Mindfulness is Associated with Better Perinatal Mental Health Among Uncertainty Produced by Covid-19

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Perinatal Mental Health Among Uncertainty Produced by Covid-19

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

use of a mindfulness-based meditation app may benefit patients who are navigating the stressors of being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic.” –  Orli K. Florsheim, MD

 

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. The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, birthing, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight.

 

In addition, immediately after birth it is common for the mother to experience mood swings including what has been termed “baby blues,” a sadness that may last for as much as a couple of weeks. But some women experience a more intense and long-lasting negative mood called postpartum depression. This occurs usually 4-6 weeks after birth in about 15% of births; about 600,000 women in the U.S. every year. For 50% of the women the depression lasts for about a year while about 30% are still depressed 3 years later.

 

Hence, it is clear that there is a need for methods to treat depression, and anxiety during the perinatal period. 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 and to relieve postpartum depression.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress for everyone including women during the perinatal period. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress and to improve well-being during the perinatal period. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges during the perinatal period resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Indirect Effect of Parental Intolerance of Uncertainty on Perinatal Mental Health via Mindfulness During COVID-19.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8171361/ ) Sbrilli and colleagues recruited pregnant women or women who had given birth in the last 6 months during the Covid-19 pandemic. They were measured for Intolerance of uncertainty, mindfulness, and psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and somatization.

 

They performed a path analysis and found that in these perinatal women intolerance of uncertainty was associated with psychological symptoms, especially anxiety and depression, directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower mindfulness which was, in turn, associated with greater psychological symptoms. The mindfulness facets that were significant in the indirect path were acting with awareness, non-reactivity, and describing.

 

The present study is correlational and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal conclusions. But mindfulness has been shown in prior research to produce reductions in anxiety and depression. So, reduced mindfulness in the present study was probably the cause of the increased psychological symptoms. What’s new here is the finding that intolerance of uncertainty is directly and through mindfulness indirectly associated with increased psychological symptoms in perinatal women.

 

Intolerance of uncertainty is a fear of the unknown. During Covid-19 this fear is greatly amplified and the present results suggest that this results in greater anxiety and depression in these women. But since mindfulness is an intermediary it is possible that improvements in mindfulness, perhaps through training, could intervene to block the effects of intolerance of uncertainty on psychological symptoms. This is supported by the findings that mindfulness during Covid-19 improves psychological well-being.

 

Anxiety and depression during pregnancy can affect the birth and condition of the newborn. In addition, after birth they can affect post-partum depression. So, improving mindfulness is important during the perinatal period to improve the health and well-being of the infant and the mother. This becomes more important during the pandemic where uncertainty can exacerbate anxiety and depression.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better perinatal mental health among uncertainty produced by Covid-19.

 

The strength of mediation habits may play a role in pregnant women’s mental health during COVID-19. Stronger meditation habits may prevent increases in stress despite increased worry related to getting infected by COVID-19 and may reduce symptoms of depression and PTSD.” – Jennifer Huberty

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Sbrilli, M. D., Haigler, K., & Laurent, H. K. (2021). The Indirect Effect of Parental Intolerance of Uncertainty on Perinatal Mental Health via Mindfulness During COVID-19. Mindfulness, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01657-x

 

Abstract

Objectives

The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with mental health difficulties, especially during pregnancy and early postpartum. Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) and reduced capacity for mindfulness—a protective factor for child-bearers—may be particularly relevant factors driving mental health problems given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. The current study aims to shed light on modifiable paths to perinatal psychological distress by testing whether there is an indirect effect of IU on psychological symptoms through a perceived reduction in mindfulness during the pandemic.

Methods

Pregnant individuals (67%, n = 133) and new mothers within 6 months postpartum (33%, n = 66) participated in a cross-sectional online survey assessing IU, current and retrospective pre-pandemic mindfulness (FFMQ), and psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, somatization; BSI). Perceived change in mindfulness was captured by including retrospective mindfulness as a covariate in the PROCESS macro used for analyses.

Results

Tests of the direct association between mindfulness, IU, and psychological symptoms showed significant effects of IU (b = 0.46, SE = 0.064; p < .001) and perceived decrease in mindfulness during the pandemic (b =  − 0.72, SE = 0.08, p < .001) on psychological symptoms (R2 = .21–.34; F[2, 197] = 51.13–52.81, p < .001). The indirect effect of IU on symptoms via perceived decrease in mindfulness during the pandemic (b = 0.13, SE = 0.043, 95%CI [.060, .226]) was significant (R2 = .41, F[3, 195] = 45.08, p < .001).

