Mindfulness May Mediate the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Romantic Relationships

Mindfulness May Mediate the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Romantic Relationships

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As mindfulness is the ever-unfolding compassionate, non-judgmental awareness of each and every moment, mindfulness practice and relationships go hand-in-hand.” – Gillian Florence Sanger

 

Childhood changes the victim forever. It changes the trusting innocence of childhood to a confused, guilt ridden, frightening, and traumatized existence. It not only produces short-term trauma which includes both psychological and physical injury, it has long-term consequences. It damages the victim’s self-esteem and creates difficulties entering into intimate relationship in adulthood.  Relationships under any conditions can be difficult. This is amplified in cohabitation where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. All this can be amplified with when one of the partners has experienced childhood trauma.

 

Mindfulness trainings have been shown to improve a variety of psychological issues including emotion regulationstress responsestraumafear and worryanxiety, and depression, and self-esteem. Mindfulness training has also been found to improve relationships and to be useful in treating sexual problems. In addition, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in resolving the residual symptoms of childhood trauma. But there is little empirical research on the influence of mindfulness on the relationships of couples where childhood trauma exists.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cumulative Childhood Trauma and Couple Satisfaction: Examining the Mediating Role of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7334265/) Gobout and colleagues recruited couples involved in romantic relationships and had them complete questionnaires measuring childhood trauma, couple satisfaction, and mindfulness. These data were then analyzed with regression and path analysis techniques.

 

Shockingly, they found that 87% of the sample had experienced some form of childhood trauma, including sexual or physical abuse, psychological violence or neglect, physical neglect, interparental physical or psychological violence, or bullying. They further found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of couples’ satisfaction and the higher the levels of childhood trauma the lower the levels of couple satisfaction and mindfulness. A path analysis revealed that childhood trauma affected couples’ satisfaction by being associated with lower levels of mindfulness that in turn were associated with lower couples’ satisfaction. The mediation was significant for overall mindfulness and also the observing, describing inner experience, and non-judging facets of mindfulness.

 

These findings are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But prior research has shown the mindfulness is effective in treating the symptoms of childhood trauma and it also improves relationships. Hence, it is reasonable to suggest that the relationships observed in the current study represent underlying causal connections. This suggests the childhood trauma, at least in part, reduces mindfulness which is important for relationship satisfaction. This infers that mindfulness training may be effective in reducing the impact of childhood trauma on the individual’s ability to engage in satisfying relationships.

 

These results also suggest that being sensitive to inner experience and not judging it is important for relationships. In other words, being aware of one’s feelings but not judging them helps the individual to better relate to a partner. Experiencing childhood trauma appears to make the individual somewhat numb to their feelings making it more difficult to be aware of their emotions in relating to another. Overcoming tis effect of experience trauma in childhood may be a key for allowing these victims to relate effectively to their partners and thereby having a satisfying relationship.

 

So, mindfulness may mediate the effects of childhood trauma on romantic relationships.

 

“When you are mindful of the love in your life you open yourself up to the opportunity for love to grow. And not just romantic love, but self-love, and loving friendships as well.” – Mindful

 

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

 

Gobout, N., Morissette Harvey, F., Cyr, G., & Bélanger, C. (2020). Cumulative Childhood Trauma and Couple Satisfaction: Examining the Mediating Role of Mindfulness. Mindfulness, 11(7), 1723–1733. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01390-x

 

Abstract

Objectives

Cumulative childhood trauma (CCT) survivors are at a higher risk of suffering from interpersonal problems including couple dissatisfaction. Dispositional mindfulness is increasingly proposed as a potential explanatory mechanism of post-traumatic symptomatology and has been documented as a predictor of couple satisfaction. Most authors operationalize mindfulness as a multidimensional disposition comprised of five facets (i.e., Describing, Observing, Non-judgment of inner experiences, Non-reactivity, and Acting with awareness), but the role of these facets in the link between CCT and couple satisfaction has yet to be understood. This study aimed to assess mindfulness as a potential mediator in the relationship between CCT and couple satisfaction and to examine the distinctive contributions of mindfulness facets in this mediation.

Methods

A sample of 330 participants from the community completed measures of couple satisfaction, mindfulness, and exposure to eight types of childhood maltreatment experiences.

