Reduce the Risk of Suicide in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Reduce the Risk of Suicide in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

results support DBT as the first well-established, empirically supported treatment for decreasing repeated suicide attempts and self-harm in youths.” — Christina Vogt

 

Around 43,000 people take their own lives each year in the US. Someone dies from suicide every 12.3 minutes. Worldwide over 800,000 people die by suicide every year. The problem is far worse than these statistics suggest as it has been estimated that for every completed suicide there were 12 unsuccessful attempts. In other words, about a half a million people in the U.S. attempt suicide each year. Yet compared with other life-threatening conditions there has been scant research on how to identify potential suicide attempters, intervene, and reduce suicidality.

 

Adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the adolescent can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can produce despair leading to suicide. Indeed, suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents.

 

Mindfulness training for children and adolescents has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents. Importantly, mindfulness training with children and adolescents appears to improve the self-conceptimprove attentional ability and reduce stress. This suggests that mindfulness practices may be effective in reducing the risk of suicide in adolescents. Indeed, mindfulness training has been shown to reduce suicidality.

 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a mindfulness-based therapy targeted at changing the problem behaviors including self-injury and suicide. Behavior change is accomplished through focusing on changing the thoughts and emotions that precede problem behaviors, as well as by solving the problems faced by individuals that contribute to problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In DBT five core skills are practiced; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness. Hence it makes sense to review the published research studies examining the effectiveness of DBT for the reduction of the risk of suicide in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Recent advances in understanding and managing self-harm in adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6816451/), Clarke and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the use of various therapeutic techniques including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for the reduction of the risk of suicide in adolescents. They report that the published research supports the ability of mindfulness-based interventions, especially DBT for the reduction of self-injurious behaviors in adolescents with a high risk of suicide. It appears that the most important components for the effectiveness of DBT are “family involvement, emotion regulation skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills.” As a result, they deem DBT as “the first and only “well-established” treatment for suicidal and [self-injurious]  adolescents.”

 

So, reduce the risk of suicide in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

One RCT of DBT with adolescents has been conducted in Norway demonstrating greater reductions in self-harm behaviors than enhanced usual care at 19 week and one year follow-up.” Michele Berk

 

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

 

Clarke, S., Allerhand, L. A., & Berk, M. S. (2019). Recent advances in understanding and managing self-harm in adolescents. F1000Research, 8, F1000 Faculty Rev-1794. doi:10.12688/f1000research.19868.1

 

Abstract

Adolescent suicide is a serious public health problem, and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is both highly comorbid with suicidality among adolescents and a significant predictor of suicide attempts (SAs) in adolescents. We will clarify extant definitions related to suicidality and NSSI and the important similarities and differences between these constructs. We will also review several significant risk factors for suicidality, evidence-based and evidence-informed safety management strategies, and evidence-based treatment for adolescent self-harming behaviors. Currently, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for adolescents is the first and only treatment meeting the threshold of a well-established treatment for self-harming adolescents at high risk for suicide. Areas in need of future study include processes underlying the association between NSSI and SAs, clarification of warning signs and risk factors that are both sensitive and specific enough to accurately predict who is at imminent risk for suicide, and further efforts to sustain the effects of DBT post-treatment. DBT is a time- and labor-intensive treatment that requires extensive training for therapists and a significant time commitment for families (generally 6 months). It will therefore be helpful to assess whether other less-intensive treatment options can be established as evidence-based treatment for suicidal adolescents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6816451/

 

Less Negative Emotions Occur in Mindful Children and Adolescents

Less Negative Emotions Occur in Mindful Children and Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We ultimately want to give children (and teens, and adults!) the ability to notice however they feel in the moment, and the tools to manage and respond appropriately to their inner and outer experience.” – Oren Jay Sofer

 

Childhood and adolescence are times of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But they can be difficult times, fraught with challenges. During these times the individual transitions from childhood to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during these times that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can heighten negative emotions and anxiety. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxietydepression, and perceived stress levels and improve emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. On the other hand, getting lost in thought (mind wandering) has been shown to be associated with negative emotions. Hence, there is a need to explore the relationship between mindfulness, getting lost in thought, and emotions in children and adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cognitive Fusion Mediates the Relationship between Dispositional Mindfulness and Negative Affects: A Study in a Sample of Spanish Children and Adolescent School Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6926870/), García-Gómez and colleagues recruited children and adolescents between the ages of 8 to 16 years. They were measured for cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, and anxiety.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, negative emotions, and anxiety. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness had both direct and indirect associations such that mindfulness was negatively associated directly with both negative emotions and anxiety and also indirectly by way of its negative association with cognitive fusion which was in turn negatively associated with negative emotions and anxiety. Higher levels of mindfulness were associated with lower levels of cognitive fusion which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of negative emotions and anxiety.

 

These results are correlational and thus causation cannot be determined. Also, this study employed only children and adolescents, So, it is not established if similar findings would occur in adults. But there are a large number of studies that demonstrate a causal effect of mindfulness on negative emotions and anxiety with adults. Indeed, in the present study, age did not moderate the results. Hence the present results probably are due to the effects of mindfulness on cognitive fusion and on these negative emotions and occur regardless of age.

