Improve Psychological Health in the Elderly with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health in the Elderly with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, loneliness, depression, and anxiety are considerable risk factors for residents. Mindfulness may help elders to find peace within themselves with daily practice.” – GoldenCares

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development but regret their decline during aging. As we age, there are systematic progressive declines in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities and results in impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Aging also results in changes in mental health. Depression is very common in the elderly. The elderly cope with increasing loss of friends and family, deteriorating health, as well as concerns regarding finances on fixed incomes. All of these are legitimate sources of worry. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. But, no matter how reasonable, the increased loneliness, worry and anxiety add extra stress that can impact on the elderly’s already deteriorating physical and psychological health.

 

Mindfulness appears to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues that occur with aging. It appears to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. and improve cognitive processes. It has also been shown to reduce anxietyworry, and depression and improve overall mental health. Since the global population of the elderly is increasing at unprecedented rates, it is imperative to investigate safe and effective methods to improve mental health in the elderly. In addition, more and more elderly individuals are residing in continuing care retirement communities. Hence it is important to find treatment methods amenable to implementation in these facilities.

 

In today’s Research News article “An Adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Elders in a Continuing Care Retirement Community: Quantitative & Qualitative Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973835/ ), Moss and colleagues recruited elderly residents, predominantly female (82%), of a continuing care retirement community. They were 62 to 92 years of age. They were randomly assigned to either receive an adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or to a wait-list control condition. The MBSR program was presented for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks with 30-minute daily home practice. It consisted of the standard meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. But, yoga practice was changed to chair yoga to be better practiced by the elderly. The participants were measured before and after the treatment for acceptability of the program including attendance and rate of home practice, health, psychological flexibility, mindfulness, self-compassion, anxiety, depression, and somatization.

 

They found a high degree of acceptability of the program with only 20% dropping out and the participants averaged 5 days a week of home practice. In comparison to the baseline and wait-list control group, the participants who received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly improved psychological flexibility and reduced physical limitations. In comparison to baseline the MBSR participants had significantly greater observing mindfulness, mental health, and vitality, and significantly less emotional limitations. The participants reflected that after the training they were better able to attend to the present moment, had greater well-being, self-compassion and kindness, and reduced self-judgement and stress.

 

These are wonderful results that demonstrate that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an acceptable, safe, and effective program to enhance the psychological health of elderly residents of a continuing care retirement community. The adaptations to the program to recognize the physical limitations of the elderly did not appear to blunt its’ effectiveness and perhaps made it more acceptable. Future research should employ an active control condition, such as aerobic exercise to better control for confounding variables. Regardless, the MBSR program would appear to have great benefits for the aging population.

 

So, improve psychological health in the elderly with mindfulness.

 

“Often elderly people can live uncomfortable, lonely, quiet lives. Teaching them to pay attention moment by moment, on purpose but without judgement, to each of their experiences, can improve of the quality of their lives, based on the demonstrated effectiveness of mindfulness techniques in many forms of therapy. Mindfulness practice has a definite positive impact on issues such as recurrent depression, stress, anxiety, chronic physical pain and loneliness. For the elderly, chronic health conditions, the loss of self-determination in their daily lives, isolation, and a lack of interaction with the outside world can understandably take much of the joy out of life.” – MyHomecare

 

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

 

Moss, A. S., Reibel, D. K., Greeson, J. M., Thapar, A., Bubb, R., Salmon, J., & Newberg, A. B. (2015). An Adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Elders in a Continuing Care Retirement Community: Quantitative & Qualitative Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Applied Gerontology : The Official Journal of the Southern Gerontological Society, 34(4), 518–538. http://doi.org/10.1177/0733464814559411

 

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility and effectiveness of an adapted 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for elders in a continuing care community. This mixed-methods study used both quantitative and qualitative measures. A randomized wait-list control design was used for the quantitative aspect of the study. Thirty-nine elderly were randomized to MBSR (n=20) or a wait-list control group (n=19); mean age 82 years. Both groups completed pre-post measures of health related quality of life, acceptance and psychological flexibility, facets of mindfulness, self-compassion, and psychological distress. A subset of MBSR participants completed qualitative interviews. MBSR participants showed significantly greater improvement in acceptance and psychological flexibility and in role limitations due to physical health. In the qualitative interviews, MBSR participants reported increased awareness, less judgment and greater self-compassion. Study results demonstrate the feasibility and potential effectiveness of an adapted MBSR program in promoting mind-body health for elders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973835/

 

Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Coronary Disease Rehabilitation with Tai Chi

Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Coronary Disease Rehabilitation with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“practicing tai chi may help to modestly lower blood pressure. It’s also proved helpful for people with heart failure, who tend to be tired and weak as a result of the heart’s diminished pumping ability. The slow movements involve both the upper and lower body, which safely strengthens the heart and major muscle groups without undue strain.” – Harvard Heart Letter

 

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

 

Contemplative practices, such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have also been shown to be helpful for heart health. In addition, mindfulness practices have also been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of other lifestyle changes needed such as smoking cessationweight reduction and stress reduction.  Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. Since Tai Chi is both a mindfulness practice and a gentle exercise, it may be an acceptable and effective treatment for coronary disease patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Tai Chi on Cardiorespiratory Fitness for Coronary Disease Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758591/ ), Yang and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of 5 published research articles on the use of Tai Chi for the treatment of patients with coronary disease.

