Improve Stress-Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders with Yoga and Mindfulness

Improve Stress-Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders with Yoga and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness training holds promise for treating mood disorders partly because it may lead to changes in patients’ brains, improving connectivity among some brain areas and changing tissue density in key regions, research suggests.” – Stacy Lu

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mentalphysical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children, to adolescents, to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalitiesrace, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

Meditation and yoga training have been shown to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. Meditation and yoga appear to improve the individual’s ability to cope with stress and stress is the source of or aggravates many mental disorders. There are a number of ways that meditation and yoga practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. It is useful to review and summarize what has been discovered regarding how meditation and yoga practices improve mental disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Role of Yoga and Meditation as Complimentary Therapeutic Regime for Stress-Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders: Utilization of Brain Waves Activity as Novel Tool.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7545749/ ) Kaushik and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of meditation and yoga for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.

 

They report that the published research finds that stress is highly related to anxiety and depression and that meditation and yoga practices, including breathing exercises and postures, significantly reduce perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. They further report that meditation and yoga may produce these improvements by increasing brain activity particularly in the frontal regions of the brain. They also report that meditation and yoga produce very few if any deleterious side effects.

 

Previous research has conclusively demonstrated that mindfulness practices in general are safe and effective in altering the electrical activity of the brain and reducing perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. It can be speculated that meditation and yoga reduce the responses to stress by altering brain activity and this, in turn, produces improvements in anxiety and depression. It remains for future research to investigate this model. Regardless, the employment of meditation and yoga practices for neuropsychiatric conditions has been shown to be safe and effective alternative treatments for the relief of the suffering of these patients.

 

So, improve stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders with yoga and mindfulness.

 

mindfulness has become a household word, and the psychiatric and psychological literature abound with publications implementing mindfulness as a treatment or self-help tool for everything that ails you.” – John J. Miller

 

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

 

Kaushik, M., Jain, A., Agarwal, P., Joshi, S. D., & Parvez, S. (2020). Role of Yoga and Meditation as Complimentary Therapeutic Regime for Stress-Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders: Utilization of Brain Waves Activity as Novel Tool. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 25, 2515690X20949451. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515690X20949451

 

Abstract

During recent decades, stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, chronic tension headache, and migraine have established their stronghold in the lives of a vast number of people worldwide. In order to address this global phenomenon, intensive studies have been carried out leading to the advancement of drugs like anti-depressants, anxiolytics, and analgesics which although help in combating the symptoms of such disorders but also create long-term side effects. Thus, as an alternative to such clinical practices, various complementary therapies such as yoga and meditation have been proved to be effective in alleviating the causes and symptoms of different neuropsychiatric disorders. The role of altered brain waves in this context has been recognized and needs to be pursued at the highest level. Thus, the current study provides a review focused on describing the effects of yoga and meditation on anxiety and depression as well as exploring brain waves as a tool for assessing the potential of these complementary therapies for such disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7545749/

 

Mind-Body Skills Training Improves College Student Mental Health and Well-Being

Mind-Body Skills Training Improves College Student Mental Health and Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

By focusing on and controlling our breath, we can change how we think and feel. We can use the breath as a means of changing our emotional state and managing stress.” —Tommy Rosen

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings to demonstrate that Mind-body practices have highly beneficial effects on the health and well-being of humans. These include meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis, and deep breathing exercises. Because of their proven benefits the application of these practices to relieving human suffering has skyrocketed.

 

There is a lot of pressure on college students to excel. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. Indeed, these practices have been found to improve psychological health in college students. So, it would be expected that training in mind-body practices would improve the psychological health of college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Mind-Body Skills Program on Student Mental and Emotional Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686595/ ) Novak and colleagues recruited college students who were enrolled to take a mind-body skills program and an equivalent group of control college students. The program consisted of 9-weeks of once a week for 2 hours training and discussion of “mindfulness, guided imagery, autogenic training, biofeedback, and breathing techniques, as well as art, music, and movement practices” in groups of 10. The students were instructed to practice daily at home for 20 minutes. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, resilience, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, mindfulness, interpersonal reactivity, and burnout. Subsets of each group were remeasured one year after the completion of the study. There were no significant differences in these measures between the groups at baseline.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the control group, the students who received mind-body skills training had significant decreases in perceived stress, negative affect, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout and significant increases in positive emotions, resilience, mindfulness, empathic concern, and perspective taking. In addition, the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of perceived stress, negative emotions and depersonalization and the higher the levels of positive emotions, resilience, and perspective taking. Unfortunately, these improvements, except for mindfulness, disappeared by the one year follow up.

 

The present study did not have an active control condition. So, it is possible that confounding factors such as participant expectancy, experimenter bias, attention effects etc. may have been responsible for the results. But in prior controlled research it has been demonstrated that mindfulness training produces decreases in perceived stress, negative emotions, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout and significant increases in positive emotions, resilience, and empathic concern. So, it is likely that the benefits observed in the present study were due to the mind-body skills training.