 

“Cognitive fusion is a process by which the individual becomes entangled with memories, thoughts, judgments, and evaluations and adjust behavior to the internal experiences.” Hence cognitive fusion is the antithesis of mindfulness. One cannot be mindful and at the same time be lost in thoughts. This suggests that being lost in thought (cognitive fusion) tends to produce negative emotions, while being mindful tends to reduce these negative emotions. This suggests that mindfulness by focusing the individual on the present moment improves the individual’s emotional state and also tends to prevent getting lost in thought which also improves the individual’s emotional state.

 

So, reduce getting lost in thought and negative emotions with mindfulness.

 

When I look at childhood anxiety I see an enormous problem and a precursor to other problems in adolescents and adults,” – Randye Semple

 

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

 

García-Gómez, M., Guerra, J., López-Ramos, V. M., & Mestre, J. M. (2019). Cognitive Fusion Mediates the Relationship between Dispositional Mindfulness and Negative Affects: A Study in a Sample of Spanish Children and Adolescent School Students. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(23), 4687. doi:10.3390/ijerph16234687

 

Abstract

Nowadays, mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) have experienced a remarkable development of studies among childhood and adolescent interventions. For this reason, dispositional mindfulness (DM) measures for children and adolescents have been developed to determine the effectiveness of MBI at this age stage. However, little is known about how key elements of DM (for example, cognitive de/fusion or experiential avoidance that both confirm psychological inflexibility) are involved in the mechanisms of the children and adolescents’ mental health outcomes. This research examined the mediating effect of cognitive fusion between DM and anxiety and other negative emotional states in a sample of 318 Spanish primary-school students (aged between 8 and 16 years, M = 11.24, SD = 2.19, 50.8% males). Participants completed the AFQ-Y (Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for youth), which is a measure of psychological inflexibility that encompasses cognitive defusion and experiential avoidance; CAMM (DM for children and adolescents), PANAS-N (positive and negative affect measure for children, Spanish version of PANASC), and STAIC (an anxiety measure for children). The study accomplished ethical standards. As MBI relevant literature has suggested, cognitive defusion was a significant mediator between DM and symptoms of both negative emotions and anxiety in children and adolescents. However, experiential avoidance did not show any significant mediating relationship. Probably, an improvement of the assessment of experiential avoidance is needed. MBI programs for children and adolescents may include more activities for reducing effects of the cognitive defusion on their emotional distress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6926870/

 

Spirituality Interferes with Successful Treatment of Cannabis Abuse in Adolescents

Spirituality Interferes with Successful Treatment of Cannabis Abuse in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“there are three main reasons that cannabis is seen as a spiritual tool. First, “It is a light intoxicant and can therefore be used fairly frequently and without the kinds of impairment associated with major hallucinogens.” Second, cannabis is conducive to group social use and fosters conversation about philosophical and theological matters. Finally, cannabis weakens our ability for sustained attention. . . . it’s great for aiding in shifts of perspective and giving experiences a more pluralistic character.” – Robert Fuller

 

Drug and alcohol addictions are very difficult to kick and if successful about half the time the individual will relapse. So, there have been developed a number of programs to help the addict recover and prevent relapse. The 12 step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, etc. have been as successful as any programs in treating addictions. These programs insist that spirituality is essential to recovery.

 

Marijuana use can lead to the development of problem use, known as a marijuana use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases. Recent data suggest that 30 percent of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.” National Institute of Drug Abuse.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Spirituality has been shown to assist in addiction recovery. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality with the ability of adolescents to recover from cannabis abuse.

 

In today’s Research News article “”God put weed here for us to smoke”: A mixed-methods study of religion and spirituality among adolescents with cannabis use disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430642/), Yeterian and colleagues recruited adolescents, aged 14 to 21 years, who were undergoing a 12-step program for the treatment of cannabis abuse. The adolescents were measured before treatment and at 3 and 6-month follow-ups for religiosity, spirituality, and substance abuse. They also underwent interviews about their substance use and the program.

 

They found at follow-up that the higher the levels of spirituality the greater the increase in the use of cannabis by the adolescents, while the higher the levels of spirituality at baseline, the lower the levels of alcohol consumption. The results of the interviews suggested that the relationship of spirituality with increased cannabis use was due to the adolescents believing that cannabis deepened the sense of their spirituality.

 

Twelve-step programs emphasize spirituality and the current results suggest that this may be useful in treating alcohol abuse. But it may be counterproductive in treating cannabis abuse, contributing to greater use. The adolescents appear to see cannabis use as enhancing their spirituality and thus spiritual youths are susceptible to continued and increased cannabis use. This suggests that treatment programs for cannabis abuse should not include spirituality as part of the treatment.

 

So, spirituality interferes with successful treatment of cannabis abuse in adolescents.

 

“It is important for clinicians to be aware of the dynamics of spirituality and religion in the cause, maintenance, and treatment of substance misuse problems.” – John Allen

 

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

 

Yeterian, J. D., Bursik, K., & Kelly, J. F. (2018). “God put weed here for us to smoke”: A mixed-methods study of religion and spirituality among adolescents with cannabis use disorders. Substance abuse, 39(4), 484–492. doi:10.1080/08897077.2018.1449168

 

Abstract

Background:

A growing literature on adults with substance use disorders (SUD) suggests that religious and spiritual processes can support recovery, such that higher levels of religiosity and/or spirituality predict better substance use outcomes. However, studies of the role of religion and spirituality in adolescent SUD treatment response have produced mixed findings, and religiosity and spirituality have rarely been examined separately.