Conclusions

Results suggest that mothers who are less able to tolerate uncertainty experience more psychological symptoms, in part due to perceived reduction in mindfulness during the pandemic. Future research should examine whether IU is a screening risk marker and target for mindfulness-based interventions to improve maternal well-being and family outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8171361/

 

Forest Walking and Forest Qigong Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly

Forest Walking and Forest Qigong Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“forest bathing has received increasing attention due to its health-promoting effects, including enhancing immune functions and decreasing blood pressure in hypertension patients, as well as stress relief effects.” – Genxiang Mao,

 

Modern living is stressful, perhaps, in part because it has divorced us from the natural world that our species was immersed in throughout its evolutionary history. Modern environments may be damaging to our health and well-being simply because the species did not evolve to cope with them. This suggests that returning to nature, at least occasionally, may be beneficial. Indeed, researchers are beginning to study nature walks or what the Japanese call “Forest Bathing” and their effects on our mental and physical health.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve mood. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if mindfulness training occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly improve the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. In fact, being in nature has been shown to improve psychological health.

 

Qigong has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevity. Qigong training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Qigong  practice has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Qigong has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive functionmemory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. So, it makes sense to further study the ability of Qigong training particularly when practiced in nature to improve well-being in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psycho-Electrophysiological Benefits of Forest Therapies Focused on Qigong and Walking with Elderly Individuals.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999348/ ) Yi and colleagues recruited healthy elderly (65 years of age and older) participants and assigned them to one of 3 conditions; no-treatment control, forest walking, or forest Qigong. The forest programs were 2 hours per session twice per week for 6 weeks and included warm-up exercises, stretching, physio-cognitive play, and cool-down along with 50 minutes of either forest walking, or forest Qigong. They were measured before and after training for cognitive impairment, depression, and quality of life. They also had the electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (EKG) recorded. Bioimpedance was used to determine body composition and nutritional metabolism.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control condition, the forest qigong group had a significant decrease in depression while the forest walking group had a significant decrease in cognitive impairment and increase in quality of life. In the EEG, the forest walking group had significant increases in Alpha and Beta rhythm power and a significant decrease in low frequency heart rate variability after training while the control and forest qigong groups did not. In addition, the forest qigong group had a significant increase in the upper body bioimpedance phase angle while the forest walking group had a significant increase in the lower body bioimpedance phase angle.

 

Bioimpedance phase angle is an indicator of the metabolic nutrition of the muscles. So, the practice of qigong in the forest appears to increase the metabolic nutritional status of the upper body while walking in the forest appears to increase the metabolic nutritional status of the lower body. This is not surprising as qigong involves frequent arm movements while walking involves more leg movements. Low frequency heart rate variability is an indicator of sympathetic nervous system activity and its decrease in the forest walking group suggests that walking in the forest is physiologically relaxing, reducing activating sympathetic activity. Finally, EEG power is indicative of brain information processing and its increase with forest walking is indicative of an increase in information (cognitive) processing.

 

These findings are interesting and suggest that walking in the forest and qigong in the forest have different effects on elderly individuals. Where forest qigong appears to be superior for decreasing depression and upper body metabolism, forest walking appears to improve cognitive ability, lower body metabolism, and physiological relaxation. Hence qigong in the forest is superior for emotional health while walking in the forest is superior for cognitive health. This suggests that the combination of qigong and walking in the forest may produce better well-being for elderly individual.

 

So, forest walking and forest qigong improve cognitive function in the elderly.

 

Forest bathing, also known as forest therapy or shinrin-yoku in Japanese, is an evidence-based practice of connecting to nature as a way to heal.” – Credible Mind

 

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

 

Yi, J., Kim, S. G., Khil, T., Shin, M., You, J. H., Jeon, S., Park, G. H., Jeong, A. Y., Lim, Y., Kim, K., Kim, J., Kang, B., Lee, J., Park, J. H., Ku, B., Choi, J., Cha, W., Lee, H. J., Shin, C., Shin, W., … Kim, J. U. (2021). Psycho-Electrophysiological Benefits of Forest Therapies Focused on Qigong and Walking with Elderly Individuals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(6), 3004. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063004

 

Abstract

We developed two distinct forest therapy programs (FTPs) and compared their effects on dementia prevention and related health problems for older adults. One was focused on Qigong practice in the forest (QP) and the other involved active walking in the forest (WP). Both FTPs consisted of twelve 2-h sessions over six weeks and were conducted in an urban forest. We obtained data from 25, 18, and 26 participants aged 65 years or above for the QP, WP, and control groups, respectively. Neuropsychological scores via cognition (MoCA), geriatric depression (GDS) and quality of life (EQ-5D), and electrophysiological variables (electroencephalography, bioimpedance, and heart rate variability) were measured. We analyzed the intervention effects with a generalized linear model. Compared to the control group, the WP group showed benefits in terms of neurocognition (increases in the MoCA score, and alpha and beta band power values in the electroencephalogram), sympathetic nervous activity, and bioimpedance in the lower body. On the other hand, the QP group showed alleviated depression and an increased bioimpedance phase angle in the upper body. In conclusion, both active walking and Qigong in the forest were shown to have distinctive neuropsychological and electrophysiological benefits, and both had beneficial effects in terms of preventing dementia and relieving related health problems for elderly individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999348/