 

These results then suggest that mind-body skills training produces marked improvements in the psychological health and well-being of college students. But the improvements were not lasting. This may signal the need for better training protocols or periodic booster session to maintain the benefits. Given the great academic stress, pressure, and social stresses of college life, the students were much better off for taking the mind-body skills training program. It was not measured but these benefits would predict increased academic performance and improved well-being in these students.

 

So, mind-body skills training improves college student mental health and well-being.

 

mind/body approaches to healing and wellness are gaining in popularity in the U.S. and research supports their efficacy in treating a number of psychological and physical health issues that are not easily treated by mainstream medicine.” – Doug Guiffrida

 

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

 

Novak, B. K., Gebhardt, A., Pallerla, H., McDonald, S. B., Haramati, A., & Cotton, S. (2020). Impact of a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Mind-Body Skills Program on Student Mental and Emotional Well-Being. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 9, 2164956120973983. https://doi.org/10.1177/2164956120973983

 

Abstract

Background

Positive effects of mind-body skills programs on participant well-being have been reported in health professions students. The success seen with medical students at this university led to great interest in expanding the mind-body skills program so students in other disciplines could benefit from the program.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a 9-week mind-body skills program on the mental and emotional well-being of multidisciplinary students compared to controls. We also sought to determine if the program’s effects were sustained at 1-year follow-up.

Methods

A cross-sectional pre-post survey was administered online via SurveyMonkey to participants of a 9-week mind-body skills program and a control group of students from 7 colleges at a public university from 2017–2019. Students were assessed on validated measures of stress, positive/negative affect, resilience, depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, mindfulness, empathy, and burnout. Scores were analyzed between-groups and within-groups using bivariate and multivariate analyses. A 1-year follow-up was completed on a subset of participants and controls.

Results

279 participants and 247 controls completed the pre-survey and post-survey (79% response rate; 71% female, 68% white, mean age = 25 years). Participants showed significant decreases in stress, negative affect, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and burnout, while positive affect, resilience, mindfulness, and empathy increased significantly (P < .05). Only sleep disturbance showed a significant decrease in the control group. Follow-up in a subset of participants showed that only mindfulness remained elevated at 1-year (P < .05), whereas the significant changes in other well-being measures were not sustained.

Conclusion

Participation in a 9-week mind-body skills program led to significant improvement in indicators of well-being in multidisciplinary students. A pilot 1-year follow-up suggests that effects are only sustained for mindfulness, but not other parameters. Future programming should focus on implementing mind-body skills booster sessions to help sustain the well-being benefits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686595/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Non-Judging and Positive Emotions which Improve Emotional Health

Mindfulness is Associated with Non-Judging and Positive Emotions which Improve Emotional Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Almost any approach for cultivating care for others needs to start with paying attention. The beginning of cultivating compassion and concern, or doing something for the benefit of others, is first noticing what something or someone means to you.” – Erika Rosenberg

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. One way that mindfulness may be producing its benefits is by improving emotion regulation so that mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This then improves mental health.

 

Mindfulness, though, is not a unitary concept. It has been segregated into 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. So, it is important to investigate the interrelationships of mindfulness, compassion, and emotions with negative states such as of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions.

 

In today’s Research News article “Network Analysis of Mindfulness Facets, Affect, Compassion, and Distress.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689647/ ) Medvedev and colleagues recruited college students and also mailed questionnaires to the general population (response rate 12%). They had them complete measures of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, positive and negative emotions, compassion, and mindfulness, including observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgement, and non-reactivity facets. These data were subjected to a network analysis.

 

They found two major clusters of variables. The maladaptive factors of anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions were highly associated and strongly clustered into a tight node. The adaptive factors of positive emotions, compassion, and mindfulness, including observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgement, and non-reactivity facets were also clustered but not as tightly into a second node. Examining which variables were the primary bridge between the two nodes revealed that the mindfulness facet of non-judging of internal experience and positive emotions were by far the strongest negative bridges. Compassion was associated with the maladaptive node by a strong connection with positive emotions that were negatively associated with the maladaptive node.

 

These results are correlative and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal connections. But mindfulness and its facets have been shown in previous research to reduce anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions. So, the associations observed in the present study likely represent causal connections. Nonetheless, the present findings suggest that mindfulness and compassion work to reduce maladaptive emotions through non-judging of internal experience and positive emotions. That is, they increase these bridging factors and thereby reduce the maladaptive emotions.

 

Non-judging of internal experience involves taking a neutral attitude toward one’s own experience. Accepting one’s internal experiences appears to be the key to reducing anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and negative emotions. In other words, if a thought arises that predicts a future negative event it does not evoke anxiety or depression if that thought is not judged, just allowed to happen. The adaptive characteristics also appear to improve one’s emotional state producing greater positive feelings. This also appears to be an antidote to negative feelings. So, mindfulness and compassion increase positive emotions that act to counteract negative feelings.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with non-judging and positive emotions which improve emotional health.