Methods:

The present study examined religiosity and spirituality as predictors of outcomes in an outpatient treatment adolescent sample (N = 101) in which cannabis was the predominant drug of choice. Qualitative data were used to contextualize the quantitative findings.

Results:

Results showed that higher levels of spirituality at post-treatment predicted increased cannabis use at 6-month follow-up (β = .237, p = .043), whereas higher levels of baseline spirituality predicted a lower likelihood of heavy drinking at post-treatment (OR = .316, p = .040). Religiosity did not predict substance use outcomes at later timepoints. When asked to describe the relation between their religious/spiritual views and their substance use, adolescents described believing that they had a choice about their substance use and were in control of it, feeling more spiritual when under the influence of cannabis, and being helped by substance use.

Conclusions:

Together, findings suggest that for adolescents with SUD, religion and spirituality may not counteract the use of cannabis, which may be explained by adolescents’ views of their substance use as being consistent with their spirituality and under their control.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6430642/

 

Reduce Depression Produced by Internet Addiction with Mindfulness

Reduce Depression Produced by Internet Addiction with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As we get more connected to our wireless technology, we appear to run the risk of damaging our brains’ wiring, and disconnecting from the face-to-face interaction that our social and psychological systems need. With its emphasis on harnessing attention with intention (i.e. redirecting it on purpose), mindfulness—with all its scientifically-established health and well-being benefits—has the potential to keep us from drifting hopelessly away from one another.” – Mitch Abblett

 

Over the last few decades the internet has gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. In fact, it has become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. As useful as the internet may be, it can also produce negative consequences. “Problematic Internet Use” is now considered a behavioral addiction, with almost half of participants in one study considered “Internet addicts”, developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature, causes, and consequences and how to treat it.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with each of the components of addictions, decreasing cravings, impulsiveness, and psychological and physiological responses to stress, and increasing emotion regulation.  It is no wonder then that mindfulness training has been found to be effective for the treatment of a variety of addictions. Hence, there is a need to further explore the consequences of internet addiction and the relationship of mindfulness with internet addiction and its consequences.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet Addiction and Depression in Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865207/), Chi and colleagues recruited middle school students (aged 11 to 15 years) and had them complete a questionnaire measuring internet addiction, depression, positive youth development (measuring positive psychological qualities), and mindfulness.

 

They found that 20% of the youths showed symptoms of internet addiction and 24% showed symptoms of depression. They also observed that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of depression and internet addiction and the higher the levels of positive youth development. On the other hand, the higher the levels of internet addiction the lower the levels of mindfulness and positive youth development and the higher the levels of depression. They also found mediation. The positive relationship between internet addiction and depression was present when mindfulness was low but not when it was high. Similarly, the negative relationship between depression and positive youth development was present when mindfulness was low but not when it was high.

 

These results are correlative and caution must be exercised in concluding causation. Nevertheless, the results replicate previous findings of mindfulness being negatively related to depression and internet addiction and positively related to positive psychological qualities. But the present findings add to these understandings by demonstrating that being addicted to the internet is related to higher depression and lower positive psychological qualities. Importantly, they found that mindfulness moderates the relationships between depression and both internet addiction and positive psychological qualities. High levels of mindfulness appear to prevent internet addiction from producing depression and from depression reducing positive psychological qualities.

 

Internet addiction is a growing problem especially in youths. These results are encouraging though that mindfulness not only is related to less internet addiction but also appears to blunt the relationships of internet addiction with depression and positive psychological qualities. This suggests that training in mindfulness with youths may help prevent addiction to the internet and its consequent effects on depression and youth development. Testing this remains for future research.

 

So, reduce depression produced by internet addiction with mindfulness.

 

when correctly practised and administered, mindfulness meditation is a safe, non-invasive, and cost-effective tool for treating behavioural addictions and for improving psychological health more generally.” – Mark Griffiths

 

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

 

Chi, X., Liu, X., Guo, T., Wu, M., & Chen, X. (2019). Internet Addiction and Depression in Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, 816. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00816

 

Abstract

Research has revealed that Internet addiction is a risk factor for adolescents’ development of depressive symptoms, although the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. The present study examines the mediating role of positive youth development and the moderating role of mindfulness to determine the association between Internet addiction and depression. A sample of 522 Chinese adolescents completed measures related to Internet addiction, positive youth development, mindfulness, depression, and their background information, for which the results reveal that positive youth development mediates the relation between Internet addiction and depression. Moreover, the associations between both Internet addiction and depression as well as positive youth development and depression are moderated by mindfulness. These two effects were stronger for adolescents with low mindfulness than for those with high mindfulness. The present study contributes to a more thorough understanding of how and when Internet addiction increases the risk of depression in adolescents, suggesting that Internet addiction may affect adolescent depression through positive youth development and that mindfulness can alleviate the negative effect of Internet addiction or a low level of psychological resources on depression. The implications for research and practice are finally discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865207/

