Improve the Mental Health of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Cancer Patients with a Mindfulness App

Improve the Mental Health of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Cancer Patients with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Results show promise for mindfulness-based interventions to treat common psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression in cancer survivors and to improve overall quality of life.” — Linda E. Carlson

 

Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) are blood cancers that occur when the body makes too many white or red blood cells, or platelets” (Cancer Support Community). It typically occurs in older adults and is fairly rare (1-2 cases/100,000 per year) and has a very high survival rate. It produces a variety of psychological and physical symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disturbance, reduced physical, social, and cognitive functioning resulting in a reduced quality of life.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health including fatigueanxietydepressionpain, and sleep disturbance, and improves physical, social, and cognitive functioning as well as quality of life in cancer patients. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many patients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient.

 

As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in relieving the psychological and physical symptoms of cancer and improving their quality of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “Associations Between Global Mental Health and Response to an App-Based Meditation Intervention in Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7307391/) Puzia and colleagues recruited patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) and randomly assigned them to either receive a pamphlet on MPN symptom management or to practice mindfulness for 4 weeks using the “Calm” App for 10 minutes every day. “Calm meditations are developed using a combination of techniques drawn from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, encouraging users to practice moment-to-moment awareness without judgement and to develop awareness of their thoughts, interpretations, and emotional and physiological responses in order to alter their perception or create new, more balanced thoughts.” They were measured before and after the 4-week treatment period for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and mental and physical health.

 

They found that the results differed depending upon the participants’ levels of mental health. For those participants who had poor mental health at the beginning of the trial, using the “Calm” App produced significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety. These results replicate the previous findings that mindfulness meditation training produces significant decreases in depression and anxiety in a wide array of healthy and sick individuals. The present findings extend these benefits to patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) and appear to have maximum benefits for those who need it the most, the patients with the greatest mental health problems.

 

The findings that the use of an internet App is effective in improving the mental health of patients with MPN is important. These Apps make treatment available to large numbers of patients over widespread geographic areas, conveniently and inexpensively. This greatly expands the ability of mindfulness meditation for the treatment of the patients’ emotional problems.

 

Mindfulness meditation promotes present moment awareness with a non-judging and non-reacting attitude. Depression and anxiety are rooted in the individuals’ processing of past or projected future events and the judging and reacting to them. By focusing on the present moment this processing is interrupted and emphasizes what is actually present in the moment. In addition, not judging or reacting allows for a moderated emotional reaction and greater ability to regulate the emotions. This greatly improves the mental health of the patient.

 

So, improve the mental health of myeloproliferative neoplasm cancer patients with a mindfulness App.

 

“The intent of this practice is to help you begin to see that the traditional things you may consider important in defining your place in the world are often transitory. There’s a more stable and enduring part of your being, and connecting with this possibility through your meditation practice may help soothe the pain of changes to your self-image and identity that cancer triggers.” — Linda E. Carlson

 

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

 

Puzia, M. E., Huberty, J., Eckert, R., Larkey, L., & Mesa, R. (2020). Associations Between Global Mental Health and Response to an App-Based Meditation Intervention in Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients. Integrative cancer therapies, 19, 1534735420927780. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735420927780

 

Abstract

Background: Depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance are common problems that greatly affect quality of life for many myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients. App-based mindfulness meditation is a feasible nonpharmacologic approach for managing symptoms. However, previous research has not considered how patients’ overall mental health may influence their responsiveness to these interventions. Objective: The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory, secondary analysis of the effects of a smartphone meditation app, Calm, on depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance in MPN patients based on patients’ baseline levels of Global Mental Health (GMH). Methods: Participants (N = 80) were a subset of MPN patients from a larger feasibility study. Patients were enrolled into an intervention (use Calm for 10 minutes daily for 4 weeks) or educational control group. Results: In multilevel models, there were significant 3-way interactions between time, group, and baseline GMH for depression and anxiety symptoms, with participants in the meditation intervention who reported the poorest baseline GMH experiencing the greatest reduction in symptoms over time. For both intervention and control participants, poorer initial GMH was associated with increases in sleep disturbance symptoms over time. Conclusions: Mindfulness meditation apps, such as Calm, may be effective in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms in MPN patients, particularly for those experiencing mental health difficulties. Given the need for accessible tools to self-manage chronic cancer–related symptoms, especially strong negative emotions, these findings warrant larger efficacy studies to determine the effects of app-based meditation for alleviating depression and anxiety in cancer populations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7307391/

Improve Fertility with Mindfulness

 

Improve Fertility with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

those who participate in a mind-body wellness program are 32% more likely to become pregnant!” – Michelle Anne

 

Infertility is primarily a medical condition due to physiological problems. It is quite common. It is estimated that in the U.S. 6.7 million women, about 10% of the population of women are infertile. Infertility can be more than just a medical issue. It can be an emotional crisis for many couples, especially for the women. Couples attending a fertility clinic reported that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. Women with infertility reported feeling as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack.