 

The beauty of self-compassion is that instead of replacing negative feelings with positive ones, new positive emotions are generated by embracing the negative ones. The positive emotions of care and connectedness are felt alongside our painful feelings. When we have compassion for ourselves, sunshine and shadow are experienced simultaneously.” – Kristin Neff

 

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

 

Medvedev, O. N., Cervin, M., Barcaccia, B., Siegert, R. J., Roemer, A., & Krägeloh, C. U. (2020). Network Analysis of Mindfulness Facets, Affect, Compassion, and Distress. Mindfulness, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01555-8

 

Abstract

Objectives

Mindfulness, positive affect, and compassion may protect against psychological distress but there is lack of understanding about the ways in which these factors are linked to mental health. Network analysis is a statistical method used to investigate complex associations among constructs in a single network and is particularly suitable for this purpose. The aim of this study was to explore how mindfulness facets, affect, and compassion were linked to psychological distress using network analysis.

Methods

The sample (n = 400) included equal numbers from general and student populations who completed measures of five mindfulness facets, compassion, positive and negative affect, depression, anxiety, and stress. Network analysis was used to explore the direct associations between these variables.

Results

Compassion was directly related to positive affect, which in turn was strongly and inversely related to depression and positively related to the observing and describing facets of mindfulness. The non-judgment facet of mindfulness was strongly and inversely related to negative affect, anxiety, and depression, while non-reactivity and acting with awareness were inversely associated with stress and anxiety, respectively. Strong associations were found between all distress variables.

Conclusions

The present network analysis highlights the strong link between compassion and positive affect and suggests that observing and describing the world through the lens of compassion may enhance resilience to depression. Taking a non-judging and non-reacting stance toward internal experience while acting with awareness may protect against psychological distress. Applicability of these findings can be examined in experimental studies aiming to prevent distress and enhance psychological well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689647/

 

Dyadic Mindfulness Training Improves the Mental Health of Metastatic Cancer Patients and their Spouses

Dyadic Mindfulness Training Improves the Mental Health of Metastatic Cancer Patients and their Spouses

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Cancer is a traumatic event that changes a person’s life. Utilizing mindfulness tools can provide peace and hope. Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can assist with long term effects of happiness and positivity. Even occasional mindfulness practice can help provide a break from the stress of cancer and fill patients with a sense of calm to confront the challenges they face.” – Erin Murphy-Wilczek

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in dealing with cancer. These issues extend not just to the patient but also to their partners in life. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of both.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. But cancer does not occur in isolation. It effects both the patient but also their significant others. There has been considerable research conducted on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices in treating the psychological issues associated with cancer. But there is little research on treating the cancer patients and their spouses in mindfulness as dyads.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Mindfulness-Based Intervention as a Supportive Care Strategy for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Their Spouses: Results of a Three-Arm Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7648356/ ) Milbury and colleagues recruited adult patients undergoing treatment for metastatic non‐small cell lung cancer and their romantic partners. Couples were randomly assigned to usual care or to receive 4 one-hour sessions via videoconference of either couple-based meditation or supportive-expressive practice. Couple-based meditation incorporated meditation and couple’s emotion sharing exercises. Supportive-expressive practice involved discussion of cancer-related issues that couples share. They were measured before and after treatment and 3 months later for depression, cancer-related stress symptoms, and spiritual well-being.

 

Attendance was high in both groups but the couple-based meditation reported that the sessions were more beneficial than the supportive-expressive practice group. They found that in comparison to baseline and the other groups at the 3-month follow-up the couple-based meditation patients and their significant others had significantly lower depression and cancer-related stress symptoms and higher spiritual well-being.

 

A strength of the study is that it had an active control condition, supportive-expressive practice, that contained therapeutic elements, expectancy effects and similar attention features to the couple-based meditation practice. This reduces the possibility of confounding variable being responsible for the results and suggests that the effects were due to the nature of the therapy. Another key aspect of this study is that the therapy was delivered via videoconference which may be responsible for the high attendance rates. This form of delivery is very convenient and flexible making it more likely to be effective.

 

There are great psychological and emotional problems co-occurring with cancer treatment for the patient and also for the patient’s romantic partner. So, these results are interesting and important suggesting that couple-based meditation practice can help relieve the suffering. The fact that the romantic partner was included was very important as the cancer effects both members of the dyad. Treating both prevents the suffering of one from interfering with the therapy for the other.

 

So, dyadic mindfulness training improves the mental health of metastatic cancer patients and their spouses.

 

Being in this present moment, letting go, practicing non-attachment and acceptance are so helpful in dealing with uncertainty and fear. Mindfulness is something that they use for the rest of their lives for really great benefit.” – Linda Carlson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Milbury, K., Li, Y., Durrani, S., Liao, Z., Tsao, A. S., Carmack, C., Cohen, L., & Bruera, E. (2020). A Mindfulness-Based Intervention as a Supportive Care Strategy for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Their Spouses: Results of a Three-Arm Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. The oncologist, 25(11), e1794–e1802. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2020-0125

 

Abstract

Background

Although mindfulness‐based interventions have been widely examined in patients with nonmetastatic cancer, the feasibility and efficacy of these types of programs are largely unknown for those with advanced disease. We pilot‐tested a couple‐based meditation (CBM) relative to a supportive‐expressive (SE) and a usual care (UC) arm targeting psychospiritual distress in patients with metastatic lung cancer and their spousal caregivers.