 

They found that in comparison to other gentle aerobic exercise practice Tai Chi produced significantly greater improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness, or aerobic capacity, which is reflected by VO2max, measured with a stress test. But, the effect was not as great as that produced by vigorous aerobic exercise. No adverse events were reported. Hence, Tai Chi practice was found to be safe and effective in improving cardiorespiratory fitness in patients with coronary disease.

 

Tai Chi practice was not as effective as vigorous aerobic exercise. But it is difficult to get patients with coronary disease to engage in and sustain vigorous exercise. It scares them and produces considerable discomfort. Tai Chi practice, on the other hand, is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice may be an ideal treatment for patients with coronary disease, not only one that is effective but also one that they will engage in and sustain.

 

So, improve cardiorespiratory fitness in coronary disease rehabilitation with Tai Chi.

 

“Both fear of exercise and the perception of cardiac rehabilitation as dangerous were the most commonly reported reasons for declining participation in cardiac rehabilitation. Tai chi can clearly overcome these barriers because it is a different form of exercise. During training, participants are constantly reminded they do not need to strive or struggle to achieve predetermined goals in terms of heart rate or exercise intensity. Instead, they are invited to focus their attention on the breath and/or on the movements of the body. As a result, participants do not see tai chi exercise as threatening, and this may result in improvements in exercise self-efficacy,” – Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher

 

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

 

Yang, Y., Wang, Y., Wang, S., Shi, P., & Wang, C. (2017). The Effect of Tai Chi on Cardiorespiratory Fitness for Coronary Disease Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Physiology, 8, 1091. http://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.01091

 

Abstract

Background: Tai Chi that originated in China as a martial art is an aerobic exercise with low-to-moderate intensity and may play a role in cardiac rehabilitation.

Aim: To systematically review the effect of Tai Chi on cardiorespiratory fitness for coronary disease rehabilitation.

Methods: We performed a search for Chinese and English studies in the following databases: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database, Wanfang Data, and China Science and Technology Journal Database. The search strategy included terms relating to or describing Tai Chi and coronary disease, and there were no exclusion criteria for other types of diseases or disorders. Further, bibliographies of the related published systematic reviews were also reviewed. The searches, data extraction, and risk of bias (ROB) assessments were conducted by two independent investigators. Differences were resolved by consensus. RevMan 5.3.0 was used to analyze the study results. We used quantitative synthesis if the included studies were sufficiently homogeneous and performed subgroup analyses for studies with different control groups. To minimize bias in our findings, we used GRADEpro to grade the available evidence.

Results: Five studies were enrolled—two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and three nonrandomized controlled trials (N-RCTs)—that included 291 patients. All patients had coronary disease. ROB assessments showed a relatively high selection and detection bias. Meta-analyses showed that compared to other types of low- or moderate-intensity exercise, Tai Chi could significantly improve VO2max [MD = 4.71, 95% CI (3.58, 5.84), P < 0.00001], but it seemed less effective at improving VO2max as compared to high-intensity exercise. This difference, however, was not statistically significant [MD = −1.10, 95% CI (−2.46, 0.26), P = 0.11]. The GRADEpro showed a low level of the available evidence.

Conclusion: Compared to no exercise or other types of exercise with low-to-moderate intensity, Tai Chi seems a good choice for coronary disease rehabilitation in improving cardiorespiratory fitness. However, owing to the poor methodology quality, more clinical trials with large sample size, strict randomization, and clear description about detection and reporting processes are needed to further verify the evidence.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758591/

 

Improve the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Functioning of Autistic Children and Their Parents with Mindfulness

Improve the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Functioning of Autistic Children and Their Parents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A weekly mindfulness session for children with autism and a separate program for their parents showed promising results. After nine weekly sessions of mindfulness training, 21 adolescents with autism reported better quality of life and less time spent wandering in thought about topics like sadness, pain, and why they react to things the way they do. Parents reported that their children were more socially responsive. Parents also reported reduced stress and less frequent use of “dysfunctional parenting styles,” such as shouting.” – Sarah Hansen

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that tends to appear during early childhood and affect the individual throughout their lifetime. It affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others, delays learning of language, makes eye contact or holding a conversation difficult, impairs reasoning and planning, narrows and intensifies interests, produces poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities, and is frequently associated with sleep and gastrointestinal problems. ASD is a serious disorder that impairs the individual’s ability to lead independent lives including complete an education, enter into relationships or find and hold employment. It is also difficult and stressful for the caregivers.

 

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing markedly over the last couple of decades. It is currently estimated that over 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Its causes are unknown and there are no known cures. Treatment is generally directed at symptoms and can include behavioral therapies and drug treatments. Clearly, there is a need for effective alternative treatment options.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful in treating ASD.  In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: Direct and Long-Term Improvements.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968048/ ), Ridderinkhof and colleagues examined the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve the social and psychological health of children and their families.