 

Mindfulness training been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail. This is especially true for Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) which was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT has been shown to be effective in treating infertility. At this point it’s useful to step back and summarize what has been learned about mindfulness training and infertility.

 

In today’s Research News article “Application of Mindfulness-Based Psychological Interventions in Infertility.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295259/), Patel and colleagues review and summarize the published scientific research of the effectiveness of mindfulness training in treating infertility. They identified 9 published research studies.

 

They report that the research found that mindfulness training decreases anxiety, depression, stress, and anger, and increases well-being and quality of life of infertile women. These enhance the self-efficacy of women coping with infertility. Mindfulness training also has been found to reduce emotional stress and stress hormones and improve sleep and immune function all of which are known to play an important role in infertility. These all lead to increased conception rates.

 

The psychological and emotional issues that result from infertility produce a negative spiral, where infertility increases emotional dysfunction, which in turn lessens the likelihood of conception, which increases emotionality and so on. Mindfulness training appears to interrupt this cycle by improving the psychological and physical well-being of infertile women. This allows the women to relax and better cope with the issues surrounding infertility. This in turn improves their likelihood of conception. Hence, mindfulness training should be recommended for infertile women.

 

So, improve fertility with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness becomes the perfect antidote for the paradoxical land mines infertility presents. Mindfulness starts from the perspective that you are whole and complete already, regardless of flaws or imperfections. It is based on the concept of original goodness: your essential nature is good and pure. Proceeding from this vantage point gives you freedom from the bondage of inadequacy and insecurity.” – Janetti Marotta

 

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

 

Patel, A., Sharma, P., & Kumar, P. (2020). Application of Mindfulness-Based Psychological Interventions in Infertility. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, 13(1), 3–21. https://doi.org/10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_51_19

 

Abstract

Living mindfully helps one gain a deeper understanding into realities of life. It enables people to witness suffering, desire, attachments, and impermanence without any fear, anxiety, anger, or despair. This is considered the hallmark of true psychological insight. As a skill, mindfulness can be inculcated by anyone. Mindfulness helps in attending, getting aware and understanding experiences in a compassion and open-minded way. Research suggests that applying mindfulness in daily life has been known to tame our emotional mind and enabled people to perceive things “as they are” without ascribing expectations, judgments, cynicism, or apprehensions to them. This review unravels the therapeutic power of mindfulness meditation in the context of infertility distress. It serves to integrate the evidence on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based psychological interventions to improve the emotional well-being and biological outcomes in Infertility.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295259/

 

Lower Social Anxiety is Associated with Mindfulness in Nepalese Adolescents

Lower Social Anxiety is Associated with Mindfulness in Nepalese Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

At the basic level, social anxiety refers to fear or worry related to interactions in social situations. It is normal for teens to get anxious about public speaking or going on a first date. However, for those with social anxiety, the fears and thoughts are too intense, cause high stress and make the person avoid activities of daily living that could bring joy into their life.” – Silvina Galperin

 

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

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

Mindfulness training was examined as a treatment for emotional disorders in affluent western populations which are not necessarily representative of the unique situations, cultures, and education levels of diverse populations. Hence, there is a need to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness with diverse populations. There are indications that mindfulness therapies may be effective in diverse populations. But there is a need for further investigation the associations of mindfulness with emotional disorders in different populations.

 

In today’s Research News article “Social support, emotion regulation and mindfulness: A linkage towards social anxiety among adolescents attending secondary schools in Birgunj, Nepal.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7117668/), Singh and colleagues recruited adolescents from schools in Nepal and measured them for social anxiety, social support, emotion regulation, and mindfulness.

 

They found that the higher the levels of social anxiety the lower the levels of the mindfulness facets of describing and acting with awareness, the emotion regulation facets of awareness, clarity, and acceptance, and social support especially from friends, relatives, and teachers. They also found that social anxiety levels were higher in females and older adolescents. Taken together, mindfulness, emotion regulation, social support, age, and gender explained 41% of the variance in social anxiety in the adolescents.

 

These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. The results also are similar to those observed in different ethnic groups with mindfulness associated with lower levels of social anxiety and greater levels of emotion regulation. This further suggests that mindfulness relationships with social anxiety in Nepal are similar to other cultures. This suggests that these association apply almost universally across cultures and ethnicities.

 

In many of the previous studies, mindfulness was trained and it was found to cause changes in social anxiety and emotion regulation. So, the current findings probably represent causal connections between these variables. They further imply that training in mindfulness may be helpful in lowering social anxiety and improving emotion regulation in Nepalese youth.

 

In the present study there was no attempt to determine mediation. Since mindfulness is associated with higher levels of emotion regulation and emotion regulation is associated with lower levels of social anxiety, it is possible that mindfulness decreases social anxiety directly and also indirectly by improving emotion regulation. In addition, social support is associated with higher mindfulness. So, it is possible that social support decreases social anxiety directly and also indirectly by improving mindfulness. It will remain for future research to explore these hypotheses.

 

So, lower social anxiety is associated with mindfulness in Nepalese adolescents.