Patients and Methods

Seventy‐five patient‐caregiver dyads completed baseline self‐report measures and were then randomized to one of the three arms. Couples in the CBM and SE groups attended four 60‐minute sessions that were delivered via videoconference. All dyads were reassessed 1 and 3 months later.

Results

A priori feasibility benchmarks were met. Although attendance was high in both groups, dyads in the CBM group indicated greater benefit of the sessions than those in the SE group (patients, CBM mean = 2.63, SE mean = 2.20, p = .003; spouses, CBM mean = 2.71, SE mean = 2.00, p = .005). Compared with the UC group, patients in the CBM group reported significantly lower depressive symptoms (p = .05; d = 0.53) and marginally reduced cancer‐related stress (p = .07; d = 0.68). Medium effect sizes in favor of the CBM compared with the SE group for depressive symptoms (d = 0.59) and cancer‐related stress (d = 0.54) were found. Spouses in the CBM group reported significantly lower depressive symptoms (p < .01; d = 0.74) compared with those in the UC group.

Conclusion

It seems feasible and possibly efficacious to deliver dyadic interventions via videoconference to couples coping with metastatic lung cancer. Mindfulness‐based interventions may be of value to managing psychological symptoms in the palliative care setting

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7648356/

 

Mindfulness is Related to Improved Psychological Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Mindfulness is Related to Improved Psychological Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“During the current pandemic, there is so much uncertainty concerning the future, and many threats to our security (physical, social, emotional, and financial). It is totally natural and normal to feel anxious, fearful, and frustrated. . . Mindfulness can help us acknowledge this situation, without allowing us to be carried away with strong emotions; it can, in turn, help bring ourselves back to a centered calm. Only then can we see more clearly what it is we have control over and what it is that we do not.” – Michigan Medicine

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the Covid-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for healthcare workers and people caring for patients with COVID-19 and for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. But it is also true for healthy individuals who worry about infection for themselves or loved ones.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, reduce anxiety levels, and improve mood. But there is a need to investigate the relationships of mindfulness to psychological health in relation to knowledge concerning Covid-19.

 

In today’s Research News article “Knowledge of COVID-19 and Its Influence on Mindfulness, Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Psychological Flexibility in the Indian Community.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589365/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1490157_69_Psycho_20201124_arts_A ) Dubey and colleagues recruited adults in India during the Covid-19 lockdown. They were measured online for their knowledge and awareness of Covid-19, depression, anxiety, perceived stress, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and acceptance of private experiences or experiential avoidance.

 

They found that the greater the amount of knowledge of Covid-19 the lower the levels of perceived stress, anxiety, catastrophizing, and depression and the higher the levels of mindfulness and psychological flexibility. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of knowledge of Covid-19 and psychological flexibility and the lower the levels of perceived stress, anxiety, catastrophizing, and depression.

 

These findings are correlational and thus caution must be exercised in concluding causation. But in previous research it has been shown that mindfulness produces better emotion regulation by increasing psychological flexibility and by lowering the levels of psychological distress by lowering the levels of perceived stress, anxiety, catastrophizing, and depression. So, the relationships seen here are likely caused by mindfulness.

 

It is interesting that knowledge and awareness of Covid-19 appears to be crucial in dealing with its psychological impact on the individual. Higher levels of knowledge appear to mitigate the negative emotional effects of the pandemic, perhaps by improving the ability to be cognitively flexible in coping with it. When it comes to the pandemic ignorance is not bliss, rather it evokes grater psychological distress.

 

The Covid-19 lockdown was obviously a time of great fear and anxiety, not only for the individual’s physical health but also for their economic stability. Being able to deal with the negative emotions produced is essential not only for the individual’ mental health but also for evoking constructive and adaptive responses. Mindfulness and knowledge of the pandemic appear to be important for doing just that.

 

So, mindfulness is related to improved psychological health during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

These are trying times, but incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.” – Rae Jacobson

 

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

 

Dubey N, Podder P and Pandey D (2020) Knowledge of COVID-19 and Its Influence on Mindfulness, Cognitive Emotion Regulation and Psychological Flexibility in the Indian Community. Front. Psychol. 11:589365. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589365

 

ABSTRACT

The current global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has brought about an immense effect on the mental health of the general public. Considering the escalation in number of cases, mankind is facing a myriad of psychological problems, ranging from those related to taking precautions and maintaining safety to the ones caused by separation and bereavement. The current study aims to explore whether there is a significant difference between individuals with excellent, good, fair and vague knowledge of COVID-19 with respect to depression, anxiety, stress, level of mindfulness, specific cognitive emotion regulation strategies and psychological flexibility; to find out whether there is any significant relationship among these variables; and to determine whether knowledge of COVID-19, level of mindfulness, specific cognitive emotion regulation strategies and psychological flexibility are significant predictors of depression, anxiety and stress in the sample of the current study. The sample consisted of 402 individuals selected from the community following the research criteria. Data was collected using digital consent form, information schedule and questionnaires, from 3rd May to 13th May, 2020. The questionnaires consisted of a semi-structured interview schedule to assess knowledge of COVID-19, Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale – 21, Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-Short Form, Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire-Short version and Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II. The data was statistically analyzed using analysis of variance test, correlational analysis and linear regression. The findings show that significant differences were present among individuals having varying degrees of knowledge of COVID-19 with respect to anxiety, level of mindfulness and psychological flexibility. Significant relationships were found to be present among the variables of the present study, having differing trends brought forward by the COVID-19 crisis. Certain socio-demographic characteristics and study variables were found to significantly predict the existing levels of depression, anxiety and stress in the current sample. The study suggests the necessity to formulate and implement appropriate mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions to address the mental health concerns arising as a result of the pandemic.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589365/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1490157_69_Psycho_20201124_arts_A

 

Improve Psychological Health and Quality of Life of Older Adults with Meditative Movement Practices.