 

Adolescent Characteristics that Predict Success of Mindfulness Therapy to Reduce Self-Harm and Suicidality

Adolescent Characteristics that Predict Success of Mindfulness Therapy to Reduce Self-Harm and Suicidality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The pain of depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it,  and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.
The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.” – William Styron

 

Around 43,000 people take their own lives each year in the US. Someone dies from suicide every 12.3 minutes. Worldwide over 800,000 people die by suicide every year. (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education). It is much more prevalent with males who account for 79% of suicides. The problem is far worse than these statistics suggest as it has been estimated that for every completed suicide there were 12 unsuccessful attempts. In other words, about a half a million people in the U.S. attempt suicide each year. Yet compared with other life-threatening conditions there has been scant research on how to identify potential suicide attempters, intervene, and reduce suicidality.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce suicidality. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a mindfulness-based therapy targeted at changing the problem behaviors including self-injury and suicide. Behavior change is accomplished through focusing on changing the thoughts and emotions that precede problem behaviors, as well as by solving the problems faced by individuals that contribute to problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In DBT five core skills are practiced; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness. It is important to identify the characteristics of adolescents who are most likely to benefit from DBT for the reduction of suicide.

 

In today’s Research News article “Predictors and moderators of recurring self‐harm in adolescents participating in a comparative treatment trial of psychological interventions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpp.13099), Adrian and colleagues recruited adolescents with previous lifetime suicide attempt, repetitive self‐harm in the past 12 weeks, borderline personality disorder (BPD) characteristics, and clinically significant suicidal ideation. They were randomly assigned to receive 6-months of either Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) or individual/group supportive therapy. They were measured before and after treatment and at the midpoint of treatment for suicide attempts, non-suicidal self-injuries, self-harm, prior self-harm severity, externalizing symptoms, other psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, PTSD symptoms, borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms, adolescent-parent conflict, and emotional dysregulation. In addition, their parents were measured for emotional distress and adolescent-parent conflict.

 

They found that non-white adolescents had a greater response to treatment than white adolescents in the reduction in suicide ideation. The adolescent’s pre-treatment history also affected the response to treatment with adolescents with greater levels of family conflict, more extensive self‐harm histories, and more externalizing problems having a greater reduction in self-harm. They also found that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was more effective for adolescents who were high in emotional dysregulation and whose parents had greater psychopathology and emotional dysregulation.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that certain adolescents are more responsive to treatment than others. Non-white (particularly Latino) youths, adolescents with greater levels of family conflict, more extensive self‐harm histories, more externalizing problems, higher in emotional dysregulation and whose parents had greater psychopathology and emotional dysregulation had more positive changes produced by therapy. These factors may be used to triage which youths would be most likely to benefit from different therapies and thus may potentiate therapeutic benefits.

 

Suicide is a major problem for adolescents and self-harm, self-injury, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts are all indicators of potential lethal outcomes. So, treatment is extremely important. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) appears to be effective but it is particularly effective for certain youths. Knowing this can help target and refine therapy to improve therapeutic effectiveness in reducing suicides in adolescents.

 

So, reduce suicidality in certain adolescents with mindfulness.

 

“Being curious about your suicidal thoughts is another part of mindful observation. If you have the thought, “I should kill myself,” how does it affect the thought’s meaning to then tell yourself, “Hmm, I wonder why I just had the thought that I should kill myself?” – Stacey Freedenthal

 

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

 

Molly Adrian, Elizabeth McCauley, Michele S. Berk, Joan R. Asarnow, Kathryn Korslund, Claudia Avina, Robert Gallop, Marsha M. Linehan. Predictors and moderators of recurring self‐harm in adolescents participating in a comparative treatment trial of psychological interventions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30 July 2019, 60(10), 1123-1132, https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13099

 

Key points

  • Adolescent prior self‐harm, externalizing problems, and reported family conflict were significant predictors of change in self‐harm, NSSI, and suicidal ideation, where adolescents with higher family conflict and less severe self‐harm history produced on average more reduction in SH from baseline to post‐treatment.
  • DBT produced better rate of improvement compared to IGST for adolescents who were emotionally dysregulation and whose parents had higher baseline emotion dysregulation and psychopathology.
  • Clinicians could consider either IGST or DBT for adolescents with self‐harm histories whose parents are well regulated and do not have impairing psychopathology. Adolescents with emotional dysregulation and parents with psychopathology and emotion dysregulation may benefit more from DBT than IGST.

Abstract

Background

In primary analyses, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was associated with greater reduction in self‐harm during treatment than individual/group supportive therapy (IGST). The objective of this paper was to examine predictors and moderators of treatment outcomes for suicidal adolescents who participated in a randomized controlled trial evaluating DBT and IGST.

Methods

Adolescents (N = 173) were included in the intent‐to‐treat sample and randomized to receive 6 months of DBT or IGST. Potential baseline predictors and moderators were identified within four categories: demographics, severity markers, parental psychopathology, and psychosocial variables. Primary outcomes were suicide attempts (SA) and nonsuicidal self‐injury evaluated at baseline, midtreatment (3 months), and end of treatment (6 months) via the Suicide Attempt and Self‐Injury Interview (Psychological Assessment, 18, 2006, 303). For each moderator or predictor, a generalized linear mixed model was conducted to examine main and interactive effects of treatment and the candidate variable on outcomes.

