Shift Work Increases Stress, Psychopathology, and Family Conflict and Less Mindful Parenting

Shift Work Increases Stress, Psychopathology, and Family Conflict and Less Mindful Parenting

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

When you work at night, you’re cut off from friends and family, you have little social support, your diet may not be as healthy.” – David Ballard

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. Our work situation can have profound effects on the family and child rearing practices.

 

It has been shown that low workload and high sleep quality are important to high levels of mindfulness during work which, in turn leads to many benefits for the job and the employee. Keeping workload at a reasonable level should improve both sleep quality and mindfulness which should, in turn, promote better work. It should also promote better family life and more mindful parenting. But there is actually very little systematic research on the effects of the work environment and schedule on the individual’s family life and mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Work-Family Conflict and Mindful Parenting: The Mediating Role of Parental Psychopathology Symptoms and Parenting Stress in a Sample of Portuguese Employed Parents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00635/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A), Moreira and colleagues recruited parents of children of any age up to 19 years online and had them complete an online questionnaire measuring type of employment, work schedule, hours worked per week, work-family conflict, anxiety, depression, parenting stress, and mindful parenting, including subscales of listening with full attention, compassion for the child,  non-judgmental acceptance of parental functioning, self-regulation in parenting, and emotional awareness of the child.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindful parenting, including each of the 5 subscales, the lower the levels of work-family conflict, anxiety, depression, and parenting stress. They also found that parents with a shift work schedule and also parents working full-time had significantly higher levels of work-family conflict. On the other hand, parents with flexible schedules had significantly higher levels of mindful parenting. In addition, path modelling revealed that higher levels of work-family conflict were indirectly associated with lower levels of mindful parenting through anxiety and depression symptoms and parenting stress. In other words, work-family conflict heightened anxiety and depression symptoms and parenting stress which in turn lowered mindful parenting.

 

These results are interesting but correlational, so no definitive conclusions regarding causation can be reached. But the results suggest that work scheduling has a large association with the mental health of the parents and as a result with mindful parenting. Shift-work is associated with greater parental mental health issues and lower mindful parenting while flexible work schedules have the opposite effect, being associated with better parental mental health and better mindful parenting.

 

There is a need in future research to manipulate work scheduling to observe its causal impact. But tentatively, the current research suggests that companies should investigate the implementation of more flexible work schedules for their employees. The improvement of their mental health and the consequent improvement of family life would likely make the employees, healthier, happier, and more productive and loyal to their employer. In addition, the improved mindful parenting would likely improve the well-being of the children.

 

We leave decisions about flexibility and the organization of work to individual companies, which means that the decisions of first-line managers in large part create our national family policy.”- Fran Sussner Rogers

 

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

 

Moreira H, Fonseca A, Caiado B and Canavarro MC (2019) Work-Family Conflict and Mindful Parenting: The Mediating Role of Parental Psychopathology Symptoms and Parenting Stress in a Sample of Portuguese Employed Parents. Front. Psychol. 10:635. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00635

 

Aims: The aims of the current study are to examine whether parents’ work-family conflict, emotional distress (anxiety/depressive symptoms and parenting stress) and mindful parenting vary according to the type of employment (full-time, part-time, and occasional), the type of work schedule (fixed, flexible, and shift), and the number of working hours per week and to explore whether parental emotional distress mediates the association between work-family conflict and mindful parenting dimensions.

Methods: A sample of 335 employed parents (86.3% mothers) of children and adolescents between the ages of 1 and 19 years old completed a sociodemographic form and measures of work-family conflict, anxiety/depression symptoms, parenting stress, and mindful parenting. The differences in study variables among types of employment, work schedules and number of weekly working hours were analyzed. A path model was tested through structural equation modeling in AMOS to explore the indirect effect of work-family conflict on mindful parenting dimensions through anxiety, depression and parenting stress. The invariance of the path model across children’s age groups (toddlers, preschool and grade school children, and adolescents) and parents’ gender was also examined.

Results: Parents with a shift work schedule, working full-time and 40 h or more per week, presented significantly higher levels of work-family conflict than those with a fixed or flexible schedule, working part-time and less than 40 h per week, respectively. Parents with a flexible work schedule presented significantly higher levels of self-regulation in parenting and of non-judgmental acceptance of parental functioning than parents with a shift work schedule. Higher levels of work-family conflict were associated with lower levels of mindful parenting dimensions through higher levels of anxiety/depression symptoms and parenting stress. The model was invariant across children’s age groups and parents’ gender.

Discussion: Work-family conflict is associated with poorer parental mental health and with less mindful parenting. Workplaces should implement family-friendly policies (e.g., flexible work arrangements) that help parents successfully balance the competing responsibilities and demands of their work and family roles. These policies could have a critical impact on the mental health of parents and, consequently, on their parental practices.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00635/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_943967_69_Psycho_20190326_arts_A

 

Relieve Anxiety Disorders with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Relieve Anxiety Disorders with Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The essential components of ACT include letting go of the struggle to control unwanted thoughts and feelings, being mindfully aware of the present moment, and committing to a course of action that is consistent with what you value most in life. . . Acceptance of your anxious thoughts and feelings allows you to focus more clearly on the present and to take the steps that move you closer to the life you truly want to live.” – AnxietyHappens

 

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. 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.