Improve Psychological Health and Quality of Life of Older Adults with Meditative Movement Practices.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindful techniques can help older adults feel a sense of connection to their body. This can be critical for creating optimal health, even as they manage the ongoing changes in their body.” – Karen Fabian

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our cognitive (mental) abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. The research findings are accumulating suggesting that a summarization of what has been learned is called for.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind-Body Interventions Involving Meditative Movements on Quality of Life, Depressive Symptoms, Fear of Falling and Sleep Quality in Older Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559727/ ) Weber and colleagues  review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled studies (RCTs) of the effectiveness of the mind-body practices of Yoga, Tai Chi. Qigong, and Pilates to improve the psychological health and quality of life in the elderly (aged 60 and over). They identified 37 published RCTs, 21 of which employed Tai Chi. 5 Qigong, 10 Yoga, and 3 Pilates.

 

They separated studies employing Tai Chi and Qigong from those employing Yoga and Pilates. They report that the published studies found that all of the meditative movement practices significantly improved the quality of life, physical functioning, and sleep quality and reduced the fear of falling of older adults with small effect sizes. Only the Tai Chi and Qigong practices produced significant improvements in psychological functioning and social functioning while only the Yoga and Pilates produced significant improvements in depression. For Tai Chi and Qigong, they further report that practice occurring 3 or more times per week resulted in larger improvements in quality of life and depression than those with less than 3 practices per week.

 

These findings suggest that meditative movement practices have wide ranging benefits, albeit with relatively small effect sizes, on the physical, psychological, and social functioning of older adults and improve their overall quality of life. These are important benefits for the elderly helping to slow the progressive decline seen with aging. These practices when properly performed and supervised have very few adverse effects. Hence, they should be recommended for aging individuals as safe and effective practices to slow the progressive decline and improve their overall well-being.

 

So, improve psychological health and quality of life of older adults with meditative movement practices.

 

When you age mindfully, you are fully aware and accepting of the challenges that come with the aging process, but you’re also aware of—and seizing—the opportunities that come with being blessed with what I call your ‘longevity bonus,’” – Andrea Brandt.

 

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

 

Weber, M., Schnorr, T., Morat, M., Morat, T., & Donath, L. (2020). Effects of Mind-Body Interventions Involving Meditative Movements on Quality of Life, Depressive Symptoms, Fear of Falling and Sleep Quality in Older Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(18), 6556. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186556

 

Abstract

Background: The aim of the present systematic meta-analytical review was to quantify the effects of different mind–body interventions (MBI) involving meditative movements on relevant psychological health outcomes (i.e., quality of life (QoL), depressive symptoms, fear of falling (FoF) and sleep quality) in older adults without mental disorders. Methods: A structured literature search was conducted in five databases (Ovid, PsycINFO, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science). Inclusion criteria were: (i) the study was a (cluster) randomized controlled trial, (ii) the subjects were aged ≥59 years without mental illnesses, (iii) an intervention arm performing MBI compared to a non-exercise control group (e.g., wait-list or usual care), (iv) psychological health outcomes related to QoL, depressive symptoms, FoF or sleep quality were assessed and (v) a PEDro score of ≥5. The interventions of the included studies were sub-grouped into Tai Chi/Qigong (TCQ) and Yoga/Pilates (YP). Statistical analyses were conducted using a random-effects inverse-variance model. Results: Thirty-seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (comprising 3224 participants) were included. Small to moderate-but-significant overall effect sizes favoring experimental groups (Hedges’ g: 0.25 to 0.71) compared to non-exercise control groups were observed in all outcomes (all p values ≤ 0.007), apart from one subdomain of quality of life (i.e., social functioning, p = 0.15). Interestingly, a significant larger effect on QoL and depressive symptoms with increasing training frequency was found for TCQ (p = 0.03; p = 0.004). Conclusions: MBI involving meditative movements may serve as a promising opportunity to improve psychological health domains such as QoL, depressive symptoms, FoF and sleep quality in older adults. Hence, these forms of exercise may represent potential preventive measures regarding the increase of late-life mental disorders, which need to be further confirmed by future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559727/

 

Improve Mood in Patients with HIV with Mindfulness

Improve Mood in Patients with HIV with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Given the stress-reduction benefits of mindfulness meditation training. . . there can be health protective effects not just in people with HIV but in folks who suffer from daily stress,” – David Creswell

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. These include a significant number of children and adolescents. In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20-year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Hence, living with HIV is a long-term reality for a very large group of people.