 

Improve Somatic Symptom Disorder with Mindfulness

Improve Somatic Symptom Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Somatic symptom disorder . . . symptoms cannot be explained by general medical conditions and significantly affect one’s functioning.” – S. Actas

 

According to the American Psychological Association “Somatic symptom disorder involves a person having a significant focus on physical symptoms, such as pain, weakness or shortness of breath, that results in major distress and/or problems functioning. The individual has excessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors relating to the physical symptoms.” Somatic Symptom Disorder occurs in about 5% to 7% of the population, effect people of all ages and is more common in women. It is associated with poor health, problems functioning in daily life, including physical disability, problems with relationships, problems at work or unemployment, other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression and personality disorders, increased suicide risk related to depression, and financial problems due to excessive health care visits. Obviously, this produces major suffering in the patients. But little is known of the causes or treatment of Somatic Symptom Disorder.

 

Somatic Symptom Disorder is frequently treated with antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs with limited success. It often co-occurs with anxiety and depression. Since, mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety, depression, and somatization, it makes sense to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapies for the treatment of Somatic Symptom Disorder.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program on Psychological Symptoms, Quality of Life, and Symptom Severity in Patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8095256/ ) Zargar and colleagues recruited patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder who were on continuing treatment with the antidepressant drug, venlafaxine, and randomly assigned them to either 8 weeks of once a week treatment for 2 hours of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or no further treatment. They were measured before and after treatment for Somatic Symptom Disorder symptom severity, including anxiety, depression, and stress, health-related quality of life, and patient health.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly lower levels of Somatic Symptom Disorder symptom severity, including significantly lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress and significant reductions in physical symptoms and increases in physical health. Hence, MBSR treatment significantly improved not only the psychological symptoms but also the physical symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder.

 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness training program that includes training and practice in meditation, body scan, and yoga and includes group discussion. The results demonstrate that MBSR is an effective treatment in addition to antidepressant drugs for Somatic Symptom Disorder. But since there wasn’t any follow-up data obtained it is not known how lasting is the symptom relief. It will be interesting in the future to examine if MBSR is effective as a stand-alone treatment and if its effects persist after the cessation of treatment.

 

So, improve Somatic Symptom Disorder with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness-based cognitive therapy that can be useful in the treatment of somatic disorders.” – Recovery Village

 

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

 

Zargar, F., Rahafrouz, L., & Tarrahi, M. J. (2021). Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program on Psychological Symptoms, Quality of Life, and Symptom Severity in Patients with Somatic Symptom Disorder. Advanced biomedical research, 10, 9. https://doi.org/10.4103/abr.abr_111_19

 

Abstract

Background:

Patients with somatic symptom disorder (SSD) had a poor quality of life and suffered from depression, anxiety, and stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a psychological treatment with remarkable effects on several psychological disorders. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the MBSR program on psychological symptoms, quality of life, and symptom severity in patients with SSD.

Materials and Methods:

The patients with SSD were randomly divided into two groups of receiving venlafaxine alone and venlafaxine with an 8-week MBSR program. Depression, anxiety, and stress with their severities were assessed along with the quality of life, the number of physical symptoms and their severities, as well as SSD severity before and after the intervention. Subsequently, the results were compared between the two groups.

Results:

This study included 37 patients with SSD who referred to Shariati Psychosomatic Clinic, Isfahan, Iran, with a mean age of 37.08 ± 8.26 years. It should be noted that 37.8% of the participants were male. The intervention group obtained significantly lower scores in depression, anxiety, stress, and their severities, compared to the control group. Moreover, the number of physical symptoms, their severity, and the severity of SSD were significantly decreased more in the intervention group rather than the controls.

Conclusion:

The MBSR accompanied by prescribing venlafaxine can significantly reduce the severity of SSD, as well as the number and severity of physical symptoms. Moreover, it can reduce depression, anxiety, stress, and their severity. The MBSR can be used as complementary medicine for the treatment of patients with SSD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8095256/

 

The Setting of Psychedelic Administration Affects the Obtained Psychological Benefits

The Setting of Psychedelic Administration Affects the Obtained Psychological Benefits

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

If you choose to take psychedelics, it is strongly recommended to have a sitter,” Gael said. “Ideally, this person is familiar with the psychedelic state and is someone you can trust to be a responsible, calm grounded presence.” – Sara Gael