 

The original form of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), however, required a certified trained therapist. This resulted in costs that many clients couldn’t afford. In addition, the participants had to be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that were not always compatible with busy schedules and at locations that were not always convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness-based treatments delivered over the internet 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 ACT for anxiety disorder when delivered over the internet.

 

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Treatment: Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371070/ ), Kelson and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered online for the treatment of Anxiety Disorders. They discovered 20 published studies.

 

They found that on average 81% of participants completed the online ACT program. They also found that the ACT program produced small to moderate significant reduction in anxiety. These include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and illness anxiety disorder. Hence, the published research suggests that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered online is effective for the treatment of Anxiety Disorders. This adds to the list of mindfulness-based therapies that can be successfully delivered online. This is important as online presentation is inexpensive, convenient, and available to a very large population of anxiety disorder sufferers.

 

So, relieve anxiety disorders with online acceptance and commitment therapy

 

Research has shown that ACT can produce symptom improvement in people with GAD, and it may also be a particularly good fit for older adults.” – Deborah Glasofer

 

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

 

Kelson, J., Rollin, A., Ridout, B., & Campbell, A. (2019). Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Treatment: Systematic Review. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(1), e12530. doi:10.2196/12530

 

Abstract

Background

Anxiety conditions are debilitating and prevalent throughout the world. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an effective, acceptance-based behavioral therapy for anxiety. However, there are treatment barriers (eg, financial, geographical, and attitudinal), which prevent people from accessing it. To overcome these barriers, internet-delivered ACT (iACT) interventions have been developed in recent years. These interventions use websites to deliver ACT information and skill training exercises on the Web, either as pure self-help or with therapist guidance.

Objective

This systematic review aimed to examine the therapeutic impact of iACT on all anxiety conditions.

Methods

The EMBASE, MEDLINE, ProQuest Central, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were searched up to September 2018. The titles and abstracts of remaining records after deduplication were screened by 2 authors with a total of 36 full-text articles being retained for closer inspection next to eligibility criteria. Empirical studies of all designs, population types, and comparator groups were included if they appraised the impact of iACT treatment on any standardized measure of anxiety. Included studies were appraised on methodological quality and had their data extracted into a standardized coding sheet. Findings were then tabulated, and a narrative synthesis was performed because of the heterogeneity found between studies.

Results

A total of 20 studies met inclusion criteria. There were 11 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 9 uncontrolled pilot studies. Participants across all studies were adults. The anxiety conditions treated were as follows: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), illness anxiety disorder (IAD), and general anxiety symptoms, with or without comorbid physical and mental health problems. A total of 18 studies reported significant anxiety reduction after iACT treatment. This was observed in studies that delivered iACT with (n=13) or without (n=5) therapist guidance. The average attrition rate across all included studies during the active iACT treatment phase was 19.19%. In the 13 studies that assessed treatment satisfaction, participants on average rated their iACT experience with above average to high treatment satisfaction.

Conclusions

These findings indicate that iACT can be an efficacious and acceptable treatment for adults with GAD and general anxiety symptoms. More RCT studies are needed to corroborate these early iACT findings using empirical treatments in active control groups (eg, internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy). This would potentially validate the promising results found for SAD and IAD as well as address the full spectrum of anxiety disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371070/

 

Reduce Worry and Rumination and Improve Emotion Regulation Lowering Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

Reduce Worry and Rumination and Improve Emotion Regulation Lowering Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The practice of mindfulness teaches us a different way to relate to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they arise. It is about learning to approach and acknowledge whatever is happening in the present moment, setting aside our lenses of judgment and just being with whatever is there, rather than avoiding it or needing to fix it.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

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

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. Fortunately, worry and rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness and emotion regulation improved by mindfulness. These may be some of the mechanisms by which mindfulness training improves anxiety and depression. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_934868_69_Psycho_20190314_arts_A ), Parmentier and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness to improve emotion regulation and reduce worry and rumination and thereby improve anxiety and depression.

 

They recruited adult participants online and had them complete an online survey measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, rumination, worry, emotion regulation, and meditation history. They found that meditation practice was not associated with anxiety or depression directly but rather through its positive association with mindfulness which was strongly negatively associated with anxiety and depression. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression directly and also indirectly through its association with rumination and worry and the emotion regulation mechanisms of suppression and reappraisal. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of suppression, rumination, and worry and higher levels of reappraisal. which in turn were associated with anxiety and depression.

 

These findings suggest that meditation practice increases mindfulness and this decreases anxiety and depression. It does so directly and indirectly. Mindfulness reduces the tendency to suppress, prevent, anxiety and depression from arising which allows for full mindful appreciation of these emotions and as a result produces an actual reduction in them. It also decreases worry and rumination that normally heighten anxiety and depression. At the same time mindfulness increases reappraisal, heightening the ability to investigate the causes of anxiety and depression, resulting in their reduction. Worry and rumination were the most powerful mediating factors while suppression and reappraisal were still significant factors but substantially weaker.