 

People living with HIV infection experience a wide array of physical and psychological symptoms which decrease their perceived quality of life. The symptoms include chronic pain, muscle aches, anxiety, depression, weakness, fear/worries, difficulty with concentration, concerns regarding the need to interact with a complex healthcare system, stigma, and the challenge to come to terms with a new identity as someone living with HIV. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve psychological well-being, lower depression and strengthen the immune system of patients with HIV infection.

 

In today’s Research News article “). A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction in HIV infection.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7656978/ ) Hecht and colleagues recruited adult patients with HIV who were not on antiretroviral therapy and randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or education on managing HIV. The MBSR program met once a week for 2.5 hours and included meditation, body scan, and yoga practice, daily home practice, and discussion. HIV management education met once a week for 1,5 hours. The participants were measured before and after training and 3 and 9 months later for depression, positive and negative emotions, perceived stress, and mindfulness. In addition, blood was drawn and assayed for CD-4+ T cell counts, viral load, and the inflammatory markers of C-reactive protein, D-dimer, and Interleukin 6.

 

They found that both groups decreased in CD-4+ T cell counts over the 12 months of the study with no change in viral load or the inflammatory markers. The group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significant reductions in depression and perceived stress and increases in positive emotions 3 months but not 12 months after training. There were no significant improvements in the HIV education group. Mindfulness increased significantly in the MBSR group and was sustained at the 9 month follow-up.

 

The lack of effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on CD4+ T-cell counts and viral load in comparison to HIV education were disappointing. Previous studies had found that mindfulness training improved these measures. The authors attributed this to their having a more active control condition than previous studies. As a result, they cautioned against making inferences about mindfulness training effectiveness without an equivalent active control condition.

 

On the other hand, the study found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced improvements in the psychological state of the patients which lasted for 3 months after the conclusion of training but tended to wane thereafter. These results are not surprising as improvements in depression, positive emotions, and perceived stress as a result of mindfulness training have been routinely reported in prior research. Hence, mindfulness training appears to improve the mood but not the HIV infection or inflammatory responses of HIV patients.

 

So, improve mood in patients with HIV with mindfulness.

 

“The results also support a role for MBSR in enhancing problem solving, life-satisfaction, and emotional regulation in youth with HIV-infection.” – AMRA

 

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

 

Hecht, F. M., Moskowitz, J. T., Moran, P., Epel, E. S., Bacchetti, P., Acree, M., Kemeny, M. E., Mendes, W. B., Duncan, L. G., Weng, H., Levy, J. A., Deeks, S. G., & Folkman, S. (2018). A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction in HIV infection. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 73, 331–339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2018.05.017

 

Abstract

Objective:

Evidence links depression and stress to more rapid progression of HIV-1 disease. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to test whether an intervention aimed at improving stress management and emotion regulation, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), would improve immunological (i.e. CD4+ t-cell counts) and psychological outcomes in persons with HIV-1 infection.

Methods:

We randomly assigned participants with HIV-1 infection and CD4 T-cell counts > 350 cells/μl who were not on antiretroviral therapy in a 1:1 ratio to either an MBSR group (n=89) or an HIV disease self-management skills group (n=88). The study was conducted at the University of California at San Francisco. We assessed immunologic (CD4, c-reactive protein, IL-6, and d-dimer) and psychological measures (Beck Depression Inventory for depression, modified Differential Emotions Scale for positive and negative affect, Perceived stress-scale, and mindfulness) at 3, 6 and 12 months after initiation of the intervention; we used multiple imputation to address missing values.

Results:

We observed statistically significant improvements from baseline to 3-months within the MBSR group in depression, positive and negative affect, perceived stress, and mindfulness; between group differences in change were significantly greater in the MBSR group only for positive affect (per item difference on DES-positive 0.25, 95% CI 0.049, 0.44, p = .015). By 12 months the between group difference in positive affect was not statistically significant, although both groups had trends toward improvements compared to baseline in several psychological outcomes that were maintained at 12-months; these improvements were only statistically significant for depression and negative affect in the MBSR group and perceived stress for the control group. The groups did not differ significantly on rates of antiretroviral therapy initiation (MBSR = 39%, control = 29%, p = .22). After 12 months, the mean decrease in CD4+ T-cell count was 49.6 cells/μl in participants in the MBSR arm, compared to 54.2 cells/μl in the control group, a difference of 4.6 cells favoring the MBSR group (95% CI, −44.6, 53.7, p=.85). The between group differences in other immunologic-related outcomes (c-reactive protein, IL-6, HIV-1 viral load, and d-dimer) were not statistically significant at any time point.

Conclusions:

MBSR improved positive affect more than an active control arm in the 3 months following the start of the intervention. However, this difference was not maintained over the 12-month follow-up and there were no significant differences in immunologic outcomes between intervention groups. These results emphasize the need for further carefully designed research if we are to translate evidence linking psychological states to immunological outcomes into evidence-based clinical practices.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7656978/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers

Mindfulness is Associated with Reduced Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness—the ability to stay focused on one’s present experience with nonjudgmental awareness—can help us to promote the calm, relaxed, but enlivened classroom environment that children need to learn. Mindfulness can also help us to be more effective at reducing conflict and developing more positive ways of relating in the classroom, which can help us feel more job satisfaction.” – Patricia Jennings

 

Stress is epidemic in the workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. In a school setting, this burnout and exhaustion not only affects teachers and administrators personally, but also the students and schools, as it produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion.