 

If you are suffering with the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD), regular practice will eventually improve your self-concept and ability to handle negative emotions. You will also learn how to better respond to troubling thoughts and treat yourself with more compassion.” – Arlin Cuncic

 

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

 

Singh, R., Singh, B., Mahato, S., & Hambour, V. K. (2020). Social support, emotion regulation and mindfulness: A linkage towards social anxiety among adolescents attending secondary schools in Birgunj, Nepal. PloS one, 15(4), e0230991. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230991

 

Abstract

There has been a growing burden of anxiety among Nepalese adolescents. Social anxiety in particular is one of the commonly reported symptoms indicating mental health problem among adolescents. The purpose of this study was to assess social anxiety, and identify how social support, emotion regulation and mindfulness uniquely contribute to social anxiety among adolescents in Birgunj, Nepal. The study was conducted by using a self-administered questionnaire among 384 adolescents (65.4% boys; M = 16.05 years, SD = 1.39) studying at secondary schools of Birgunj. Results show that there was a positive correlation between social anxiety symptoms and age, and girls reported more symptoms. Traits such as non-acceptance of emotions, lack of clarity and lack of awareness of emotions were related to increased social anxiety; while acting with awareness, non-reactivity, and better ability to describe emotions was related to decreased social anxiety. Finally, more social support from close friends was related to lower social anxiety. These results suggest that improving emotion regulation, dispositional mindfulness, and social support may be helpful for adolescents who are at risk of, or are suffering from, social anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7117668/

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Co-occurring Major Depression is Associated with Lower Mindfulness

Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Co-occurring Major Depression is Associated with Lower Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

attempts to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and feelings may worsen anxiety. The paradox here is that mindfulness helps us turn toward those and learn to change our relationship to the actual thoughts and the physical sensations, rather than try to change them in any way. By changing [that] relationship, we actually stop feeding those cyclical processes and they start to die off on their own.” – Judson Brewer

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments.

 

One of the premiere measurement tools for mindfulness is the Five Factors of Mindfulness Questionnaire. It measures overall mindfulness and also five facets; observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgement, and non-reactivity. People differ and an individual can be high or low on any of these facets and any combination of facets. It is not known what pattern of mindfulness facets are most predictive of the ability of mindfulness to improve anxiety disorders.

 

Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders. Mindfulness has also been shown to be effective for depression. So, patients with generalized anxiety with co-occurring depression may have lower ability to be mindful.

 

In today’s Research News article “Facets of Mindfulness in Adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Impact of Co-occurring Depression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6662732/), Baker and colleagues recruited adult patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and measured them for mindfulness, including observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging, and nonreactivity facets, worry, depression, and severity of psychopathology.

 

The participants were separated into GAD with and without Major Depressive Disorder. They found that the GAD participants who also had co-occurring Major Depressive Disorder were lower in mindfulness, especially the acting with awareness facet of mindfulness. They also found that over the entire sample that higher levels of depression and worry were associated with lover levels of mindfulness. Looking at the facets of mindfulness they found that depression was negatively associated with acting with awareness and worry was negatively associated with the nonjudging and nonreactivity facets.

 

These are correlative findings and causation cannot be determined. But previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness training reduces anxiety and depression.  So, a causal connection is likely. The results, then, suggest that patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are less likely to act with awareness if they also have Major Depressive Disorder. In addition, With GAD patients in general higher levels of depression were associated with lower levels of acting with awareness. Depression is associated with very low energy levels. So, it makes sense that the presence of depression would interfere with taking mindful action.

 

They also found that the higher the levels of worry the lower the levels of the nonjudging and nonreactivity mindfulness facets. This suggests that worry in patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) interferes with the ability to not judge and not react to inner experience. Conversely, worry promotes judging and reacting to inner experience. Patients who have high anxiety are worried about potential future negative occurrences and as such may judge inner experience as indicative of a problematic future and so react to it more.

 

So, the results indicate that Generalized Anxiety Disorder with co-occurring Major Depression is associated with lower mindfulness.

 

a way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety is to be fully, mindfully, anxious. As anxiety reveals itself to be a misperception, symptoms will dissipate.” – George Hofmann

 

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

 

Baker AW, Frumkin MR, Hoeppner SS, et al. Facets of Mindfulness in Adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Impact of Co-occurring Depression. Mindfulness (N Y). 2019;10(5):903‐912. doi:10.1007/s12671-018-1059-0

 