 

They recruited children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents and provided the child and one or both parents separately with a 9-week mindfulness training program. The sessions occurred once a week for 1.5 hours. For the children the sessions included breathing meditation, body scan, a 3-min breathing space, and yoga practices. For the parents the sessions also focused on mindful parenting. Home practice was encouraged. Before and after training and 2 months and one year later, the children were measured through self- and parental report for social communications, emotional and behavioral functioning, and mindfulness. Parents were assessed for their social communications, emotional and behavioral functioning, mindfulness, and parental stress.

 

They found that after treatment and 2 months and one year later the parents reported that the children showed significant improvement in social communications and attention and significant decreases in externalizing and internalizing symptoms, and rumination. The parents showed significant improvements in their social communications, attention mindfulness, and self-compassion and significant decreases in externalizing and internalizing symptoms, perceived stress, stress concerning parenting, and over-reactivity,. Hence, the mindfulness training appeared to produce significant improvements in both the children with autism spectrum disorder and their parents.

 

The results, however, have to be interpreted very cautiously. This study ran for over a year and there was no comparison condition. During that time the children mature, learn in school, and have additional experiences and the parents continue to learn how to cope with their child’s ASD. So, the observed improvements may have occurred anyway, even without the mindfulness training. The results, though are encouraging and suggest that a randomized controlled trial is justified. ASD is such a difficult issue for the child and the parents that the investment in further study is needed.

 

So, improve the social, emotional, and behavioral functioning of autistic children and their parents with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness practices may be a viable technique in not only improving behavioral and cognitive responses in those with ASD, but also the overall well-being of their caregivers.” – Krupa Patel

 

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

 

Ridderinkhof, A., de Bruin, E. I., Blom, R., & Bögels, S. M. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: Direct and Long-Term Improvements. Mindfulness, 9(3), 773–791. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0815-x

 

A combined mindfulness-based program for children and their parents (MYmind) was beneficial for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this study, we investigated whether this program is also beneficial for younger children with ASD, whether effects last on the long-term, and whether it reduces common comorbid problems. Forty-five children referred with ASD aged 8 until 19 years old, and their parents participated. Repeated measures of children’s and parents’ social communication problems, emotional and behavioral functioning, mindful awareness, and of parenting were conducted pre-intervention, post intervention, 2-month follow-up, and 1-year follow-up. While children did not report significant changes in mindful awareness, their social communication problems decreased, and their emotional and behavioral functioning improved. Results were not consistent at each occasion; improvements reported by children were most substantial at a 2-month follow-up and only partly remained at a 1-year follow-up, while all children’s improvements as reported by parents were present on all occasions. Parents themselves reported improved emotional and behavioral functioning, improved parenting, and increased mindful awareness on all occasions. Parents’ social communication problems reduced only directly after the intervention. Most improvements were supported by the qualitative investigation of children’s and parents’ experienced change as reported on open-ended questions. This study suggests that children, including adolescents, with ASD and their parents can benefit from a mindfulness-based program with parallel sessions for children and parents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968048/

 

Reduce Perfectionism with Mindfulness

Reduce Perfectionism with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The goal of mindfulness practices is to help you practice “awareness of the present moment without judgment.” The tricky part for us perfectionists is the “without judgment.” As perfectionists, we are conditioned to judge—ourselves and others, anything and everything. Letting go of the judgment is the biggest opportunity you have to release your perfectionist hat, and meditation is a great place to begin making peace with perfectionism.” – Melissa Eisler

 

It can be useful to constructively criticize yourself as long as you realize that you’re human and are not, and will not ever be, perfect. You can then use the self-criticism to try to improve, not become perfect, but a little better. But, when self-criticism becomes extreme it can lead to perfectionistic thinking where you are never happy with yourself. This can lead to great unhappiness and psychological distress.

Mindfulness has been thought to help prevent perfectionism from producing distress. In support of this mindfulness has been found to reduce self-criticism and to improve self-esteem and a healthy self-esteem is counter to perfectionism. It’s difficult to be happy with oneself and critical of yourself as less than ideal at the same time. So, mindfulness training should be an antidote to perfectionism.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Versus Pure Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help for Perfectionism: a Pilot Randomised Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968046/ ), James and Rimes recruited college students who were perfectionistic and this perfectionism caused significant distress and impairment of everyday function. They were randomly assigned to an 8-week Cognitive Behavioral self-help for perfectionism program or an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program.

 

MBCT consisted of 2-hour sessions once a week for 8 weeks and included home practice. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. They were measured before and after training and 10 weeks later for perfectionism, impairment caused by perfectionism, self-reported depression, anxiety and stress, self-compassion, rumination, unhelpful beliefs about emotions, mindfulness and decentering.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the Cognitive Behavioural self-help for perfectionism program the students who underwent the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program had significantly greater decreases in perfectionism, unhelpful beliefs about emotions and rumination, and significantly higher levels of mindfulness, self-compassion and decentering. These differences were present both immediately after training and 10 weeks later. Mediation analysis revealed that the MBCT program produced greater self-compassion which, in turn, was associated with lower perfectionism.