Results

Path analysis results revealed that mindfulness mediated the relationship between CCT and couple satisfaction. More precisely, two mindfulness facets acted as specific mediators, namely, Describing and Non-judgment of inner experiences. The final integrative model explained 14% (p < .001) of the variance in couple satisfaction.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that mindfulness may be a meaningful mechanism in the link between CCT and couple satisfaction. They also highlight that description of inner experiences and a non-judgmental attitude of these experiences may act as key components to understand the influence of CCT on adults’ lower couple satisfaction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7334265/

 

Meditate to Alter the Brain and Overcome Attention and Hyperactivity Problems Resulting from Childhood Neglect

Meditate to Alter the Brain and Overcome Attention and Hyperactivity Problems Resulting from Childhood Neglect

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Without appropriate clinical interventions, individuals exposed to relational trauma in childhood are at greater risk for difficulties in adult relationships and parenting.” At present, there is not much in the way of treatment for individual adults who have experienced childhood maltreatment: this study shows that mindfulness could help change that.” – Emily Nauman

 

Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.” (World Health Organization, 2016)

 

Childhood neglect is traumatic and can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include cognitive impairments such as attentional difficulties, difficulty concentrating, and hyperactivity. Unfortunately, childhood neglect can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. Fortunately, mindfulness training has been found to help. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms even in adults who were maltreated in childhood..

 

In today’s Research News article “Closed-loop digital meditation for neurocognitive and behavioral development in adolescents with childhood neglect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235252/) Mishra and colleagues recruited adolescents (aged 10-18 years) who had experienced childhood neglect. They were randomly assigned to either a no-treatment control condition or to receive over the internet 30 sessions over 6 weeks of 30 minutes of either breath following meditation or attention to sensory information video games. They were measured before and after training and one year later for sustained attention, attention with distractors, inattention behaviors, hyperactivity, and academic performance. They also had their brains scanned with Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment and the attention to sensory information groups, the breath following meditation group after treatment had significant increases in attentional ability, both sustained and with distractors and a significant improvement in academic performance. In addition, the breath following meditation groups had a significant decrease in hyperactivity at the 1-year follow-up. The resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) revealed that the greater the level of childhood neglect experienced by the adolescents the lower the functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. After treatment only the breath following meditation group had a significant increase in the functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the greater the increase in connectivity the greater the improvements in sustained attention and hyperactivity.

 

These are interesting and potentially important findings. Childhood neglect appears to result in impairments in the connectivity of a key brain area involved in regulating attention, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. This could explain why neglected children have a higher likelihood of developing attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder in adolescents. Importantly, training in breath following meditation appears to some extent reverse the loss of functional connectivity and the attentional and hyperactivity symptoms of the adolescents and result in improved performance in school. Hence, training in breath following meditation may be very helpful in preventing childhood neglect from producing ADHD in adolescents and impairing their academic performance.

 

Another important aspect of the present study was that the treatment was provided over the internet. This greatly increases its availability, convenience, and utility and reduces cost. So, the treatment can be cost effectively scaled up to treat large numbers of adolescents scattered over wide geographic regions. This makes it available to adolescents who are neither near a therapist or can afford therapy.

 

Hence, meditate to alter the brain and overcome attention and hyperactivity problems resulting from childhood neglect.

 

The absence of emotional support in childhood can be as damaging and long-lasting as other traumas. But, because you can’t point to exactly where and when the wounding happened, it can be hard to identify and overcome it.” – Andrea Brandt

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Mishra, J., Sagar, R., Parveen, S., Kumaran, S., Modi, K., Maric, V., Ziegler, D., & Gazzaley, A. (2020). Closed-loop digital meditation for neurocognitive and behavioral development in adolescents with childhood neglect. Translational psychiatry, 10(1), 153. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-0820-z

 

Abstract

Adverse childhood experiences are linked to poor attentive behaviors during adolescence, as well as increased risk for mental health disorders in adults. However, no study has yet tested targeted interventions to optimize neurocognitive processes in this population. Here, we investigated closed-loop digital interventions in a double-blind randomized controlled study in adolescents with childhood neglect, and evaluated the outcomes using multimodal assessments of neuroimaging, cognitive, behavioral, and academic evaluations. In the primary neuroimaging results, we demonstrate that a closed-loop digital meditation intervention can strengthen functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) in the cingulo-opercular network, which is critically developing during the adolescent period. Second, this intervention enhanced sustained attention and interference-resolution abilities, and also reduced behavioral hyperactivity at a 1-year follow-up. Superior academic performance was additionally observed in adolescents who underwent the digital meditation intervention. Finally, changes in dACC functional connectivity significantly correlated with improvements in sustained attention, hyperactivity, and academic performance. This first study demonstrates that closed-loop digital meditation practice can facilitate development of important aspects of neurocognition and real-life behaviors in adolescents with early childhood neglect.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235252/

