Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Inflexibility and Psychopathology in Adolescents

Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Inflexibility and Psychopathology in Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As present-moment focused, mindfulness, acceptance, and defusion interventions alter the context, behavioral flexibility emerges and, with it, increased sensitivity to context, including that aspect of context we call consequences.” – Kelly Wilson

 

Adolescence should be a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. These executive functions are an important foundation for success in the complex modern world. 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.

 

Making these profound changes successfully requires a good deal or flexibility, adapting and changing with the physical, psychological, and social changes of adolescence. In today’s Research News article “Inflexible Youngsters: Psychological and Psychopathological Correlates of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youths in Nonclinical Dutch Adolescents.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605724/, Muris and colleagues examined the relationships between mindfulness, inflexibility and mental health in adolescents. They recruited youths aged 12 to 16 years and had them complete measures of mindfulness, psychological inflexibility, thought suppression self-compassion, self-worth, self-efficacy, somatization, psychopathological symptoms, anxiety, depression, and aggression.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of inflexibility, thought suppression, somatization, anxiety, depression, emotional problems, aggression, oppositional conduct, and the higher the levels of self-worth and self-efficacy. They also found that psychological inflexibility was inversely related to the same variables, with higher levels of inflexibility associated with higher levels of thought suppression, somatization, anxiety, depression, emotional problems, aggression, oppositional conduct, and the lower the levels of self-worth and self-efficacy. In other words, mindfulness was associated with positive mental health while inflexibility was associated with negative mental health in these youths.

 

They further investigated the effectiveness of psychological inflexibility to affect the mental health of the adolescents while holding mindfulness mathematically constant. They found that each had independent contributions to the levels of anxiety and depression, with mindfulness associated with lower values and inflexibility associated with higher values. So, mindfulness and psychological inflexibility appear to be independently associated with emotional health in adolescents.

 

It is important to keep in mind that this study was correlational and did not manipulate the levels of any variables. So, causal connections cannot be determined between the variables. The associations though suggest that both mindfulness and psychological flexibility are important contributors to the psychological development of adolescents. It will be interesting to investigate in future research whether training in mindfulness and flexibility will help to promote healthy mental health in youths.

 

“While psychological inflexibility was most strongly associated with Neuroticism , as expected, mindfulness demonstrated the strongest association with consciousness, a trait reflecting impulse control abilities and attention to detail.” – Robert Latzman

 

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

 

Muris, P., Meesters, C., Herings, A., Jansen, M., Vossen, C., & Kersten, P. (2017). Inflexible Youngsters: Psychological and Psychopathological Correlates of the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youths in Nonclinical Dutch Adolescents. Mindfulness, 8(5), 1381–1392. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0714-1

 

Abstract

The present study examined psychological and psychopathological correlates of psychological inflexibility as measured by the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth (AFQ-Y) in two independent samples of nonclinical Dutch adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years (Ns being 184 and 157). Participants completed a survey containing the AFQ-Y and scales assessing mindfulness, thought suppression, self-compassion, self-worth, self-efficacy, and internalizing/externalizing symptoms. In both samples, the AFQ-Y was found to be a reliable measure of psychological inflexibility that correlated in a theoretically meaningful way with other psychological constructs. Most importantly, AFQ-Y scores correlated positively with internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and in most cases, these associations remained significant when controlling for other measures. These findings suggest that psychological inflexibility is an important factor in youth psychopathology that needs to be further investigated in future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605724/

Improve Emotions of Ethnically Diverse At-Risk Students with Mindfulness

Improve Emotions of Ethnically Diverse At-Risk Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There is plenty of evidence available now that demonstrates the value of teaching mindfulness to young people, and many of the benefits of mindfulness are skills and dispositions that are especially helpful in the context of education. Mindfulness practices help children improve their ability to pay attention, by learning to focus on one thing (e.g., breath, sound) while filtering out other stimuli. Mindfulness also provides kids with skills for understanding their emotions and how to work with them.” – Sarah Beach

 

Adolescence should be a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. These executive functions are an important foundation for success in the complex modern world. 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. These difficulties can be markedly amplified by negative life events during childhood.

 

At-risk youth confront unique pressures that have been linked to poor psychosocial outcomes, impaired academic performance, and maladaptive behaviors such as substance use and delinquency. These risk factors may include language barriers, low SES, parents’ own involvement in high risk or illegal behavior, restrictive or neglectful parenting, and home environments that expose children to alcohol and substance abuse. Mindfulness training has been found to be helpful for adolescents and also to improve performance in school. So, it is possible that mindfulness training would be helpful for at-risk adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “A School-Based Mindfulness Pilot Study for Ethnically Diverse At-Risk Adolescents.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809539/pdf/nihms652885.pdf, Bluth and colleagues recruited adolescents who were attending an alternative high school for troublesome and at-risk students. They were randomly assigned to receive either and 11-week class of mindfulness training or substance abuse training. The mindfulness training included body scan, sitting meditation, lovingkindness practice, walking meditation and mindful movement. The substance abuse training consisted of lectures designed to help adolescents address drug use and co-occurring life problems. The students were measured before and after the trainings for class attendance, retention, program acceptability, mindfulness, self-compassion, social connectedness, anxiety, depression, and perceived stress.

