Improve Depression in Overweight Adolescent Girls with Mindfulness

Improve Depression in Overweight Adolescent Girls with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By practicing meditation, you’re able to gently develop a capacity to witness pain as it happens inside you without letting the stories your mind tells you cause you to act self-destructively. Meditation teaches us to wake up from the habits of our mind so we have clear, conscious choice in our actions. By practicing sitting still in silence—especially when I didn’t want to, when I didn’t ‘have time,’ or when it was wildly uncomfortable—and developing compassion for whatever showed up inside me, all the self-judgment and self-deprecation, my neuropathways were rewired.”  – Michael Hebb

 

Adolescence is a transitional period marked by rapid physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive developmental changes. 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.

 

Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. Although this has been called adult-onset diabetes it is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world.

Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia.

 

It is clear that methods need to be found to reduce the likelihood of the development of Type II diabetes and depression in adolescents. One promising avenue is mindfulness. It has been shown to be effective in treating Type II diabetes.  In today’s Research News article “Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness-Based Group Intervention in Adolescent Girls at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes with Depressive Symptoms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5705100/ ), Shomaker and colleagues recruited overweight and obese adolescent girls (aged 12-17 years) with a family history of Type II Diabetes and who also had symptoms of depression and randomly assigned them to receive either a 6-week mindfulness-based or 6-week cognitive-behavioral program.

 

Both treatment programs met once a week for 1 hour and there was 10 minutes of homework daily. The mindfulness program occurred in groups and included breath awareness, body scanning, mindful eating, sitting meditation, loving kindness practice, and yoga. The cognitive-behavioral program also occurred in groups and included psycho-education, cognitive restructuring, pleasant activities, self-reinforcement, and coping skills. They were measured before and after treatment and 6 months later for mindfulness, depression, anxiety, perceived stress, insulin resistance, and body composition.

 

They found that after treatment that both groups had significant decreases in depression, anxiety, and perceived stress that persisted to the 6-month follow-up. The decrease in depression, however, was significantly greater in the mindfulness group. After treatment, the groups also had significant decreases in insulin resistance and fasting insulin levels, but the improvements were significantly greater in the mindfulness group. It is interesting that the programs affected insulin resistance and levels as they did not include dieting or exercise components. It should be noted, however, that these improvements did not persist at the 6-month follow-up while the psychological effects did.

 

These results are encouraging and suggest that both mindfulness-based and cognitive-behavioral programs are acceptable, safe, and effective for the psychological and physical states of adolescent girls who are overweight or obese, are mildly or moderately depressed and who are at-risk for Type II Diabetes. Importantly, the results show that mindfulness training is superior to cognitive-based programs in relieving symptoms. Treating these girls in adolescence may help to prevent or delay the onset of Type II Diabetes and improve the quality of life in this vulnerable population. This could go a long way toward reducing health care costs and preventing and relieving their suffering.

 

So, improve depression in overweight adolescent girls with mindfulness.

 

“In the last few years mindfulness has emerged as a way of treating children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. And the benefits are proving to be tremendous.” – Julianne Garey

 

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

 

Shomaker, L. B., Bruggink, S., Pivarunas, B., Skoranski, A., Foss, J., Chaffin, E., … Bell, C. (2017). Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness-Based Group Intervention in Adolescent Girls at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes with Depressive Symptoms. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 32, 66–74. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2017.04.003

 

Highlights

  • A mindfulness-based group was feasible and acceptable to adolescent girls at-risk for type 2 diabetes with depressive symptoms
  • Adolescents in the mindfulness-based group had greater decreases in depressive symptoms than adolescents in the cognitive-behavioral group at post-treatment and six-months
  • Adolescents in the mindfulness-based group had greater decreases in insulin resistance and fasting insulin at post-treatment than adolescents in the cognitive-behavioral group

Abstract

Objective

(1) Evaluate feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based group in adolescent girls at-risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D) with depressive symptoms, and (2) compare efficacy of a mindfulness-based versus cognitive-behavioral group for decreasing depressive symptoms and improving insulin resistance.

Design and setting

Parallel-group, randomized controlled pilot trial conducted at a university.

Participants

Thirty-three girls 12-17y with overweight/obesity, family history of diabetes, and elevated depressive symptoms were randomized to a six-week mindfulness-based (n=17) or cognitive-behavioral program (n=16).