Abstract

Anxiety and depressive symptoms are associated with lower levels of mindfulness, yet few studies to date have examined facets of mindfulness in adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). In this study, we examined differences in mindfulness between individuals with GAD with and without concurrent Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and/or Dysthymic Disorder (DD). We also examined the associations of anxiety and depressive symptoms with facets (subscales) of mindfulness. We hypothesized that individuals with primary GAD and co-occurring MDD/DD would exhibit lower mindfulness than those without a concurrent depressive disorder. We also hypothesized that mindfulness would be negatively correlated with worry and depressive symptom severity. Subjects were 140 adults (M (SD) age = 33.4 (12.9); 73% female) with a primary diagnosis of GAD; 30.8% (n = 43) also met criteria for current MDD/DD as determined by a structured clinical interview for DSM-IV. Current worry and depressive symptoms were assessed using self-report measures at baseline of a 12-week treatment study. Individuals with GAD and co-occurring MDD/DD exhibited significantly lower mindfulness than those without a depressive disorder diagnosis and specifically lower scores on the Awareness sub-scale compared to individuals with primary GAD and no comorbid depression. In terms of the dimensional impact of worry and depression ratings, depression symptoms independently predicted lower Awareness scores and worry independently predicted lower levels of Nonreacting and Nonjudging sub-scales. This may have direct treatment implications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6662732/

 

Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

a growing body of research is pointing to an intervention that appears to help prevent relapse by altering thought patterns without side effects: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.” – Stacy Lu

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression.

 

Relapsing into depression is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior.

 

There has been considerable research demonstrating that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is effective in treating depression.  In today’s Research News article “The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/), Schanche and colleagues investigate the ability of  MBCT to reduce risk factors associated with relapse in patients with major depressive disorder.

 

They recruited adult patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder who had at least 3 depressive episodes and who were currently in remission. They were randomly assigned to be on a wait list or to receive 8 weekly 2-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before and after training for rumination, emotion regulation, anxiety, self-compassion, mindfulness, and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were significant reductions in rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and significant increases in emotion regulation, self-compassion and mindfulness. Hence, MBCT significantly improved the psychological well-being of these patients.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) produces a reduction in the types of negative emotional symptoms that could promote a depressive relapse and an increase in factors that could promote resistance to relapse especially the ability to effectively cope with their emotions and compassion for themselves. Mindfulness training has been repeatedly shown in the past to reduce rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and increase emotion regulation and self-compassion. The present study demonstrates that these benefits occur in patients in remission from major depressive disorder. This suggests that MBCT is effective in improving the major depressive disorder patients psychological state in a way that suggests that they would be resistant to relapse in the future.

 

So, reduce the risk of major depression relapse with mindfulness.

 

MBCT and CT attempt to reduce the risk of relapse by promoting different skill sets. CT promotes challenging dysfunctional thinking and increasing physical activity level. MBCT promotes nonjudgmental monitoring of moment-by-moment experience, and decentering from thoughts or seeing thoughts as transient mental phenomena and not necessarily valid.” – American Mindfulness Research Association

 

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

 

Elisabeth Schanche, Jon Vøllestad, Endre Visted, Julie Lillebostad Svendsen, Berge Osnes, Per Einar Binder, Petter Franer, Lin Sørensen. The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial. BMC Psychol. 2020; 8: 57. Published online 2020 Jun 5. doi: 10.1186/s40359-020-00417-1

 

Abstract

Background

The aim of this randomized wait-list controlled trial was to explore the effects of Mindfulness–Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on risk and protective factors for depressive relapse within the domains of cognition, emotion and self-relatedness.

Methods

Sixty-eight individuals with recurrent depressive disorder were randomized to MBCT or a wait-list control condition (WLC).

Results

Completers of MBCT (N = 26) improved significantly on measures assessing risk and protective factors of recurrent depression compared to WLC (N = 30) on measures of rumination (d = 0.59, p = .015), emotion regulation (d = 0.50, p = .028), emotional reactivity to stress (d = 0.32, p = .048), self-compassion (d = 1.02, p < .001), mindfulness (d = 0.59, p = .010), and depression (d = 0.40, p = .018). In the Intention To Treat sample, findings were attenuated, but there were still significant results on measures of rumination, self-compassion and depression.

Conclusions

Findings from the present trial contribute to evidence that MBCT can lead to reduction in risk factors of depressive relapse, and strengthening of factors known to be protective of depressive relapse. The largest changes were found in the domain of self-relatedness, in the form of large effects on the participants’ ability to be less self-judgmental and more self-compassionate.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/

 

Relieve Generalized Anxiety and Depression with a 2-Session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Relieve Generalized Anxiety and Depression with a 2-Session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“ACT is about acceptance and it is about change at the same time. Applied to anxiety disorders, patients learn to end the struggle with their anxiety-related discomfort and take charge by engaging in actions that move them related to their chosen life aims.” – Mohsen Hasheminasab 

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused.

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression.

 

There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety and depression. But, les than half the patients treated respond to the therapy and do not relapse. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and has also been shown to relieve anxietyACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

In prior research Ruiz and associates have demonstrated that a 3 session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and for depression. In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of a two-session repetitive negative thinking-focused acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) protocol for depression and generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized waitlist control trial.” (See summary below or at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31944806/), Ruiz and colleagues examine the efficacy of a 2-session ACT for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and for depression.

 

They recruited via social media patients diagnosed with either Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or depression and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 2 60-minute individual sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). They were measured before and after treatment and 1- and 3-months month later for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, perseverative thinking, experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, valued living, and generalized pliance (rule governed behavior).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the patients who received Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significantly improved levels of all outcome measures including anxiety, depression, perceived stress, perseverative thinking, experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, valued living, and generalized pliance that persisted at the 1- and 3-month follow-ups. Fully 91% of the patients receiving ACT had clinically significant changes in their Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or depression compared to 9% of the wait-list controls.

