Mindfulness Increases the Ability to Change Behavior for the Good

Mindfulness Increases the Ability to Change Behavior for the Good

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Training your mind to be in the present moment is the #1 key to making healthier choices.” – Susan Albers

 

Many health problems are behavioral problems or have their origins in maladaptive behavior. This is evident in car accident injuries that are frequently due to behaviors, such as texting while driving, driving too fast or aggressively, or driving drunk. Other problematic behaviors are cigarette smoking, alcoholism, drug use, or unprotected sex. Problems can also be produced by lack of appropriate behavior such as sedentary lifestyle, not eating a healthy diet, not getting sufficient sleep or rest, or failing to take medications according to the physician’s orders.

 

Hence, promoting behavior change to healthy behaviors and eliminating unhealthy ones has the potential to markedly improve health. Mindfulness training has been shown to promote health and improve illness. It is well established that mindfulness can improve healthy behaviors. The research has been accumulating. So, it is reasonable to stop and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647439/ ) Schuman-Olivier and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the ability of mindfulness training to promote behavior change and also the mechanism by which this is accomplished..

 

They summarize the research as demonstrating that mindfulness training improves self-regulation. This includes improvements in attention, cognitive control, emotion regulation, and self-related processes. These improvements in self-regulation results in an increased ability to change behavior from unhealthy behaviors to more healthy behaviors. This has been shown to be true with substance abuse, eating disorders, tobacco smoking, self-management with chronic diseases, violence, suicide, and self-harm.

 

They conclude that the published research supports the model that mindfulness training increases self-regulation which in turn supports behavior change.

 

A mind set in its ways is wasted.” – Eric Schmidt

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Schuman-Olivier Z, Trombka M, Lovas DA, Brewer JA, Vago DR, Gawande R, Dunne JP, Lazar SW, Loucks EB, Fulwiler C. Mindfulness and Behavior Change. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2020 Nov/Dec;28(6):371-394. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000277. PMID: 33156156; PMCID: PMC7647439.

 

Abstract

Initiating and maintaining behavior change is key to the prevention and treatment of most preventable chronic medical and psychiatric illnesses. The cultivation of mindfulness, involving acceptance and nonjudgment of present-moment experience, often results in transformative health behavior change. Neural systems involved in motivation and learning have an important role to play. A theoretical model of mindfulness that integrates these mechanisms with the cognitive, emotional, and self-related processes commonly described, while applying an integrated model to health behavior change, is needed. This integrative review (1) defines mindfulness and describes the mindfulness-based intervention movement, (2) synthesizes the neuroscience of mindfulness and integrates motivation and learning mechanisms within a mindful self-regulation model for understanding the complex effects of mindfulness on behavior change, and (3) synthesizes current clinical research evaluating the effects of mindfulness-based interventions targeting health behaviors relevant to psychiatric care. The review provides insight into the limitations of current research and proposes potential mechanisms to be tested in future research and targeted in clinical practice to enhance the impact of mindfulness on behavior change.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647439/

 

Improve the Emotion Regulation of Midwives with Mindfulness

Improve the Emotion Regulation of Midwives with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This is a very important consequence of mindfulness. Humans are very emotional creatures and these emotions can be very pleasant, providing the spice of life. But when they get extreme, they can produce misery and even mental illness. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9103483/ ) Aghamohammadi and colleagues examined the effectiveness of mindfulness training on emotion regulation and perceived stress in Iranian midwives. The participants were randomly assigned either to a wait-list control condition or to receive an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) program modified for Iranian culture.

 

They report that mindfulness training significantly improved emotion regulation and self-efficacy and decreased perceived stress and hopelessness in the midwives. The improvements in emotion regulation included increases in acceptance of emotional responses, performance of goal-oriented behaviors in the face of a stressful situation, accessing emotional strategies, and improving emotional clarity.

 

These findings suggest that mindfulness training improves the ability to appreciate but control emotions producing improvements in mental health.

 

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Aghamohammadi F, Saed O, Ahmadi R, Kharaghani R. The effectiveness of adapted group mindfulness-based stress management program on perceived stress and emotion regulation in midwives: a randomized clinical trial. BMC Psychol. 2022 May 13;10(1):123. doi: 10.1186/s40359-022-00823-7. PMID: 35562792; PMCID: PMC9103483.