 

Spirituality is associated with Childhood Trauma

Spirituality is associated with Childhood Trauma

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

traumatic childhood experiences must be solved by making new good experiences with relationships, with closeness.” – Gopal Klein

 

Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Exposure to intimate partner violence is also sometimes included as a form of child maltreatment” (World Health Organization, 2016)

 

This maltreatment is traumatic and can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, childhood maltreatment can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. How individuals cope with childhood maltreatment helps determine the effects of the maltreatment on their mental health. It has been found that experiencing the feelings and thoughts completely allows for better coping. This can be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality to childhood trauma.

 

In today’s Research News article “Childhood Trauma Is Associated with the Spirituality of Non-Religious Respondents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068247/), Kosarkova and colleagues sampled the Czech population over 15 years of age and had them complete measures of childhood trauma, including emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect subscales, religiosity, spirituality, and religious conversion experiences.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spirituality in the non-religious but not the religious participants in the sample the greater the amounts of childhood trauma including emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect. Hence, for the non-religious people childhood trauma of all varieties are associated with spirituality.

 

The present results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. It is equally likely that childhood trauma increases spirituality, spirituality increases childhood trauma, or some third factor was responsible for both. It can be speculated, though, that the individual experiencing trauma looks for a means to explain the reason for the trauma. Individuals who are religious may interpret it in a religious context and conclude that god has abandoned them and so become even less spiritual. On the other hand, non-religious individuals would not fault god for the trauma and thus could take refuge in spirituality as a coping mechanism. It remains for future research to investigate these possibilities.

 

childhood violence survivors often mention the importance of spirituality in their survival and recovery as being a resource for healing, meaning making, and truth.” -Thelma Bryant-Davis

 

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

 

Kosarkova, A., Malinakova, K., Koncalova, Z., Tavel, P., & van Dijk, J. P. (2020). Childhood Trauma Is Associated with the Spirituality of Non-Religious Respondents. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(4), 1268. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041268

 

Abstract

Childhood trauma experience (CT) is negatively associated with many aspects of adult life. Religiosity/spirituality (R/S) are often studied as positive coping strategies and could help in the therapeutic process. Evidence on this is lacking for a non-religious environment. The aim of this study was to assess the associations of different types of CT with R/S in the secular conditions of the Czech Republic. A nationally representative sample (n = 1800, mean age = 46.4, SD = 17.4; 48.7% male) of adults participated in the survey. We measured childhood trauma, spirituality, religiosity and conversion experience. We found that four kinds of CT were associated with increased levels of spirituality, with odds ratios (OR) ranging from 1.17 (95% confidence interval 1.03–1.34) to 1.31 (1.18–1.46). Non-religious respondents were more likely to report associations of CT with spirituality. After measuring for different combinations of R/S, each CT was associated with increased chances of being “spiritual but non-religious”, with OR from 1.55 (1.17–2.06) to 2.10 (1.63–2.70). Moreover, converts were more likely to report emotional abuse OR = 1.46 (1.17–1.82) or emotional neglect with OR = 1.42 (1.11–1.82). Our findings show CT is associated with higher levels of spirituality in non-religious respondents. Addressing spiritual needs may contribute to the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic treatment of the victims.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068247/

 

Meditation Alters the Brains of Patients with Residual Symptoms after Accidental Physical Injury

Meditation Alters the Brains of Patients with Residual Symptoms after Accidental Physical Injury

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness meditation can help you recover from injury by changing your perception of the circumstance/trauma/event. . . . You can come to know if pain is authentic or based on fear. You can take an honest look at how much you are building up the meaning of an injury and causing yourself more pain. You can direct your mind towards what is important, rather than being distracted by irrational worries and beliefs that are based in fiction or illusion.” – Jennifer Houghton

 

Accidental or unintentional injuries occur due to external forces. In the United States there are nearly 40 million visits to doctors’ offices and 30 million emergency room visits for accidental injuries. The most frequent causes are automobile accidents and falls. Often patients have physical and mental distress that continues even with medical treatment for a year or more. These are termed post-traumatic residual disabilities. They are obviously a major problem for the ability of the patients to conduct their lives.