 

These results support the conclusion that mindfulness directly decreases anxiety and depression. But mindfulness also acts indirectly by affecting has a number of psychological processes including improving emotion regulation and by decreasing the counterproductive cognitive processes of worry and rumination.

 

So, reduce worry and rumination and improve emotion regulation lowering anxiety and depression with mindfulness.

 

“With mindfulness practice, we can learn how to unhook from rumination and cut ourselves (and others) the slack requisite for increasing clarity and ease of being.” – Mitch Abblett

 

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

 

Parmentier FBR, García-Toro M, García-Campayo J, Yañez AM, Andrés P and Gili M (2019) Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression. Front. Psychol. 10:506. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506

 

The present study examined the effects of mindfulness on depression and anxiety, both direct and indirect through the mediation of four mechanisms of emotional regulation: worry, rumination, reappraisal and suppression. Path analysis was applied to data collected from an international and non-clinical sample of 1151 adults, including both meditators and non-meditators, who completed an online questionnaire battery. Our results show that mindfulness are related to lower levels of depression and anxiety both directly and indirectly. Suppression, reappraisal, worry and rumination all acted as significant mediators of the relationship between mindfulness and depression. A similar picture emerged for the relationship between mindfulness and anxiety, with the difference that suppression was not a mediator. Our data also revealed that the estimated number of hours of mindfulness meditation practice did not affect depression or anxiety directly but did reduce these indirectly by increasing mindfulness. Worry and rumination proved to be the most potent mediating variables. Altogether, our results confirm that emotional regulation plays a significant mediating role between mindfulness and symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population and suggest that meditation focusing on reducing worry and rumination may be especially useful in reducing the risk of developing clinical depression.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_934868_69_Psycho_20190314_arts_A

 

Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness-based interventions for sports are effective because they help athletes direct their attention to the current athletic task, while minimizing external distractions.” – Mitch Plemmons

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

Flow refers to a state of mind that is characterized by a complete absorption with the task at hand, often resulting in enhanced skilled performance. The flow state underlies the athletes’ feelings and thoughts when they recall the best performances of their careers. It is obvious that the notion of flow and mindfulness have great similarity. There is little known, however, about the relationship between mindfulness and flow in athletes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/ ), Chen and colleagues recruited the members of an elite male baseball team in Taiwan and provided them with a 4-session mindfulness training including meditation, yoga, and discussion of the application of mindfulness to their sport. They were measured before and after training and 4 weeks later for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep quality, competitive anxiety, mindfulness, and flow state.

 

They found that after training and at follow-up there was a significant increase in sleep quality and flow state and a significant decrease in eating disorders and competitive anxiety. In addition, the higher the level of mindfulness of the player, the greater the level of flow state. They also saw a non-significant increase in the team’s performance after the training.

 

These are interesting results but conclusions need to be tempered with the fact that there wasn’t a control condition. This leaves many alternative confounding interpretations. Nevertheless, these pilot findings suggest that further research is warranted to investigate the effect of mindfulness training on athletic flow state. These results contribute to the growing body of research that suggests that being mindful produces enhanced athletic performance.

 

So, enhance flow in athletes with mindfulness.

 

“Achieving peak performance and especially being able to develop flow experiences in athletes is the holy grail of sport psychology.  . . researches are getting one step closer to unveiling the psychological factors that influence flow experiences, and mindfulness could be an essential part of the puzzle.” – Carmilo Saenz

 

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

 

Chen, J. H., Tsai, P. H., Lin, Y. C., Chen, C. K., & Chen, C. Y. (2018). Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan. Psychology research and behavior management, 12, 15-21. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S188734

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the effect of mindfulness-based training on performance and mental health among a group of elite athletes.

Methods

This study aimed to evaluate the effect of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) on mental health, flow state, and competitive state anxiety using a 4-week workshop. We recruited an amateur baseball team (N=21) in Taiwan, and collected information by self-reported questionnaires administered before, immediately after, and at a 4-week follow-up. The primary outcome was to evaluate sports performance by flow state and competitive state anxiety, which included self-confidence, somatic anxiety, and cognitive anxiety. The secondary outcome was to explore whether MSPE intervention can improve anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and eating disorders.

Result

After the workshop and follow-up 1 month later, we found improvements in flow state (P=0.001; P=0.045), cognitive anxiety in competitive anxiety (P=0.056; P=0.008), global eating disorder (P=0.009; P<0.001), marked shape concern (P=0.005; P<0.001), and weight concern (P=0.007; P<0.001). Scores of sleep disturbance (P=0.047) showed significant improvement at follow-up. We also found significant association between flow state and mindfulness ability (P<0.001).

Conclusion

This is the first mindfulness intervention to enhance athletes’ performance in Taiwan, and also the first application of MSPE for team sports. Our study results suggested that mindfulness ability is associated with flow state, and that MSPE is a promising training program for strengthening flow state and mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/

 

Students and Military who are High in All Facets of Mindfulness Have Better Psychological Health

Students and Military who are High in All Facets of Mindfulness Have Better Psychological Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse.“ – Kelle Walsh

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies.

 

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 good mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Psychological Health Outcomes: A Latent Profile Analysis among Military Personnel and College Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800780/ ), Bravo and colleagues recruited active and retired military personnel and college students. They were measured online for mindfulness, depression, anxiety, rumination, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse symptoms.