 

These are interesting results and suggest that the mindfulness training component of MBCT is critical as MBCT had significantly greater effects than simply presenting the Cognitive Behavior components by themselves. They further suggest that the effectiveness of MBCT for perfectionism results from changes in self-compassion. This makes sense as understanding and accepting one’s own faults is incompatible with criticizing oneself for those faults. Finally, the results suggest that MBCT is a safe and effective treatment for students suffering from high levels of perfectionism that produce distress and impairment of everyday function.

 

So, reduce perfectionism with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness practice reveals how pervasive this pressure to be perfect is, and how I impose perfectionistic rules on myself. I’m happier when I give myself permission to be imperfect.” – Arnie Kozak

 

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

 

James, K., & Rimes, K. A. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Versus Pure Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help for Perfectionism: a Pilot Randomised Study. Mindfulness, 9(3), 801–814. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0817-8

 

Abstract

This pilot study compared mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with a self-help guide based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for university students experiencing difficulties due to perfectionism. Participants were randomised to an MBCT intervention specifically tailored for perfectionism or pure CBT self-help. Questionnaires were completed at baseline, 8 weeks later (corresponding to the end of MBCT) and at 10-week follow-up. Post-intervention intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses identified that MBCT participants (n = 28) had significantly lower levels of perfectionism and stress than self-help participants (n = 32). There was significant MBCT superiority for changes in unhelpful beliefs about emotions, rumination, mindfulness, self-compassion and decentering. At 10-week follow-up, effects were maintained in the MBCT group, and analyses showed superior MBCT outcomes for perfectionism and daily impairment caused by perfectionism. Pre-post changes in self-compassion significantly mediated the group differences in pre-post changes in clinical perfectionism. Greater frequency of mindfulness practice was associated with larger improvements in self-compassion. MBCT is a promising intervention for perfectionist students, which may result in larger improvements than pure CBT self-help. The findings require replication with a larger sample.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968046/

 

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Worry and rumination are forms of persistent negative thinking. They involve a predominance of verbal thoughts, and can be likened to a negative inner-speech. Worry is concerned with the possibility of threats in the future and ways to effectively avoid or deal with them whilst rumination is concerned more with things that happened in the past.” – MCT Institute

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. Techniques such as 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 particularly effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness. One way they may do this is by disrupting the development of mindfulness. In today’s Research News article “Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/ ), Banerjee and colleagues had adult volunteers participate in a 2-week, once a day, online Mindfulness-based self-help program. They were measured before and after the program for mindfulness, including the observe, describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting facets, rumination, worry, beliefs about rumination, beliefs about worry, physical engagement, and psychological engagement. The measures were intercorrelated and their relationships were assessed with a path analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of both rumination and worry, the lower the levels of physical and psychological engagement in the mindfulness program. The path models revealed that rumination and worry were associated with reduced physical and psychological engagement in the program and these were, in turn, associated with reductions in four of the mindfulness facets of describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that the individual’s levels of worry and rumination before engaging in mindfulness training tend to interfere with the development of mindfulness. They appear to do so by interfering with the individual’s engagement in the program, that is by promoting disengagement. It should be kept in mind that these findings are correlational, so no conclusions about causation are warranted. But, the results suggest that training in mindfulness should take into consideration the psychological state of the participant at the beginning of the program. Perhaps, programs can be tailored for the participants state taking into consideration their levels of worry and rumination. They may, thereby, be more effective in promoting mindfulness and all of its benefits.

 

repeated practice in noticing, observing with curiosity and compassion, and shifting perspective helps participants to realise that their thoughts, emotions and sensations are just thoughts, emotions and sensations, rather than ‘truth’ or ‘me’. They learn to see more clearly the patterns of the mind, and to recognise when mood is beginning to dip without adding to the problem by falling into analysis and rumination – to stand on the edge of the whirlpool and watch it go round, rather than disappearing into it.” – B. J. Bidushi

 

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

 

Banerjee, M., Cavanagh, K., & Strauss, C. (2018). Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Mindfulness, 9(3), 980–992. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0837-4

 

Abstract

Little is known about the factors associated with engagement in mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). Moreover, engagement in MBIs is usually defined in terms of class attendance (‘physical engagement’) only. However, in the psychotherapy literature, there is increasing emphasis on measuring participants’ involvement with interventions (‘psychological engagement’). This study tests a model that rumination and worry act as barriers to physical and psychological engagement in MBIs and that this in turn impedes learning mindfulness. One hundred and twenty-four participants were given access to a 2-week online mindfulness-based self-help (MBSH) intervention. Self-report measures of mindfulness, rumination, worry, positive beliefs about rumination, positive beliefs about worry and physical and psychological engagement were administered. A path analysis was used to test the linear relationships between the variables. Physical and psychological engagement were identified as two distinct constructs. Findings were that rumination and worry both predicted psychological disengagement in MBSH. Psychological engagement predicted change in the describe, act with awareness, non-judge and non-react facets of mindfulness while physical engagement only predicted changes in the non-react facet of mindfulness. Thus, rumination and worry may increase risk of psychological disengagement from MBSH which may in turn hinder cultivating mindfulness. Future suggestions for practice are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/

 

Improve Knee Osteoarthritis with Yoga

Improve Knee Osteoarthritis with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga is proven to help people with arthritis improve many physical and psychological symptoms. . . .  regular yoga practice can help reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and function and lower stress and tension to promote better sleep.” – Susan Bernstein

 

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease that is the most common form of arthritis. It produces pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., with about 43% of arthritis sufferers limited in mobility and about a third having limitations that affect their ability to perform their work. Knee osteoarthritis effects 5% of adults over 25 years of age and 12% of those over 65. It is painful and disabling. Its causes are varied including, hereditary, injury including sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries, infection, or from being overweight.