Interventions

Both interventions included six, one-hour weekly group sessions. The mindfulness-based program included guided mindfulness awareness practices. The cognitive-behavioral program involved cognitive restructuring and behavioral activation.

Main outcome measures

Adolescents were evaluated at baseline, post-intervention, and six-months. Feasibility/acceptability were measured by attendance and program ratings. Depressive symptoms were assessed by validated survey. Insulin resistance was determined from fasting insulin and glucose, and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to assess body composition.

Results

Most adolescents attended ≥80% sessions (mindfulness:92% versus cognitive-behavioral:87%, p=1.00). Acceptability ratings were strong. At post-treatment and six-months, adolescents in the mindfulness condition had greater decreases in depressive symptoms than adolescents in the cognitive-behavioral condition (ps<.05). Compared to the cognitive-behavioral condition, adolescents in the mindfulness-based intervention also had greater decreases in insulin resistance and fasting insulin at post-treatment, adjusting for fat mass and other covariates (ps<.05).

Conclusions

A mindfulness-based intervention shows feasibility and acceptability in girls at-risk for T2D with depressive symptoms. Compared to a cognitive-behavioral program, after the intervention, adolescents who received mindfulness showed greater reductions in depressive symptoms and better insulin resistance.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5705100/

Reduce Self-Harming in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Reduce Self-Harming in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In order to end self-harm, one needs to change one’s whole relationship with oneself, and how one sees oneself. A good starting point is with one’s thoughts. Mindfulness keeps one fully grounded in the present … in the presence of the action of the present moment. Mindfulness helps one to observe and note thoughts, positive or negative, without feeling the need to act upon them.” – Ian Ellis-Jones

 

Self-injury is a disturbing phenomenon occurring worldwide, especially in developed countries, such as the U.S. and those in western Europe. Approximately two million cases are reported annually in the U.S. Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self-injury usually starting in the teen years. Frequently, untreated depression and other mental health challenges create an environment of despair that leads people to cope with these challenges in unhealthy ways. Nearly 50 percent of those who engage in self-injury have been sexually abused. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a very serious mental illness that is estimated to affect 1.6% of the U.S. population. It involves unstable moods, behavior, and relationships, problems with regulating emotions and thoughts, impulsive and reckless behavior, and unstable relationships. About ¾ of BPD patients engage in self-injurious behaviors.

 

One of the few treatments that appears to be effective for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It is targeted at changing the problem behaviors characteristic of BPD including self-injury. 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. DBT reduces self-injurious behaviors in BPD patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cost-effectiveness of dialectical behaviour therapy vs. enhanced usual care in the treatment of adolescents with self-harm.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5928596/ ), Haga and colleagues recruited adolescents who had repeatedly harmed themselves and randomly assigned then to receive 19 once a week 1 hour sessions of either Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) or enhanced usual care. Enhanced usual care consisted of a combination of psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy tailored to treat suicidality and self-harm. They were measured before and after treatment and 1 year later for self-harm episodes and global functioning. The costs of treatment were also estimated.

 

They found that at the end of treatment the adolescents who received Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) had significantly fewer self-harm episodes and lower levels of suicide ideation and depression than those who received enhanced usual care. Importantly, a year later, the group that received DBT still had significantly fewer self-harm episodes. In addition, DBT did not cost more than the enhanced usual care program to implement.

 

These results are important and suggest that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an effective and cost-effective treatment for adolescents who harm themselves. This is particularly important as self-harm is often a predictor of eventual suicide. The reduction in suicidal ideation in these adolescents is an indication of this. Hence, DBT can reduce self-harm behaviors and reduce the suffering of these troubled adolescents.

 

So, reduce self-harming in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, for treatment of children and adolescents. DBT, regarded as one of the few treatments that has shown success in combating self-injury behaviors, combines Buddhism’s mindfulness with cognitive behavior therapy in a program that teaches coping and communication skills.” – Paradigm Malibu

 

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

 

Haga, E., Aas, E., Grøholt, B., Tørmoen, A. J., & Mehlum, L. (2018). Cost-effectiveness of dialectical behaviour therapy vs. enhanced usual care in the treatment of adolescents with self-harm. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 12, 22. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-018-0227-2

 

Abstract

Background

Studies have shown that dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is effective in reducing self-harm in adults and adolescents.

