Reduce Worry and Rumination and Improve Emotion Regulation Lowering Anxiety and Depression with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“The practice of mindfulness teaches us a different way to relate to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they arise. It is about learning to approach and acknowledge whatever is happening in the present moment, setting aside our lenses of judgment and just being with whatever is there, rather than avoiding it or needing to fix it.” – Elisha Goldstein
Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. This has led to an increasing adoption of mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.
Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. Fortunately, worry and rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness and emotion regulation improved by mindfulness. These may be some of the mechanisms by which mindfulness training improves anxiety and depression. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_934868_69_Psycho_20190314_arts_A ), Parmentier and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness to improve emotion regulation and reduce worry and rumination and thereby improve anxiety and depression.
They recruited adult participants online and had them complete an online survey measuring mindfulness, anxiety, depression, rumination, worry, emotion regulation, and meditation history. They found that meditation practice was not associated with anxiety or depression directly but rather through its positive association with mindfulness which was strongly negatively associated with anxiety and depression. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression directly and also indirectly through its association with rumination and worry and the emotion regulation mechanisms of suppression and reappraisal. Mindfulness was associated with lower levels of suppression, rumination, and worry and higher levels of reappraisal. which in turn were associated with anxiety and depression.
These findings suggest that meditation practice increases mindfulness and this decreases anxiety and depression. It does so directly and indirectly. Mindfulness reduces the tendency to suppress, prevent, anxiety and depression from arising which allows for full mindful appreciation of these emotions and as a result produces an actual reduction in them. It also decreases worry and rumination that normally heighten anxiety and depression. At the same time mindfulness increases reappraisal, heightening the ability to investigate the causes of anxiety and depression, resulting in their reduction. Worry and rumination were the most powerful mediating factors while suppression and reappraisal were still significant factors but substantially weaker.
These results support the conclusion that mindfulness directly decreases anxiety and depression. But mindfulness also acts indirectly by affecting has a number of psychological processes including improving emotion regulation and by decreasing the counterproductive cognitive processes of worry and rumination.
So, reduce worry and rumination and improve emotion regulation lowering anxiety and depression with mindfulness.
“With mindfulness practice, we can learn how to unhook from rumination and cut ourselves (and others) the slack requisite for increasing clarity and ease of being.” – Mitch Abblett
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Parmentier FBR, García-Toro M, García-Campayo J, Yañez AM, Andrés P and Gili M (2019) Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression. Front. Psychol. 10:506. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506
The present study examined the effects of mindfulness on depression and anxiety, both direct and indirect through the mediation of four mechanisms of emotional regulation: worry, rumination, reappraisal and suppression. Path analysis was applied to data collected from an international and non-clinical sample of 1151 adults, including both meditators and non-meditators, who completed an online questionnaire battery. Our results show that mindfulness are related to lower levels of depression and anxiety both directly and indirectly. Suppression, reappraisal, worry and rumination all acted as significant mediators of the relationship between mindfulness and depression. A similar picture emerged for the relationship between mindfulness and anxiety, with the difference that suppression was not a mediator. Our data also revealed that the estimated number of hours of mindfulness meditation practice did not affect depression or anxiety directly but did reduce these indirectly by increasing mindfulness. Worry and rumination proved to be the most potent mediating variables. Altogether, our results confirm that emotional regulation plays a significant mediating role between mindfulness and symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population and suggest that meditation focusing on reducing worry and rumination may be especially useful in reducing the risk of developing clinical depression.