 

The findings are remarkable in that 2 1-hour sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) produced such large, significant and lasting improvements in patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or depression. These disorders are widespread affecting a large number of people and are frequently debilitating or at least interfere with their ability to conduct their lives. It is exciting that a brief treatment that can be implemented cost-effectively is capable of relieving their suffering.

 

The study, however, lacked an active control condition, e.g. exercise, and so is open to a variety of confounding variables. Future research should include such an active control. The effects of confounding variables, however, generally fade fairly quickly over time. So, the fact that the current results were still large and significant 3-months later argues that the benefits were produced by ACT.

 

So, relieve generalized anxiety and depression with a 2-session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

 

ACT has been used effectively to help treat workplace stress, test anxiety, social anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and psychosis.” – Psychology Today

 

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

 

Ruiz FJ, Peña-Vargas A, Ramírez ES, et al. Efficacy of a two-session repetitive negative thinking-focused acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) protocol for depression and generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized waitlist control trial [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jan 16]. Psychotherapy (Chic). 2020;10.1037/pst0000273. doi:10.1037/pst0000273

 

Abstract

This parallel randomized controlled trial aimed to evaluate the effect of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) focused on disrupting repetitive negative thinking (RNT) versus a waitlist control (WLC) in the treatment of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Forty-eight participants with a main diagnosis of depression and/or GAD were allocated by means of simple randomization to a 2-session RNT-focused ACT intervention or to the WLC. The primary outcomes were emotional symptoms as measured by the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales-21. Process outcomes included ACT- and RNT-related measures: general RNT, experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, values, and generalized pliance. At the 1-month follow-up, linear mixed effects models showed that the intervention was efficacious in reducing emotional symptoms (d = 2.42, 95% confidence interval [1.64, 3.19]), with 94.12% of participants in the RNT-focused ACT condition showing clinically significant change in the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales-21 total scores versus 9.09% in the WLC condition (70% vs. 8% in intention-to-treat analysis). The intervention effects were maintained at the 3-month follow-up. No adverse events were found. A very brief RNT-focused ACT intervention was highly effective in the treatment of depression and GAD.

Clinical Impact Statement Question: What is the applied clinical practice question this paper is hoping to address?

To analyze whether a 2-session acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) intervention focused on disrupting repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is effective in treating depression and GAD. Findings: How would clinicians meaningfully use the primary findings of this paper in their applied practice? Clinicians might use the RNT-focused ACT protocol to treat depression and GAD. Meaning: What are the key conclusions and implications for future clinical practice and research? The RNT-focused ACT protocol was highly effective in treating depression and GAD. Next Steps: Based on the primary findings and limitations of this paper, what are future directions to be explored in clinical practice and research? To analyze the long-term effects of the RNT-focused ACT protocol.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31944806/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Improve Self-Efficacy in Pregnancy with Mindfulness

Reduce Anxiety and Improve Self-Efficacy in Pregnancy with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness practices during pregnancy has several benefits: better manage chronic pain, depression, and anxiety, reduce fears about childbirth, reduce fears surrounding your pregnancy and parenting, increase confidence for birth and parenting, reduce perception of pain in birth.” – Cara Terreri

 

The period of pregnancy is a time of intense physiological and psychological change. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. A debilitating childbirth fear has been estimated to affect about 6% or pregnant women and 13% are sufficiently afraid to postpone pregnancy. It is difficult to deal with these emotions under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible worrisome, torment.

 

It is clear that there is a need for methods to treat depression, and anxiety during pregnancy. Since the fetus can be negatively impacted by drugs, it would be preferable to find a treatment that did not require drugs. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on maternal anxiety and self-efficacy: A randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7177577/), Zarenejad and colleagues recruited women pregnant with their first child between 24 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. They were randomly assigned to either usual care or to receive 6 weeks of twice a week for 1-hour group mindfulness training based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The training employs meditation, body scan, yoga, discussions, and home practice. They were measured before and after training and 1 month later for mindfulness, pregnancy related anxiety, and self-efficacy.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group, the women who received mindfulness training had significant increases in mindfulness and significant decreases in pregnancy related anxiety immediately after training and one month after training where there was also a significant increase in self-eficacy..

 

Mindfulness training has been repeatedly demonstrated in prior research to decrease anxiety and increase self-efficacy in a wide range of healthy and ill populations. The present study demonstrates that this training has similar effects with late-term pregnant women in Iran. The increase in self-efficacy suggests that mindfulness training improves the women’s beliefs that they can deal with their situation and the reduction in anxiety suggests that they can approach delivery with greater levels of confidence and relaxation. This should reduce the stress of delivery and increase the likelihood of a satisfactory and health outcome.

 

So, reduce anxiety and improve self-efficacy in pregnancy with mindfulness.