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings, a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Even though the effects of psychedelic substances have been experienced and reported on for centuries, only very recently have these effects come under rigorous scientific scrutiny. The setting in which psychedelic drugs are taken in the real world varies widely and there is little research on the effects of these settings on the experiences and their effects.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychedelic Communitas: Intersubjective Experience During Psychedelic Group Sessions Predicts Enduring Changes in Psychological Wellbeing and Social Connectedness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114773/ Kettner and colleagues recruited online adults who intended to attend a retreat where psychedelic drugs were used. They had them complete questionnaires at 5 time points; 2 weeks before and 3 hours before the retreat, the day after the psychedelic experience, after the retreat, and 4 weeks later. They were measured for experience details, preparedness, mental well-being, social connectedness, depression, anxiety, openness toward people, trait absorption, subjective psychedelic experiences, and retreat experiences. They used factor analysis to identify a combination of 8 questionnaire items that comprised a measure of communitas (experience of intense togetherness and shared humanity),

 

Psilocybin (80%) and ayahuasca (16%) were the drugs most frequently used at the retreats. They found that 4-weeks after the retreat social connectedness, well-being, and interpersonal tolerance, were significantly higher and anxiety and depression were significantly lower than at baseline. They also found that the higher the level of communitas the higher the levels of social connectedness and well-being. Using path analysis they found that overall communitas was associated with psychological well-being and social connectedness at follow-up and the overall communitas was associated with the communitas during the experience, trait absorption, rapport with the therapist, social support during the experience, and the level of self-disclosure.

 

This study was naturalistic in that it measured individuals who were engaged in naturally occurring psychedelic retreats. This provided varied retreat conditions in real world settings. This is distinct from laboratory research with psychedelics which provide for highly controlled circumstances. The results demonstrate very positive effects of psychedelic experiences even in varied environments like they have been shown to do in the laboratory.

 

The results suggest that the social conditions and setting surrounding psychedelic experiences affect the effects of the experiences on the mental and social well-being of the participants. In other words, the ability of psychedelics to produce positive effects on the participants does not happen in a vacuum. For optimum effectiveness there needs to be optimum social support conditions. Regardless, psychedelic experiences appear to promote social and psychological health.

 

So, the setting of psychedelic administration affects the obtained psychological benefits.

 

The science of how to use drug responsibly and effectively should be made accessible by educating the public on the principles of set and setting, a shared body of knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of responsible and effective drug use in a world where drug harms cannot be nullified but can doubtlessly be minimized.” – Ido Hartogsohn

 

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

 

Kettner, H., Rosas, F. E., Timmermann, C., Kärtner, L., Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Roseman, L. (2021). Psychedelic Communitas: Intersubjective Experience During Psychedelic Group Sessions Predicts Enduring Changes in Psychological Wellbeing and Social Connectedness. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 623985. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2021.623985

 

Abstract

Background: Recent years have seen a resurgence of research on the potential of psychedelic substances to treat addictive and mood disorders. Historically and contemporarily, psychedelic studies have emphasized the importance of contextual elements (‘set and setting’) in modulating acute drug effects, and ultimately, influencing long-term outcomes. Nevertheless, current small-scale clinical and laboratory studies have tended to bypass a ubiquitous contextual feature of naturalistic psychedelic use: its social dimension. This study introduces and psychometrically validates an adapted Communitas Scale, assessing acute relational experiences of perceived togetherness and shared humanity, in order to investigate psychosocial mechanisms pertinent to psychedelic ceremonies and retreats.

Methods: In this observational, web-based survey study, participants (N = 886) were measured across five successive time-points: 2 weeks before, hours before, and the day after a psychedelic ceremony; as well as the day after, and 4 weeks after leaving the ceremony location. Demographics, psychological traits and state variables were assessed pre-ceremony, in addition to changes in psychological wellbeing and social connectedness from before to after the retreat, as primary outcomes. Using correlational and multiple regression (path) analyses, predictive relationships between psychosocial ‘set and setting’ variables, communitas, and long-term outcomes were explored.

Results: The adapted Communitas Scale demonstrated substantial internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92) and construct validity in comparison with validated measures of intra-subjective (visual, mystical, challenging experiences questionnaires) and inter-subjective (perceived emotional synchrony, identity fusion) experiences. Furthermore, communitas during ceremony was significantly correlated with increases in psychological wellbeing (r = 0.22), social connectedness (r = 0.25), and other salient mental health outcomes. Path analyses revealed that the effect of ceremony-communitas on long-term outcomes was fully mediated by communitas experienced in reference to the retreat overall, and that the extent of personal sharing or ‘self-disclosure’ contributed to this process. A positive relationship between participants and facilitators, and the perceived impact of emotional support, facilitated the emergence of communitas.

Conclusion: Highlighting the importance of intersubjective experience, rapport, and emotional support for long-term outcomes of psychedelic use, this first quantitative examination of psychosocial factors in guided psychedelic settings is a significant step toward evidence-based benefit-maximization guidelines for collective psychedelic use.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114773/

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly Effective in Depressed Patients

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly Effective in Depressed Patients

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“MBCT can provide a viable relapse prevention intervention for people with a history of recurrent depression.” – Catherine Crane

 

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. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms). So, it is important 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. MBCT has been found to be effective in treating depression.