Results

Adolescents with higher family conflict, more extensive self‐harm histories, and more externalizing problems produced on average more reduction on SH frequency from baseline to post‐treatment. Adolescents meeting BPD diagnosis were more likely to have high SH frequency at post‐treatment. Analyses indicated significant moderation effects for emotion dysregulation on NSSI and SH. DBT was associated with better rates of improvement compared to IGST for adolescents with higher baseline emotion dysregulation and those whose parents reported greater psychopathology and emotion dysregulation. A significant moderation effect for ethnicity on SA over the treatment period was observed, where DBT produced better rate of improvement compared to IGST for Hispanic/Latino individuals.

Conclusions

These findings may help to inform salient treatment targets and guide treatment planning. Adolescents that have high levels of family conflict, externalizing problems, and increased level of severity markers demonstrated the most change in self‐harm behaviors over the course of treatment and benefitted from both treatment interventions. Those with higher levels of emotion dysregulation and parent psychopathology may benefit more from the DBT.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpp.13099

 

Meditation Practice is Growing Rapidly Among Children and Adolescents

Meditation Practice is Growing Rapidly Among Children and Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It’s almost as though meditation was designed for kids. They just ‘get it’ – there is this elasticity and freedom in their minds which allows them to be present in the moment and free from any external thoughts or pressures.” – Andy Puddicombe

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This occurs almost without any intervention from the adults as the child appears to be programmed to learn. It is here that behaviors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are developed that shape the individual. Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops.

 

Childhood and adolescence can be difficult times, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child or adolescent can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required.

 

Mindfulness training for children and adolescents has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents. Importantly, mindfulness training with children and adolescents appears to improve the self-conceptimproves attentional ability and reduces stress. These benefits are becoming more widely appreciated and should have led to greater numbers of children and adolescents practicing meditation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of meditation use among U.S. children: Results from the National Health Interview Survey.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502253/), Wang and Gaylord analyzed the data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey, separating that  obtained from children and adolescents. They recorded meditation use, health records, and health care utilization.

 

They found that 7.4% of the children and adolescents practiced meditation. This was a very large increase from the 1.6% that was found in 2012. 1.0% of the children and adolescents used mantra meditation, 1.6% used mindfulness meditation, 4.0% used spiritual meditation, and 3.0% practiced meditation as part of yoga, tai chi, or qigong. They also found that meditation was more likely to be used by youths whose parent completed some college, had headaches, depression, or a respiratory allergy, and who lived in the western U.S. Children or adolescents who had medical conditions were more likely to use mindfulness meditation. Surprisingly, neither age, gender, race, nor socioeconomic status was associated with different frequencies of meditation use.

 

These results are interesting and document the tremendous increase in the acceptability and utilization of meditation practice by children and adolescents over the last 5 years. This has probably occurred due to the increased recognition of the benefits of mindfulness practices for the physical and psychological health of children and adolescents and it’s increased practice in schools. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues over the next 5 years.

 

“Our kids’ brains are tired, and children of all ages really need opportunities where they can take time out each day “unplugged” to relax and focus. Meditation offers this break and helps kids function more effectively and clearly.” – Healthy Children

 

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

 

Wang, C., Li, K., & Gaylord, S. (2019). Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of meditation use among U.S. children: Results from the National Health Interview Survey. Complementary therapies in medicine, 43, 271–276. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.02.004

 

Abstract

Objectives:

The purpose of the study is to examine the characteristics of various types of meditation use (i.e., mantra, mindful, and spiritual meditation) among U.S. children.

Methods:

Using 2017 National Health Interview Survey, we examined the prevalence, patterns, and potential predictors of meditation use among U.S. children aged 4 to 17 years. Descriptive statistics, Wald F chi-square test, and multivariable logistic regression were used for data analysis (n = 6925).

Results:

Overall meditation use has increased substantially from 1.6% in 2012 to 7.4% in 2017 among children in the US. Children with chronic medical conditions were more likely to use mindful meditation (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 1.9–3.6, 95% CI [1.0–7.4]). Regularly taking prescription medication had an inverse relation with mantra meditation use (AOR = 0.4, 95% CI [0.2–0.9]). Children with delayed medical care due to access difficulties were more likely to use spiritual meditation, compared to those who did not (AOR = 1.7, 95% CI [1.1–2.6]).

Conclusions:

Meditation use has rapidly increased among U.S. children within the past few years. Future studies should explore the underlying reasons for this increase and its potential benefits for pediatric meditators.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502253/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Lower Suicidality in Adolescents

 

Spirituality is Associated with Lower Suicidality in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“suicide is never the right answer. The more we can nurture a sense of connectedness and purpose in our lives (of “spirituality”), the less likely people will be tempted to “end it all.” – Eben Alexander

 

After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause. Around 43,000 people take their own lives each year in the US. Someone dies from suicide every 12.3 minutes. It is estimated that worldwide about a million people die by suicide every year. It is much more prevalent with males who account for 79% of suicides. The problem is far worse than these statistics suggest as it has been estimated that for every completed suicide there were 12 unsuccessful attempts. In other words, about a half a million people in the U.S. attempt suicide each year. Yet compared with other life-threatening conditions there has been scant research on how to identify potential suicide attempters, intervene, and reduce suicidality.