 

There are no cures for knee osteoarthritis. Treatments are primarily symptomatic, including weight loss, exercise, braces, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, arthroscopic knee surgery, or even knee replacement. Gentle movements of the joints with exercise and physical therapy appear to be helpful in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. This suggests that alternative and complementary practices that involve gentle knee movements may be useful for treatment.

 

Mindfulness practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong  and yoga have been shown to reduce the physical symptoms of knee osteoarthritisYoga, has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for a wide variety of physical and psychological conditions, including arthritis. So, it would seem reasonable to look further into the effectiveness of yoga practice in treating knee osteoarthritis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Yoga Based Lifestyle Intervention on Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5952125/ ), Deepeshwar and colleagues recruited adults with knee osteoarthritis and randomly assigned then to receive twice daily sessions for one week of Integrated Approach to Yoga Therapy (IAYT) or to a no-yoga control condition. IAYT consists of yoga postures, yoga breathing, relaxation, meditation and lectures on yogic lifestyle, devotional sessions, and stress management. They were measured before and after training for standing, walking, and sitting, knee flexibility and range of motion, handgrip strength, and fear of falling.

 

They found that the group who received the Integrated Approach to Yoga Therapy (IAYT) treatment significantly improved in comparison to baseline and the control group in their speed of standing, walking, and sitting, their knee flexibility and range of motion, and their handgrip strength. Hence, they found that IAYT produced significant improvement in the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

 

It would have been better if they included an active control group in the study (e.g. a different exercise) to control for participant expectancy effects and experimenter biases. Nevertheless, the results replicate the previous findings that yoga practice is effective in treating knee osteoarthritis, strengthening the conclusions. IAYT is a complex of practices and future research should be targeted at identifying which components are effective and which are not. Regardless, gentle yoga practice appears to be a safe and effective alternative treatment for the improvement in movement in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.

 

So, improve knee osteoarthritis with yoga.

 

“The culprit is osteoarthritis, the “wear-and-tear” arthritis, of the knees. Good weight-bearing alignment, learned and practiced in yoga class, can help keep the knees happy and healthy. On the other hand, bad alignment in poses—heaven forbid—can actually contribute to the breakdown of the joint surfaces, and the subsequent painful inflammation, caused by osteoarthritis.” – Julie Gudmustad

 

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

 

Deepeshwar, S., Tanwar, M., Kavuri, V., & Budhi, R. B. (2018). Effect of Yoga Based Lifestyle Intervention on Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9, 180. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00180

 

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the effect of integrated approach of yoga therapy (IAYT) intervention in individual with knee Osteoarthritis.

Design: Randomized controlled clincial trail.

Participants: Sixty-six individual prediagnosed with knee osteoarthritis aged between 30 and 75 years were randomized into two groups, i.e., Yoga (n = 31) and Control (n = 35). Yoga group received IAYT intervention for 1 week at yoga center of S-VYASA whereas Control group maintained their normal lifestyle.

Outcome measures: The Falls Efficacy Scale (FES), Handgrip Strength test (left hand LHGS and right hand RHGS), Timed Up and Go Test (TUG), Sit-to-Stand (STS), and right & left extension and flexion were measured on day 1 and day 7.

Results: There were a significant reduction in TUG (p < 0.001), Right (p < 0.001), and Left Flexion (p < 0.001) whereas significant improvements in LHGS (p < 0.01), and right extension (p < 0.05) & left extension (p < 0.001) from baseline in Yoga group.

Conclusion: IAYT practice showed an improvement in TUG, STS, HGS, and Goniometer test, which suggest improved muscular strength, flexibility, and functional mobility.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5952125/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Stressed College Students with Mindfulness

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Stressed College Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is so vital. It’s being right there in the moment. It helps you be successful in everything you do. College students are under a lot of stress — that’s been a given forever. Now, they have the tools in their pocket.” – Cathleen Hardy Hansen

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can be admitted to the best universities and there is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. As a result, parents and students are constantly looking for ways to improve student performance in school. The primary tactic has been to pressure the student and clear away routine tasks and chores so that the student can focus on their studies. But, this might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s mental health, well-being, and school performance.

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it would seem important to examine various techniques to relieve the stress and its consequent symptoms in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Attention Training Technique and Mindful Self-Compassion for Students with Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00827/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_662896_69_Psycho_20180605_arts_A ), Haukaas and colleagues explore the ability of attention training and mindfulness training to help relieve the anxiety and depression in college students resulting from stress.