 

Abstract

Background

Midwives’ stress can have negative consequences on their emotional state, burnout, and poor quality of midwifery care. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of an adapted mindfulness-based stress management program on perceived stress and the emotional regulation of midwives.

Methods

The study was a parallel randomized clinical trial on the midwives working in general hospitals of Zanjan, Iran. In this study, 121 midwives registered to participate based on the census sampling method were screened using a cut point of ≥ 28 in the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). From the initial sample, 42 subjects had inclusion criteria assigned to two groups of control (n = 21) and intervention (n = 21) using online random allocation. The intervention group received an 8-week adapted mindfulness-based stress management program. This program emanates from the Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR program, which has been adjusted according to the Iranian culture. The ANCOVA and repeated measure analysis of variance test were used to compare groups over time.

Results

The results showed that the group intervention effectively affected perceived stress (P = 0.001) and difficulty in emotion regulation during the post-intervention period (P = 0.001). Moreover, the interventions were effective in emotion regulation (P = 0.003), but it was not effective on perceived stress (P = 0.125) at the 3-month follow-up.

Conclusions

This adapted mindfulness-based program successfully reduced stress and increased emotion regulation strategies in midwives; however, the long-term outcomes of this treatment program need further consideration.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9103483/

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” 
― Amit Ray

 

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. 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 the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, 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.

 

Over the last few decades, a vast amount of research has been published on the benefits of mindfulness practices on the mental and physical health of the practitioners. Most of these studies, however, utilize momentary (one-time) measures of mindfulness. A better method may be to measure mindfulness over a sustained period of time. Many studies have been performed using mindfulness measurement over time. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Associations between mindfulness and mental health outcomes: A systematic review of ecological momentary assessment research.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9187214/ ) Enkema and colleagues

Review and summarize the published research studies on the benefits of mindfulness measured over time on mental health. They identified 22 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness, measured over a sustained period of time, was associated with improved mental health. This included improvements in emotional awareness and positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions, anxiety, depression, rumination, cravings, and self-harm. Some indications were reported that measurement over sustained periods of time have greater reliability and validity.

 

“The way to live in the present is to remember that ‘This too shall pass.’ When you experience joy, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ helps you savor the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary.” Joey Green

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Enkema MC, McClain L, Bird ER, Halvorson MA, Larimer ME. Associations between mindfulness and mental health outcomes: A systematic review of ecological momentary assessment research. Mindfulness (N Y). 2020 Nov;11(11):2455-2469. doi: 10.1007/s12671-020-01442-2. Epub 2020 Jul 15. PMID: 35694042; PMCID: PMC9187214.

 

Abstract

Objectives:

Psychological science has taken up investigations of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) and mechanisms through which people benefit from mindfulness. Reliable and valid psychometric tools are essential components of psychological science, and efforts have been made to produce tools for the accurate measurement of mindfulness as a construct. However, trait measurement methods, which are commonly used, may not adequately assess mindfulness and mental health outcomes in a way that allows for mechanisms to be adequately tested. Intensive longitudinal assessment methods sample behavior and experience multiple times over a brief period of several days or weeks, and may be more appropriate methods for testing mechanisms of action. We provide a systematic review of published, peer-reviewed studies that used intensive longitudinal methods to investigate the effects of mindfulness on mental health outcomes.

Methods:

Articles were included in the systematic review if mindfulness measures and/or mindfulness interventions were a part of the study design and if intensive longitudinal methods were used to assess mindfulness or mental health outcomes.

Results:

Findings consistently demonstrated a positive association between mindfulness and mental health. Only two studies collected both trait and state measurements of either mindfulness or mental health outcomes, and results indicated that EMA produced larger effect sizes between mindfulness and mental health outcomes.

Conclusions:

Theorized associations between mindfulness and mental health are supported by the current EMA literature. Intensive longitudinal methods may produce more consistent and reliable results through increased sensitivity and ecological validity in that they examine the momentary relationships between mindfulness and mental health outcomes. Thus, intensive longitudinal assessment may be a more appropriate method for investigating hypothesized mechanisms of action in MBPs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9187214/

 

Improve Satisfaction with Life with Mindfulness

Improve Satisfaction with Life with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” – Thích Nhat Hanh.