 

At the beginning of the mindfulness training there was considerable resistance and acting out. But, by the end of training the students responded that the class was helpful and wanted it to continue. They also found that the mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the students’ depression and anxiety levels. Mindfulness training has in the past been repeatedly shown to help relieve depression and anxiety. But, it is an important finding that it can do so in these difficult to treat at-risk adolescents. So, the study showed that mindfulness training was feasible and acceptable to these at-risk adolescents and produced improvements in their negative emotions.

 

The results are encouraging. These troubled youths are extremely difficult to work with and treat and that was reflected in the negative behaviors at the beginning of the class. But, by the end of the class the students found the mindfulness training useful and there were fairly large improvements in anxiety and depression. There were trends for other improvements and a larger future trial may be able to demonstrate other benefits of the mindfulness training. Although it was clear that mindfulness training is not a panacea for troubled youths, it can be helpful and provide space for them to destress and explore their inner lives.

 

So, improve emotions of ethnically diverse at-risk students with mindfulness.

 

“But a growing body of evidence suggests that mindfulness practice could be beneficial to teens, helping them cultivate empathy, as well as skills for concentration and impulse control. In short, mindfulness can help adolescents navigate the challenges of adolescence.” Sarah Beach

 

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

 

Bluth, K., Campo, R. A., Pruteanu-Malinici, S., Reams, A., Mullarkey, M., & Broderick, P. C. (2016). A School-Based Mindfulness Pilot Study for Ethnically Diverse At-Risk Adolescents. Mindfulness, 7(1), 90–104. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0376-1

 

Adolescence is a transitional period marked by rapid physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive developmental changes. In addition to these normative development changes, adolescents also face a multitude of contextual stressors such as academic pressures at school, changing relationships with peers, and all too often, unstable family life characterized by divorce, frequent moves, income and occupational changes, and disruptions in family routines. Up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Anxiety and depression during this stage can lead to impaired academic, social, and family functioning, and have long-term adverse outcomes.

Given the need to better understand both the implementation and potential benefit of mindfulness programs for at-risk youth, we conducted a randomized pilot study to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of such an intervention with ethnically diverse, primarily Hispanic youth enrolled in an alternative high school. We specifically examine intervention effects on psychosocial wellbeing and school performance relative to the control group, a class which focused on substance abuse prevention.

this study contributes to the literature by confirming the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness intervention with this population, and expands our knowledge on what works.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809539/pdf/nihms652885.pdf

Improve Adolescent Mental Health and School Performance with Yoga

Improve Adolescent Mental Health and School Performance with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“school-based yoga cultivates competencies in mind-body awareness, self-regulation, and physical fitness. And classroom teachers benefit as well. Taken together, these competencies may lead to improvements in students’ behavior, mental state, health, and performance, as well as teacher resilience, effectiveness and overall classroom climate.“ – Bethany Butzer

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. The acceptance of yoga practice has spread from the home and yoga studios to its application with children in schools. Studies of these school programs have found that yoga practice produces a wide variety of positive psychosocial and physical benefits. These include improved mood state, self-control, aggression and social problems, self-regulation, emotion regulation, feelings of happiness and relaxation, self-esteem, social and physical well-being, self-concept, tolerance, nonviolence, truthfulness, overall, general, and social self-esteem, positive health, self-adjustment, and working-memory capacity, ability to focus, control behavior under stress, greater kinesthetic awareness, stress reduction and management, and social cohesion, focus, perseverance, and positive relationships. They have also shown that the yoga practice produces lower levels of anxiety, depression, general distress, physical arousal, and hostility, rumination, and intrusive thoughts, and alcohol use.

 

Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. These include improved classroom behavior and social–emotional skills, concentration, mood, ability to function under pressure, social skills, and attention and lower levels of. Hyperactivity and performance impairment. In addition, school records, academic tests, and physiological measures have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance, cortisol concentrations, micronutrient absorption, flexibility, grip strength, abdominal strength, respiratory muscle strength, heart rate variability, and stress reactivity.

 

Although yoga practice has been demonstrated to have great benefits for school children, the studies, in general, were carried out in schools in middle class areas. It is unknown whether yoga practice could have the same benefits with poor, inner city, children. In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of a School-Based Yoga Program on Adolescent Mental Health and School Performance: Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below). Frank and colleagues recruited 6th and 9th grade students from an inner city middle school and randomly assigned them to receive either yoga practice or no treatment. The yoga practice occurred for 30 minutes per day for 3 to 4 days per week in the Fall semester and included breathing exercises, yoga postures, and meditation. The students were measured before and after the semester for school engagement, attitudes toward violence, positive and negative emotions, responses to stress, and somatization. In addition, the students’ academic and behavioral records from the school were inspected.

 

They found that the yoga group, compared to the no treatment group, had significantly fewer unexcused absences, fewer detentions, and higher levels of school engagement, primary and secondary coping, emotion regulation, positive thinking, and cognitive restructuring with medium to large effect sizes. Hence the students who engaged in yoga practice during the semester had markedly improved school behavior, ability to cope with stress, and control emotions and thoughts.

 

These are remarkable results. Engagement in yoga practice in school had multiple and significant behavioral and psychological benefits for these middle school students. These results strongly suggest that a larger scale randomized controlled trial with an active control group, e.g. exercise, and longer-term follow-up, should be performed. These results are especially significant as they occurred with inner city, poor, students who are generally highly stressed. This is where the need is great. Yoga practice may be a tremendous asset to these students in coping with the demands of the school environment. This should translate in future years into superior performance and eventual success in school.

