Distress Is Lower during a COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Mindful People

Distress Is Lower during a COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Mindful People

 

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.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Age and Gender as Protective Factors Against Psychological Distress During COVID-19 Pandemic.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A ) Conversano and colleagues solicited adult participants online during a government ordered lockdown and had them complete measures of COVID-19 experiences, mindfulness, psychological distress, and mental illness symptoms.

 

They found strong negative relationships between mindfulness and psychological distress. They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of psychological distress including somatic symptoms, symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, internalizing symptoms, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobia, paranoia, psychoticism, and sleep disturbance. They also found weak relationships with age and gender such that younger and female participants tended to have higher psychological distress.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Mindfulness may produce reduced distress or conversely distress may produce reduced mindfulness or some third factor may produce both. Nevertheless, the results show that during a pandemic lockdown that the people who have high levels of mindfulness also have low levels of psychological distress.

 

So, distress is lower during a COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in mindful people.

 

In many ways, COVID-19 has shown us just how connected and how much the same we really are. All of us—and some of us more than others—are vulnerable to getting sick and none of us wants to become ill. Viewed through the lens of interconnectedness, practicing mindfulness as the coronavirus spreads is not only a way to care for ourselves but a way to care for everyone around us.” – Kelly Baron

 

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

 

Conversano C, Di Giuseppe M, Miccoli M, Ciacchini R, Gemignani A and Orrù G (2020) Mindfulness, Age and Gender as Protective Factors Against Psychological Distress During COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Psychol. 11:1900. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900

 

Objective: Mindfulness disposition is associated with various psychological factors and prevents emotional distress in chronic diseases. In the present study, we analyzed the key role of mindfulness dispositions in protecting the individual against psychological distress consequent to COVID-19 social distancing and quarantining.

Methods: An online survey was launched on March 13, 2020, with 6,412 responses by April 6, 2020. Socio-demographic information, exposure to the pandemic, and quarantining were assessed together with psychological distress and mindfulness disposition. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to study the influence of predictive factors on psychological distress and quality of life in Italian responders during the early days of lockdown. Pearson correlations were calculated to study the relationship between mindfulness and psychiatric symptoms.

Results: Multivariate linear regression run on socio-demographics, COVID-19-related variables, and mindfulness disposition as moderators of overall psychological distress showed that mindfulness was the best predictor of psychological distress (β = −0.504; p < 0.0001). High negative correlations were found between mindfulness disposition and the overall Global Severity Index (r = −0.637; p < 0.0001), while moderate to high associations were found between mindfulness and all SCL-90 sub-scales.

Discussion: Findings showed that high dispositional mindfulness enhances well-being and helps in dealing with stressful situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Mindfulness-based mental training could represent an effective intervention to stem post-traumatic psychopathological beginnings and prevent the onset of chronic mental disorders.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A

 

Reduce Paranoia with Mindfulness

Reduce Paranoia with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“people who receive Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are taught how to detach from their feelings of paranoia and social discomfort and to recognize that the feelings are simply feelings, and are not reality.” – Jen Wilson

 

Paranoia is a tendency to have delusions of persecution, jealousy, and extreme self-indulgence and believe them to be true. It is estimated that around one in five people worldwide has paranoid thoughts and about one in twenty has severe paranoia. The severe forms are expressed in psychopathological conditions of Paranoid Personality Disorder and Paranoid Schizophrenia. Paranoid thought patterns are stubborn and difficult to treat. They do not respond well to psychotherapy. Hence there is a need to find alternative methods to treat paranoia.

 

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. Techniques such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be particularly effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals. The effectiveness of mindfulness training for paranoia, however, is not known.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Paranoia in a Non-Clinical Sample.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770499/ ), Shore and colleagues examined the effectiveness of mindfulness training for reducing paranoia in normally functioning individuals. They recruited normal healthy participants from a university and through social media (mean age 32 years, predominantly >90% female) and randomly assigned them to a mindfulness or wait-list control condition. Mindfulness instruction was conducted on-line with a 10-minute guided meditation, daily, for two weeks. Participants were measured before and after training and one week later for mindfulness and paranoia.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the brief mindfulness training produced significant increases in mindfulness and significant decreases in paranoia that were maintained at the one-week follow-up. Mediation analysis revealed that the mindfulness training effect on paranoia was due to mindfulness training increasing the observe, describe, and non-react facets of mindfulness. Hence, the brief on-line mindfulness training appeared to increase mindfulness which in turn decreased paranoia in an otherwise normal non-clinical population.

 

These are interesting findings that suggest that a brief meditation training can improve the ability to observe what is transpiring in the present moment, describe its contents, and observe it without reaction. Paranoia is rooted in an improper interpretation of the present context and fears for the future. The mindfulness training, by improving the ability to properly observe and not react to what is happening, interrupts paranoid ideation and thereby reduces generalized paranoia. It remains to be seen if mindfulness training can also work with participants who have clinical levels of paranoia.

 

So, reduce paranoia with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness will not reduce the amount of paranoid thinking but will simply change the way the person reacts to it and thus make it less disabling.” – Living with Schizophrenia

 

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

 

Robert Shore, Clara Strauss, Kate Cavanagh, Mark Hayward, Lyn Ellett. A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Paranoia in a Non-Clinical Sample. Mindfulness (N Y) 2018; 9(1): 294–302. Published online 2017 Jul 14. doi: 10.1007/s12671-017-0774-2

 

Abstract

Paranoia is common and distressing in the general population and can impact on health, emotional well-being and social functioning, such that effective interventions are needed. Brief online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in non-clinical samples; however, at present, there is no research investigating whether they can reduce paranoia. The current study explored whether a brief online MBI increased levels of mindfulness and reduced levels of paranoia in a non-clinical population. The mediating effect of mindfulness on any changes in paranoia was also investigated. One hundred and ten participants were randomly allocated to either a 2-week online MBI including 10 min of daily guided mindfulness practice or to a waitlist control condition. Measures of mindfulness and paranoia were administered at baseline, post-intervention and 1-week follow-up. Participants in the MBI group displayed significantly greater reductions in paranoia compared to the waitlist control group. Mediation analysis demonstrated that change in mindfulness skills (specifically the observe, describe and non-react facets of the FFMQ) mediated the relationship between intervention type and change in levels of paranoia. This study provides evidence that a brief online MBI can significantly reduce levels of paranoia in a non-clinical population. Furthermore, increases in mindfulness skills from this brief online MBI can mediate reductions in non-clinical paranoia. The limitations of the study are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770499/