Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Lupus Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Lupus Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“For someone with lupus who suffers from persistent joint or muscular pain, the struggle to find relief can be stressful and exhausting. But mindfulness meditation is not about fighting. It’s all about acceptance. And once you have achieved calm, it can help you regain a much-needed sense of control when your disease brings you discomfort.” – Lupus Foundation

 

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s systems that are designed to ward off infection attack the individual’s own tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects a variety of organ systems including kidneys, joints, skin, blood, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus can produce fever, joint pain, stiffness and swelling, butterfly-shaped rash on the face or rashes elsewhere on the body, skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure, fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion and memory loss. Lupus strikes between 10 to 25 people per 100,000, or about 322,000 cases in the U.S.

 

The symptoms of Lupus can look like a number of other diseases so it is hard to diagnose lupus. It is tipped off in many patients by the distinctive facial rash. There are no known cures for lupus and treatment is targeted at symptom relief. Drug treatments include pain relievers, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and even antimalarial drugs. Mindfulness practices have been shown to be effective for a wide variety of illnesses and to improve the immune system. So, it is possible that mindfulness training could improve Lupus and its symptoms.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Reducing Disappointment, Psychological Distress, and Psychasthenia among Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6702277/), Sahebari and colleagues recruited female lupus patients and were randomly assigned to receive 8 weekly sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or treatment as usual. They were measured before and after treatment for depression, psychological distress, fatigue, disappointment, and psychasthenia.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual control condition, the lupus patients who received Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significantly lower levels of psychological distress, psychasthenia, and disappointment with large effect sizes. psychasthenia is a psychological disorder characterized by phobias, obsessions, compulsions, or excessive anxiety. Hence, ACT appears to be effective in improving the psychological state of lupus patients. It can be speculated that ACT has its benefits for lupus patients by increasing mindfulness and the patients’ ability to accept their situation without judgement.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of lupus patients with mindfulness.

 

“Improvement was observed in several areas: patients’ increased ability to differentiate between themselves and the disease; increased ability to accept, rather than to actively fight the fact that one must live with the disease; and decreased behavioral avoidance. These observations speak to the significant therapeutic potential of mindfulness practice among SLE patients” – Danny Horash

 

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

 

Sahebari, M., Asghari Ebrahimabad, M. J., Ahmadi Shoraketokanlo, A., Aghamohammadian Sharbaf, H., & Khodashahi, M. (2019). Efficacy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Reducing Disappointment, Psychological Distress, and Psychasthenia among Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Patients. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, 14(2), 130–136.

 

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in the reduction of disappointment, psychological distress, and psychasthenia among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Method : This quasi-experimental study was conducted on 24 females with lupus who referred to the Rheumatoid Disease Research Center (RDRC) of Ghaem hospital in Mashhad, Iran. This study had a pretest-posttest control group design. The participants were randomly assigned into 2 groups of experimental and control. The experimental group was treated with ACT. Data were collected using the Beck’s Hopelessness Scale, Kessler’s Psychological Distress Inventory, and Krupp’s Psychasthenia Inventory.

Results: Mean age and mean duration of illness were 37.25±4.61 and 5.12±2.33 years, respectively. The mean disappointment score and psychological distress in the experimental group were lower compared to those in control group at the post experimental stage (P<0.001). Moreover, there was a significant difference between the experimental and control groups in the mean scores of psychasthenia in the posttest stage (P<0.001).

Conclusion: According to the obtained results of this study, the enhancement of psychological flexibility based on ACT positively affected disappointment, psychological distress, and psychasthenia among the lupus patients. Therefore, it can be concluded that this therapeutic approach could reduce psychasthenia in patients through clarification of the values.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6702277/

 

Improve the Psychological Symptoms of Lupus with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Symptoms of Lupus with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Before I got lupus, I had no idea what an anxiety attack felt like, let alone how to work to stave one off. I’d always used meditation for personal focus and professional clarity. Meditation and mindfulness are how I have accomplished a lot of goals over the years but I never thought they would help me with anxiety.” – Kellie McRae

 

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s systems that are designed to ward off infection attack the individual’s own tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects a variety of organ systems including kidneys, joints, skin, blood, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus can produce fever, joint pain, stiffness and swelling, butterfly-shaped rash on the face or rashes elsewhere on the body, skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure, fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion and memory loss. Lupus strikes between 10 to 25 people per 100,000, or about 322,000 cases in the U.S..