 

The primary focus of the majority of research on mindfulness has been on its ability to treat mental illness and negative emotional states such as anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. As such, it has been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. But mindfulness training has also been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. So, it makes sense to study the contribution of mindfulness to satisfaction wit life.

 

In today’s Research News article “How Mindfulness Affects Life Satisfaction: Based on the Mindfulness-to-Meaning Theory.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.887940/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1896364_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220705_arts_A&id_mc=312338674&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c ) Li and colleagues recruited college students and had the complete measures of mindfulness, satisfaction with life, positive and negative emotions, and self-evaluation.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of satisfaction with life, positive emotions, and self-evaluation and the lower the levels of negative emotions. They also found that life satisfaction was positively related to positive emotions, and self-evaluation and the negatively associated with negative emotions. Structural modelling revealed that mindfulness was related to satisfaction with life by being related to higher core self-evaluations and lower negative emotions that were in turn related to higher satisfaction with life.

 

These findings are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But it is clear that college student satisfaction with life is positively related to their degree of mindfulness in part through mindfulness’ associations with their valuations of their selves and abilities and their emotions.

 

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – The Buddha

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Li X, Ma L and Li Q (2022) How Mindfulness Affects Life Satisfaction: Based on the Mindfulness-to-Meaning Theory. Front. Psychol. 13:887940. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.887940

 

Life satisfaction is the general evaluation of the individual’s life, which is of great significance to achieving a better life. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the mediating effect of core self-evaluation, positive affect, and negative affect in the relationship between trait mindfulness and life satisfaction based on the Mindfulness-to-Meaning theory. 991 Chinese undergraduates (692 females, 299 males) completed the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, the Core Self-Evaluations Scale, the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Scale, and the Satisfaction with Life Scale. The results indicated that core self-evaluation and negative affect mediated the effect of trait mindfulness on life satisfaction, consistent with the Mindfulness-to-Meaning theory. Furthermore, trait mindfulness affected life satisfaction by the mediation paths of “core self-evaluation→positive affect” and “core self-evaluation→negative affect,” which uncovered the underlying mechanism of promoting life satisfaction by combining the point of view of cognition (core self-evaluation) and emotion (positive and negative affect). The present study not only contributes to a better theoretical understanding of how trait mindfulness links to life satisfaction but also provides valuable guidance for enhancing life satisfaction.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.887940/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1896364_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220705_arts_A&id_mc=312338674&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Sexual Minorities (LBGQ) with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Sexual Minorities (LBGQ) with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist.” —Laverne Cox

 

Around 43,000 people take their own lives each year in the US. 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. Indeed, suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents. Suicidality and self-injury are particularly problematic in sexual minorities (LBGTQ).

 

One of the few treatments that appears to be Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It is targeted at changing the problem behaviors characteristic including self-injury. Behavior change is accomplished through focusing on changing the thoughts and emotions that precede problem behaviors, as well as by solving the problems faced by individuals that contribute to problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In DBT five core skills are practiced; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT has been found to reduce suicidality. There is thus a need to study the effectiveness of DBT for the mental health of sexual minority adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dialectical behavior therapy for adolescents (DBT-A): Outcomes among sexual minorities at high risk for suicide.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9233065/ ) Poon and colleagues recruited heterosexual and sexual minority (LGBQ) adolescents (13-18 years of age). They received and 18-week program of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). They completed online measures before and after treatment of emotion regulation, anxiety, depression, coping, and borderline symptoms.

 

They found that after treatment the adolescents had significant decreases in depression, borderline symptoms, and dysfunctional coping and significant increases in emotion regulation and use of coping skills. There were no significant differences between the improvements seen with the sexual minority and heterosexual adolescents.

 

Hence, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Produces significant improvements in the psychological well-being of sexual minority adolescents and is as effective as it is in heterosexual adolescents. Although not measured these improvements would predict a decrease in suicidality.