 

Depression and other mood disorders are the number-one risk factor for suicide. More than 90% of people who kill themselves have a mental disorder, whether depression, bipolar disorder or some other diagnosis. So, the best way to prevent suicide may be to treat the underlying cause. For many this means treating depression. Spirituality may help to provide meaning and prevent suicide. But there is scant research on the relationship of spirituality and religiosity and suicide.

 

In today’s Research News article “The role of social support and spiritual wellbeing in predicting suicidal ideation among marginalized adolescents in Malaysia.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6565529/), Ibrahim and colleagues recruited adolescents from low income families and measured them for suicide ideation, social support, and spiritual well-being.

 

They found that the higher the levels of social support, and spiritual well-being the lower the levels of suicide ideation. It should be recognized that this study was correlational and as such no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. The results suggest clear negative relationships between spirituality and social support and suicide ideation in adolescents from low income families. Being spiritual and having social support are related to having few, if any, thoughts regarding suicide. It remains for future research to establish whether improving spirituality and/or social support would result in fewer thoughts about suicide.

 

So, spirituality is associated with lower suicidality in adolescents.

 

“I personally think spirituality is a part of each of our beings. It has been the difference in my life and has walked me back from the place where I thought suicide was my only option. Maybe spirituality can be the difference in someone else’s life, too.” – Kelli Evans

 

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

 

Ibrahim, N., Che Din, N., Ahmad, M., Amit, N., Ghazali, S. E., Wahab, S., … A Halim, M. (2019). The role of social support and spiritual wellbeing in predicting suicidal ideation among marginalized adolescents in Malaysia. BMC public health, 19(Suppl 4), 553. doi:10.1186/s12889-019-6861-7

 

Abstract

Background

The high number of adolescents and young adults harbouring suicidal ideation, as reported by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, is alarming. This cross-sectional study aims to examine the association between social support and spiritual wellbeing in predicting suicidal ideation among Malaysian adolescents.

Methods

A total of 176 adolescents in selected urban areas in the states of Wilayah Persekutuan and Selangor were selected. The Suicide Ideation Scale (SIS) was used to measure the level of severity or tendency of suicidal ideation. The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) was used to measure the perceived social support received by the respondent while the Spiritual Wellbeing Scale (SWBS) was used to measure the religious wellbeing (RWB), the existential wellbeing (EWB) and the overall score of spiritual wellbeing (SWB).

Results

The study found that both RWB and EWB showed significant negative correlation with suicidal ideation. Similarly, support from family and friends also showed a negative correlation with suicidal ideation. Further analysis using multiple regressions showed that RWB and SWB, and family support predict suicidal ideation in adolescents.

Conclusion

Spiritual wellbeing in combination with family support plays a major role in predicting suicidal ideation. Therefore, intervention for encompassing spirituality and family support may contribute to a more positive outcome in suicidal adolescents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6565529/

 

Improve Adolescent Psychological Health with Mindfulness

Improve Adolescent Psychological Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It may be that mindfulness leads to an increase in self-compassion and a decrease in experiential avoidance. It may be selective attention — if you focus on your breath, you have less bandwidth to ruminate. There are a lot of factors that are operative and we’re just beginning to tease out and deconstruct them. It’s like tasting a soup with 10 spices. Is there one main ingredient or is the flavor a combination of things?” – Stuart Eisendrath

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required.

 

Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects Of Modified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) On The Psychological Health Of Adolescents With Subthreshold Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6758632/), Zhang and colleagues recruited university students (aged 18-22 years) who scored high in depression but were not at clinically diagnosable levels. They were randomly assigned to receive either an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or to a no-treatment control condition. They were measured before and after training for depression, mindfulness, and rumination.

 

The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 1-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants are also encouraged to perform daily practice. The program was modified to be better targeted at adolescents. It instructed the adolescents on the application of mindfulness practices to everyday life, including experiencing the pleasant/sad moments in life, walking, sleeping, eating, breathing and exercising to keep the attitude of “mindfulness”.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control condition the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program produced large and significant decreases in depression and rumination and increases in mindfulness. Hence, the study demonstrated that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) modified for adolescents is a safe and effective treatment to improve the psychological health of adolescents who had subclinical levels of depression.

 

It should be mentioned that the control condition did not include any activities and thus leaves open the possibilities of confounding by experimenter or participant bias or placebo effects. Also, the lack of a standard MBSR program for comparison to the modified program does not allow for a conclusion that the modifications produced an improved program. Nevertheless the results are encouraging that the modified MBSR program may be useful in relieving the suffering of the large numbers of adolescents with sub-clinical depression.

 

So, improve adolescent psychological health with mindfulness.