 

They recruited undergraduate and graduate students who self-reported depression, anxiety, and stress. They were randomly assigned to receive 3 group sessions for 45 minutes for three consecutive weeks of either Attention Training or Mindfulness and Self-Compassion training. Each training included daily home practice with pre-recorded audio recordings. Attention training was designed “to strengthen attentional control and promote external focus of attention, to interrupt and break free of the cognitive attentional syndrome, consisting of prolonged worry or rumination, threat monitoring, and different unhelpful coping styles accompanied by a heightened self-focused attention.” Mindfulness and Self-Compassion training consisted of training to pay attention to the present moment and “to relate to oneself in a kinder and more accepting manner.” Training including Loving Kindness Meditation practice. Participants were measured before and after training for depression, anxiety, self-compassion, responses to thoughts, and mindfulness.

 

They found that both Attention Training and Mindfulness and Self-Compassion training produced significant reductions in general and test anxiety and depression and significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, attention flexibility, and self-esteem. The effects were moderate to large indicating fairly powerful effects of the treatments. It should be noted that there wasn’t a control condition and both treatments were associated with significant changes. It is thus possible that confound or bias was present that could account for some or all of the changes. But, the effects were strong and commensurate with previous findings that mindfulness training reduces anxiety and depression and increases self-compassion. Thus, it would appear that the two treatments are effective for improving the psychological health of stressed university students.

 

So, reduce anxiety and depression in stressed college students with mindfulness and attention training.

 

“taking time to catch your breath and meditate can help increase students’ overall life satisfaction. We found that underneath the stress that students are experiencing is a deep desire to appreciate life and feel meaningful connections with other people.” – Kamila Dvorakova

 

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

 

Haukaas RB, Gjerde IB, Varting G, Hallan HE and Solem S (2018) A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Attention Training Technique and Mindful Self-Compassion for Students With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety. Front. Psychol. 9:827. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00827

 

The Attention Training Technique (ATT) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) are two promising psychological interventions. ATT is a 12-min auditory exercise designed to strengthen attentional control and promote external focus of attention, while MSC uses guided meditation and exercises designed to promote self-compassion. In this randomized controlled trial (RCT), a three-session intervention trial was conducted in which university students were randomly assigned to either an ATT-group (n = 40) or a MSC-group (n = 41). The students were not assessed with diagnostic interviews but had self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress. Participants listened to audiotapes of ATT or MSC before discussing in groups how to apply these principles for their everyday struggles. Participants also listened to audiotapes of ATT and MSC as homework between sessions. Participants in both groups showed significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression accompanied by significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, and attention flexibility post-intervention. These results were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Improvement in attention flexibility was the only significant unique predictor of treatment response. The study supports the use of both ATT and MSC for students with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Further, it suggests that symptom improvement is related to changes in attention flexibility across both theoretical frameworks. Future studies should focus on how to strengthen the ability for attention flexibility to optimize treatment for emotional disorder.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00827/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_662896_69_Psycho_20180605_arts_A

 

Improve Social Anxiety with Mindfulness

Improve Social Anxiety with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“for dealing with social anxiety, it is much more useful to practice mindful focus during conversations and other situations around people in which we are uncomfortable.” – Larry Cohen

 

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

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But, there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed to treat depression but has been found to also be effective for other mood disorders. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate mood disorders. MBCT has been found to help relieve anxiety and to be effective for social anxiety.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Pilot Study of the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on Positive Affect and Social Anxiety Symptoms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00866/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_662896_69_Psycho_20180605_arts_A ), Strege and colleagues recruited adults with social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder and provided them with an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Training occurred once a week for 2 hours with daily work at home. Participants completed measurements before and after treatment ofr social anxiety, positive and negative emotions, worry, and mindfulness.

 

They found that, as has been previously reported, after MBCT training there was a significant reduction in social anxiety symptoms. The amount of reduction in social anxiety symptoms was predicted by the amount of increase in positive emotions following MBCT training but not by the reduction in negative emotions. Also, the amount of increase in positive emotions following MBCT was associated with the amount of increase in mindfulness.

 

These are interesting results whose interpretation has to be tempered with the recognition that there wasn’t a control comparison condition. So, these results must be viewed as preliminary pilot findings that suggest that a more highly controlled randomized trial should be performed. Nevertheless, these results suggest that MBCT training improves positive feelings and this in turn produces improvements in social anxiety. This suggests that elevating mood, rather than eliminating sour mood, is the crucial change produced by MBCT.  In addition, it appears that the increased positive emotions are a product of increased mindfulness. All of this results in a tentative hypothesis that MBCT training increases mindfulness that, in turn, improves positive feelings and this then produces improvements in social anxiety.

 

So, improve social anxiety with mindfulness.