 

By learning mindfulness skills as part of their childbirth education, expectant mothers can reappraise the impending birth as something they can handle instead of viewing it as something they fear,”- Larissa Duncan

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

 

Zarenejad, M., Yazdkhasti, M., Rahimzadeh, M., Mehdizadeh Tourzani, Z., & Esmaelzadeh-Saeieh, S. (2020). The effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on maternal anxiety and self-efficacy: A randomized controlled trial. Brain and behavior, 10(4), e01561. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1561

 

Abstract

Objective

The aim of the study was to assess the effect of mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) on anxiety and self‐efficacy in coping with childbirth.

Material and Methods

This randomized controlled trial was conducted on 70 pregnant women in Abyek city of Qazvin province in Iran. The convenient sampling method was recruited. Samples were assigned to control and intervention groups using random blocks. In addition to routine care, individuals in the intervention group received 6 MBSR training sessions. The data gathering questionnaire in this study included mindfulness, Pregnancy‐Related Anxiety Questionnaire, and self‐efficacy in coping with childbirth questionnaire.

Results

There was no statistically significant difference between the demographic characteristics in the control and intervention groups. The results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures indicated the effect of time on the change in the total score of anxiety in the intervention group (p = .001). There was a significant difference between the two groups (p = .001). Also, the results of ANOVA with repeated measures showed that time had no impact on the score of self‐efficacy in delivery coping (p = 0/1) and that there was no significant difference between the two groups in this respect (p = .6).

Conclusion

The result of this study showed that mindfulness reduces anxiety of pregnant mothers, and it is suggested that mindfulness programs be educated for healthcare providers and pregnant mothers to reduce maternal anxiety and improve pregnancy outcomes and delivery.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7177577/

 

Reduce Distress and Increase Pregnancy in Women with Fertility Problems with Mind-Body Practices

Reduce Distress and Increase Pregnancy in Women with Fertility Problems with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness becomes the perfect antidote for the paradoxical land mines infertility presents. Mindfulness starts from the perspective that you are whole and complete already, regardless of flaws or imperfections. It is based on the concept of original goodness: your essential nature is good and pure. Proceeding from this vantage point gives you freedom from the bondage of inadequacy and insecurity.” – Janetti Marrota

 

Infertility is primarily a medical condition due to physiological problems. It is quite common. It is estimated that in the U.S. 6.7 million women, about 10% of the population of women 15-44, have an impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term and about 6% are infertile. Infertility can be more than just a medical issue. It can be an emotional crisis for many couples, especially for the women. Couples attending a fertility clinic reported that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives.

 

Women with infertility reported feeling as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or recovering from a heart attack. In addition, infertility can markedly impact the couple’s relationship, straining their emotional connection and interactions and the prescribed treatments can take the spontaneity and joy from lovemaking making it strained and mechanical. The stress of infertility and engaging in infertility treatments may exacerbate the problem. Since mindfulness training has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress it is reasonable to believe that mind-body training may be helpful in reducing the distress in women with fertility issues.

 

In today’s Research News article “An internet-based mind/body intervention to mitigate distress in women experiencing infertility: A randomized pilot trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7080396/), Clifton and colleagues recruited childless adult women who were seeking care for infertility. They were randomly assigned to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 10-week online program of mind/body for fertility including weekly online modules and homework assignments. “The skills and strategies taught included: (a) knowledge regarding the relationship between stress, lifestyle, and fertility; (b) relaxation techniques including diaphragmatic breathing and Hatha Yoga; (c) mindfulness; (d) cognitive restructuring; (e) stress reduction strategies; (f) listening and communication skills; (g) strategies for emotional expression and effective coping with anger; and (h) assertiveness training and goal-setting skills.” They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and fertility problems.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the women who received the training had significantly lower levels of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and infertility related stress specific to sexual and social concerns. At the end of the study the women who received the training had significantly higher self-reported pregnancy rates. 53% of the trained women reported successful pregnancy while only 20% of the wait-list control women did.

 

The study was a randomized controlled trial but the control condition, wait-list, was passive. It would be important for future research to include an active control condition, such as online health education. In addition, the program included a complex set of practices and it is impossible to tease apart what components or combination of components were necessary for the effects observed. It would be interesting in future research to examine the effectiveness of the individual components.

 

Nevertheless, these are interesting and potentially important findings. The online mind/body for fertility program produced significant reductions in the distress levels of the women and increased the likelihood of becoming pregnant. By reducing the psychological distress produced by infertility the program appeared to markedly improve the likelihood of becoming pregnant. This is very helpful in reducing the suffering produced by infertility and thereby improving pregnancy success..

 

In addition, the fact that the program was implemented online makes it scalable at low cost to large groups of women over wide geographic areas and the women can engage in the program at times and places that were most comfortable and convenient for them. This greatly expands the usefulness of the program.

 

So, reduce distress and increase pregnancy in women with fertility problems with mind-body practices.