 

The symptoms of Lupus can look like a number of other diseases so it is hard to diagnose lupus. It is tipped off in many patients by the distinctive facial rash. There are no known cures for lupus and treatment is targeted at symptom relief. Drug treatments include pain relievers, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and even antimalarial drugs. Mindfulness practices have been shown to be effective for a wide variety of illnesses and to improve the immune system. So, it is possible that mindfulness training could improve Lupus and its symptoms.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy on Psychological Symptoms and Quality of Life in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Patients: 
A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5632694/ ), Solati and colleagues investigated the effectiveness of mindfulness training as a treatment for Lupus. They recruited Lupus patients and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual or an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT occurred in weekly 2-hour sessions and the patients were encouraged to practice at home. The control group in addition to usual medical care were provided advice on exercise, diet, and rest. They were measured before and after treatment and 6 months later for depression, anxiety, social function, somatization, and mental and physical quality of life.

 

They found that following MBCT there was a large, significant reduction in psychological symptoms including depression, anxiety, social function, somatization and a significant improvement in the patient’s psychological quality of life. The changes were clinically significant with large effect sizes. Importantly, these improvements remained significant at the 6-month follow-up.

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is directed at assessing and altering negative thought patterns and judgements and developing mindfulness skills. Participants learn to become aware of their body sensation, thoughts, and emotions without judgement. MBCT was developed specifically to treat depression but has been found to be effective for a variety of psychological conditions. The present results demonstrate that it is also effective for the psychological symptoms of Lupus.

 

Lupus is a difficult painful condition that creates major stress and disruption of the patients’ lives. This, in turn, produces mental health challenges and marked decreases in the quality of life. The disease is difficult enough by itself. But, the psychological issues produced act to increase the suffering. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, and stress has the effect of eliciting and amplifying Lupus symptoms. So, reducing response to stress can markedly improve the symptoms. The present study suggests that developing non-judgmental awareness of how and what they are feeling and what they are thinking in the present moment has tremendous beneficial effects, reducing the mental suffering and improving their quality of life.

 

So, improve the psychological symptoms of lupus with mindfulness.

 

“Meditation’s goal is to relax the mind and body, engage feelings about pain or other challenges, release tension and tap into a positive outlook – despite a chronic illness like Lupus. Focusing on negativity, especially on feelings of loss of health and well-being, only exacerbates pain.  Meditation helps bring things into present-moment awareness, to see where we are, and assess things in that moment.” – Jasmine Ly

 

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

 

Solati, K., Mousavi, M., Kheiri, S., & Hasanpour-Dehkordi, A. (2017). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy on Psychological Symptoms and Quality of Life in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Patients: 
A Randomized Controlled Trial. Oman Medical Journal, 32(5), 378–385. http://doi.org/10.5001/omj.2017.73

 

Abstract

Objectives

This study was conducted to determine the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on psychological symptoms and quality of life (QoL) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods

We conducted a randomized single-blind clinical trial in patients with SLE referred from the Imam Ali Clinic in Shahrekord, southwest Iran. The patients (46 in total in two groups of 23 each) were randomly assigned into the experimental and control groups. Both groups underwent routine medical care, and the experimental group underwent eight group sessions of MBCT in addition to routine care. The patient,s QoL was assessed using the General Health Questionnaire-28 and 36-Item Short Form Health Survey before, after, and six months after intervention (follow-up).

Results

A significant difference was seen in psychological symptoms and QoL between MBCT and control groups immediately after the intervention and at follow-up (p ≤ 0.050). However, the difference was not significant for the physical components of QoL (p ≥ 0.050).

Conclusions

MBCT contributed to decreased psychological symptoms and improved QoL in patients with SLE with a stable effect on psychological symptoms and psychological components of QoL, but an unstable effect on physical components.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5632694/