 

“Using mindfulness, we can begin to notice what happens in the body when anxiety is present and develop strategies to empower clients to “signal safety” to their nervous system.” – Jeena Cho

 

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

 

Strege MV, Swain D, Bochicchio L, Valdespino A and Richey JA (2018) A Pilot Study of the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy on Positive Affect and Social Anxiety Symptoms. Front. Psychol. 9:866. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00866

 

Abstract

Randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is efficacious in reducing residual depressive symptoms and preventing future depressive episodes (Kuyken et al., 2016). One potential treatment effect of MBCT may be improvement of positive affect (PA), due to improved awareness of daily positive events (Geschwind et al., 2011). Considering social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by diminished PA (Brown et al., 1998Kashdan, 2007), we sought to determine whether MBCT would reduce social anxiety symptoms, and whether this reduction would be associated with improvement of PA deficits. Adults (N = 22) who met criteria for varied anxiety disorders participated in a small, open-label trial of an 8-week manualized MBCT intervention. Most participants presented with either a diagnosis (primary, secondary, or tertiary) of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (N = 15) and/or SAD (N = 14) prior to treatment, with eight individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for both GAD and SAD. We hypothesized participants would demonstrate improvements in social anxiety symptoms, which would be predicted by improvements in PA, not reductions in negative affect (NA). Results of several hierarchical linear regression analyses (completed in both full and disorder-specific samples) indicated that improvements in PA but not reductions in NA predicted social anxiety improvement. This effect was not observed for symptoms of worry, which were instead predicted by decreased NA for individuals diagnosed with GAD and both decreased NA and increased PA in the entire sample. Results suggest that MBCT may be efficacious in mitigating social anxiety symptoms, and this therapeutic effect may be linked to improvements in PA. However, further work is necessary considering the small, heterogeneous sample, uncontrolled study design, and exploratory nature of the study.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00866/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_662896_69_Psycho_20180605_arts_A

 

Improve the Physical and Sleep Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

Improve the Physical and Sleep Symptoms of Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness not only reduces stress but also gently builds an inner strength so that future stressors have less impact on our happiness and physical well-being.” – Shamash Alidina

 

Stress is an integral part of life. People often think of stress as a bad thing. But, it is actually essential to the health of the body. In fact, we invest time and resources in stressing ourselves, e.g ridding rollercoasters, sky diving, competing in sports, etc. We say we love a challenge, but, challenges are all stressful. So, we actually love to stress ourselves. In moderation, it is healthful and provides interest and fun to life. If stress, is high or is prolonged, however, it can be problematic. It can significantly damage our physical and mental health and even reduce our longevity, leading to premature deaths. So, it is important that we develop methods to either reduce or control high or prolonged stress or reduce our responses to it.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. But, it is not known exactly how mindfulness produces these benefits. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation Targets Transdiagnostic Symptoms Implicated in Stress-Related Disorders: Understanding Relationships between Changes in Mindfulness, Sleep Quality, and Physical Symptoms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971306/ ), Greeson and colleagues investigated some potential intermediaries between improved mindfulness produced by mindfulness training and improved responses to the physical and sleep problems produced by stress.

 

They recruited participants in a community based 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The participants were primarily well-educated, white women averaging 45 years of age. The MBSR program consisted of meditation, yoga, and body scans. It met once a week for 2.5 hours and included home practice of 20 to 45 minutes per day for 6 days a week They had the participants complete measures online before and after the MBSR program of mindfulness, physical symptoms, sleep quality, ruminative responses, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that compared to baseline, following MBSR training there were statistically significant improvements in all measures, including reductions in physical symptoms and increases in sleep quality. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in mindfulness produced by MBSR training, the greater the reduction in physical symptoms, rumination, unwanted intrusive thoughts, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, and expressive suppression and the greater the improvement in sleep quality, emotion regulation and cognitive reappraisal. Using a partial correlation strategy, they found that the improvements in physical symptoms and sleep quality produced by increased mindfulness were, in part, mediated by the improvements in rumination, unwanted intrusive thoughts, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, emotion suppression, and cognitive reappraisal.

 

These results clearly replicate prior findings that improved mindfulness is a consequence of  MBSR training that produces improvements in physical symptoms and sleep quality. They further demonstrate that this is, in part, produced by the ability of mindfulness training to improve the cognitive and emotional issues that lead to physical symptoms and poor sleep quality. This clearly demonstrates how beneficial mindfulness training is for the physical and psychological health of the participants. It also suggests that there is, to some extent, a causal chain of effects that produce the improvements with some of the benefits of mindfulness training being responsible for other benefits.

 

So, improve the physical and sleep symptoms of stress with mindfulness.

 

“If you believe being overly busy and overextended is evidence of productivity, then you probably believe that creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum. Yet these very activities are the antidote to the nonessential busyness that infects so many of us.” — Greg Mckeown

 

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

 

Jeffrey M. Greeson, Haley Zarrin, Moria J. Smoski, Jeffrey G. Brantley, Thomas R. Lynch, Daniel M. Webber, Martica H. Hall, Edward C. Suarez, Ruth Q. Wolever. Mindfulness Meditation Targets Transdiagnostic Symptoms Implicated in Stress-Related Disorders: Understanding Relationships between Changes in Mindfulness, Sleep Quality, and Physical Symptoms. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018; 2018: 4505191. Published online 2018 May 13. doi: 10.1155/2018/4505191