 

So, improve adolescent mental health and school performance with yoga.

 

“Aside from the physical benefits of yoga, yoga teaches teens techniques for coping with the unique issues they’re faced with everyday—insecurity about their changing bodies, the enormous pressure to fit in, stressful schedules, and uncertainty about their beliefs and their futures.” – Erica Rodefer

 

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

 

Frank, J.L., Kohler, K., Peal, A., Bose, B. Effectiveness of a School-Based Yoga Program on Adolescent Mental Health and School Performance: Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness (2017) 8: 544. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0628-3

 

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a yoga-based social-emotional wellness promotion program, Transformative Life Skills (TLS), on indicators of adolescent emotional distress, prosocial behavior, and school functioning. Participants included 159 students attending an inner-city school district who were randomly assigned to treatment or business-as-usual comparison conditions. Results suggested that students who participated in the TLS program demonstrated significant reductions on unexcused absences, detentions, and increases in school engagement. Significant concurrent improvements in primary engagement stress-coping strategies and secondary engagement stress-coping strategies were noted as well. Specifically, significant increases in student emotion regulation, positive thinking, and cognitive restructuring in response to stress were found. No effects were found for measures of somatization, suspensions, academic grades, or general affect. Student report of treatment acceptability indicated that the intervention was generally well-received and strategies were perceived as socially valid by most participants. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Improve Anxiety in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Image result for teen anxiety

Improve Anxiety in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness also helps us to get to know our real self which is never a bad thing! People suffering from social anxiety are often marred by an exaggerated perception of their shortcomings which leads them to believe that they are inadequate and that everybody must be noticing. Practicing mindfulness based cognitive therapy will help them to reestablish a more realistic self-image.” – Kyle MacDonald

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. Anxiety Disorders affects about 3.1% of the U.S. population. Severe anxiety affects about 6% of adolescents. Physically, anxiety sufferers will often show excessive fatigue, irritability, muscle tension or muscle aches, trembling, feeling twitchy, being easily startled, trouble sleeping, sweating, nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches.

 

Anxiety disorders in adults have generally been treated with drugs. It has been estimated that 11% of women in the U.S. are taking anti-anxiety medications. But, there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. The drugs are also not appropriate for children and adolescents with developing nervous systems. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disordersMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety in adults. Mindfulness training has also been shown to produce changes in the nervous system. It is not known, however, what changes in the nervous system underlie the effect of MBCT on anxiety.

 

In today’s Research News article “Neural Function Before and After Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Anxious Adolescents at Risk for Developing Bipolar Disorder.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4876535/, Strawn and colleagues examine the effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on the nervous systems of youth with high levels of anxiety. They recruited children and adolescents, aged 9 to 16 years, who were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and who were at risk for developing bipolar disorder. They were treated with a 12-week program of MBCT. Before and after the treatment they were measured for anxiety, clinical symptoms, and mindfulness and also underwent functional Magnetic Resonance (f-MRI) brain scans while performing a continuous processing task with emotional and neutral distractors.

 

They found that following MBCT there was a significant increase in activity of the insula, lentiform nucleus, and thalamus, and anterior cingulate cortex with the presentation of emotional pictures. So, MBCT produces changes in the brains of children and adolescents similar to those seen in adults. They also found that the greater the reduction in anxiety resulting from MBCT the greater the decrease in activity of the insula and anterior cingulate cortex.

 

The insula and the anterior cingulate cortex have been shown to be involved in emotional processing and MBCT is aimed at altering the thought processes revolving around the interpretations of emotions. So, the changes in the functional activity of these structures following MBCT are commensurate with the changes in emotionality. Hence, MBCT appears to change the brains of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders to improve emotional processing.

 

It should be noted that this was a pilot study with a very small number of participants and no control group. So, the findings must be interpreted with caution. But the findings are sufficiently interesting to justify conducting a larger randomized clinical trial in the future.

 

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. ‘You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,‘” – Elizabeth Hoge

 

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

 

Strawn, J. R., Cotton, S., Luberto, C. M., Patino, L. R., Stahl, L. A., Weber, W. A., … DelBello, M. P. (2016). Neural Function Before and After Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Anxious Adolescents at Risk for Developing Bipolar Disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 26(4), 372–379. http://doi.org/10.1089/cap.2015.0054

 

Abstract

Objective: We sought to evaluate the neurophysiology of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children (MBCT-C) in youth with generalized, social, and/or separation anxiety disorder who were at risk for developing bipolar disorder.

Methods: Nine youth (mean age: 13 ± 2 years) with a generalized, social, and/or separation anxiety disorder and a parent with bipolar disorder completed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a continuous processing task with emotional and neutral distractors (CPT-END) prior to and following 12 weeks of MBCT-C.

Results: MBCT-C was associated with increases in activation of the bilateral insula, lentiform nucleus, and thalamus, as well as the left anterior cingulate while viewing emotional stimuli during the CPT-END, and decreases in anxiety were correlated with change in activation in the bilateral insula and anterior cingulate during the viewing of emotional stimuli (p < 0.05, uncorrected; p < 0.005 corrected; cluster size, 37 voxels).

