Improve the Psychological Health of Patients with Early Psychosis with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“for people with psychosis without severe social anxiety, learning mindfulness strategies in a group format is greatly appreciated and offers clear benefits—in terms of participants being more active, less depressed and less anxious.” – Tania Lecomte
Psychoses are mental health problems that cause people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. This might involve hallucinations; seeing and, in some cases, feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t objectively there, or delusions; unshakable beliefs that, when examined rationally, are obviously untrue. The combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking can often severely disrupt perception, thinking, emotion, and behavior, making it difficult if not impossible to function in society without treatment. Psychoses appear to be highly heritable and involves changes in the brain. The symptoms of psychoses usually do not appear until late adolescence or early adulthood. There are, however, usually early signs of the onset of psychoses which present as cognitive impairments.
Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for patients with psychosis. Implementing interventions early in the disease progression may maximize the benefits. It would be even better to intervene before full-blown symptoms emerge. Research in this area is accumulating. Hence, it makes sense to review and summarize the studies to assess the state of the understanding of the effectiveness of early intervention with mindfulness training in patients at risk for or in early stages of psychosis.
In today’s Research News article “Clinical Effects of Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Patients With First Episode Psychosis and in Individuals With Ultra-High Risk for Transition to Psychosis: A Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6837071/ ), Vignaud and colleagues reviewed and summarized the 9 published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the treatment of patients at ultra-high risk (1 article) for or in early stages (8 articles) of psychosis.
They report that the 9 published research studies found that mindfulness training was safe and effective and produced significant improvements in anxiety, depression and quality of life in these patients. There were insufficient studies assessing the positive and negative symptoms of psychosis to reach any conclusions. It would be useful for future studies to examine in more depth the positive and negative symptoms of psychosis.
It is well established that mindfulness training produces improvements in anxiety and depression and improves the quality of life in diverse types of patients. The findings of the present review suggest that it has these same benefits for patients at risk for or in early stages of psychosis. It was disappointing that the currently available findings did not include long-term follow-up. It would be important to establish whether mindfulness interventions early in the disease progression might reduce the deterioration that normally occurs over time.
So, improve the psychological health of patients with early psychosis with mindfulness.
“mindfulness, is effective in alleviating distress in individuals with psychosis who are hearing voices.” – Batya Swift Yasgur
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Vignaud, P., Reilly, K. T., Donde, C., Haesebaert, F., & Brunelin, J. (2019). Clinical Effects of Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Patients With First Episode Psychosis and in Individuals With Ultra-High Risk for Transition to Psychosis: A Review. Frontiers in psychiatry, 10, 797. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00797
Objectives: Recent clinical studies and meta-analyses have reported the clinical effects of mindfulness-based interventions as a complementary treatment for patients with schizophrenia, but their possible efficacy in patients with first episode of psychosis (FEP) and in individuals with ultra-high risk (UHR) of transition to psychosis is less clear. Here, we investigated the current evidence on the usefulness of mindfulness-based interventions in these two populations.
Methods: We conducted a systematic search of the literature according to the PRISMA guidelines.
Results: Among the 102 references retrieved, 9 responded to the inclusion criteria (8 in FEP patients and 1 in UHR individuals). In FEP patients, mindfulness interventions are well-tolerated and have a satisfactory level of adherence. The clinical benefits consist primarily of reduced anxiety and sadness and improved quality of life. None of the studies reported any increase in positive symptoms.
Conclusion: Future sham-controlled studies with large sample sizes are needed to definitively conclude on the clinical interest of mindfulness-based interventions in FEP patients and UHR individuals as well as to understand their underlying mechanisms of action.