 

Hence, there is a need to identify methods of reducing stress and improving teachers’ psychological health. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments. But the effects of mindfulness on kindergarten teachers has not been explored.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers: The Mediating Role of Emotional Intelligence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7664406/ ) Cheng and colleagues recruited kindergarten teachers in China and had them complete measures of mindfulness in teaching, emotional intelligence, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. These data were then subjected to regression and mediation analyses.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness in the teachers the higher the levels of emotional intelligence including self-emotional appraisal, others-emotional appraisal, use of emotion, and regulation of emotion. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and perceived stress. In addition, the higher the levels of emotional intelligence, the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and perceived stress.

 

They performed a mediation analysis on the data and found that the association of mindfulness with psychological distress was both direct and indirect via emotional intelligence. That is mindfulness was not only associated directly with lower levels of psychological distress but also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of emotional intelligence which, in turn, was associated with lower levels of psychological distress. Further mediation analyses revealed that regulation of emotion was the aspect of emotional intelligence that was responsible for the mediation.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and causation cannot be definitively concluded. But, it has been established in previous research the mindfulness training produces increased emotional intelligence and decreased levels of anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and perceived stress. So, the present results likely represent causal effects. Hence, it appears that mindfulness in teaching improves the psychological and emotional well-being of kindergartner teachers. This should not only make the teachers more effective in the classroom but also reduce the likelihood of teacher burnout.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with reduced psychological distress in kindergarten teachers.

 

Practicing mindfulness in your own life can organically lead to integrating it into your classes in a variety of ways, whether by inviting students to take two feet one breath or by beginning class with a moment of mindful breathing.” – Alison Cohen

 

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

 

Cheng, X., Ma, Y., Li, J., Cai, Y., Li, L., & Zhang, J. (2020). Mindfulness and Psychological Distress in Kindergarten Teachers: The Mediating Role of Emotional Intelligence. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(21), 8212. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218212

 

Abstract

Kindergarten teachers are often exposed to great stress. Considering that, mindfulness has been demonstrated to act as a critical role in the psychological well-being of kindergarten teachers. The present study assessed mindfulness in teaching (MT), psychological distress and emotional intelligence (EI) among 511 kindergarten teachers in mainland China and investigated the mediating role of EI to explore the association mechanism between kindergarten teachers’ MT and psychological distress. The major results suggested that kindergarten teachers’ MT was negatively related to their psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress). Results of path analyses indicated that the total score of EI and dimension of regulation of emotion (ROE) could serve as significant mediators. The findings suggest that mindfulness might be beneficial to relieve kindergarten teachers’ psychological distress through the mediating role of EI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7664406/

 

Mind Wandering is Associated with Poorer Mental Health and Greater Creative Thinking

Mind Wandering is Associated with Poorer Mental Health and Greater Creative Thinking

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mind-wandering in the sense of the mind moving freely from one idea to another has huge benefits in terms of arriving at new ideas. It’s by virtue of free movement that we generate new ideas, and that’s where creativity lies.” – Kalina Christoff

 

We spend a tremendous amount of waking time with our minds wandering and not on the present environment or the task at hand. We daydream, plan for the future, review the past, ruminate on our failures, exalt in our successes. In fact, we spend almost half of our waking hours off task with our mind wandering. Mindfulness is the antithesis of mind wandering. When we’re mindful, we’re paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment. In fact, the more mindful we are the less the mind wanders and mindfulness training reduces mind wandering.

 

You’d think that if we spend so much time with the mind wandering it must be enjoyable. But, in fact research has shown that when our minds are wandering, we are actually less happy than when we are paying attention to what is at hand. There are times when mind wandering may be useful, especially in regard to planning and creative thinking. But, for the most part, it interferes with our concentration on the present moment and what we’re doing and makes us unhappy. But mind wandering is also associated with creative thinking. So, it makes sense to look at the relationship of mind wandering with creative thought and mental illness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind wandering in creative problem-solving: Relationships with divergent thinking and mental health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180068/ ) Yamaoka and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of creative (divergent) thinking, including fluency, flexibility, and originality subscales, depression, schizotypal personality, and mind wandering.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mind wandering, the higher the levels of divergent thinking, including fluency, flexibility, and originality subscales, and the higher the levels of depression and schizotypal personality. This was true with both bivariate and multiple linear correlations. People with schizotypal personality tend to be loners, have difficulty with relationships, and can display odd speech and behavior. These people also appear to have high levels of mind wandering. This along with the heightened depression suggests that mind wandering is associated with mental illness.

 

These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But these findings suggest that mind wandering is good news and bad news. The unusual thinking generated during mind wandering is associated with creativity. But at the same time, it is associated with poorer mental health. Mindfulness training reduces mind wandering and improves depression and mental illness suggesting that mindfulness training may be an antidote to the mental illness associated with mind wandering.