 

They found that overall, the greater the levels of mindfulness, the better the mental health of the participants including lower depression, anxiety, rumination, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse symptoms. The military personnel were higher on all measures except rumination than the college students.

 

For the college students latent profile analysis revealed 4 mindfulness profiles ““high mindfulness” group (i.e., moderately high on all facets of mindfulness), a “low mindfulness” group (i.e., relatively low-to-average on all facets of mindfulness), a “judgmentally observing” group (i.e., high on observing facet, low on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness) and a “non-judgmentally aware” group (i.e., low on observing, high on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness).” For the military personnel latent profile analysis revealed 3 mindfulness profiles “high mindfulness” group (i.e., moderately high on all facets of mindfulness), a “low mindfulness/ judgmentally observing” group (i.e., relatively low-to-average on describing, and non-reacting facets of mindfulness and  high on observing facet, low on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness) and a “non-judgmentally aware” group (i.e., low on observing, high on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness).

 

For both the military personnel and the students, the participants with the “high mindfulness” profile had significantly better mental health than those with the other profiles including lower depression, anxiety, rumination, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse symptoms. It is important to note that the results were similar in very different participant populations, suggesting that the results are generalizable.

 

The results further suggest that with mindfulness there are very different types of people, expressing mindfulness in different ways and this makes a difference in the relationship of mindfulness to mental health. The results suggest that overall being mindful is associated with good mental health. They further suggest that being generally high on all facets of mindfulness is an even better predictor of good mental health. It may make sense in future research to pay more attention to these different mindfulness profile groups in investigating mindfulness relationships with mental and physical well-being.

 

It is clear that mindfulness is associated with better mental health.

 

“We’ve seen this in the clinical domain for many years. People, in concert with their physicians… actually going off their medications for pain, for anxiety, for depression, as they begin to learn the self-regulatory elements of mindfulness. They discover that the things that used to be symptomatically problematic for them are no longer arising at the same level.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

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

 

Bravo, A. J., Pearson, M. R., & Kelley, M. L. (2017). Mindfulness and Psychological Health Outcomes: A Latent Profile Analysis among Military Personnel and College Students. Mindfulness, 9(1), 258-270.

 

Abstract

Previous research on trait mindfulness facets using person-centered analyses (e.g., latent profile analysis [LPA]) has identified four distinct mindfulness profiles among college students: a high mindfulness group (high on all facets of the Five-Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire [FFMQ]), a judgmentally observing group (highest on observing, but low on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness), a non-judgmentally aware group (high on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness, but very low on observing), and a low mindfulness group (low on all facets of the FFMQ). In the present study, we used LPA to identify distinct mindfulness profiles in a community based sample of U.S. military personnel (majority veterans; n = 407) and non-military college students (n = 310) and compare these profiles on symptoms of psychological health outcomes (e.g., suicidality, PTSD, anxiety, rumination) and percentage of participants exceeding clinically significant cut-offs for depressive symptoms, substance use, and alcohol use. In the subsample of college students, we replicated previous research and found four distinct mindfulness profiles; however, in the military subsample we found three distinct mindfulness profiles (a combined low mindfulness/judgmentally observing class). In both subsamples, we found that the most adaptive profile was the “high mindfulness” profile (i.e., demonstrated the lowest scores on all psychological symptoms and the lowest probability of exceeding clinical cut-offs). Based on these findings, we purport that the comprehensive examination of an individual’s mindfulness profile could help clinicians tailor interventions/treatments that capitalize on individual’s specific strengths and work to address their specific deficits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800780/

 

Improve Executive and Emotional Control of Grief with Mindfulness

Improve Executive and Emotional Control of Grief with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness for grief is not about whitewashing your pain, or “getting over” your loss. It is about learning how to stay present, cultivate compassion, and make wise choices that will help you cope with this new normal known as life after loss.” – Heather Stang

 

Grief is a normal, albeit complex, process that follows a loss of a significant person or situation in one’s life. This can involve the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience, termination of a relationship, loss of employment etc. Exactly what transpires depends upon the individual and the nature of the loss. It involves physical, emotional, psychological and cognitive processes. Not everyone grieves in the same way but there have been identified four general stages of grief, shock and denial, intense concern, despair and depression, and recovery. These are normal and healthy. But, in about 15% of people grief can be overly intense or long and therapeutic intervention may become necessary.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found to help with coping with loss and its consequent grief.  Mindfulness-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 is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. This would seem to be an ideal treatment protocol to treat intense grief.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Improves Emotion Regulation and Executive Control on Bereaved Individuals: An fMRI Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360180/ ), Huang and colleagues recruited participants who had lost a significant relative within the last 4 years and self-reported intense unresolved grief. They completed an 8-week, once a week for 2.5 hours Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) treatment including daily, 30-40 minute, home practice. The participants were measured before and after treatment for grief, anxiety, depression, and emotion regulation.

 

The participants also underwent 3 brain scanning sessions with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). During 2 of the sessions they performed a numerical Stroop task in which they were to report which of 2 numerals was larger. In one session they were to ignore the physical size of the numeral and only report on the numerically larger numeral. In the second session they were to ignore the numerical magnitude of the numeral and only report on the physically larger numeral. This task measures cognitive interference and executive control.