 

Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is designed to develop kindness and compassion to oneself and others. The individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being. Although LKM has been practiced for centuries, it has received very little scientific research attention. But it may be effective in counteracting the effects of stress and self-criticism. It is not known how effective the combination of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Loving Kindness Meditation might be in treating depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “A study on the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and loving-kindness mediation on depression, rumination, mindfulness level and quality of life in depressed patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205847/ ) Wang and colleagues recruited adult patients with depression and randomly assigned them to receive either regular care or to receive 1 hour once per day for 1 week Loving Kindness Meditation followed by 8 weeks, once per week of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) also with Loving Kindness Meditation practice. Regular care consisted of “basic knowledge of depression, common drugs, possible adverse drug reactions, and prevention of adverse reactions . . . Face-to-face communication with patients was conducted regularly to understand their thoughts, evaluate the depression degrees of patients, so as to provide psychological support for depressed patients, and care for patients in daily life.” They were measured at baseline and at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks for mindfulness, depression, rumination, quality of life, self-acceptance, and sense of stigma.

 

They found that both groups significantly decreased in depression, sense of stigma, and rumination and increased in mindfulness, self-acceptance and quality of life over the 8 weeks. But the intervention group improved significantly more than the control group on all measures.

 

Previous research has shown that mindfulness training produces significant decreases in depression and rumination and increases in self-acceptance and quality of life. What is new here is that they found that the combination of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Loving Kindness Meditation was significantly more effective than the conventional psychological intervention. This is important but must be followed up to see if the improvements in the patients with depression are sustained over longer periods of time.

 

So, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) plus Loving-Kindness Mediation is highly effective in depressed patients.

 

MBCT leads to a decrease in depressive symptoms, reduction in depression relapse rate and improvement in terms of mindfulness.” – Zulkiflu ArgunguMusa

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Wang, Y., Fu, C., Liu, Y., Li, D., Wang, C., Sun, R., & Song, Y. (2021). A study on the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and loving-kindness mediation on depression, rumination, mindfulness level and quality of life in depressed patients. American journal of translational research, 13(5), 4666–4675.

 

Abstract

Objective: To analyze the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) plus loving-kindness mediation (LKM) in depressed patients. Methods: A total of 125 depressed patients diagnosed in the Department of Psychiatry of our hospital were selected as the research subjects and were randomly divided into a control group (n=62) and an observation group (n=63). The control group was treated with conventional psychological intervention, while the observation group was treated with MBCT plus LKM. The therapeutic outcomes were compared between the two groups. Results: At 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks after intervention, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) scores and the scores for introspection and deliberation, forced thinking, rumination of symptoms, treatment, ability and social relationships in the observation group were lower than those in the control group, while Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) scores and the scores for psychology, environment, physiology, social relations, self-acceptance, and self-evaluation in the observation group were higher than those in the control group (P < 0.05). Conclusion: MBCT plus LKM can effectively improve depression, rumination, mindfulness level, quality of life, the sense of stigma and degree of self-acceptance in depressed patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205847/

 

Improve Major Depression with Yoga

Improve Major Depression with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Kriya yoga may be an effective, low-cost, non-drug approach to help patients who do not respond to antidepressants.” – Anup Sharma

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant 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. Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing 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 fail.  Another effective alternative treatment is exercise. But it is difficult to get depressed people, who lack energy, to engage in regular exercise. Yoga is a contemplative practice that is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression. So, it makes sense to further study the effectiveness of yoga for major depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Kriya Yoga in Patients with Depressive Disorders: A Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8079176/) Srivastava and colleagues recruited adult patients with major depressive disorder who were taking psychotropic medications and offered them Kriya yoga therapy. Those who chose not to participate were assigned to the control condition. Kriya yoga consisted of poses, breathing exercises, chanting, mantra repetition, meditation, and relaxation. For the first 2 weeks they were provided daily 45-minute instruction and practice followed by 6 weeks of 20-minute daily home practice. They were measured before training and at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks for depression characteristics and their level of depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition, the participants who practiced Kriya yoga had significantly greater decreases in depression at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks. All of the participants in the Kriya yoga group achieved remission by 4 weeks while only 24% of the control group did.

 

The results must be interpreted carefully as the participants were not randomly assigned but rather self-selected to practice yoga or not and there was no follow-up after the completion of training to ascertain if the benefits last beyond the training period. Nevertheless, the participants that selected Kriya yoga in addition to psychotropic medication had faster and greater recovery from their major depressive disorder than participants taking psychotropic medications alone. These are encouraging results and should be followed up with a randomized controlled trial with long-term follow-up.

 

So, improve major depression with yoga.