 

“It is well-documented that mindfulness helps to relieve depression and anxiety in adults.1-4 A small but growing body of research shows that it may also improve adolescent resilience to stress through improved cognitive performance and emotional regulation.” – Malka Main

 

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

 

Zhang, J. Y., Ji, X. Z., Meng, L. N., & Cai, Y. J. (2019). Effects Of Modified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) On The Psychological Health Of Adolescents With Subthreshold Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 15, 2695–2704. doi:10.2147/NDT.S216401

 

Abstract

Background

Sub-threshold depression (SD) has been associated with impairments in adolescent health which increase the rate of major depression. Researchers have shown the effectiveness of mindfulness on mental health, however whether the traditional mindful skills were suitable for youngsters, it was not clear. This study investigated the effects of a tailed Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on their psychological state.

Methods

A double-blind, randomized controlled trial was carried out. 56 participants who met the inclusion criteria agreed to be arranged randomly to either the MBSR group (n=28) or the control group (n=28). Participants in MBSR group received a tailored 8-week, one time per week, one hour each time group intervention. The effectiveness of intervention was measured using validated scales, which including BDI-II, MAAS, RRS at three times (T1-before intervention; T2-after intervention; T3-three months after intervention). A repeated-measures analysis of variance model was used to analyze the data.

Results

The results showed significant improvements in MBSR group comparing with control group that depression level decreased after the 8-week intervention and the follow up (F =17.721, p < 0.00). At the same time, RRS score was significantly decreased at T2 and T3(F= 28.277, p < 0.00). The results also showed that MBSR promoted the level of mindfulness and the effect persisted for three months after intervention (F=13.489, p < 0.00).

Conclusion

A tailored MBSR intervention has positive effects on psychology health among SD youngsters, including decrease depression and rumination level, cultivate mindfulness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6758632/

 

Reduce Suicide with Mindfulness

Reduce Suicide with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The pain of depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.
The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.” – William Styron

 

After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause. Around 43,000 people take their own lives each year in the US. Someone dies from suicide every 12.3 minutes. Worldwide over 800,000 people die by suicide every year. (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education). It is much more prevalent with males who account for 79% of suicides. The problem is far worse than these statistics suggest as it has been estimated that for every completed suicide there were 12 unsuccessful attempts. In other words, about a half a million people in the U.S. attempt suicide each year. Yet compared with other life-threatening conditions there has been scant research on how to identify potential suicide attempters, intervene, and reduce suicidality.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce suicidality. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a mindfulness-based therapy targeted at changing the problem behaviors including self-injury and suicide. Behavior change is accomplished through focusing on changing the thoughts and emotions that precede problem behaviors, as well as by solving the problems faced by individuals that contribute to problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In DBT five core skills are practiced; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness. Hence it makes sense to further study the ability of DBT to reduce suicides in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents at High Risk for Suicide: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6584278/), McCauley and colleagues recruited adolescents (12-18 years of age) with at least one suicide attempt, elevated suicide ideation, a history of self-harm, and symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They were randomly assigned to receive 6 months of individualized group therapy either of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) or individual and group non-directive supportive therapy. They were measured before, midway and after treatment and 3 and 6 months later for suicides, suicide ideation, self-harm, mood, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), substance abuse, and externalizing symptoms.

 

They found that in comparison to individual and group non-directive supportive therapy, the participants in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) attended more sessions, remained in treatment longer, and had higher completing rates. Importantly, after treatment, the group receiving Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) had significantly fewer suicide attempts, less self-harm, and significantly higher rates of clinical change.

 

These are important results that suggests that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an effective treatment for adolescents with a history of suicide attempts and self-harm. Since compliance and completion rates were high, it suggests that the treatment was acceptable to the youths. The fact that DBT was compared to another therapy is important as it demonstrates that participant expectancy effects or placebo effects cannot account for the findings. They are also important as they suggest that DBT may help save adolescent lives in a very vulnerable population or at the very least help to relieve their suffering.

 

So, reduce suicide with mindfulness.

 

“In general, the practice of mindfulness involves observing your thoughts without buying into them. You label your thoughts as just that – thoughts. Not necessarily truth. Not necessarily a call to action. If you have the thought, “I should kill myself,” you can then observe, “I just had the thought that I should kill myself.” – Stephanie Freedenthal

 

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

 

McCauley, E., Berk, M. S., Asarnow, J. R., Adrian, M., Cohen, J., Korslund, K., … Linehan, M. M. (2018). Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents at High Risk for Suicide: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA psychiatry, 75(8), 777–785. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1109

 

Key Points

Question

Is dialectical behavior therapy more effective than individual and group supportive therapy in reducing suicide attempts and nonsuicidal self-injury in suicidal adolescents?

Findings

This multisite randomized clinical trial of 173 adolescents indicated a significant advantage for dialectical behavior therapy compared with individual and group supportive therapy for reducing repeat suicide attempts, nonsuicidal self-injury, and total self-harm after treatment. Although the dialectical behavior therapy advantage weakened over time, secondary analyses indicated that youths receiving dialectical behavior therapy were more likely to respond to treatment, indexed by the absence of any self-harm, after treatment and at 12-month follow-up.

Meaning

Dialectical behavior therapy is effective for reducing repeat suicide attempts among highly suicidal adolescents, underscoring the value of dialectical behavior therapy in suicide prevention initiatives.

Abstract

Importance

Suicide is a leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-old individuals in the United States; evidence on effective treatment for adolescents who engage in suicidal and self-harm behaviors is limited.