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an 8-week meditation program known to improve anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being. Other health-related effects, such as sleep quality, are less well established, as are the psychological processes associated with therapeutic change. This prospective, observational study (n = 213) aimed to determine whether perseverative cognition, indicated by rumination and intrusive thoughts, and emotion regulation, measured by avoidance, thought suppression, emotion suppression, and cognitive reappraisal, partly accounted for the hypothesized relationship between changes in mindfulness and two health-related outcomes: sleep quality and stress-related physical symptoms. As expected, increased mindfulness following the MBSR program was directly correlated with decreased sleep disturbance (r = −0.21, p = 0.004) and decreased stress-related physical symptoms (r = −0.38, p < 0.001). Partial correlations revealed that pre-post changes in rumination, unwanted intrusive thoughts, thought suppression, experiential avoidance, emotion suppression, and cognitive reappraisal each uniquely accounted for up to 32% of the correlation between the change in mindfulness and change in sleep disturbance and up to 30% of the correlation between the change in mindfulness and change in stress-related physical symptoms. Results suggest that the stress-reducing effects of MBSR are due, in part, to improvements in perseverative cognition and emotion regulation, two “transdiagnostic” mental processes that cut across stress-related disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971306/

 

Reduce Eating When Not Hungry with Mindfulness

Reduce Eating When Not Hungry with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being mindful helps you gain awareness so you can identify specific cues that influence your eating behavior. Practicing mindfulness can change your actions so that you have a sense of greater control over eating. It allows you to make deliberate decisions about eating instead of acting without thinking. “ – Carolyn Dunn

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Although the incidence rates have appeared to stabilize, the fact that over a third of the population is considered obese is very troubling. This is because of the health consequences of obesity. Obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others. Indeed, obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat obesity.

 

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

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Laboratory Eating Behavior in Adolescent Girls at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878719/ ), Annameier and colleagues recruited overweight or obese adolescent girls between 12 to 17 years of age who were at risk for the development of Type II diabetes. They were measured for body size and composition, mindfulness, episodes of loss of control (binge) eating in the past month, their state of hunger, and depressive symptoms. They were also tested in the lab where they were provided a buffet lunch meal and instructed to eat till they were no longer hungry. As a test of eating in the absence of hunger, an hour after the beginning of the lunch the girls were provided with an array of snacks (e.g. popcorn, chips, candy, and ice cream) and asked to taste them and rate them for liking. They were then left for 15 minutes and told that they could eat as much as they’d like. Their intake of the snacks was measured.

 

They found that the girls who reported engaging in loss of control eating during the previous month had higher body mass indexes (BMIs) and ate significantly more in the absence of hunger and tended to have lower mindfulness than the girls who did not report any cases of loss of control eating. They also found that the girls who reported engaging in loss of control eating ate more in the lunch when they were hungry. With the test of eating the snacks (eating in the absence of hunger) but not when eating hungry, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the amount eaten.

 

Hence, mindfulness is related to lower intake when hunger is absent but does not affect intake when hunger is present. This suggests that mindfulness does not affect homeostatic eating but rather only affects non-homeostatic food intake. This is important as responding to hunger with intake is adaptive, satisfying the body’s need for nutrients. On the other hand, eating in the absence of hunger is ingesting unneeded food energy and may contribute to overweight and obesity. The fact that mindfulness only appears to affect eating in the absence of hunger suggests that it tends to counteract this more harmful form of eating.

 

So, reduce eating when not hungry with mindfulness.

 

“The moment you become aware that you are eating mindlessly, it’s hard not to “see” it anymore. When you sit on the coach robotically eating chips or at a bar popping peanuts into your mouth, you recognize the behavior right away. This little inner voice speaks up and says, “Hey, I am mindlessly eating right now!”” – Susan Albers

 

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

 

Annameier, S. K., Kelly, N. R., Courville, A. B., Tanofsky-Kraff, M., Yanovski, J. A., & Shomaker, L. B. (2018). Mindfulness and Laboratory Eating Behavior in Adolescent Girls at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Appetite, 125, 48–56. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.01.030

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based intervention has become increasingly popular to address disinhibited eating in obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Theoretically, present-moment attention promotes the ability to recognize and respond to internal hunger cues and to differentiate physiological hunger from other stimuli. Yet, there is limited research describing the relationship of mindfulness with disinhibited eating patterns in adolescents. In this study, we evaluated the relationship of dispositional mindfulness to laboratory eating in 107 adolescent (12–17 years) girls at risk for T2D. Adolescents reported dispositional mindfulness, were evaluated for recent loss-of-control-eating (LOC-eating) by interview, and participated in two successive, standardized laboratory test meals to assess eating when hungry as well as eating in the absence of hunger (EAH). Adolescents rated state appetite throughout the test meal paradigms. In analyses adjusting for body composition and other possible confounds, mindfulness was inversely related to caloric intake during the EAH paradigm. Mindfulness did not relate to energy intake when hungry. Instead, there was a significant interaction of reported LOC-eating by state hunger, such that girls with recent, reported LOC-eating and high state hunger consumed more calories when hungry, regardless of mindfulness. Findings suggest that in girls at risk for T2D, mindfulness may play a role in disinhibited eating. A propensity for LOC-eating may be most salient for overeating in a high hunger state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878719/