 

A breathing-based meditation practice known as Sudarshan Kriya yoga helped alleviate severe depression in people who did not fully respond to antidepressant treatments.” – Science Daily

 

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

 

Srivastava, A., Kuppili, P. P., Gupta, T., Nebhinani, N., & Chandani, A. (2021). Kriya Yoga in Patients with Depressive Disorders: A Pilot Study. Journal of neurosciences in rural practice, 12(2), 362–367. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0041-1726618

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives  Despite the easy acceptability and holistic nature of Kriya yoga, there are no studies evaluating the role of Kriya yoga intervention on depression. The objective of the current study was to assess the feasibility and effect of adjunctive Kriya yoga on depression.

Methods  Patients with major depressive disorder who opted for Kriya yoga were recruited into the intervention group (adjunctive Kriya yoga) and those on psychotropic medication alone were enrolled into the control group. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) measurements were recorded at baseline, end of 2, 4, and 8 weeks.

Results  HDRS scores of the intervention group ( n = 29) were found to be significantly lesser than that of the control group ( n = 52) by the end of 2, 4, and 8 weeks. The remission rate was also significantly greater in the intervention group.

Conclusion  Kriya yoga intervention was found to be feasible, as well as improved the severity of depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8079176/

Spirituality is Associated with Fewer Suicide Attempts

Spirituality is Associated with Fewer Suicide Attempts

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spirituality can engender the perspective that things happen for some reason and serve a greater purpose. This, in turn, deploys our attention toward the potential for a brighter future, which can create a sense of optimism even when one’s situation seems dire.” – David Rosmarin

 

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

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Factors Related to Suicide Attempts: The Roles of Childhood Abuse and Spirituality.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8044867/ ) Tae and Chae recruited patients with anxiety or depressive disorders and had them complete measures of suicide attempts, anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, spiritual well-being, and social support. 25% of the participants indicated that they had attempted suicide.

 

They found that in comparison to non-suicide attempters, the participants who had attempted suicide had significantly higher levels of anxiety, depression, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and emotional and physical neglect and significantly lower levels of spirituality and social support. A hierarchal regression revealed that a high level of emotional abuse and a high level of sexual abuse as well as low spirituality predicted suicide attempts. A mediation analysis revealed that childhood emotional, sexual abuse, and low spirituality were all significant direct predictors of suicide attempts and also significant indirect predictors such that abuse and low spirituality were associated with higher levels of depression which, in turn was associated with suicide attempts.

 

These results are correlational. So, no conclusions concerning causation can be reached. But the associations are clear. Depression, childhood emotional and sexual abuse, and low spirituality are all associated with suicide attempts. It is also clear that in addition to being directly associated with suicide attempts, childhood emotional and sexual abuse, and low spirituality also are associated with higher levels of depression which, in turn, is associated with suicide attempts.

 

Childhood emotional and sexual abuse are clearly risk factors for suicide and should be viewed as red flags in evaluating a patient. But these abuses occurred in the past and cannot be changed. Spirituality on the other hand can change. There are many religious and contemplative practices that can improve spirituality. The present results suggest that this may be helpful and lowering depression and preventing suicide. Future research is needed to investigate this idea, that increasing spirituality can decrease suicide risk.

 

So, spirituality is associated with fewer suicide attempts.

 

I personally think spirituality is a part of each of our beings. It has been the difference in my life and has walked me back from the place where I thought suicide was my only option.” – Kelli Evans

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Tae, H., & Chae, J. H. (2021). Factors Related to Suicide Attempts: The Roles of Childhood Abuse and Spirituality. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 565358. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.565358

 

Abstract

Objectives: The purpose of this article was to identify independent factors associated with suicide attempts in patients with depression and/or anxiety.

Background and Aims: This study was conducted in order to examine whether risk and protective psychological factors influence the risk of suicide attempts among outpatients with anxiety and/or depressive disorders. In this regard, explanatory models have been reported to detect high-risk groups for suicide attempt. We also examined whether identified factors serve as mediators on suicide attempts.

Materials and Methods: Patients from 18 to 65 years old from an outpatient clinic at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital were invited to join clinical studies. From September 2010 to November 2017, a total of 737 participants were included in the final sample. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-being Scale (FACIT-Sp-12), and Functional Social Support Questionnaire (FSSQ) were used to assess psychiatric symptoms. An independent samples t-test, a chi-square test, hierarchical multiple regression analyses, and the Baron and Kenny’s procedures were performed in order to analyze data.

Results: Young age, childhood history of emotional and sexual abuse, depression, and a low level of spirituality were significant independent factors for increased suicide attempts. Depression was reported to mediate the relationship between childhood emotional and sexual abuse, spirituality, and suicide attempts.