 

Meditation training has been found to be an effective treatment for a myriad of physical and mental problems resulting from accident, disease, or post-traumatic stress. It has also been established that meditation practice alters brain structure and electrical activity. So, it would make sense to employ meditation training for patients with post-traumatic residual disabilities and examine brain activity after the training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Short-term meditation modulates EEG activity in subjects with post-traumatic residual disabilities.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6402287/), Hata and colleagues recruited adult patients with physical and mental distress that continued even with medical treatment for a year or more and a group of healthy normal control participants. The participants with post-traumatic residual disabilities were provided audio recording led meditation practice and asked to meditate for 24 minutes daily for 8 weeks. Before and after practice they were measured for distress from disability and mindfulness and were subjected to an Electroencephalographic (EEG) technique called Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (eLORETA) while at rest and while meditating. Recordings were only performed once for the normal control participants who did not meditate.

 

The meditation practice produced a significant increase in mindfulness in the patients. In comparison to the normal controls, meditation produced increased current densities in the inferior parietal module of the participants with post-traumatic residual disabilities. They also found that changes in the brain current densities in the precuneus were positively associated with work or daily difficulties resulting from the injury.

 

This study demonstrated that meditation practice produces changes in the electrical characteristic in the brains of patients with post-traumatic residual disabilities. Importantly, the greater the increase in precuneus current density the greater the improvement in daily physical difficulties resulting from the injuries. So, meditation practice may be useful for the relief of these difficulties. But the effects were not large and there wasn’t a comparable control condition. So, these results must be seen as tentative until a larger randomized controlled trial can be implemented.

 

So, meditation alters the brains of patients with residual symptoms after accidental physical injury.

 

“meditation is about establishing a different relationship with your thoughts and affirming your body’s ability to heal itself. You’re training yourself to place your attention where and when you want. This is very powerful. It gives you the ability to direct your thoughts (and mood) in more productive and peaceful directions. This ability has profound self-healing implications for physical and mental health.” – Caroline Jordan

 

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

 

Hata, M., Hayashi, N., Ishii, R., Canuet, L., Pascual-Marqui, R. D., Aoki, Y., … Ito, T. (2019). Short-term meditation modulates EEG activity in subjects with post-traumatic residual disabilities. Clinical neurophysiology practice, 4, 30–36. doi:10.1016/j.cnp.2019.01.003

 

Abstract

Objective

Neurophysiological changes related to meditation have recently attracted scientific attention. We aimed to detect changes in electroencephalography (EEG) parameters induced by a meditative intervention in subjects with post-traumatic residual disability (PTRD), which has been confirmed for effectiveness and safety in a previous study. This will allow us to estimate the objective effect of this intervention at the neurophysiological level.

Methods

Ten subjects with PTRD were recruited and underwent psychological assessment and EEG recordings before and after the meditative intervention. Furthermore, 10 additional subjects were recruited as normal controls. Source current density as an EEG parameter was estimated by exact Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (eLORETA). Comparisons of source current density in PTRD subjects after the meditative intervention with normal controls were investigated. Additionally, we compared source current density in PTRD subjects between before and after meditative intervention. Correlations between psychological assessments and source current density were also explored.

Results

After meditative intervention, PTRD subjects exhibited increased gamma activity in the left inferior parietal lobule relative to normal controls. In addition, changes of delta activity in the right precuneus correlated with changes in the psychological score on role physical item, one of the quality of life scales reflecting the work or daily difficulty due to physical problems.

Conclusions

These results show that the meditative intervention used in this study produces neurophysiological changes, in particular the modulation of oscillatory activity of the brain.

Significance

Our meditative interventions might induce the neurophysiological changes associated with the improvement of psychological symptoms in the PTRD subjects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6402287/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Firefighters

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Firefighters

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practices work at both a preventative and remedial level by assisting them to maintain higher levels of resilience to deal with their emergency responder roles and helping to reduce and cease distressing reactions after difficult personal and traumatic incidents.” – Mark Molony

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime with 7%-8% of the population developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). First responders such as firefighters and police experience traumatic events as part of their jobs and many develop symptoms of PTSD. This is responsible for the fact that wore firefighters and police officers die by suicide than all line-of-duty deaths combined. 103 firefighters and 140 police officers died by suicide in 2017, compared to 93 firefighter and 129 officer line-of-duty deaths.