Conclusions: MBCT-C treatment in anxious youth with a familial history of bipolar disorder is associated with increased activation of brain structures that subserve interoception and the processing of internal stimuli—functions that are ostensibly improved by this treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4876535/

Improve Sleep Problems in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep Problems in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By taking this mindful attitude, sleep is facilitated by simply being aware of the moment-to-moment experience of relaxing into the bed, without judging or being critical of that experience, so that the mind can gently slip into sleep.“ – John Cline

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. This stress may be amplified for adolescents. 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 stressed and overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required.

 

The resultant stress can impair sleep. It is estimated that 14% of adolescents experience insomnia and 5.3% meet the diagnostic criteria for a sleep disorder. Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, and increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects, including potential addiction. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Contemplative practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The importance of insomnia underscores the need to further investigate safe and effective alternatives to drugs for adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “The SENSE Study: Treatment mechanisms of a cognitive behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention for at-risk adolescents.” (See summary below) Blake and colleagues recruited adolescents (mean age 14.5 years) from schools who had clinically significant anxiety and sleep disorder. They randomly assigned them to receive either 7 weekly 90-minute group sessions of a mindfulness-based sleep improvement program or study skills education. The sleep improvement intervention employs a cognitive behavioral approach, incorporating sleep education, sleep hygiene, stimulus control, and cognitive restructuring, with added mindfulness, savoring, and anxiety specific components. Participants were encouraged to continue practice at home. The adolescents were measured before and after treatment for sleep (actiwatch and self-report), anxiety, and pre-sleep arousal.

 

They found that after the intervention, in comparison to the study skills education group, the mindfulness-based sleep improvement group had significantly improved sleep, measured objectively with actiwatch or subjectively with self-report, better sleep hygiene awareness, lower anxiety, pre-sleep somatic arousal, and less pre-sleep cognitive arousal. Using a sophisticated statistical technique, they found that the improvements in sleep and anxiety were produced as a result of the improvements in pre-sleep somatic arousal, and pre-sleep cognitive arousal.

 

These are exciting results, particularly as the effect sizes were moderate to large and anxiety and sleep disruption are so prevalent in adolescents. This suggests that the mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention produces big improvements in a significant problem for adolescents. They further suggest that these improvements were mediated by improvements in pre-sleep arousal levels. So, the mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention appears to relax the adolescents so that they can sleep better. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress, reduce anxiety levels, and improve emotion regulation. So, these effects on arousal are not unexpected. But, the findings clearly suggest that improvements in mindfulness are very important to reduce anxiety and improve sleep in adolescents.

 

So, improve sleep problems in adolescents with mindfulness

 

“Mindfulness delivered improvements to sleep—including reduced insomnia, improved sleep quality, increased sleep time, and better sleep efficiency—that were comparable to sleep medication.” – Michael Breus

 

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

Matthew Blake, Orli Schwartz, Joanna M. Waloszek, Monika Raniti, Julian G. Simmons, Greg Murray, Laura Blake, M.Teach., Ronald E. Dahl, M.D., Richard Bootzin, Dana L. McMakin, Paul Dudgeon, John Trinder, Nicholas B. Allen. The SENSE Study: Treatment mechanisms of a cognitive behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention for at-risk adolescents. Sleep 2017 zsx061. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx061

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to test whether a cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based sleep intervention could improve sleep and anxiety on school nights in a group of at-risk adolescents. We also examined whether benefits to sleep and anxiety would be mediated by improvements in sleep hygiene awareness and pre-sleep hyperarousal.

METHOD:

Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial conducted with 123 adolescent participants (Female=60%; Mean Age=14.48) who had high levels of sleep problems and anxiety symptoms. Participants were randomized into a sleep improvement intervention (n=63) or active control ‘study skills’ intervention (n=60). Pre-and-post intervention, participants completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS), Sleep Beliefs Scale (SBS), and Pre-Sleep Hyperarousal Scale (PSAS), and wore an actiwatch and completed a sleep diary for five school nights.

RESULTS:

The sleep intervention condition was associated with significantly greater improvements in actigraphy-measured sleep onset latency (SOLobj), sleep diary measured sleep efficiency (SEsubj), PSQI, SCAS, SBS, and PSAS, with medium-large effect sizes. Improvements in the PSQI and SCAS were specifically mediated by the measured improvements in PSAS that resulted from the intervention. Improvements in SOLobj and SEsubj were not specifically related to improvements in any of the putative treatment mechanisms.

CONCLUSION:

This study provides evidence that pre-sleep arousal but not sleep hygiene awareness is important for adolescents’ perceived sleep quality, and could be a target for new treatments of adolescent sleep problems.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28431122

Decrease Alcohol Intake and Related Consequences in Teens with Mindfulness

Decrease Alcohol Intake and Related Consequences in Teens with Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness also helps people learn to relate to discomfort differently. When an uncomfortable feeling like a craving or anxiety arises, people . . . are able to recognize their discomfort, and observe it with presence and compassion, instead of automatically reaching for a drug to make it go away.” – Sarah  Bowen

 

Alcohol abuse often develops during adolescence and especially at college. Four out of five college students drink alcohol and about half of those consume alcohol through binge drinking. About 25% of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem. This drinking has widespread consequence for not only the students but also the college communities, and families. More than 690,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. More than 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. 599,000 students receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol. Significantly, 1,825 college students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries and between 1.2% and 1.5% of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

 

These facts are sobering and clearly highlight the need to explore methods to control excessive alcohol intake. Students often use protective behavioral strategies to increase self-control while drinking and help reduce negative alcohol-related consequences, these include adding extra ice to the drink, avoiding taking shots, or trying to out-drink companions. These strategies, when employed appear to be successful in helping to control drinking and its consequences. Another potential method to control alcohol intake and its consequences is mindfulness as it has been shown to assist in the control of alcohol intake and in recovery from alcohol addiction .