Aims

To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of DBT for adolescents (DBT-A) compared to enhanced usual care (EUC).

Methods

In a randomised study, 77 adolescents with repeated self-harm were allocated to 19 weeks of outpatient treatment, either DBT-A (n = 39) or EUC (n = 38). Cost-effective analyses, including estimation of incremental cost-effectiveness ratios, were conducted with self-harm and global functioning (CGAS) as health outcomes.

Results

Using self-harm as effect outcome measure, the probability of DBT being cost-effective compared to EUC increased with increasing willingness to pay up to a ceiling of 99.5% (threshold of € 1400), while with CGAS as effect outcome measure, this ceiling was 94.9% (threshold of € 1600).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5928596/

 

Improve PTSD and Academic Burnout in Adolescents with Mindfulness and Parental Attachment

Improve PTSD and Academic Burnout in Adolescents with Mindfulness and Parental Attachment

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); about 7%-8%. PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, avoiding situations that remind them of the event memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the relationship of individual mindfulness with the ability to cope with the aftermath of traumatic events. Adolescents have been found to be particularly vulnerable to the psychological impact of traumatic events. But, might be buffered by their positive attachment to their parents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships of parental attachment to posttraumatic stress disorder and academic burnout in adolescents following the Yancheng tornado.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5965031/ ), An and colleagues examine the impact of mindfulness and parental support on the ability of adolescents to deal with trauma. In particular they examine youths about a year after a traumatic tornado in their community in China. The tornado killed 99 people, injured approximately 800 and affected more than 1.6 million people. They recruited junior High School students from the affected area and measured them for mindfulness, PTSD symptoms, academic burnout, and parental attachment.

 

They found that the higher the level of student’s mindfulness and parental attachment the lower the level of PTSD symptoms and academic burnout. In addition, the higher the level mindfulness the higher the level of parental attachment. Employing statistical modelling, they found that parental attachment being associated with to lower PTSD symptoms and academic burnout was partially mediated by the student’s level of mindfulness. Hence, higher parental attachment was associated with lower PTSD symptoms and academic burnout directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of mindfulness which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of PTSD symptoms and academic burnout.

 

These are interesting results but they must be interpreted cautiously as the study was correlational. As a result, causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the results suggest that having a positive attachment to parents helps to buffer the adolescent from the effects of trauma and it does so, in part, by improving the youths’ ability to be present in the moment; mindfulness. It can be speculated that positive attachment makes the youth more secure and thereby more able to perceive reality just as it is and not be overly affected by previous negative events. This, in turn, allows them to be more effective in relation to their schooling, reducing burnout.

 

Since, trauma occurs in such a large proportion of the population, producing tremendous suffering, it is important to find ways to lessen its impact. The results suggest that being a good parent and attaching in a positive way with your child promotes mindfulness and my buffer the child from the effects of experiencing a traumatic event.

 

So, improve PTSD and academic burnout in adolescents with mindfulness and parental attachment.

 

“The memories are so painful that many live their life trying to avoid triggers. The problem is that the triggers are everywhere.” But the development of better mindfulness skills “might allow patients to be fully present and lean into these scary or avoided situations.” – Tony King

 

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

 

An, Y., Yuan, G., Liu, Z., Zhou, Y., & Xu, W. (2018). Dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships of parental attachment to posttraumatic stress disorder and academic burnout in adolescents following the Yancheng tornado. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 9(1), 1472989. http://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2018.1472989

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • We found that parental attachment and dispositional mindfulness are both negatively correlated with PTSD and academic burnout.
  • We found that parental attachment and dispositional mindfulness are both negatively correlated with academic burnout.
  • We found that dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships between parental attachment and PTSD and academic burnout

ABSTRACT

Background: Previous studies have shown that parental attachment is associated with low severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and low academic burnout in individuals who have experienced traumatic events.

Objective: The present study investigated the ways in which parental attachment is related to PTSD symptoms and academic burnout in Chinese traumatized adolescents by considering the role of dispositional mindfulness.

Method: A total of 443 Chinese adolescents who had experienced a severe tornado one year prior to this study completed measures of parental attachment, dispositional mindfulness, PTSD and academic burnout.