 

Shame creates lies about how men should think and act, and when men don’t fulfill those roles, they have additional shame.” ― Liz Plank

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Poon J, Galione JN, Grocott LR, Horowitz KJ, Kudinova AY, Kim KL. Dialectical behavior therapy for adolescents (DBT-A): Outcomes among sexual minorities at high risk for suicide. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2022 Jun;52(3):383-391. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12828. Epub 2022 Jan 12. PMID: 35019159; PMCID: PMC9233065.

 

Abstract

The alarming rates and pervasiveness of suicidal and self-destructive behaviors (e.g., non-suicidal self-injury) among young sexual minorities represent a major public health concern. We set out to examine whether an empirically driven treatment for suicide and self-harm, dialectical behavior therapy for adolescents (DBT-A), provides benefits for adolescents who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning (LGBQ). LGBQ adolescents (n = 16) were compared with non-LGBQ peers (n = 23). Psychological measures were collected before and after participation in a comprehensive DBT-A program. LGBQ participants demonstrated significant improvements in emotion regulation, depression, borderline symptoms, and coping strategies; changes were comparable to their heterosexual peers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9233065/

 

Reduce Psychological Distress by Increasing Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

 

Reduce Psychological Distress by Increasing Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

When the chest is opening, the mind is opening, and we feel emotionally shiny and stability comes.” – Vanda Scaravelli

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders. It appears to be able to prevent or relieve psychological distress. So, it is important to examine the mechanisms by which mindfulness improves emotion regulation and psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness as a Protective Factor Against Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Emotion Regulation and Insomnia Symptoms as Mediators.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9010863/ ) Mamede and colleagues had adult from the general population answer an online questionnaire regarding their mindfulness, emotion regulation, and psychological states.

 

They report that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of psychological distress, including anxiety and depression. These were direct effects of mindfulness. But, in addition, mindfulness had indirect effects by improving emotion regulation which in turn decreased psychological distress. Also, the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of insomnia which were in turn associated with lower levels of psychological distress.

 

The findings suggest that mindfulness works directly to improve psychological well-being but also indirectly by improving the emotion regulation and reducing insomnia. This clearly suggests that improving mindfulness levels is a good method to improve psychological health.

 

Mindfulness isn’t about escaping negative emotions or painful experiences but learning how to feel peace amidst them.” – Charlotte Hilton Anderson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Mamede A, Merkelbach I, Noordzij G, Denktas S. Mindfulness as a Protective Factor Against Depression, Anxiety and Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Emotion Regulation and Insomnia Symptoms as Mediators. Front Psychol. 2022 Apr 1;13:820959. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.820959. PMID: 35432084; PMCID: PMC9010863.

 

Abstract

Objectives

Research has linked mindfulness to improved mental health, yet the mechanisms underlying this relationship are not well understood. This study explored the mediating role of emotion regulation strategies and sleep in the relationship between mindfulness and symptoms of depression, anxiety and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods

As detailed in this study’s pre-registration (osf.io/k9qtw), a cross-sectional research design was used to investigate the impact of mindfulness on mental health and the mediating role of emotion regulation strategies (i.e., cognitive reappraisal, rumination and suppression) and insomnia. A total of 493 participants from the general population answered an online survey and were included in the final analysis. The online survey consisted of the short form of the Five-Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ-SF), the Impact of Event Scale-revised (IES-R), the Generalised Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8), the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ), the short form of the Rumination Response Scale (RSS-SF), and the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI).

Results

Structural equation modelling revealed that mindfulness was related to lower symptoms of depression, anxiety and psychological distress, both directly and indirectly. Mindfulness was negatively associated with rumination and insomnia. As hypothesised, models revealed that the associations between mindfulness and depression, anxiety and psychological distress were significantly mediated by its negative associations with rumination and insomnia. Our findings also demonstrated that rumination was related to increased insomnia symptoms, which in turn was associated with increased mental health problems, indicating a mediated mediation. Mindfulness was also positively associated with cognitive reappraisal and negatively associated with suppression, which were, respectively, negatively and positively associated with depressive symptoms, and thus functioned as specific mediators of the association between mindfulness and depression.