 

They found that after MBCT treatment there were large and highly significant increases in mindfulness and emotion regulation and decreases in grief, anxiety, and depression. They also found that after treatment the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the levels of grief, anxiety, and depression. In addition, the participants after treatment were significantly better at ignoring irrelevant stimuli and respond faster in the Stroop task. This suggests reduced negative emotionality and improved cognitive control.

 

The researchers observed that after treatment during the cognitive task there was a decrease in activity in the cingulate cortex. These areas are involved in what is termed the Default Mode Network which becomes active during mind wandering and self-referential thinking. In other words, the brain areas associated with a lack of attention to the task at hand became less active. This suggests that there was greater attention to the present moment after MBCT training.

 

Long-term intense grief can be very harmful to the psychological and physical well-being of the individual. The present findings suggest that MBCT practice may be an effective treatment. It appears to reduce the negative emotions and improve the ability to regulate them in grieving individuals. It appears to do so, by altering the brain systems associated with mind wandering. It is during mind wandering where rumination occurs that tends to exacerbate anxiety and depression. So, the brain changes produced by MBCT treatment tend to keep the individual focused on the present lowering the impact of the past on their emotional state.

 

So, improve executive and emotional control of grief with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness reminds us that pain and sorrow, like all else, are impermanent.  Does this mean grief goes away completely?  Of course not.   But it does mean that it will change shape and form, it will ebb and flow, some days it will hurt like hell and some days you will start to smile.  It means that our grief, like everything else, is impermanent and ever-changing.  Once we accept this, even if only on a rational level, some of the need to avoid our grief starts to diminish.  We can stop believing it is permanent and will never change, even when we feel it will last forever.  We can start noticing and accepting our grief for what it really is and the small changes every day in our experiences.’ – WYG

 

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

 

Huang, F. Y., Hsu, A. L., Hsu, L. M., Tsai, J. S., Huang, C. M., Chao, Y. P., Hwang, T. J., … Wu, C. W. (2019). Mindfulness Improves Emotion Regulation and Executive Control on Bereaved Individuals: An fMRI Study. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 541. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00541

 

Abstract

The grief of bereavement is recognized as a severe psychosocial stressor that can trigger a variety of mental and physical disorders, and the long-lasting unresolved grief has a detrimental effect on brain functionality. Literature has documented mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) as an efficient treatment for improving well-being, specifically related to the mood and cognition, in a variety of populations. However, little attention has been devoted to neural mechanisms with regard to bereaved individuals’ cognition after MBCT intervention. In this study, we recruited 23 bereaved participants who lost a significant relative within 6 months to 4 years to attend 8-week MBCT course. We used self-reporting questionnaires to measure emotion regulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with the numerical Stroop task to evaluate the MBCT effect on executive control among the bereaved participants. The self-reported questionnaires showed improvements on mindfulness and reductions in grief, difficulties in emotion regulation, anxiety, and depression after the MBCT intervention. The fMRI analysis demonstrated two scenarios: (1) the activity of the fronto-parietal network slightly declined accompanied with significant improvements in the reaction time of incongruent trials; (2) the activities in the posterior cingulate cortex and thalamus were positively associated with the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief, implying emotional interferences on cognitive functions. Results indicated that MBCT facilitated the executive control function by alleviating the emotional interferences over the cognitive functions and suggested that the 8-week MBCT intervention significantly improved both executive control and emotion regulation in bereaved individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360180/

 

Enhance the Effectiveness of Mindfulness Training to Treat Anxiety Disorders with Virtual Reality

Enhance the Effectiveness of Mindfulness Training to Treat Anxiety Disorders with Virtual Reality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness allows us to interrupt automatic, reflexive fight, flight, or freeze reactions—reactions that can lead to anxiety, fear, foreboding, and worry.” – Bob Stahl

 

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. Health anxiety is a fear of a serious illness can interfere with their daily life. It often leads to seeking unnecessary testing and to spend days consumed by worry. Health anxiety is a relatively common condition, affecting 4% to 5% of both men and women equally.

 

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.

 

Technology has recently been applied to training in mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness training carried out completely on-line has been shown to be effective for as number of conditions. But, now virtual reality (VR) devices are improving and becoming readily available. Previously it has been shown the virtual reality (VR) can be helpful in treating phobias. and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). But, it is not known if VR can enhance the effectiveness of mindfulness training in the treatment of Anxiety Disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Evaluation of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention With and Without Virtual Reality Dialectical Behavior Therapy® Mindfulness Skills Training for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Primary Care: A Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00055/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_896935_69_Psycho_20190131_arts_A ), Navarro-Haro and colleagues recruited adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and provided them with a group based once per week 90 minute mindfulness training session for 7 weeks. Half the participants were randomly assigned to receive an additional 10-minute virtual reality session (mindful river world) in combination with mindfulness instructions. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, emotion regulation, and interoceptive awareness. In addition, before and after the virtual reality sessions they were measured for emotional state and sense of presence.