 

So, it would make sense to further explore the relationship of mindfulness and protective behavioral strategies on alcohol intake and its negative consequences in college students. In today’s Research News article “Trait mindfulness and protective strategies for alcohol use: Implications for college student drinking.” (See summary below), Brett and colleagues recruited male and female college students who we 18 years of age or older and reported recent alcohol use. The students completed on-line measurements for mindfulness, alcohol use, protective behavioral strategies, and alcohol related consequences.

 

The researchers found that higher levels of mindfulness were associated with higher levels of protective behavioral strategies which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of alcohol intake by the students. High levels of mindfulness were also associated with higher levels of protective behavioral strategies which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of alcohol related consequences, with a small but significant negative direct relationship of mindfulness on alcohol related consequences. They also found that the relationship between protective behavioral strategies and lower alcohol related consequences was greatest in students with low levels of mindfulness.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness is primarily associated with lower alcohol intake and lower alcohol related consequences indirectly by promoting protective behavioral strategies. So mindful students were more likely to engage in strategies such as adding extra ice to the drink, avoiding taking shots, or trying to out-drink companions and this, in turn, produced lower level of negative consequences produced by the alcohol intake.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. It remains for future research to manipulate mindfulness and determine if protective behavioral strategies are increased and negative alcohol related consequences and alcohol intake are reduced. Prior research, however, has shown that mindfulness training reduces alcohol consumption. This, taken together with the current results suggest that mindfulness may be responsible for eliciting engagement in protective strategies dampening alcohol intake and the negative consequences of excessive intake.

 

So, decrease alcohol intake and related consequences in teens with mindfulness.

 

“teaching teens about the brain and how mindfulness affects it can help create an understanding and desire to practice. Mindfulness also helps with impulse control, a concept with which many teenagers struggle.” – Courtney Howard

 

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

Brett EI, Leffingwell TR, Leavens EL. Trait mindfulness and protective strategies for alcohol use: Implications for college student drinking. Addict Behav. 2017 Apr 8;73:16-21. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.04.011

 

Highlights

  • The current study examined PBS and mindfulness as they relate to alcohol outcomes.
  • PBS mediated the relationship between mindfulness and alcohol outcomes.
  • Mindfulness moderated the relationship between PBS use and alcohol consequences.
  • Interventions targeting those low in mindfulness may be effective in reducing consequences.

Abstract

Introduction

The use of Protective Behavioral Strategies (PBS) has been strongly linked with decreased experience of alcohol-related consequences, making them a potential target for intervention. Additionally, mindfulness is associated with decreased experience of alcohol-related consequences. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate a model of PBS as a mediator of the effect of mindfulness on alcohol-related consequences. Additionally, mindfulness as a moderator of the relationship between PBS and alcohol use and consequences was examined.

Methods

College students (N = 239) at a large South Central university completed self-report measures of demographics, alcohol use and consequences, use of PBS, and trait mindfulness.

Results

Results indicated that both higher levels of mindfulness and using more PBS predicted decreased alcohol-related consequences and consumption, with PBS mediating both relationships (p < 0.01). Those with higher levels of mindfulness were more likely to use PBS, with individuals using more PBS experiencing fewer alcohol-related consequences and consuming fewer drinks per week. Mindfulness moderated the relationship between PBS and consequences, with a significantly stronger negative relationship for those with lower levels of mindfulness.

Conclusions

Individuals who are higher in trait mindfulness are more likely to use PBS, which leads to a decrease in the experience of alcohol-related consequences. Furthermore, for individuals lower in mindfulness, low PBS use may lead to increased experience of alcohol consequences. Interventions that incorporate PBS may be most beneficial for students who are low in mindfulness and unlikely to engage in drinking control strategies.

Improve Adolescents Psychological Health Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

Improve Adolescents Psychological Health Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness increases empathy and compassion for others and for oneself, and that such attitudes are good for you. To me, that affirms that when we practice mindfulness, we are simultaneously strengthening our skills of compassion—evidence that mindfulness isn’t simply about sharpening attention.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

There is a widespread problem in the west that many people don’t seem to like themselves. The self-dislike sometimes means that the individual dislikes every aspect of themselves; but most frequently people only don’t like certain aspects of themselves. Often it is there physical appearance, their school achievement, their career, their social behavior, etc. Making matters worse, they tend to overlook their strengths and discount them, focusing instead in the parts that they find problematic. This self-dislike is characteristic of depression. The antidote to self-dislike is self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” – Kristin Neff. Self-compassion has been demonstrated to be associated with better mental health.