Conclusion

Our findings suggest that rumination and insomnia operate transdiagnostically as interrelated mediators of the effects of mindfulness on mental health, whereas cognitive reappraisal and suppression function as specific mediators for depression. These insights emphasise the importance of targeting emotion regulation and sleep in mindfulness interventions for improving mental health. Limitations and implications for practice are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9010863/

Mindfulness is Associated with Less Relapse and Recurrence of Major Depressive Disorder

Mindfulness is Associated with Less Relapse and Recurrence of Major Depressive Disorder

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

 

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

 

Relapsing into depression is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering, and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative to study the factors that lead to relapse and recurrence. 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. So, it makes sense to study the relationship of mindfulness with relapse and recurrence of Major Depressive Disorder.

 

In today’s Research News article “Factors associated with relapse and recurrence of major depressive disorder in patients starting mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9298927/ ) de Klerk-Sluis and colleagues studied patients who were in remission for Major Depressive Disorder and the factors that predicted relapse and recurrence.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the risk of relapse and recurrence. They also found that the greater the ability of mild emotions to reactivate negative thinking patterns (cognitive reactivity) the greater the likelihood of relapse and recurrence. Finally, they found that rumination was associated with relapse and recurrence in patients who were not taking antidepressant drugs but not in patients on the drugs.

 

It appears that thought processes have large effects on relapse and recurrence of Major Depressive Disorder. But mindful thinking is helpful in preventing relapse. This suggests that mindfulness training should be recommended for patients in remission from Major Depressive Disorder. Indeed, mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the likelihood of relapse.

 

But if you’ve fought depression or know somebody who has, you know that no amount of money can fix it. No amount of fame. No logic. The continuing stigma around suicide and mental illness tells me that not enough people truly understand it. I don’t really blame them—its impossible unless you’ve lived it.”-  David Chang

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

de Klerk-Sluis JM, Huijbers MJ, Löcke S, Spijker J, Spinhoven P, Speckens AEM, Ruhe HG. Factors associated with relapse and recurrence of major depressive disorder in patients starting mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Depress Anxiety. 2022 Feb;39(2):113-122. doi: 10.1002/da.23220. Epub 2021 Nov 9. PMID: 34752681; PMCID: PMC9298927.

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is effective for relapse prevention in major depressive disorder (MDD). It reduces cognitive reactivity (CR) and rumination, and enhances self‐compassion and mindfulness. Although rumination and mindfulness after MBCT are associated with relapse, the association of CR, rumination, self‐compassion, and mindfulness with relapse before initiation of MBCT has never been investigated.

Methods

Data were drawn from two randomized controlled trials, including a total of 282 remitted MDD participants (≥3 depressive episodes) who had been using maintenance antidepressant medication (mADM) for at least 6 months before baseline. All participants were offered MBCT while either their mADM was maintained or discontinued after MBCT. CR, rumination, self‐compassion, and mindfulness were assessed at baseline by self‐rated questionnaires and were used in Cox proportional hazards regression models to investigate their association with relapse.

Results

CR and mindfulness were associated with relapse, independent of residual symptoms, previous depressive episodes, and mADM‐use. Higher CR and lower mindfulness increased the risk of relapse. Self‐compassion was not associated with relapse. For rumination, a significant interaction with mADM‐use was found. Rumination was associated with relapse in patients who discontinued their mADM, while this effect was absent if patients continued mADM.

Conclusions

These results show that CR, rumination, and mindfulness are associated with relapse in remitted MDD‐patients before initiation of MBCT, independent of residual symptoms and previous depressive episodes. This information could improve decisions in treatment planning in remitted individuals with a history of depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9298927/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Nursing Students’ Grit and Achievement Emotions

Mindfulness is Associated with Nursing Students’ Grit and Achievement Emotions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Grit is defined as having perseverance and passion for long-term goals. It is challenging yourself despite your fears. It’s being resilient. It’s having the willingness to fail, fail again, and to fail better until you finally succeed.” – Shilpi Mahajan

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

Mindfulness can be divided into two different aspects. Meditation mindfulness emphasizes focusing on what is occurring right now without judgement. On the other hand, socio-cognitive mindfulness emphasizes openness to external stimuli allowing for flexible interactions with the environment. It would be expected that socio-cognitive mindfulness with its flexibility in interpreting external events in particular would underlie improvements in emotion regulation. Grit is perseverance for long-term goals which would also be expected to be related to emotions and mindfulness. But little is known regarding the relationships of mindfulness, grit, and emotions.