Results: The results showed that our model fitted the data well [χ2/df = 2.968, CFI = 0.971, TLI = 0.955, RMSEA (90% CI) = 0.067 (0.052–0.082)] and revealed that dispositional mindfulness partially mediates the relationship between parental attachment, PTSD severity and academic burnout.

Conclusions: The findings suggested that dispositional mindfulness and parental attachment may be two critical resources in dealing with traumatization and academic burnout.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5965031/

Decrease Adolescent Emotional Problems with Mindful Parenting

Decrease Adolescent Emotional Problems with Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our children is the gift of our full presence, in the moment. This is the deep intention and invitation for parents as they make space for mindfulness practice in their lives. Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and fundamentally to ourselves.” – Lisa Kring

 

Raising children, parenting, is very rewarding. But, it can also be challenging. Children 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 parents be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive 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. It improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. Mindful parenting involves the parents having emotional awareness of themselves 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Indirect Path From Mindful Parenting to Emotional Problems in Adolescents: The Role of Maternal Warmth and Adolescents’ Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_613817_69_Psycho_20180424_arts_A ), Wang and colleagues recruited mothers of 11-14 year old children. The mothers completed a scale measuring mindful parenting, while the children completed scales measuring mindfulness, maternal warmth, and emotional difficulties.

 

A regression analysis found that there was a significant indirect path from mindful parenting and the children’s emotional problems, such that high levels of mindful parenting were associated with high levels of maternal warmth which were in turn associated with high levels of children’s mindfulness which were in turn associated with low levels of children’s emotional problems. So, mindful parenting was not associated with less emotional problems in the children directly, but indirectly through associations with maternal warmth and the children’s levels of mindfulness. This underscores the importance of the child’s mindfulness for improving emotional health and the effect of the mother’s mindful parenting on the child’s mindfulness.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlative and causation cannot be concluded. But the results support the idea that mindful parenting is important for the emotional development of the children by improving the child’s perception of the warmth of the mother and in turn the child’s mindfulness. Future research should train mothers in mindful parenting and examine the effects on the children’s mental health.

 

So, decrease adolescent emotional problems with mindful parenting.

 

“Managing our own emotions and behaviors is the key to teaching kids how to manage theirs. It is the reason airlines tell us to put our oxygen masks on before you can put on your child’s mask. You need to be regulated before you can model regulation for your child. “– Jill Ceder

 

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 Y, Liang Y, Fan L, Lin K, Xie X, Pan J and Zhou H (2018) The Indirect Path From Mindful Parenting to Emotional Problems in Adolescents: The Role of Maternal Warmth and Adolescents’ Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 9:546. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546

 

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to have positive effects on children’s emotional functioning, and adaptive parenting practices are associated with fewer emotional problems. However, the association between mindful parenting and adolescent emotional problems has not been studied much. In the current study, the indirect path from mindful parenting to adolescent emotional problems was examined, with maternal warmth and adolescent dispositional mindfulness as potential mediators. A sample of 168 mother–child dyads participated in this study. A serial indirect effects model showed mother’s mindful parenting could decrease adolescent emotional problems through adolescent’s perceived maternal warmth and their dispositional mindfulness. Findings of this study imply that intervention in mindful parenting may have benefits for adolescents’ emotional problems through enhancing maternal warmth and children’s trait mindfulness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00546/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_613817_69_Psycho_20180424_arts_A

Improve Health Behaviors in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Health Behaviors in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Your teenager may react with skepticism at first when you suggest meditation. But, with all the noise in the world and on the internet these days, teens can definitely benefit from taking time to quiet the noise and meditate. It’s a handy practice that can help them through all kinds of confusing and stressful situations in life.” – Cleveland Clinic

 

We tend to think that illness is produced by physical causes, disease, injury, viruses, bacteria, etc. But, many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex. Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders. Additionally, behavioral issues can be subtle contributors to disease such as denying a problem and failing to see a physician timely or not washing hands. In fact, many modern health issues, costing the individual or society billions of dollars each year, and reducing longevity, are largely preventable. Hence, promoting healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health and improve illness. It is well established that if patterns and habits of healthy behaviors can be established early in life, long-term health can be promoted and ill health can be prevented. In today’s Research News article “Integrating mindfulness training in school health education to promote healthy behaviors in adolescents: Feasibility and preliminary effects on exercise and dietary habits.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840835/ ), Salmoirago-Blotcher and colleagues explore the relationship of mindfulness to health behaviors in adolescents.