 

These issues of self-dislike can be magnified during adolescence, which is often 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. This can produce problems with the adolescents’ self-concepts as they find that they are unable to measure up to their own and society’s unrealistic demands. Under these conditions, self-compassion is greatly needed, but sorely lacking. Methods that could help to improve the development of self-compassion could be very helpful for the child in navigating the difficult adolescent years.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help to develop self-compassion. So, perhaps mindfulness training combined with self-compassion training could be helpful to adolescents in navigating this difficult period. In today’s Research News article “Making Friends with Yourself: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study of a Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Adolescents.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4838201/

Bluth and colleagues perform a pilot study examining the effectiveness of a mindful self-compassion program to promote well-being in adolescents. They recruited a diverse group of 14-17-year old adolescents and randomly assigned them to either receive a weekly 90-minute mindful self-compassion program for 6 weeks or a wait-list control condition. The program consisted of a set of exercises designed to promote self-discovery of mindfulness and self-compassion and incorporated homework. They were measured before and after the program on mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, self-compassion, life satisfaction, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and social connectedness. In addition, each of the 6 training sessions were recorded for qualitative analysis. Following the completion of the program the wait-list controls were provided the 6-week mindful self-compassion program and measured afterward.

 

They found from qualitative analysis of the recordings that the program was feasible and acceptable with good attendance and compliance with homework assignments and the program produced significant improvements in self-compassion and mindfulness. Importantly they found that after completion of the program there were significant decreases in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions with moderate effect sizes. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of self-compassion produced by the program the lower the levels of anxiety and perceived stress and the higher the levels of life satisfaction. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness produced by the program the lower the levels of depression and anxiety. These are impressive and exciting pilot results. The study should be repeated in a larger randomized controlled trial with active control groups to firm up the conclusions as the pilot study makes a strong case for the need for such a trial.

 

The results suggest that a mindful self-compassion program is an effective means to raise self-compassion and mindfulness in adolescents and as a result improve the psychological well-being of the teens. Mindfulness training has been previously shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and perceived stress and improve emotion regulation and self-compassion in adults. This study demonstrates that mindfulness training is also effective in adolescents. These benefits of mindfulness training may greatly facilitate the positive growth and development of the adolescents, steering them away from many of the traps in the teen years and toward a healthy transition into adulthood.

 

So, improve adolescents’ psychological health self-compassion and mindfulness.

 

“With self-compassion, research points to increased life satisfaction and optimism, social connectivity, personal responsibility, and emotional resilience. It also lowers risk of depression, anxiety, thought suppression (or, conversely, thought rumination), and perfectionism.” – Lee Suckling

 

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

Bluth, K., Gaylord, S. A., Campo, R. A., Mullarkey, M. C., & Hobbs, L. (2016). Making Friends With Yourself: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study of a Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Adolescents. Mindfulness, 7(2), 479–492. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0476-6

 

Abstract

The aims of this mixed-method pilot study were to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary psychosocial outcomes of “Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens” (MFY), an adaptation of the adult Mindful Self-Compassion program. Thirty-four students age 14–17 enrolled in this waitlist controlled crossover study. Participants were randomized to either the waitlist or intervention group and administered online surveys at baseline, after the first cohort participated in the intervention, and after the waitlist crossovers participated in the intervention. Attendance and retention data were collected to determine feasibility, and audio recordings of the 6-week class were analyzed to determine acceptability of the program. Findings indicated that MFY is a feasible and acceptable program for adolescents. Compared to the waitlist control, the intervention group had significantly greater self-compassion and life satisfaction and significantly lower depression than the waitlist control, with trends for greater mindfulness, greater social connectedness and lower anxiety. When waitlist crossovers results were combined with that of the first intervention group, findings indicated significantly greater mindfulness and self-compassion, and significantly less anxiety, depression, perceived stress and negative affect post-intervention. Additionally, regression results demonstrated that self-compassion and mindfulness predicted decreases in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and increases in life satisfaction post-intervention. MFY shows promise as a program to increase psychosocial wellbeing in adolescents through increasing mindfulness and self-compassion. Further testing is needed to substantiate the findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4838201/

 

Reduce Adolescent Risk Taking with Mindful Parenting

Reduce Adolescent Risk Taking with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“To bring mindful attention and awareness into your interactions with your child really seems to set the stage for you to be a good parent.” – Justin Parent

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But, it can also be challenging, especially with adolescents. Teens test parents frequently. They test the boundaries of their freedom and the depth of parental love. They demand attention and seem to especially when parental attention is needed elsewhere. They don’t always conform to parental dictates or aspirations for their behavior. They are often affected more by peers, for good or evil, than by parents. It is the parents challenge to control themselves, not overreact, and act appropriately in the face of strong emotions. Meeting these challenges becomes more and more important with adolescents, as here are the greatest struggles for independence and the potential for damaging behaviors, particularly, alcohol, drugs, and sexual behavior.

 

The challenges of parenting require that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves having emotional awareness of themselves but also having emotional awareness of and compassion for the child and having the skills to pay full attention to the child in the present moment, to accept parenting non-judgmentally and be emotionally non-reactive to the child.

 

It is not known how mindful parenting acts to improve adolescent behavior. But, it seems reasonable to postulate that mindful parenting alters parental emotional responses, particularly during parent-child conflict, and this affects the child’s behavior. In today’s Research News article “Mindful Parenting and Parents’ Emotion Expression: Effects on Adolescent Risk Behaviors.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827929/

Tupyn and Chaplin recruited adolescents, aged 12-14 years, and their primary caregiver. Both parents and adolescents completed a family issues questionnaire, including points of conflict, and were assessed for cognitive and emotional functioning, psychological symptoms, and alcohol and substance use as well as breath and urine drug screens. Parents were measured for mindful parenting. Adolescents were assessed for risk behaviors, including substance abuse and sexual risk taking. They then completed a parent-adolescent interaction task in which they discussed the topic which they both identified as the most contentious occurring over the last month. During the discussion, parents were videoed and their emotional expressions rated.