 

In today’s Research News article “Nursing Students’ Grit, Socio-Cognitive Mindfulness, and Achievement Emotions: Mediating Effects of Socio-Cognitive Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8909993/ ) Lee recruited nursing students and had them complete measures of socio-cognitive mindfulness, grit, and achievement emotions.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of grit and positive emotions and the lower the levels of negative emotions. They also found that the higher the levels of grit the higher the levels of positive emotions and the lower the levels of negative emotions, Further the relationships between grit and emotions were mediated in part by mindfulness. Grit was positively related to positive emotions directly and indirectly by being associated with higher levels of mindfulness which was in turn also related to higher levels of positive emotions. Similarly, grit was negatively related to negative emotions directly and indirectly by being associated with higher levels of mindfulness which was in turn also related to lower levels of negative emotions.

 

These findings are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, they help to clarify the relationships of perseverance for long-term goals with nursing students’ emotions. Grit is associated with emotional well-being directly and indirectly through mindfulness.

 

Follow-through (or Grit) is one of the greatest predictors of college success.” – Sarah Ritter

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lee M. (2022). Nursing Students’ Grit, Socio-Cognitive Mindfulness, and Achievement Emotions: Mediating Effects of Socio-Cognitive Mindfulness. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(5), 3032. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19053032

 

Abstract

Background: Recognizing the under-examined socio-cognitive mindfulness and achievement emotions in nursing, this study aimed to examine the relationships between grit, socio-cognitive mindfulness, and achievement emotions among nursing students, as well as the mediating effects of socio-cognitive mindfulness. Methods: This study utilized a cross-sectional design. A total of 220 nursing students in Korea completed the questionnaire measuring the levels of grit, socio-cognitive mindfulness, and achievement emotions. To analyze data, structural equation modeling and path analysis were performed. Results: Grit was positively related to socio-cognitive mindfulness and positive achievement emotions but negatively related to negative emotions. Socio-cognitive mindfulness was positively related to positive emotions but negatively related to negative emotions. In addition, the mediating effects of socio-cognitive mindfulness were found in the association between grit and achievement emotions in nursing students. Conclusions: Grittier students tend to have higher socio-cognitive mindfulness and positive emotions but lower negative emotions in learning environments. Mediating effects highlight the benefits of socio-cognitive mindfulness in the context of nursing education, providing the basis for developing practical mindfulness programs to cultivate nursing students’ socio-cognitive mindfulness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8909993/

Reduce Affective Polarization with Mindfulness

Reduce Affective Polarization with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Today’s political language is harsh and inflexible, and the volume keeps increasing while neither side is really listening. Mindfulness is a practice of of deep listening, and can be used to decode language without resorting to knee-jerk reactions.” – Pamela Weiss

 

Affective polarization is defined as the difference in feelings and perceptions towards the political ingroup and the political outgroup. It has become the norm in wester political discourse. In the U.S. it shows up as liberal vs. conservative while in the U.K. it shows up as Brexit leave vs, stay. But it is harmful to useful discussion and debate. It may be seen as poisonous to democracy making reasoned political discourse impossible. Hence, it is important to discover means to overcome affective polarization.

 

Mindfulness involves nonjudgemental awareness and nonreactivity. These characteristics may be antidotes to affective polarization as critical judgement of others and over reaction to their beliefs underlies affective polarization. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the relationship of mindfulness to affective polarization.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of an 8-Week Mindfulness Course on Affective Polarization.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8739379/ ) Simonsson and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to either  wait-list control condition or to receive 8 weekly 90 minute mindfulness trainings along with home practice. They were measured before and after training for Brexit identity (leave or remain), mindfulness (FFMQ), affective polarization (strength of Brexit feelings), and trait ratings about people with their same Brexit identity.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list controls after mindfulness training there were significant increases in mindfulness and significant decreases in affective polarization. Hence, mindfulness training reduces political polarization. This is important and suggests that mindfulness training should be encouraged across the political spectrum.