 

They recruited 9th grade classes in two high schools and assigned one to receive either 6-months of the usual health education class for 45 minutes 4 days per week combined with mindfulness training for 45 minutes one day per week or to receive the 4 days health education plus 1-day attention control. Students were measured before and after the 6-month training period for physical activity and dietary intake. Over the 6-month training period class attendance was high at 96%.

 

They did not find differences between groups before and after training for students who had low physical activity at baseline and did not find differences in dietary intakes. But, for students, particularly males, who were physically active at baseline participation in the health education plus mindfulness class produced significant increases in activity levels at the end of training. This was not true for the health education plus attention control condition.

 

These findings suggest that incorporating mindfulness training into the health education curriculum may increase health behaviors in adolescents. It is unfortunate that this intervention did not appear to work with the students who needed it the most, the sedentary students and did not work for dietary intake, with overweight and obesity a major problem. Perhaps a more refined and targeted program my work with this group. Unfortunately, the research did not explore other known benefits of mindfulness training for adolescents such as psychological health. This should be explored with future research. Regardless, the results suggest that mindfulness training should be further explored to increase health behaviors in adolescents. Strengthening these behaviors at a relatively early age may have positive health consequences throughout their lives.

 

So, improve health behaviors in adolescents with mindfulness.

 

“Qualitative data collection reveals that adolescents are less anxious and sleep better after doing yoga; in addition, their self-awareness and ease in their body increase, and their worldview begins to shift toward a more positive alignment.” – Sat Bir S. Khalsa

 

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

 

Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., Druker, S., Frisard, C., Dunsiger, S. I., Crawford, S., Meleo-Meyer, F., … Pbert, L. (2018). Integrating mindfulness training in school health education to promote healthy behaviors in adolescents: Feasibility and preliminary effects on exercise and dietary habits. Preventive Medicine Reports, 9, 92–95. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.01.009

 

Abstract

Whether mindfulness training (MT) could improve healthy behaviors is unknown. This study sought to determine feasibility and acceptability of integrating MT into school-based health education (primary outcomes) and to explore its possible effects on healthy behaviors (exploratory outcomes). Two high schools in Massachusetts (2014–2015) were randomized to health education plus MT (HE-MT) (one session/week for 8 weeks) or to health education plus attention control (HE-AC). Dietary habits (24-h dietary recalls) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA/7-day recalls) were assessed at baseline, end of treatment (EOT), and 6 months thereafter. Quantile regression and linear mixed models were used, respectively, to estimate effects on MVPA and dietary outcomes adjusting for confounders. We recruited 53 9th graders (30 HEM, 23 HEAC; average age 14.5, 60% white, 59% female). Retention was 100% (EOT) and 96% (6 months); attendance was 96% (both conditions), with moderate-to-high satisfaction ratings. Among students with higher MVPA at baseline, MVPA was higher in HE-MT vs. HE-AC at both EOT (median difference = 81 min/week, p = 0.005) and at 6 months (p = 0.004). Among males, median MVPA was higher (median difference = 99 min/week) in HE-MT vs. HEAC at both EOT (p = 0.056) and at 6 months (p = 0.04). No differences were noted in dietary habits. In sum, integrating school-based MT into health education was feasible and acceptable and had promising effects on MVPA among male and more active adolescents. These findings suggest that MT may improve healthy behaviors in adolescents and deserve to be reproduced in larger, rigorous studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840835/

 

Reduce Psychological Symptoms of Trauma with Mindfulness

Reduce Psychological Symptoms of Trauma with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Focusing on the present moment? Those with OCD rarely do that. Instead they either find themselves immersed in the world of “what ifs,” worrying about everything that might go wrong, or agonizing over things they think might have already gone wrong. Lots of thinking about the future and the past. Not so much about the present.” – Janet Singer

 

Trauma leaves in its wake a syndrome of posttraumatic symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that over half of adults will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. It’s been estimated that of adolescents, 8% have been exposed to sexual assault, 17% physical assault, and 39% had witnessed violence. This is tragic unto itself, but childhood trauma can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life.