 

They found that higher levels of mindful parenting were associated with lower levels of drug use and sexual engagement. They also found that higher levels of mindful parenting was associated with less parental negative emotion expression in the conflict interaction. In addition, they found that mindful parenting was associated with lower adolescent drug use directly and indirectly by decreasing negative emotion expression in the conflict interaction. Hence, mindful parenting appears to be helpful in lessening the likelihood that adolescents will engage in risky behaviors.

 

These are interesting results and suggest that mindful parenting helps the parent deal with conflict with their adolescents more adaptively and with fewer negative emotions expressed. This, in turn, is associated with lower adolescent drug use. There are three key factors to mindful parenting, noticing feelings when in conflict with the child, learning to pause before responding in anger, and listening carefully to a child’s viewpoint even when disagreeing with it. The mindful parent’s ability to notice feelings when in conflict appears to contribute to its association with lower drug use, producing an indirect effect. It is possible that the ability to delay responding and listen carefully may be responsible for the obtained direct effect of mindful parenting on risky behavior. Regardless of the explanation, the result suggest that mindful parents have adolescents who have fewer risk behaviors.

 

So, reduce adolescent risk taking with mindful parenting.

 

“encouraging more mindful, responsive parenting—and less harsh punishments or yelling—may indirectly help kids to avoid some of the risks of adolescence, such as depression, anxiety, acting out, and drug use. “ – Jill Suttie

 

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

Turpyn, C. C., & Chaplin, T. M. (2016). Mindful Parenting and Parents’ Emotion Expression: Effects on Adolescent Risk Behaviors. Mindfulness, 7(1), 246–254. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0440-5

 

Abstract

Mindful parenting is associated with greater adjustment and fewer behavior problems in children and adolescents. However, the mechanisms by which mindful parenting functions to mitigate risk in adolescence is not well understood. This study investigated parent emotional expression as a potential mechanism in the relationship between low mindful parenting and adolescent risk behaviors. A sample of 157 12-14 year old adolescents (49% female) and their primary caregivers (99% female) participated in an emotionally-arousing conflict interaction. Parents reported on their mindful parenting practices, and parents’ emotion expressions during the conflict interaction were coded including negative emotion, positive emotion, and shared parent-youth positive emotion. Adolescent substance use and sex behaviors were assessed through self-report, interview, and physical toxicology screens. Results indicated that mindful parenting was associated with less parental negative emotion and greater shared positive emotion during the parent-adolescent conflict. Further, results revealed a significant indirect effect of mindful parenting on youth’s substance use through shared parent-adolescent positive emotion. Findings highlight the relevance of emotional functioning in the context of stressful parenting situations in mindful parenting.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827929/

 

 

Reduce Youth Dissociative Disorders with Mindfulness

Reduce Youth Dissociative Disorders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It sounds elementary, I know. But that’s the beauty of it. Rather than wasting energy fighting dissociation, we can decrease its severity simply by increasing awareness.” – Holly Gray

 

Sometime during the lives of about 2% of the population, a Dissociative Disorder occurs. It is more likely in women than in men and is most frequently triggered by a traumatic event. Dissociative Disorders involve an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. These can include significant memory loss of specific times, people and events, out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself, mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide, a sense of detachment from emotions, or emotional numbness, and a lack of a sense of self-identity.

 

There are three kinds of diagnosed Dissociative Disorders, Dissociative Amnesia, Depersonalization disorder, and Dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personalities). These disorders are thought to be coping mechanisms for intense stress. They are generally treated with drugs, particularly antidepressants, and with psychotherapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Mindfulness training has been found to be effective in treating a myriad of mental and physical disorders and particularly with stress related disorders. It has also been shown to be effective with trauma reactions including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). So, it makes sense to test the effectiveness of mindfulness training in treating Dissociative Disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Role of mindfulness in Dissociative Disorders among adolescents.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5100126/

Sharma and colleagues recruited a small sample of adolescents (average age = 13 and 86% female) who were diagnosed with a Dissociative Disorder. They were provided 6 weekly sessions of mindfulness training based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction (MBSR) program and encouragement to practice at home. The treatment included both sitting and walking meditation, body scan, yoga, and mindful eating practices. They were measured for dissociative experiences and mindfulness, before treatment, 3 weeks into treatment, and immediately after treatment.

 

They found that the treatment produced a significant, 54% decrease in dissociative symptoms and a 25% increase in mindfulness. The increase in mindfulness would be expected, given the extensive literature demonstrating increases in mindfulness produced by MBSR training. The decrease in dissociative symptoms is, to our knowledge, unprecedented. It is reasonable though given the demonstrated ability of mindfulness training to improve present moment awareness and decrease mind wandering. Attending to what is happening in the present moment would tend to counteract tendencies to drift away from reality.

 

These are potentially important results but should be looked upon as a pilot, proof of concept study. There was no control condition and the sample was small and confined to young adolescents, primarily girls. The results, though, provide a strong rationale to implement a large scale randomized controlled clinical trial. This could provide evidence that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for dissociative disorders.