 

They found that the addition of virtual reality significantly increased the completion rates for the treatment, where 70% of the mindfulness treatment group completed the program, 100% of the participants who received additional virtual reality completed participation. They also found that both groups had large and significant improvements in generalized anxiety disorder, mindfulness, depression, emotion regulation, and interoceptive awareness. But the virtual reality group had significantly greater improvements in the non-judging facet of mindfulness and in interference in emotion regulation. The first virtual reality session produced significant improvements in the participants’ emotional states. But by the last session the improvements across the session markedly diminished.

 

The results are interesting and suggest that mindfulness training is effective for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders. They further suggest that the addition of virtual reality training significantly improves non-judging mindfulness and the ability to not let strong negative emotions interfere with concentration and everyday tasks. Importantly, the addition of virtual reality significantly improved the completion rate. To have a maximum impact on generalized anxiety disorder completing the therapy program is important. The improved engagement in the mindfulness program provided by the addition of virtual reality sessions suggests that this addition is important for maximizing the treatment’s effectiveness.

 

So, enhance the effectiveness of mindfulness training to treat anxiety disorders with virtual reality.

 

“Anxiety is the “check engine light” on our psychophysiological dashboard. It lets us know the system needs some balancing. Agitation is therefore not our enemy; ideally, we see it as a wake up call for mindfulness practice.” – Mitch Abblett

 

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

 

Navarro-Haro MV, Modrego-Alarcón M, Hoffman HG, López-Montoyo A, Navarro-Gil M, Montero-Marin J, García-Palacios A, Borao L and García-Campayo J (2019) Evaluation of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention With and Without Virtual Reality Dialectical Behavior Therapy® Mindfulness Skills Training for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Primary Care: A Pilot Study. Front. Psychol. 10:55. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00055

 

ABSTRACT

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a very prevalent disorder in primary care (PC). Most patients with GAD never seek treatment, and those who do seek treatment often drop out before completing treatment. Although it is an understudied treatment, Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) indicate preliminary efficacy for the treatment of GAD symptoms, but many patients with GAD present other associated symptoms (e.g., attention deficits) that complicate the treatment. Virtual Reality DBT® Mindfulness Skills learning has recently been developed to make learning mindfulness easier for patients with emotion dysregulation who have trouble concentrating. Virtual Reality (VR) might serve as a visual guide for practicing mindfulness as it gives patients the illusion of “being there” in the 3D computer generated world. The main goal of this study was to evaluate the effect of two MBIs (a MBI in a group setting alone and the same MBI plus 10 min VR DBT® Mindfulness skills training) to reduce GAD symptoms. A secondary aim was to explore the effect in depression, emotion regulation, mindfulness, and interoceptive awareness. Other exploratory aims regarding the use of VR DBT® Mindfulness skills were also carried out. The sample was composed of 42 patients (roughly half in each group) with GAD attending PC visits. After treatment, both groups of patients showed significant improvements in General Anxiety Disorder measured by the GAD-7 using mixed regression models [MBI alone (B = -5.70; p < 0.001; d = -1.36), MBI+VR DBT® Mindfulness skills (B = -4.38; p < 0.001; d = -1.33)]. Both groups also showed significant improvements in anxiety, depression, difficulties of emotion regulation and several aspects of mindfulness and interoceptive awareness. Patients in the group that received additional 10 min VR DBT Mindfulness Skills training were significantly more adherent to the treatment than those receiving only standard MBI (100% completion rate in MBI + VR vs. 70% completion rate in MBI alone; Fisher = 0.020). Although randomized controlled studies with larger samples are needed, this pilot study shows preliminary effectiveness of MBI to treat GAD, and preliminary evidence that adjunctive VR DBT® Mindfulness Skills may reduce dropouts.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00055/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_896935_69_Psycho_20190131_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Changing Neural Connectivity in Children and Adolescents

Mindfulness is Associated with Changing Neural Connectivity in Children and Adolescents

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation training increases resting state connectivity between top-down executive control regions, highlighting an important mechanism through which it reduces stress levels.” Daniel Reed

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It even improves high level thinking known as executive function. Its positive effects are so widespread that it is difficult to find any other treatment of any kind with such broad beneficial effects on everything from thinking to mood and happiness to severe mental and physical illnesses. This raises the question of how mindfulness training could produce such widespread and varied benefits. One possibility is that mindfulness practice results in beneficial changes in the nervous system.

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, mindfulness practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

The brains of children and adolescents are different from fully mature adult brains. They are dynamically growing and changing. It is unclear how mindfulness affects their maturing brains. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5610942/ ), Marusak and colleagues examined the relationship of mindfulness with brain activity in the maturing brain. They recruited children and adolescents aged 7 to 17 years and measured them for mindfulness, anxiety, and depression.

 

The children and adolescents then had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Imaging (fMRI). The scans were evaluated for static connectivity, the relatively permanent connections between brain areas, and dynamic connectivity, the changing connections between areas. They looked specifically at 3 systems in the brain, the central executive network, associated with higher level thinking and attention, the salience and emotion network, associate with the importance of stimuli, and the default mode network, associated with mind wandering and self-referential thinking.