Conclusions: Identifying the factors that significantly affect suicidality may be important for establishing effective plans of suicide prevention. Strategic assessments and interventions aimed at decreasing depression and supporting spirituality may be valuable for suicide prevention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8044867/

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Medical Students with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Medical Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Medical students are being trained to have 100 things on their mind at all times. It’s harder and harder to focus on one thing explicitly. [Mindfulness] gives you that skill to know that you can focus on everything at once, but when you need to focus on one thing, you can be present with it.” – Chloe Zimmerman

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. It would be best to provide techniques to combat burnout early in a medical career. Studying medicine can be extremely stressful and many students show distress and express burnout symptoms. The undergraduate medical student level may be an ideal time to intervene.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based stress reduction for medical students: a narrative review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105581/ )  Polle and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to improve the psychological well-being of undergraduate medical students. MBSR includes training in meditation, body scan, and yoga, and group discussions normally over an 8-week period. They identified 9 published studies.

 

They report that the published research found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced significant increases in undergraduate medical students mood, mental health, satisfaction with life, and self-compassion and significant reductions in psychological distress, perceived stress, and depression. One study followed up these students 6 years later and found persisting effects of MBSR.

 

The published research paints a clear picture that participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program produces lasting benefits for the psychological health of undergraduate medical students. This is important as stress and burnout is prevalent in the medical professions and intervening early may prevent or ameliorate future problems. Incorporation of MBSR into the undergraduate medical curriculum should be considered.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of medical students with mindfulness.

 

in medical students, higher empathy, lower anxiety, and fewer depression symptoms have been reported by students after participating in MSBR. In summary, mindfulness meditation may be used to elicit positive emotions, minimize negative affect and rumination, and enable effective emotion regulation.”- Michael Minichiello

 

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

 

Polle, E., & Gair, J. (2021). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for medical students: a narrative review. Canadian medical education journal, 12(2), e74–e80. https://doi.org/10.36834/cmej.68406

 

Abstract

Background

Medical students are at high risk of depression, distress and burnout, which may adversely affect patient safety. There has been growing interest in mindfulness in medical education to improve medical student well-being. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a commonly used, standardized format for teaching mindfulness skills. Previous research has suggested that MBSR may be of particular benefit for medical students. This narrative review aims to further investigate the benefits of MBSR for undergraduate medical students.

Methods

A search of the literature was performed using MedLine, Embase, ERIC, PSYCInfo, and CINAHL to identify relevant studies. A total of 102 papers were identified with this search. After review and application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, nine papers were included in the study.

Results

MBSR training for medical students was associated with increased measures of psychological well-being and self-compassion, as well as improvements in stress, psychological distress and mood. Evidence for effect on empathy was mixed, and the single paper measuring burnout showed no effect. Two studies identified qualitative themes which provided context for the quantitative results.

Conclusions

MBSR benefits medical student well-being and decreases medical student psychological distress and depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105581/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being in Patients with Fever Undergoing Covid-19 Screening with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being in Patients with Fever Undergoing Covid-19 Screening with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness-based approaches appear well-suited to deal with the challenges presented by the time of unpresented uncertainty, change, and loss, which can take many forms in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.” – Elena Antonova

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. 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. One of the primary effects of mindfulness that may be responsible for many of its benefits is that it improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress. The COVID-19 pandemic is extremely stressful particularly for patients running a fever and being screened for Covid-19.  So, mindfulness, because of its ability to improve stress responding, may be helpful in coping with the mental challenges of awaiting COVID-19 test results.

 

In today’s Research News article “Using Mindfulness to Reduce Anxiety and Depression of Patients With Fever Undergoing Screening in an Isolation Ward During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.664964/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1651992_69_Psycho_20210603_arts_A )  Liu and colleagues recruited adult patients who had a fever and were undergoing screening in a hospital for Covid-19. They were randomly assigned either to no-treatment or a very brief (25 minute) mindfulness instruction while awaiting test results. They were measured at the time of admissions and again just before test results for positive and negative emotions, distress, satisfaction with life, anger, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment controls, the participants who had received brief mindfulness instruction had significantly lower anger, distress, anxiety, depression, and need for help and higher satisfaction with life. Hence, the brief mindfulness instruction improved the mood and psychological well-being of these patients during a very stressful time of awaiting Covid-19 test results.

 

Mindfulness has been previously found to be effective in reducing anger, distress, anxiety, and depression, and increasing satisfaction with life. What the present study demonstrates is that these benefits can occur after a very brief instruction for patients in a very stressful situation. This suggests that brief mindfulness instruction should be incorporated into the routine treatment of patients under high short-term stress.