 

“Having a daily mindfulness practice allows you to reach trauma, implicit memories and a way of integrating your childhood abuse. You start with neutral judgements and work towards emotional charged memories. You can heal much quicker than you believe. It takes daily work strengthening your focus on the breath. It seems mundane to focus on the breath but the breath controls the nervous system and allows us to reach our trauma quickly and decisively.” – Marty

 

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 Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Sharma, T., Sinha, V. K., & Sayeed, N. (2016). Role of mindfulness in dissociative disorders among adolescents. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(3), 326–328. http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.192013

 

Abstract

Context: Dissociation is understood as maladaptive coping and is common in children and adolescents. Treatment outcome studies show improvement in comorbid conditions suggesting the need to implement programs that target dissociative pathology.

Aim: To study the effect of practicing mindfulness among adolescents diagnosed with dissociative disorders.

Settings and Design: It was a hospital-based repeated measures design.

Materials and Methods: 7 adolescents participated in a mindfulness-based therapeutic program for 6 weeks.

Statistical Analysis: Scores were expressed as mean ± standard deviation. Friedman test was used to assess significance of the difference in scores at various assessment phases. Wilcoxon signed rank test was used for post hoc analysis.

Results: Participants were mostly female adolescents from rural, Eastern India. There was a significant reduction in dissociative experiences and significant improvement in mindfulness.

Conclusions: Incorporating mindfulness in clinical practice may prove effective in reducing dissociation and promoting adaptive functioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5100126/

 

Help Headaches in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness meditation is proving to be of significant help in not only reducing migraines or chronic pain, but improvements in mood, outlook on life and illness, increased coping skills, enhanced sense of well-being, changes in perception of pain, higher tolerance of pain, enhanced immune function, less fatigue and stress and better sleep.” – Cynthia Perkins

 

Headaches are the most common disorders of the nervous system. It has been estimated that 47% of the adult population have a headache at least once during the last year. There are a wide variety of drugs that are prescribed for chronic headache pain with varying success. Headaches are treated with pain relievers, ergotamine, blood pressure drugs such as propranolol, verapamil, antidepressants, antiseizure drugs, and muscle relaxants. Drugs, however, can have some problematic side effects particularly when used regularly and are ineffective for many sufferers. So, almost all practitioners consider lifestyle changes that help control stress and promote regular exercise to be an important part of headache treatment and prevention. Avoiding situations that trigger headaches is also vital.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be an effective treatment for headache pain in adults. It is not known whether it is also effective for adolescents. Yet, 60% of children and adolescents report headaches, with 20% having frequent or severe headaches. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Adolescents with Recurrent Headaches: A Pilot Feasibility Study.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1415631915127397/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700163/

Hesse and colleagues study the effectiveness of mindfulness training for recurrent headaches in adolescents. They recruited adolescent females with recurrent headaches. The teens received group mindfulness training once a week for 1 to 1.5 hours for 12 weeks. Before and after training the adolescents recorded their mindfulness practices and headaches, and completed scales measuring headache-related disability, anxiety, depression, and quality of life, while their parents also completed a report of the teens’ quality of life.

 

They found that mindfulness training did not produce any changes in the frequency or severity of headaches, headache-related disability, or anxiety, but a significant reduction in depression and an improvement in acceptance of headache pain. The parents reported that the adolescents had improved physical quality of life. Hence, mindfulness training improved the teen’s depression, quality of life, and acceptance of pain but not the headaches themselves. These are encouraging results that need to be followed up with a large randomized controlled clinical trial. But, they suggest that mindfulness training may be a useful treatment for headache pain in adolescents.

 

Mindfulness practices may be helpful with headache pain by focusing attention on the present moment. This has been shown to reduce worry and catastrophizing which, in turn, reduces depression. Pain is increased by worry about the pain and the expectation of greater pain in the future. So, reducing worry and catastrophizing can reduce headache pain. Mindfulness teaches the individual to view pain as a present moment experience that can be experienced just as it is and accept it. As a result, the individual accepts the pain and stops fighting against it, which can amplify the pain.

 

So, help headaches in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

“Years of research and clinical experience demonstrate that behavioral medicine methods can have a powerful effect on pain, especially when used in conjunction with medical treatment. Behavioral medicine examines and trains an individual to become aware of the power of the mind and emotions on physical health. One potent method for recovering health is meditation.” – Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

Hesse, T., Holmes, L. G., Kennedy-Overfelt, V., Kerr, L. M., & Giles, L. L. (2015). Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Adolescents with Recurrent Headaches: A Pilot Feasibility Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2015, 508958. http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/508958

 

Abstract

Recurrent headaches cause significant burden for adolescents and their families. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been shown to reduce stress and alter the experience of pain, reduce pain burden, and improve quality of life. Research indicates that MBIs can benefit adults with chronic pain conditions including headaches. A pilot nonrandomized clinical trial was conducted with 20 adolescent females with recurrent headaches. Median class attendance was 7 of 8 total sessions; average class attendance was 6.10 ± 2.6. Adherence to home practice was good, with participants reporting an average of 4.69 (SD = 1.84) of 6 practices per week. Five participants dropped out for reasons not inherent to the group (e.g., extracurricular scheduling); no adverse events were reported. Parents reported improved quality of life and physical functioning for their child. Adolescent participants reported improved depression symptoms and improved ability to accept their pain rather than trying to control it. MBIs appear safe and feasible for adolescents with recurrent headaches. Although participants did not report decreased frequency or severity of headache following treatment, the treatment had a beneficial effect for depression, quality of life, and acceptance of pain and represents a promising adjunct treatment for adolescents with recurrent headaches.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700163/