 

They found that mindfulness was associated with better mental health of the children and adolescents with high levels of mindfulness significantly associated with low levels of depression and anxiety. Mindfulness was also significantly associated with the amount of present-moment oriented thinking occurring during the brain scan session. Mindfulness was not associated with static connectivity within the children’s and adolescents’ brains.

 

With dynamic connectivity on the other hand, they found that mindfulness was associated with greater numbers of transitions between connectivity states. That is, the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the number of times the connectivity pattern in the brain changed from one set of connections to another. Finally, they also found that the numbers of transitions between connectivity states mediated the association of mindfulness with lower anxiety, such that mindfulness was associated with lower anxiety both with a direct association of mindfulness with lower anxiety and indirectly by higher mindfulness being associated with greater dynamic connectivity which was in turn associated with lower anxiety.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness is associated with greater brain flexibility in transitioning from different states and this may allow for less anxiety. This suggests that mindfulness allows for greater ability to see things and evaluate what is occurring in different ways and this helps the youths to better appreciate what is happening and thereby lower anxiety. These are incredibly interesting findings that begin to reveal the neural dynamics occurring in children and adolescents that underlie the ability of mindfulness to improve mental health. Mindfulness isn’t associated with different brain connectivity structures in the brains but rather with different abilities to switch around in real time between systems and this improves mental health.

 

“Just 11 hours of learning a meditation technique induce positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals.” – University of Oregon

 

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

 

Marusak, H. A., Elrahal, F., Peters, C. A., Kundu, P., Lombardo, M. V., Calhoun, V. D., Goldberg, E. K., Cohen, C., Taub, J. W., … Rabinak, C. A. (2017). Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents. Behavioural brain research, 336, 211-218.

 

Abstract

Background

Interventions that promote mindfulness consistently show salutary effects on cognition and emotional wellbeing in adults, and more recently, in children and adolescents. However, we lack understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying mindfulness in youth that should allow for more judicious application of these interventions in clinical and educational settings.

Methods

Using multi-echo multi-band fMRI, we examined dynamic (i.e., time-varying) and conventional static resting-state connectivity between core neurocognitive networks (i.e., salience/emotion, default mode, central executive) in 42 children and adolescents (ages 6–17).

Results

We found that trait mindfulness in youth relates to dynamic but not static resting-state connectivity. Specifically, more mindful youth transitioned more between brain states over the course of the scan, spent overall less time in a certain connectivity state, and showed a state-specific reduction in connectivity between salience/emotion and central executive networks. The number of state transitions mediated the link between higher mindfulness and lower anxiety, providing new insights into potential neural mechanisms underlying benefits of mindfulness on psychological health in youth.

Conclusions

Our results provide new evidence that mindfulness in youth relates to functional neural dynamics and interactions between neurocognitive networks, over time.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5610942/

 

Interpretation Bias Mediates the Effect of Mindfulness and Acceptance on Anxiety and Depression

Interpretation Bias Mediates the Effect of Mindfulness and Acceptance on Anxiety and Depression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Anxiety softens when we can create a space between ourselves and what we’re experiencing. When you react in ways that aren’t mindful, they can gradually grow into habits that are detrimental to your health and well-being.” – Mindful

 

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 sufferer 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. This may indicate that treating the cognitive processes that underlie the anxiety may be an effective treatment. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in altering cognitive processes and  relieving anxiety.

 

Depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. 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. Fortunately, Mindfulness training is also effective for treating depression.

 

A cognitive tendency that can exacerbate anxiety and depression is interpretation bias. This is a tendency to interpret situations in a negative way even when the situation is ambiguous. This can lead to interpreting even neutral situations as threatening. An alternative explanation for the effectiveness of mindfulness training for anxiety and depression is that it may reduce interpretation bias, making it less likely that situations would be interpreted as threatening and thereby lowering anxiety and depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Interpretation Bias, and Levels of Anxiety and Depression: Two Mediation Studies.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320741/ ), Mayer and colleagues performed 2 studies to examine the relationships of mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and interpretation bias.

 

In the first study they recruited college students and had them complete online questionnaires and psychometric tests measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and interpretation bias. The variables were then subjected to regression analysis. They found that the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, and interpretation bias. They further found that the mindfulness association with reduced anxiety and depression was in part the result of mindfulness’ association with reduced interpretation bias. Mindfulness was both directly associated with lower anxiety and depression and indirectly by being associated with lower levels of interpretation bias which, in turn, was associated with lower anxiety and depression.

 

In the second study they recruited a community sample of adults with mixed ages and had them complete online questionnaires measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, interpretation bias, and acceptance of internal sensations. They found similar results for acceptance as they found in study 1 for mindfulness, with the higher the level of acceptance the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, and interpretation bias. Also similar to study 1 they found that the association of acceptance with reduced anxiety and depression was in part the result of acceptance’ association with reduced interpretation bias. Acceptance was both directly associated with lower anxiety and depression and indirectly by being associated with lower levels of interpretation bias which, in turn, was associated with lower anxiety and depression.

 

These are interesting findings but they are correlational. So, no clear conclusions regarding causation can be reached. Previous research, however, has clearly shown a causal connection between mindfulness and acceptance and anxiety and depression. This suggests that the relationships observed in the current study as due to mindfulness and acceptance causing the relief of anxiety and depression.

