was delivered in 4-weekly 60 minute sessions that included meditation practice, readings, journaling, discussion, and developing a personal wellness plan. They completed questionnaires before and after the 4 weeks of training and 6 months later regarding the impact of the training on their behavior and attitudes.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after training there were significant improvements in self-reported behaviors and attitudes. The students reported increased confidence in their ability to meditate and be mindful, explain these skills to others, and recommend these practices to others. They also reported that they practiced meditation and mindfulness more often and talked to others about these practices. In addition, they reported that wellness was important to medical students and that they were using their own wellness plan. Importantly, these improvements were still present 6 months after the completion of the training.

 

These are very preliminary results from an uncontrolled pilot study and need to be verified in a randomized controlled trial with objective measures of wellness and resistance to stress. Previous controlled studies, however, have shown that mindfulness training is effective in treating and preventing burnout and reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, these present results are suggestive that this simple brief curriculum may produce similar benefits.

 

It is important to use a brief training and this one only involved 4 hours of formal instruction. Medical students have a vast amount of important information to learn and master in a limited amount of time. They do not have the luxury of unused time for extensive instruction. So, a brief training that produces positive results that persist could be very valuable to their health and well-being during this stressful time and during a stressful career.

 

So, increase wellness and decrease burnout in medical students with mindfulness.

 

“I have taken my own advice. I am still at it: sitting on the deck, focusing on my breath, watching my thoughts, clearing my mind amid the shrill end-of-summer calls of the cicadas. I think I have noticed an effect — I feel a deeper sense of acceptance in my life, without losing a passion or resolve to change things for the better.” – Manoj Jain

 

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

 

Chung, A. S., Felber, R., Han, E., Mathew, T., Rebillot, K., & Likourezos, A. (2018). A Targeted Mindfulness Curriculum for Medical Students During Their Emergency Medicine Clerkship Experience. The western journal of emergency medicine, 19(4), 762-766.

 

Abstract

Introduction

Despite high rates of burnout in senior medical students, many schools provide the majority of their wellness training during the first and second preclinical years. Students planning a career in emergency medicine (EM) may be at particularly high risk of burnout, given that EM has one of the highest burnout rates of all the specialties in the United States We developed an innovative, mindfulness-based curriculum designed to be integrated into a standard EM clerkship for senior medical students to help students manage stress and reduce their risk of burnout.

Methods

The curriculum included these components: (1) four, once-weekly, 60-minute classroom sessions; (2) prerequisite reading assignments; (3) individual daily meditation practice and journaling; and (4) the development of a personalized wellness plan with the help of a mentor. The design was based on self-directed learning theory and focused on building relatedness, competence, and autonomy to help cultivate mindfulness.

Results

Thirty students participated in the curriculum; 20 were included in the final analysis. Each student completed surveys prior to, immediately after, and six months after participation in the curriculum. We found significant changes in the self-reported behaviors and attitudes of the students immediately following participation in the curriculum, which were sustained up to six months later.

Conclusion

Although this was a pilot study, our pilot curriculum had a significantly sustained self-reported behavioral impact on our students. In the future, this intervention could easily be adapted for any four-week rotation during medical school to reduce burnout and increase physician wellness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040904/

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

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

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Mindfulness training programs over the internet and with smartphone apps have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. These online and smartphone app trainings have been shown to be effective. But the question arises as to the relative effectiveness of various online and mobile trainings in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Background

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

Objective

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

Methods

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

Results

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

Conclusions

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

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

 

Compulsive Sexual Behavior is Related to Shame and Low Mindfulness

Compulsive Sexual Behavior is Related to Shame and Low Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In addition to helping bring about a reduction in dysfunctional sex-related actions, fantasies and thoughts, mindfulness training may help affected individuals gain improved emotional control, an increased ability to handle stressful situations and improved resistance to any potentially damaging sex-related urges that arise.” – The Ranch

 