 

So, improve psychological well-being in patients with fever undergoing Covid-19 screening with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness is an increasingly accessible intervention available world-wide that may reduce psychological distress during this isolating public health crisis.” – Susan Farris

 

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

 

Liu Y, Huyang S, Tan H, He Y, Zhou J, Li X, Ye M, Huang J and Wu D (2021) Using Mindfulness to Reduce Anxiety and Depression of Patients With Fever Undergoing Screening in an Isolation Ward During the COVID-19 Outbreak. Front. Psychol. 12:664964. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.664964

 

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread globally. This infectious disease affects people not only physically but also psychologically. Therefore, an effective psychological intervention program needs to be developed to improve the psychological condition of patients screened for fever during this period. This study aimed to investigate the effect of a brief mindfulness intervention on patients with suspected fever in a screening isolation ward awaiting results of the COVID-19 test. The Faces Scale and the Emotional Thermometer Tool were used to investigate 51 patients who were randomly divided into an intervention group and a control group. All patients completed self-rating questionnaires online at the time they entered the isolation ward and before they were informed of the results. The intervention group listened to the mindfulness audios through hospital broadcasts in the isolation ward before their lunch break and while they slept. Compared with the control group, the intervention group’s life satisfaction score increased (F = 4.02, p = 0.051) and the emotional thermometer score decreased (F = 8.89, p = 0.005). The anxiety scores (F = 9.63, p = 0.003) and the needing help scores decreased significantly (F = 4.95, p = 0.031). Distress (F = 1.41, p = 0.241), depression (F = 1.93, p = 0.171), and anger (F = 3.14, p = 0.083) also decreased, but did not reach significance. Brief mindfulness interventions can alleviate negative emotions and improve the life satisfaction of patients in the isolation ward who were screened for COVID-19 during the waiting period.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.664964/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1651992_69_Psycho_20210603_arts_A

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Caregivers with Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Caregivers with Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being more aware of our present moment experience also helps with self-care, something that caregivers often overlook. With a mindfulness practice you can notice sooner when you feel tired, or are having an emotional experience, and make sure you stop and look after yourself.” – Naomi Stoll

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost exacting a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Short- and Long-term Causal Relationships Between Self-compassion, Trait Mindfulness, Caregiver Stress, and Depressive Symptoms in Family Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096886/)  Hsieh and colleagues recruited family caregivers of patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.  To investigate longitudinal changes, they were administered questionnaires initially and 2, 5, and 8 months later. They were measured for mindfulness, depression, perceived stress, and self-compassion.

 

They found that over time depressed caregivers had significant declines in their depression levels. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of depression and perceived stress, and the higher the levels of self-compassion and the higher the levels of depression the lower the levels of self-compassion and the higher the levels of perceived stress. Further they found that over the 4 measurements self-compassion at time 1 was associated with higher mindfulness at time 2 which was associated with lower perceived stress at time 3 which was associated with lower depression at time 4.

 

It has been well established that mindfulness is associated with greater self-compassion and lower stress and depression. The present study found that depression tends to decrease over time associated with self-compassion and mindfulness. In particular self-compassion appears to be important for lowering caregiver depression levels over time and it does so by being associated with higher mindfulness which is associated with lower stress levels which, in turn, are associated with lower depression.

 

The present study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But, in combination with prior manipulative research it can be suggested that training in self-compassion and mindfulness should be very beneficial for caregivers of lung cancer patients lowering their stress and depression.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of caregivers with self-compassion and mindfulness.

 

The big open secret is that the key to reducing caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue lies in what can be construed to some as the seemingly counterintuitive wisdom of mindfulness.“ – Audrey Meinertzhagen

 

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

 

Hsieh, C. C., Lin, Z. Z., Ho, C. C., Yu, C. J., Chen, H. J., Chen, Y. W., & Hsiao, F. H. (2021). The Short- and Long-term Causal Relationships Between Self-compassion, Trait Mindfulness, Caregiver Stress, and Depressive Symptoms in Family Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer. Mindfulness, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01642-4

 

Abstract

Objectives

Using a prospective longitudinal design, this paper examines a serial mediation model of the associations between self-compassion, trait mindfulness, caregiver stress, and depressive symptoms among the family caregivers of patients with lung cancer.

Methods

A four-wave design was used, with initial assessment (T1) and three follow-ups, at the 2nd month (T2), the 5th month (T3), and the 8th month (T4). A total of 123 family caregivers completed the baseline measurements, including caregiver stress, self-compassion, trait mindfulness, and depressive symptoms. Data were analyzed by serial mediation models to determine the causal ordering of these variables.

Results

Nearly one-quarter of the family caregivers suffered from clinically significant depressive symptoms and the severity of their depression remained unchanged throughout the 8-month follow-up period. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal path analyses revealed that the relationship between self-compassion and depressive symptoms was mediated sequentially by trait mindfulness and caregiver stress. The subscale analysis indicated that the association of higher compassionate action with fewer depressive symptoms was through chain-mediating effects of higher mindful awareness and lower caregiver stress.

Conclusions

Family caregivers who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to have more mindfulness; greater mindfulness leads to lower levels of perceived caregiving stress which, in turn, links to fewer symptoms of depression. Both self-compassion and mindfulness could be regarded as protective factors for caregivers to reduce caregiving stress and depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096886/