 

The results suggest that the associations of both mindfulness and acceptance of internal states are associated with lower levels of both anxiety and depression and that these associations are in part due to direct associations with anxiety and depression and also indirect associations involving both mindfulness and acceptance being associated with lower levels of interpretation bias that, in turn, is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. This suggests that mindfulness and acceptance, in part, affect anxiety and depression by altering the cognitive interpretation of situations, lowering the tendency to interpret situations as threatening and thereby lowering the anxiety and depression that results from threatening interpretations.

 

So, interpretation bias mediates the effect of mindfulness and acceptance on anxiety and depression.

 

Mindfulness keeps us focused on the present, and helps us meet challenges head on while we appreciate all our senses absorb. On the contrary, focus on the future contributes to anxiety, while perseveration on the past feeds depression.” – Vincent Fitzgerald

 

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

 

Mayer, B., Polak, M. G., & Remmerswaal, D. (2018). Mindfulness, Interpretation Bias, and Levels of Anxiety and Depression: Two Mediation Studies. Mindfulness, 10(1), 55-65.

 

Abstract

In two studies, a possible mediation effect was tested of cognitive interpretation bias in the relation between respectively dispositional mindfulness and acceptance, on the one hand, and symptoms of depression and anxiety, on the other hand. An undergraduate student sample (N = 133; 86% female, Mage = 19.8) and a convenience community sample (N = 186; 66% female, Mage = 36.5) were examined by means of an online questionnaire measuring dispositional mindfulness (FFMQ-SF; Study 1) and acceptance (AAQ-II; Study 2), anxiety (STAI-trait) and depressive (BDI-II) symptoms, and interpretation bias (with the interpretation bias task, IBT). Considering both studies, results showed consistently the expected relations of larger mindfulness skills going together with a smaller cognitive interpretation bias and lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. More interestingly, it was found that interpretation bias served as a mediator in the relations between respectively dispositional mindfulness and acceptance, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. With these findings, some more insight in the working mechanisms of mindfulness-based treatments on internalizing psychopathology has been obtained.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6320741/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

Reduce Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Being unwilling to experience negative thoughts, feelings, or sensations is often the first link in a mental chain that can lead to automatic, habitual, and critical patterns of mind becoming re-established. By accepting unpleasant experiences, we can shift our attention to opening up to them. Thus, “I should be strong enough” shifts to “Ah, fear is here,” or “Judgment is present.”—Zindel Segal,

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. Meditation practice has been found to improve the regulation of emotions and reduce difficult emotional states such as anxiety and depression.

 

A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Indeed, Mindfulness practices have been shown to be quite effective in relieving anxiety. Anxiety often co-occurs with depression and mindfulness training is also effective for treating depression. Anxiety disorders and depression have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Since mindfulness- based treatments are relatively new, it makes sense to step back and summarize what is known regarding the effectiveness of mindfulness training for anxiety disorders and for depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Anxiety and Depression. The Psychiatric clinics of North America.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5679245/ ), Hofmann and Gomez review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the relief of anxiety and depression.

 

They report that randomized controlled trials found that Mindfulness-Based interventions including the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy treatment programs were “moderately-to-largely effective at reducing anxiety and depression symptom severity among individuals with a broad range of medical and psychiatric conditions.” They also report that these programs are effective whether provided in person or over the internet. They are consistently more effective than health education, relaxation training, and supportive psychotherapy, but equivalently effective as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

 

Hence, accumulating controlled research has built a strong case for the use of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Since, these treatments are generally safe and effective with little if any side effects, they would appear to be preferable to pharmacological treatments.

 

So, reduce anxiety and depression with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness keeps us focused on the present, and helps us meet challenges head on while we appreciate all our senses absorb. On the contrary, focus on the future contributes to anxiety, while perseveration on the past feeds depression. Far too often when we look to the future, we ask ourselves, “What if,” and the answer we give ourselves is often a prediction of a negative result.” – Vincent Fitzgerald

 

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

 

Hofmann, S. G., & Gómez, A. F. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Anxiety and Depression. The Psychiatric clinics of North America, 40(4), 739-749.

 

Key Points

  • Research on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for anxiety and depression has increased exponentially in the past decade. The most common include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
  • MBIs have demonstrated efficacy in reducing anxiety and depression symptom severity in a broad range of treatment-seeking individuals.
  • MBIs consistently outperform non-evidence-based treatments and active control conditions, such as health education, relaxation training, and supportive psychotherapy.
  • MBIs also perform comparably to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The treatment principles of MBIs for anxiety and depression are compatible with those of standard CBT.

Synopsis

This article reviews the ways in which cognitive and behavioral treatments for depression and anxiety have been advanced by the application of mindfulness practices. Research on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) has increased exponentially in the past decade. The most common include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBIs have demonstrated efficacy in reducing anxiety and depression symptom severity in a broad range of treatment-seeking individuals. MBIs consistently outperform non-evidence-based treatments and active control conditions, such as health education, relaxation training, and supportive psychotherapy. MBIs also perform comparably to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The treatment principles of MBIs for anxiety and depression are compatible with those of standard CBT.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5679245/