Sexual behavior is a very important aspect of human behavior, especially for reproduction. In fact, Sigmund Freud made it a centerpiece of his psychodynamic theory. At its best, it is the glue that holds families and relationships together. But it is a common source of dysfunction and psychosocial problems. Compulsive sexual behavior “encompasses problems with preoccupation with thoughts surrounding sexual behavior, loss of control over sexual behavior, disturbances in relationships due to sexual behavior, and disturbances in affect (e.g., shame) due to sexual behavior.” It is also called sex addiction and hypersexuality. It is chronic and remarkably common affecting 3% to 17% of the population. In addition, it is associated with substance abuse in around half of people with compulsive sexual behavior.

 

Compulsive sexual behavior is frequently treated with psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral, Therapy, or drugs with mixed success. Since, it is also looked at as an addiction and mindfulness treatment has been found to be effective for both sexual dysfunction and for addictions, mindfulness may be affective for individuals with both substance abuse and compulsive sexual behavior. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be related to compulsive sexual behavior in men undergoing treatment for substance abuse. This suggests that further study of the relationship between mindfulness and compulsive sexual behavior should be investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness, Shame, and Compulsive Sexual Behaviors among Men in Residential Treatment for Substance Use Disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764544/ ), Brem and colleagues examined the medical records of men in residential treatment for substance abuse looking at measures of mindfulness, compulsive sexual behavior, shame, alcohol use and associated problems, and drug use and associated problems. They examined the relationships between the variables with hierarchical multiple regressions.

 

They found that for these men in residential treatment for substance abuse, the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of compulsive sexual behavior, shame, alcohol use and associated problems, and drug use and associated problems. Hence mindfulness appears to be associated with lower levels of problems associated with substance abuse. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of compulsive sexual behavior, the higher the levels of shame and alcohol use and associated problems. Significantly, men who engaged in compulsive sexual behavior were more likely to experience shame when mindfulness was low. With average and high levels of mindfulness, compulsive sexual behavior was not related to shame.

 

Hence it appears that mindfulness not only is associated with lower shame but that it also appears to inoculate men who demonstrate compulsive sexual behavior from feelings of shame. Shame appears to interfere with successful treatment for substance abuse. Being ashamed increases negative feelings about the self and success in treatment is aided by positive feelings about the self.  So, these results suggest that being mindful may be an asset encouraging successful treatment for substance abuse in part by reducing the feelings of shame that interfere with success.

 

So, reduce compulsive sexual behavior by reducing shame with mindfulness.

 

The greatest aid has been, and is, the knowledge and application of mind body awareness (or mindfulness, consciousness). It was the realisation about the nature of the relationship between me (the observer) and my mind which gave me the greatest insight and a powerful tool to overcome the negative behaviour patterns that sexual addiction creates. And I am still learning everyday!” – Sex Addict

 

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

 

Brem, M. J., Shorey, R. C., Anderson, S., & Stuart, G. L. (2017). Dispositional Mindfulness, Shame, and Compulsive Sexual Behaviors among Men in Residential Treatment for Substance Use Disorders. Mindfulness, 8(6), 1552-1558.

 

Abstract

Approximately 31% of men in treatment for a substance use disorders (SUD) engage in compulsive sexual behavior (CSB). Shame, a well-documented consequence of CSB, increases the likelihood of relapse following treatment for SUDs. Despite the risk of relapse, prior research has not investigated factors that may attenuate the relation between CSB and shame. Dispositional mindfulness is one such factor known to mitigate shame. However, researchers have yet to examine dispositional mindfulness as a moderator of the relationship between CSB and shame among a sample of men in treatment for SUDs. In an effort to inform intervention efforts, the present study aimed to investigate the hypothesis that CSB would not relate to shame among men with high, as opposed to low, levels of dispositional mindfulness. The present study reviewed medical records of 184 men in residential treatment for SUDs who completed cross-sectional measures of shame, CSB, dispositional mindfulness, and substance use problems. Results demonstrated a significant interaction between CSB and dispositional mindfulness such that CSB positively related to shame at low, but not mean or high, levels of dispositional mindfulness. These results support and extend previous mindfulness and CSB treatment research. Findings suggested that intervention efforts for CSB may benefit from increasing dispositional mindfulness in an effort to reduce shame-related cognitions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764544/