 

a brief, audio-guided, befriending-themed meditation reduced affective polarization between people on the “Remain” versus “Leave” sides of the U.K.’s Brexit referendum.” – TrendMD

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Simonsson, O., Bazin, O., Fisher, S. D., & Goldberg, S. B. (2022). Effects of an 8-Week Mindfulness Course on Affective Polarization. Mindfulness, 13(2), 474–483. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01808-0

 

Abstract

Objectives

The European Union Brexit referendum has split the British electorate into two camps, with high levels of affective polarization between those who affiliate with the Remain side (Remainers) and the Leave side (Leavers) of the debate. Previous research has shown that a brief meditation intervention can reduce affective polarization, but no study has thus far investigated the effects of an 8-week mindfulness program on affective polarization. This is what will be examined in this study.

Methods

The present study used a randomized waitlist control design (n = 177) with a 1-month post-intervention follow-up to investigate whether an 8-week mindfulness program delivered online would have an effect on affective polarization among Remainers and Leavers.

Results

Results showed significantly greater reductions in affective polarization over time for participants in the mindfulness condition relative to participants in the waitlist control condition (time X group B =  − 0.087, p = .024).

Conclusions

Taken together, the findings highlight the potential of mindfulness training as a means to reduce intergroup biases in political contexts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8739379/

 

Alter Cognition of Patients with Anxiety with Mindfulness

Alter Cognition of Patients with Anxiety with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Anxiety can mentally exhaust you and have real impacts on your body. But before you get anxious about being anxious, know that research has shown you can reduce your anxiety and stress with a simple mindfulness practice.” – Mandy Ferreira 

 

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

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disordersMBCT 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. But how MBCT affects the thought processes in anxiety disorders needs further investigation.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: A Preliminary Examination of the (Event-Related) Potential for Modifying Threat-Related Attentional Bias in Anxiety.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9159034/ ) Gupta and colleagues recruited adults with high levels of anxiety and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2.5 hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) along with home practice presented either online of in-person. Before and after training they were measured for anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. In addition, the participants had their electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded while performing a task to measure threat-related attentional bias.

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were significantly lower levels of anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. In addition, after MBCT EEG responses and response times to pictures of faces showing emotions were reduced. Hence, mindfulness training improved the psychological well-being of anxious adults in association with reduced brain responses to emotional faces.

 

As you become more mindful, you will also notice that you will become more centered, happier, and less depressed and this in turn has a direct positive effect on your anxiety.” – Stefan G. Hofmann

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Gupta, R. S., Kujawa, A., Fresco, D. M., Kang, H., & Vago, D. R. (2022). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: A Preliminary Examination of the (Event-Related) Potential for Modifying Threat-Related Attentional Bias in Anxiety. Mindfulness, 1–14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-022-01910-x

 

Abstract

Objectives

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in adults with anxiety disorders, and changes in threat-related attentional bias may be a key mechanism driving the intervention’s effects on anxiety symptoms. Event-related potentials (ERPs) can illuminate the physiological mechanism through which MBCT targets threat bias and reduces symptoms of anxiety. This preliminary study examined whether P1 ERP threat–related attentional bias markers in anxious adults change from pre- to post-MBCT delivered in-person or virtually (via Zoom) and investigated the relationship between P1 threat–related attentional bias markers and treatment response.

Methods

Pre- and post-MBCT, participants with moderate to high levels of anxiety (N = 50) completed a dot-probe task with simultaneous EEG recording. Analyses focused on pre- and post-MBCT P1 amplitudes elicited by angry-neutral and happy-neutral face pair cues, probes, and reaction times in the dot-probe task and anxiety and depression symptoms.

Results

Pre- to post-MBCT, there was a significant reduction in P1-Probe amplitudes (d = .23), anxiety (d = .41) and depression (d = .80) symptoms, and reaction times (d = .10). Larger P1-Angry Cue amplitudes, indexing hypervigilance to angry faces, were associated with higher levels of anxiety both pre- and post-MBCT (d = .20). Post-MBCT, anxiety symptoms were lower in the in-person versus virtual group (d = .80).

Conclusions

MBCT may increase processing efficiency and decreases anxiety and depression symptoms in anxious adults. However, changes in threat bias specifically were generally not supported. Replication with a comparison group is needed to clarify whether changes were MBCT-specific.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9159034/