Objective

To evaluate the efficacy of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) compared with individual and group supportive therapy (IGST) for reducing suicide attempts, nonsuicidal self-injury, and overall self-harm among high-risk youths.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This randomized clinical trial was conducted from January 1, 2012, through August 31, 2014, at 4 academic medical centers. A total of 173 participants (pool of 195; 22 withdrew or were excluded) 12 to 18 years of age with a prior lifetime suicide attempt (≥3 prior self-harm episodes, suicidal ideation, or emotional dysregulation) were studied. Adaptive randomization balanced participants across conditions within sites based on age, number of prior suicide attempts, and psychotropic medication use. Participants were followed up for 1 year.

Interventions

Study participants were randomly assigned to DBT or IGST. Treatment duration was 6 months. Both groups had weekly individual and group psychotherapy, therapist consultation meetings, and parent contact as needed.

Main Outcomes and Measures

A priori planned outcomes were suicide attempts, nonsuicidal self-injury, and total self-harm assessed using the Suicide Attempt Self-Injury Interview.

Results

A total of 173 adolescents (163 [94.8%] female and 97 [56.4%] white; mean [SD] age, 14.89 [1.47] years) were studied. Significant advantages were found for DBT on all primary outcomes after treatment: suicide attempts (65 [90.3%] of 72 receiving DBT vs 51 [78.9%] of 65 receiving IGST with no suicide attempts; odds ratio [OR], 0.30; 95% CI, 0.10-0.91), nonsuicidal self-injury (41 [56.9%] of 72 receiving DBT vs 26 [40.0%] of 65 receiving IGST with no self-injury; OR, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.13-0.70), and self-harm (39 [54.2%] of 72 receiving DBT vs 24 [36.9%] of 65 receiving IGST with no self-harm; OR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.14-0.78). Rates of self-harm decreased through 1-year follow-up. The advantage of DBT decreased, with no statistically significant between-group differences from 6 to 12 months (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.12-3.36; P = .61). Treatment completion rates were higher for DBT (75.6%) than for IGST (55.2%), but pattern-mixture models indicated that this difference did not informatively affect outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance

The results of this trial support the efficacy of DBT for reducing self-harm and suicide attempts in highly suicidal self-harming adolescents. On the basis of the criteria of 2 independent trials supporting efficacy, results support DBT as the first well-established, empirically supported treatment for decreasing repeated suicide attempts and self-harm in youths.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6584278/Importance

 

Teen Health and Life Satisfaction are Associated with Spirituality

Teen Health and Life Satisfaction are Associated with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

While adolescents may question or review their spirituality, it remains a critical aspect of adolescent stability. . . studies of religiosity have found a positive correlation with an adolescent sense of well-being, positive life attitudes, altruism, resiliency, school success, health and positive identity, as well as a negative correlation with alcohol and drug use, delinquency, depression, excessive risk-taking and early sexual activity.” – Kenneth Doka

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health even in adolescents. So, it makes sense to investigate the influence of spirituality on youths’ physical and psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality but not Religiosity Is Associated with Better Health and Higher Life Satisfaction among Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313303/), Dankulincova Veselska and colleagues employed the data from a large representative sample of adolescents from Slovakia in the 5th through 9th grades. They completed measures of physical and psychological health, life satisfaction, religiosity, spirituality, and family affluence.

 

They found that there were significant relationships between spirituality and the other measures, with the higher the level of spirituality the higher the levels of health and life satisfaction and the lower the levels of health complaints. On the other hand, religiosity was not found to be associated with any of the variables.

 

This study was correlational and as such conclusions regarding causation cannot be reached. But, the adolescents’ levels of religiosity (church attendance and importance of faith) were not related to their physical or psychological health or life satisfaction, suggesting that simply being religious is not sufficient to enhance well-being. But being spiritual (have meaning in life, connections to nature) is associated with the youths’ well-being.

 

So, teen health and life satisfaction are associated with spirituality.

 

“Spiritual health has long been recognised as an important component in maintaining overall health and wellbeing, with a growing body of research which supports linkages between mindfulness-based practices and positive mental health and resilience.” – HBSC News

 

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

 

Dankulincova Veselska, Z., Jirasek, I., Veselsky, P., Jiraskova, M., Plevova, I., Tavel, P., & Madarasova Geckova, A. (2018). Spirituality but not Religiosity Is Associated with Better Health and Higher Life Satisfaction among Adolescents. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(12), 2781. doi:10.3390/ijerph15122781

 

Abstract

Careful conceptualization and differentiation of both spirituality and religiosity is a necessary precondition for understanding the potential role they play in health, whether physical or mental. The aim of this study was to explore the associations of spirituality with self-rated health, health complaints, and life satisfaction of adolescents with the moderating role of religiosity. Data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study conducted in 2014 in Slovakia were used. The final sample consisted of 658 adolescents (mean age = 15.37; 50.6% boys). Data regarding spirituality, religiosity, self-rated health, health complaints, and life satisfaction were obtained. Binary logistic models revealed spirituality to be associated with self-rated health, health complaints, and life satisfaction. A moderating role of religiosity was not confirmed. The presented findings indicate the need to distinguish between the concepts of religiosity and spirituality in connection with subjective health and life satisfaction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313303/