 

“Many women fear that becoming mindful and starting to meditate will make them passive in their quest for a child.  This simply isn’t so.  The wish for a child remains vibrant and active – it’s simply that happiness doesn’t depend on the fulfillment of this wish.” – Beth Heller

 

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

 

Clifton, J., Parent, J., Seehuus, M., Worrall, G., Forehand, R., & Domar, A. (2020). An internet-based mind/body intervention to mitigate distress in women experiencing infertility: A randomized pilot trial. PloS one, 15(3), e0229379. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229379

 

Abstract

Objective

To determine if an internet-based mind/body program would lead to participants experiencing infertility (1) being willing to be recruited and randomized and (2) accepting and being ready to engage in a fertility-specific intervention. Secondary exploratory goals were to examine reduced distress over the course of the intervention and increased likelihood to conceive.

Methods

This was a pilot randomized controlled feasibility trial with a between-groups, repeated measure design. Seventy-one women self-identified as nulliparous and meeting criteria for infertility. Participants were randomized to the internet-based version of the Mind/Body Program for Fertility or wait-list control group and asked to complete pre-, mid- and post-assessments. Primary outcomes include retention rates, number of modules completed, and satisfaction with intervention. Secondary exploratory outcomes sought to provide preliminary data on the impact of the program on distress (anxiety and depression) and self-reported pregnancy rates relative to a quasi-control group.

Results

The retention, adherence, and satisfaction rates were comparable to those reported in other internet-based RCTs. Although time between pre- and post-assessment differed between groups, using intent-to-treat analyses, women in the intervention group (relative to the wait-list group) had significant reduction in distress (anxiety, p = .003; depression, p = .007; stress, p = .041 fertility-social, p = .018; fertility-sexual, p = .006), estimated as medium-to-large effect sizes (ds = 0.45 to 0.86). The odds of becoming pregnant was 4.47 times higher for the intervention group participants as compared to the wait-list group, OR 95% CI [1.56, 12.85], p = .005 and occurred earlier. The findings suggest that the research design and program specific to this population are feasible and acceptable. Replication efforts with an active control group are needed to verify distress reduction and conception promotion findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7080396/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Depression with COPD with Mind-Body practices

Reduce Anxiety and Depression with COPD with Mind-Body practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We found that yoga can be a simple, cost-effective method that can help improve quality of life in patients with COPD.” – Randeep Guleria

 

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) are progressive lung diseases that obstruct airflow. The two main types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is very serious being the third leading cause of death in the United States, over 140,000 deaths per year and the number of people dying from COPD is growing. More than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but an estimated 24 million may have the disease without even knowing it. COPD causes serious long-term disability and early death.

 

There is no cure for COPD. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicine, bronchodilators, steroids, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and surgery. They all attempt to relieve symptoms, slow the progress of the disease, improve exercise tolerance, prevent and treat complications, and improve overall health. Gentle mind-body exercise such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong practices could improve COPD symptoms. Yoga has been shown to improve exercise tolerance and overall health and includes breathing exercises. Indeed, it has been shown that yoga practice improves the mental and physical health of patients with COPD. Mindful movement practices such Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient Chinese practices involving mindfulness and gentle movements. They are easy to learn, safe, and gentle. So, it may be appropriate for patients with COPD who lack the ability to engage in strenuous exercises to engage in these gentle mind-body practices.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind-Body Exercise for Anxiety and Depression in COPD Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6981896/), Li and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of mind-body practices on the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD).

 

They found 13 peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials; 7 employing Qigong, 3 Tai Chi, and 3 yoga. They report that the published research found that mind-body practices produced significant reductions in anxiety and depression in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD).

 

Mindfulness practices, in general have been found to reduce anxiety and depression. The present review extends this effectiveness to mind-body mindfulness practices with patients with COPD. The mechanisms by which these practices produce these effects are not known. But all these practices involve focusing on the present moment. Anxiety is produced by fear of the future while depression is produced by rumination about the past. While focusing on the present, anxiety and depression are eliminated. Obviously, training does not eliminate thinking about the past and future. But, it may reduce the amount of time spent outside the present moment and thereby reduce the overall levels of anxiety and depression.

 

So, Reduce Anxiety and Depression with COPD with Mind-Body practices.

 

The challenge for meditators with a history of asthma, COPD, or other breathing problems is that the seemingly simple process of breathing is entangled with fear, anxiety, and other difficult emotions.” – Susan Haejin Lee

 

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

 

Li, Z., Liu, S., Wang, L., & Smith, L. (2019). Mind-Body Exercise for Anxiety and Depression in COPD Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(1), 22. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010022

 