 

How individuals cope with trauma helps determine the effects of the trauma on their mental health. Trying to avoid thinking about or being in touch with internal experiences, experiential avoidance, disallows the individual from confronting the experiences and could exacerbate the negative effects of the trauma. On the other hand, experiencing the feelings and thoughts completely would allow for better coping. This would be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms. In today’s Research News article “Effects of Traumatic Experiences on Obsessive-Compulsive and Internalizing Symptoms: The Role of Avoidance and Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654743/ ), Kroska and colleagues investigate the roles of mindfulness and experiential avoidance on psychiatric symptoms of trauma in adolescents.

 

They recruited troubled students from an alternative High School and had them complete measurements of childhood trauma, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. They also recruited college students and had them complete the same measure and additional measures of internalizing, including anxiety and depression. They then performed a statistical analysis of the responses including a mediation analysis.

 

They found that with the troubled youths, experiential avoidance was associated with greater obsessive-compulsive symptoms. They found that childhood trauma was associated with lower levels of mindfulness, while high levels of mindfulness were associated with lower levels of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Hence, for the troubled youths, experiential avoidance was associated with greater psychiatric symptoms while mindfulness was associated with lower symptoms and that childhood trauma tended to impair mindfulness.

 

With the college students they found that childhood trauma was associated with both greater experiential avoidance and with lower mindfulness, especially the observing facet of mindfulness. In addition, obsessive-compulsive symptoms were associated with higher levels of avoidance and lower levels of mindfulness. In looking at internalizing, anxiety and depression, a similar pattern emerged. Childhood trauma was associated with both greater experiential avoidance and with lower mindfulness and internalizing symptoms were associated with higher levels of avoidance and lower levels of mindfulness.

 

These results suggest that childhood trauma is associated with higher levels of psychiatric symptoms including both obsessive-compulsive and internalizing symptoms and that these associations of childhood trauma are mediated by higher levels of experiential avoidance and lower levels of mindfulness. This further suggests the nature of the mechanisms for trauma effects on mental health, with trauma acting through increasing avoidance and decreasing mindfulness to impair mental health.

 

These findings may help to improve therapeutic interventions for the treatment of the symptoms of trauma. They suggest that treatments targeted at increasing mindfulness and lowering experiential avoidance would produce great mental health benefits for survivors of childhood trauma.

 

“Our results suggest that mindfulness may provide some resilience against the poor adult health outcomes that often result from childhood trauma,” – Robert Whitaker

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

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

 

Study Summary

 

Kroska, E. B., Miller, M. L., Roche, A. I., Kroska, S. K., & O’Hara, M. W. (2018). Effects of Traumatic Experiences on Obsessive-Compulsive and Internalizing Symptoms: The Role of Avoidance and Mindfulness. Journal of Affective Disorders, 225, 326–336. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2017.08.039

 

Abstract

Background

Trauma exposure is associated with adverse psychological outcomes including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms. Adolescence is increasingly recognized as a period of vulnerability for the onset of these types of psychological symptoms. The current study explored the mediating roles of experiential avoidance and mindfulness processes in the association between retrospective reports of childhood trauma and current internalizing and OC symptoms in adolescents.

Method

A group of at-risk adolescents (N =51) and a group of college students (N =400) reported on childhood trauma, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, anxiety, depressive, and OC symptoms. Mediation analyses were performed to examine the mechanistic roles of avoidance and mindfulness in the association between trauma and internalizing and OC-specific symptoms.

Results

In the group of at-risk adolescents, experiential avoidance and mindfulness both significantly mediated the association between childhood trauma and OC symptoms. In the college student sample, experiential avoidance mediated the association between trauma and OC symptoms. Experiential avoidance, as well as the observe, act with awareness, and nonjudgmental facets of mindfulness all significantly mediated the association between trauma and internalizing symptoms.

Limitations

The group of at-risk adolescents was small, and the college student group was demographically homogeneous. All data was self-report and cross-sectional.