 

Improve Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program yields robust and sustained improvement in cancer-related cognitive impairment, a prevalent and potentially debilitating condition that affects attention, memory and executive function in survivors.” – ScienceDaily

 

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. Cognitive impairments are a frequent side effect of cancer treatment. This has been dubbed “chemo brain.” Patients often refer to it as a mental cloudiness.

 

The patients report problems including forgetting things, trouble concentrating, trouble remembering details like names and dates, trouble multi-tasking, like answering the phone while cooking, taking longer to finish things, disorganized and slower thinking, and trouble remembering common words. These cognitive impairments generally produce problems with work and even social relationships such that patients tend to isolate themselves. They can also produce treatment problems as the patients often forget to take their medications.

 

These problems result from the fact that chemotherapy, radiation therapy and many cancer drugs directly affect the nervous system. At present, there are no known treatments for these cognitive impairment side effects of chemotherapy. Contemplative practices have been shown to affect memory and have positive effects on cancer treatment and recovery.  There is some evidence that contemplative practices may be useful for the alleviation of “chemo brain” symptoms. So, it makes sense to step back and review what is known regarding the ability of mindfulness training to improve the cancer patient’s cognitive abilities.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6260900/ ), Cifu and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the cognitive deficits present after recovery from breast cancer. They identified 6 studies; 5 of which were randomized controlled studies and 4 of which used the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

 

They found mixed results from the studies but the majority found that mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the cognitive abilities of the patients. The 2 studies that reported follow-up data demonstrated that the improvements were sustained 2 and 6 months after the end of the program. These mixed findings suggest that mindfulness training may be useful in treating the problems with thinking, memory, and attention that result from treatment for breast cancer, but more research is needed to reach firm conclusions.

 

It is not known what the mechanism might be by which mindfulness training relieves these cognitive impairments. But it has been previously demonstrated that mindfulness training improves cognition in healthy and aging populations by changing the brain, particularly the frontal cortical regions. It is possible that this is the same phenomenon only with breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve cognitive function in breast cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may improve cognitive function in breast and colorectal cancer survivors.” Neurology Advisor

 

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

 

Cifu, G., Power, M. C., Shomstein, S., & Arem, H. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review. BMC cancer, 18(1), 1163. doi:10.1186/s12885-018-5065-3

 

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer survivors have an elevated risk of cognitive impairment compared to age-matched women without cancer. Causes of this impairment are complex, including both treatment and psychological factors. Mindfulness-based interventions, which have been shown to improve cognitive function in the general population, may be one approach to mitigate cognitive impairment in this survivor population. Our objective was to conduct a systematic literature review of studies on the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition among breast cancer survivors.

Methods

We conducted searches of three electronic databases (Scopus, PubMed and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews) in September 2017 for studies pertaining mindfulness and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors. Abstracts were manually searched by two reviewers and additional articles were identified through reference lists.

Results

A total of 226 articles were identified through our systematic search and six met inclusion criteria for this review. The reviewed studies lacked consistency in terms of the cognition domains studied (e.g. executive function, recent memory, etc) and in the measures used to assess cognition. Of the included studies, two found no association between mindfulness interventions and cognitive function, two found improvement that was not sustained at the follow-up, and another two found sustained improvement at 2- or 6-months.

Conclusions

Mindfulness-based interventions have shown some evidence for improving cognition among breast cancer survivors, but further research using validated and comprehensive cognitive assessments is needed. More research is also needed related to the timing, duration and content of mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6260900/