Abstract

Objectives: Mind–body exercise has been generally recognized as a beneficial strategy to improve mental health in those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). However, to date, no attempt has been made to collate this literature. The aim of the present study was to systematically analyze the effects of mind–body exercise for COPD patients with anxiety and depression and provide scientific evidence-based exercise prescription. Methods: both Chinese and English databases (PubMed, the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang, Baidu Scholar) were used as sources of data to search randomized controlled trials (RCT) relating to mind–body exercise in COPD patients with anxiety and depression that were published between January 1982 to June 2019. 13 eligible RCT studies were finally used for meta-analysis. Results: Mind–body exercise (tai chi, health qigong, yoga) had significant benefits on COPD patients with anxiety (SMD = −0.76, 95% CI −0.91 to −0.60, p = 0.04, I2 = 47.4%) and depression (SMD = −0.86, 95% CI −1.14 to −0.58, p = 0.000, I2 = 71.4%). Sub-group analysis indicated that, for anxiety, 30–60 min exercise session for 24 weeks of health qigong or yoga had a significant effect on patients with COPD who are more than 70 years and have more than a 10-year disease course. For depression, 2–3 times a week, 30–60 min each time of health qigong had a significant effect on patients with COPD patients who are more than 70 years old and have less than a 10-year disease course. Conclusions: Mind–body exercise could reduce levels of anxiety and depression in those with COPD. More robust RCT are required on this topic.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6981896/

 

Improve Self-Compassion with Psychophysiological Flexibility and Mindfulness

Improve Self-Compassion with Psychophysiological Flexibility and Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, coping with life challenges, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships. It is an inner strength that enables us to be more fully human—to acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from them, and make necessary changes with an attitude of kindness and self-respect.” – Greater Good Science Center

 

One of the more remarkable aspects of Western culture is that in general people do not like themselves. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and since there can only one best, virtually everyone falls short. So, we constantly criticize ourselves for not being the smartest, the swiftest, the strongest, the most liked, the most handsome or beautiful. If there wasn’t something wrong with us, then we would be the best. As a result, we become focused and obsessed with our flaws. This can lead to anxiety and worry.

 

Mindfulness promotes experiencing and accepting ourselves as we are, which is a direct antidote to seeing ourselves in comparison to others and as we wish to be. In other words, mindfulness promotes self-compassion. Self-compassion involves being warm and understanding about ourselves rather than self-criticism. If we have that attitude, we will like ourselves more and suffer less. So, it is important to study the mindfulness and self-compassion and their relationships with the ability to regulate emotional arousal.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is Dispositional Self-Compassion Associated With Psychophysiological Flexibility Beyond Mindfulness? An Exploratory Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A), Svendsen and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete scales measuring self-compassion, mindfulness, anxiety, and rumination. They also had their cardiac function measured at rest with an electrocardiogram (ECG). This was used to calculate the vagally mediated heart rate variability as a measure of psychophysiological flexibility. It measures the interplay between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, with higher heart rate variability signaling parasympathetic predominance, usually indicating relaxation.

 

Employing regression analysis, they found that the higher the levels of self-compassion the higher the levels of mindfulness and psychophysiological flexibility. They also found that both higher levels of mindfulness and also self-compassion the lower the levels of anxiety and rumination (worry). So, mindfulness is related to self-compassion and lower anxiety and rumination and self-compassion is related to mindfulness and psychophysiological flexibility and lower anxiety and rumination.

 

The findings are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. But they show that mindfulness is significantly related to self-compassion and both are related to better mental health. In prior manipulative studies, it has been demonstrated that mindfulness causes increased self-compassion and decreased anxiety and rumination. So, the present results likely reflect causal connections.

 

The results also demonstrated that self-compassion has the strongest relationship with psychophysiological flexibility suggesting that self-compassion is related to the ability to regulate emotional arousal. It is this ability that may underlie the lower levels of anxiety and rumination found with high levels of self-compassion. Hence, mindfulness and self-compassion are important components of the mental health of young adults.

 

So, improve self-compassion with psychophysiological flexibility and mindfulness.

 

“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.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

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

 

Svendsen JL, Schanche E, Osnes B, Vøllestad J, Visted E, Dundas I, Nordby H, Binder P-E and Sørensen L (2020) Is Dispositional Self-Compassion Associated With Psychophysiological Flexibility Beyond Mindfulness? An Exploratory Pilot Study. Front. Psychol. 11:614. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614

 

Abstract

Background: Dispositional mindfulness and self-compassion are shown to associate with less self-reported emotional distress. However, previous studies have indicated that dispositional self-compassion may be an even more important buffer against such distress than dispositional mindfulness. To our knowledge, no study has yet disentangled the relationship between dispositional self-compassion and mindfulness and level of psychophysiological flexibility as measured with vagally mediated heart rate variability (vmHRV). The aim was thus to provide a first exploratory effort to expand previous research relying on self-report measures by including a psychophysiological measure indicative of emotional stress reactivity.

Methods: Fifty-three university students filled out the “Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire” (FFMQ) and the “Self-Compassion Scale” (SCS), and their heart rate was measured during a 5 min resting electrocardiogram. Linear hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the common and unique variance explained by the total scores of the FFMQ and the SCS on level of resting vmHRV.

Results: Higher SCS total scores associated significantly with higher levels of vmHRV also when controlling for the FFMQ total scores. The SCS uniquely explained 7% of the vmHRV. The FFMQ total scores did not associate with level of vmHRV.

Conclusion: These results offer preliminary support that dispositional self-compassion associates with better psychophysiological regulation of emotional arousal above and beyond mindfulness

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A