 

So, mind wandering is associated with poorer mental health and greater creative thinking.

 

A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.” – Matthew A. Killingsworth

 

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

 

Yamaoka, A., & Yukawa, S. (2020). Mind wandering in creative problem-solving: Relationships with divergent thinking and mental health. PloS one, 15(4), e0231946. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231946

 

Abstract

Previous research has shown that mind wandering has both positive and negative effects. Mind wandering may improve creative problem solving; however, it could also lead to negative moods and poor mental health. It has also been shown that some forms of mental illness are positively related to creativity. However, the three factors of mind wandering, divergent thinking, and mental health have not been examined simultaneously, so it is possible that these relationships are manifested by spurious correlations. Therefore, we examined the relations among the three factors while controlling for each of their confounding effects. We asked 865 participants (458 men, 390 women, 17 unknown; Mage = 18.99 years, SD = 1.16) to complete a questionnaire measuring mind wandering traits, divergent thinking, and mental health measures including depressive symptoms and schizotypal personality. Multiple regression analysis showed that people who reported more depressive symptoms, schizotypal personality, and divergent thinking, were more likely to engage in mind-wandering. Our results indicated that frequency of mind wandering was linked to a risk of poorer mental health as well as to higher divergent thinking ability. In future research, we will examine the features of mind wandering related to divergent thinking and mental health by considering the contents of wandering thoughts and whether they are ruminative or not. We also need to examine whether the same results will be found when studying professionals in creative occupations, and when using different scoring methods in divergent thinking tests.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180068/

 

Improve Perinatal Mental Health with Prenatal Mindfulness Training

Improve Perinatal Mental Health with Prenatal Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

In addition to support, therapy, and medication, the ideal treatment plan for perinatal depression and anxiety often includes mindfulness techniques.” – Edith Gettes

 

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

 

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

 

The birth of a child is most often a joyous occasion. But often the joy turns to misery. 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. It is not known if the effectiveness of mindfulness training during the perinatal period carries over to the postpartum period. So, it would make sense to study the effectiveness of mindfulness training administered during the perinatal period on postpartum mental health issues.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of prenatal mindfulness-based childbirth education on child-bearers’ trajectories of distress: a randomized control trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559171/ ) Sbrilli  and colleagues recruited pregnant women in their 3rd trimester with their first child and randomly assigned them to either no treatment other than the standard childbirth education program or to receive and additional intensive 2.5 day program of mindfulness training termed “Mind in Labor (MIL).” The training integrates mindfulness “strategies for coping with pain and fear with formal mindfulness meditation for a total of 18 h of mindfulness training.” The participants were measured before and after training, 6 weeks after giving birth, and 1 to 2 years later for depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and mindfulness.

 

They found that at baseline the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. Importantly, they found that while the treatment as usual group had increasing depression over the period from before birth till 12 months after birth, the groups that received the mindfulness training had significantly decreasing depression over the same period. They further found that these effects were greater in women who were either high in anxiety or low in mindfulness at baseline.

 

These are encouraging results that need to be investigated in a larger trial. But they demonstrate that mindfulness training during the 3rd trimester can reduce depression not only during the pregnancy but also for at least a year following the birth of the child. This period and especially the postpartum period are very often periods of increased psychological distress, especially depression. Mindfulness training appears to be an antidote, relieving the distress and allowing for the joy of a new child to be fully experienced.

 

So, improve perinatal mental health with prenatal mindfulness training.

 

A growing body of research suggests that mindfulness-based therapy can benefit perinatal women. . . MBT appears to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.” – Rinette Badker

 

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

 

Sbrilli, M. D., Duncan, L. G., & Laurent, H. K. (2020). Effects of prenatal mindfulness-based childbirth education on child-bearers’ trajectories of distress: a randomized control trial. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 20, 623. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-020-03318-8

 

Abstract

Background

The perinatal period is a time of immense change, which can be a period of stress and vulnerability for mental health difficulties. Mindfulness-based interventions have shown promise for reducing distress, but further research is needed to identify long-term effects and moderators of mindfulness training in the perinatal period.

Methods

The current study used data from a pilot randomized control trial (RCT) comparing a condensed mindfulness-based childbirth preparation program—the Mind in Labor (MIL)—to treatment as usual (TAU) to examine whether prenatal mindfulness training results in lower distress across the perinatal period, and whether the degree of benefit depends on child-bearers’ initial levels of risk (i.e., depression and anxiety symptoms) and protective (i.e., mindfulness) characteristics. Child-bearers (N = 30) in their third trimester were randomized to MIL or TAU and completed assessments of distress—perceived stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms—at pre-intervention, post-intervention, six-weeks post-birth, and one-year postpartum.

Results

Multilevel modeling of distress trajectories revealed greater decreases from pre-intervention to 12-months postpartum for those in MIL compared to TAU, especially among child-bearers who were higher in anxiety and/or lower in dispositional mindfulness at baseline.

Conclusions

The current study offers preliminary evidence for durable perinatal mental health benefits following a brief mindfulness-based program and suggests further investigation of these effects in larger samples is warranted.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559171/