Conclusion

The current study demonstrated that experiential avoidance and mindfulness processes may be the mechanisms through which the association between trauma and obsessive-compulsive and trauma and internalizing symptoms exist in adolescents. These findings provide potential targets for clinical intervention to improve outcomes for adolescents who have experienced trauma.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654743/

Improve Pain Responding in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Pain Responding in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness was a significant predictor of both real-world and experimental pain outcomes. Adolescents who were more mindful tended to experience less interference in their day-to-day life as a result of pain. Additionally, . . . more mindful adolescents reported less intense pain and a higher level of pain tolerance.” – Mark Petter

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. Sadly, about a quarter to a third of children experience chronic pain. It has to be kept in mind that pain is an important signal that there is something wrong or that damage is occurring. This signals that some form of action is needed to mitigate the damage. This is an important signal that is ignored at the individual’s peril. So, in dealing with pain, it’s important that pain signals not be blocked or prevented. They need to be perceived. But, methods are needed to mitigate the psychological distress produced by chronic pain.

 

The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. The use of drugs in adolescents is even more complicated and potentially directly harmful or could damage the developing brain. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve adolescents’ ability to cope with the pain.

 

Pain involves both physical and psychological issues. The stress, fear, and anxiety produced by pain tends to elicit responses that actually amplify the pain. So, reducing the emotional reactions to pain may be helpful in pain management. There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that mind-body therapies have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include meditationyogatai chi, qigong, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis, acupuncture, and deep breathing exercises. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve emotion regulation producing more adaptive and less maladaptive responses to emotions. Indeed, mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain in adults. But there is very little systematic study of the application of these practices for the treatment of chronic pain in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “I Learned to Let Go of My Pain”. The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Adolescents with Chronic Pain: An Analysis of Participants’ Treatment Experience.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5742755/ ), Ruskin and colleagues recruited adolescents between the ages of 12 to 18 years who suffered from chronic pain. They provided the adolescents with an 8-week program or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) modified for adolescents, including meditation, yoga, and body scan, but with reduced expectation for home practice and shortened sessions. One week after the end of the program the youths were asked about their satisfaction with the program and participated in focus groups to provide feedback, evaluations, and suggestions regarding the program. The groups discussions were transcribed and a content analysis performed.

 

The participants rated their satisfaction program at 8.29 out of 10, suggesting a high degree of satisfaction. Ruskin and colleagues found that the “Qualitative analysis of focus group transcripts revealed six main themes: Mindfulness Skills, Supportive Environment, Group Exercises, Empowerment, Program Expectations, and Logistics.”

 

In terms of the mindfulness category the participants reported that the program improved their awareness of the present moment, their ability to let go of their pain, their ability to cope with the emotions produced by the pain, and increased their overall emotional well-being and happiness. In addition, they reported that the mindfulness skills transferred to other aspects of their life such as work, and became a part of how they normally viewed the world.

 

In terms of the supportive environment, the participants reported that the group developed a sense of openness and trust, provided emotional support and made them feel less alone. They also reported that being able to discuss their pain issues with others who were also suffering was very beneficial. In terms of the group exercises, the participants reported that the “weather report”, reporting on their current state with the group was very helpful, that focusing on the pain in meditation was helpful. In terms of empowerment, the participants felt that the program did not actually ease their pain but empowered them to take actions to cope with it and not let it interfere with their activities. In terms of the program expectations, they reported that they had great misconceptions of mindfulness at the beginning believing it to be uninteresting and dumb and some reported that they thought the program would actually lower their pain levels. Finally,

in terms of the logistics, the meeting room was too sterile and needed to be decorated in a more interesting fashion, there needed to be more meetings, and they liked working with other adolescents with chronic pain.

 

Hence, the participants viewed the program very positively as improving their ability to appreciate and stay in the present moment and better cope with the emotional and practical consequences of their pain. That the practice was conducted in a group of other adolescents with chronic pain was viewed as an important and helpful characteristic of the program. In other words, they were pleased and felt the program was helpful to them in dealing with their pain.

 

These results must be interpreted carefully. They should be viewed as constructive feedback on the program and nothing more. More empirical evidence is needed to reach firm conclusions regarding the programs efficacy. But, the results are suggestive that more systematic studies are warranted as mindfulness training may be very helpful to adolescents in coping with chronic pain.

 

 “Mindful meditation can have profound effects for those who suffer from chronic pain. This simple practice seems to be able to change a patient’s perception of pain, making it less intense. . . . consistent meditation helped patients locate and turn down the “volume knob” on sensations. Often pain sufferers are unable to focus on anything but their pain, which increases their perception of it.” – Pain Doctor

 

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

 

Danielle Ruskin, Lauren Harris, Jennifer Stinson, Sara Ahola Kohut, Kathryn Walker, Erinn McCarthy. I Learned to Let Go of My Pain”. The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Adolescents with Chronic Pain: An Analysis of Participants’ Treatment Experience. Children (Basel) 2017 Dec; 4(12): 110. Published online 2017 Dec 15. doi: 10.3390/children4120110

 

Abstract

Chronic pain can lead to significant negative outcomes across many areas of life. Recently, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been identified as potentially effective tools for improved pain management among adolescents living with pain. This study aimed to explore the experience of adolescents who participated in an eight-week mindfulness group adapted for adolescents with chronic pain (MBI-A), and obtain their feedback and suggestions on group structure and content. A mixed method design was used employing qualitative data from focus groups and data from a satisfaction questionnaire. Focus group data were transcribed and analyzed using inductive simple descriptive content analysis. Of the total participants (n = 21), 90% (n = 19) provided feedback by completing satisfaction questionnaires and seventeen (n = 17) of those also participated across two focus groups. Analysis of the focus group transcripts uncovered six themes: mindfulness skills, supportive environment, group exercises (likes and dislikes), empowerment, program expectations, and logistics. Participants reported positive experiences in the MBI-A program, including support received from peers and mindfulness skills, including present moment awareness, pain acceptance, and emotion regulation. Group members suggested increasing the number of sessions and being clearer at outset regarding a focus on reduction of emotional suffering rather than physical pain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5742755/

Improve Children’s Absorption of Micronutrients with Yoga

Improve Children’s Absorption of Micronutrients with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“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

 

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. Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. In addition, school records, academic tests, and physiological measures have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance.

 

In developing countries nutritional deficiencies are common. Many children, even those who receive sufficient calories from food are often lacking in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). This lack can impair growth and school performance. So, it would be helpful for the health and well-being of children in developing countries, if a safe and effective method could be developed to promote the absorption of the micronutrients in their food. In today’s Research News article “Effect of yoga practices on micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509603/, Verma and colleagues examine if yoga practice can improve micronutrient absorption in school age children in India.

 

They recruited 11 to 15-year old boy and girl students from an urban residential school in India and randomly assigned them to yoga practice or a no practice control condition. Both groups continued with an active schedule of extracurricular activities including sports and dance. Yoga practice was conducted 6 days per week for 1-hour per day for 12 weeks and consisted of chanting, postures, and breathing exercises. The students were measured before and after the training for height and weight and blood samples were collected and serum Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), Magnesium (Mg), and Copper (Cu) were measured.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the children who practiced yoga had significant increases in serum Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, and Copper. It is assumed that since the body cannot produce these micronutrients that the increases must have occurred due to increased absorption of the micronutrients from the food. But, intake of food was not measured and it is possible that the higher serum levels were due to greater food intake in the yoga group. There is, however, evidence that yoga practice can improve digestion. So, it is likely that increased absorption from improved digestion as a result of yoga practice was responsible. If this is true then yoga practice may be a safe and effective means of improving the nutritional status of children in developing countries.

 

So, improve children’s absorption of micronutrients with Yoga.

 

“Mindfulness has been shown to help students have better relationships and more positive behaviors and help them perform better at school. A recent study found it can help students improve their memory. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve teens’ physical health and their mental health.” – Kelly Wallace

 

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

 

Verma, A., Shete, S., Kulkarni, D., & Bhogal, R. S. (2017). Effect of yoga practices on micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(7), 1254–1258. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.29.1254

 

Abstract

[Purpose] This study was conducted with a view to find out the effect of yoga practices on micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children. [Subjects and Methods] The study population comprised 66 urban school children aged 11–15 years staying in a residential school in Pune City, Maharashtra, India. A stratified random sampling method was used to divide the students into experimental and control groups. There were 33 students in experimental group and 33 students in control group. Both experimental and control groups were assessed for the status of zinc, copper, iron and magnesium at the baseline and at the end of 12 weeks of yoga training. The study participants of experimental group underwent yoga training for 12 weeks, for one hour in the morning for six days a week. The control group did not undergo any yoga training during this time period. [Results] The experimental group participants showed significant improvement in micronutrient absorption as compared to control group. [Conclusion] The findings of this study indicate that yoga practices could improve micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509603/

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