 

Obviously, stress and trauma effects are troubling problems for firefighters that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective.  Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress, to reduce suicidality and to reduce the impact of trauma on the individual. So, a firefighter’s level of mindfulness may be associated with better mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mental health and mindfulness amongst Australian fire fighters.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6570940/), Counson and colleagues recruited healthy firefighters who had experienced trauma in the last 6 months. The firefighters completed measures of mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being.

 

They found that the higher the firefighters’ levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of anxiety and depression and the higher the levels of psychological well-being. Hence, mindfulness was found to be associated with better mental health in these firefighters who are exposed to trauma. This study is correlational and no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. But previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness has causal effects on anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being. So, it is likely that the associations seen here were due to causal connections.

 

These results suggest that mindful firefighters are resistant to the effects of trauma. It has been shown the mindfulness is effective in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The present results then combined with these previous findings suggest that mindfulness may help to protect firefighters from trauma making it less likely that they’ll develop PTSD.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better mental health in firefighters.

 

targeted mindfulness training program increases some aspects of firefighter resilience (distress tolerance, positive adjustment, and perseverance). . . . The more lessons firefighters completed, the greater their improvements in both mindfulness and resilience.” – AMRA

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Counson, I., Hosemans, D., Lal, T. J., Mott, B., Harvey, S. B., & Joyce, S. (2019). Mental health and mindfulness amongst Australian fire fighters. BMC psychology, 7(1), 34. doi:10.1186/s40359-019-0311-2

 

Abstract

Background

While extensive research has highlighted the positive mental health outcomes associated with mindfulness, little work has examined how mindfulness may protect the mental health of first responders exposed to trauma. This is important as there is increasing evidence that mindfulness skills, if protective, can be taught to groups of at-risk workers. The purpose of the current research was to examine the potential role mindfulness may have in supporting the mental health of Australian fire fighters.

Methods

The sample consisted of 114 professional fire fighters who completed demographic and job-related questions followed by measures of mindfulness (FMI-14), well-being (WHO-5), depression (HADS-D) and anxiety (HADS-A). Hierarchical multiple linear regressions were performed to determine whether levels of mindfulness were associated with anxiety, depression and wellbeing after accounting for age and number of years of fire service.

Results

High levels of mindfulness were associated with decreased depression (p ≤ .001) and anxiety (p ≤ .001) as well as increased psychological well-being (p ≤ .001). Measures of mindfulness were able to explain a substantial amount of the variability in well-being (26.8%), anxiety (23.6%) and depression (22.4%), regardless of age and years of fire service.

Conclusions

The present study provides evidence for robust associations between dispositional mindfulness and mental health markers of depression, anxiety and well-being in Australian fire fighters recently exposed to trauma. Mindfulness is a psychological characteristic that may be able to be modified, although further research is required to substantiate these findings and to formally test mindfulness interventions. Such studies would allow greater insight into the underlying mechanisms through which mindfulness may exert its beneficial effects.

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (10.1186/s40359-019-0311-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6570940/

 

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The mindfulness practices work at both a preventative and remedial level by assisting them to maintain higher levels of resilience to deal with their emergency responder roles and helping to reduce and cease distressing reactions after difficult personal and traumatic incidents.” – Mark Molony

 

First responders such as firefighters and police experience a great deal of stress and frequent traumatic events and as a part of their jobs. The first-responders need to be resilient in the face of these difficult circumstances to cope with the stress. It is possible that mindfulness training might help. Mindfulness has been shown to increase resilience and reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it is reasonable to infer that mindfulness training may help to develop resilience in first-responders and be of benefit to their mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/), Joyce and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness training delivered with a smartphone app to increase the levels of resilience in first-responders. They recruited Primary Rescue and Hazmat firefighters and randomly assigned their stations to either receive 6, 20-25 minute, sessions  of mindfulness training or to an Healthy Living control condition. The mindfulness training was based upon Acceptance and Compassion Therapy (ACT) and emphasized mindfulness, self-acceptance, and compassion. Both programs were delivered through a smartphone app. The first-responders were measured before and after training and 6 months later for mindfulness, resilience, cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance and psychological inflexibility, self-compassion, optimism, coping orientation, and life purpose.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition, participation in the mindfulness training resulted in a significant increase in adaptive resilience and mindfulness which continued to increase over the 6-month follow-up period. Significant differences in optimism, and the use of instrumental and emotional support were present at the end of training but were not sustained at follow-up. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in “bounce-back” resilience.

 

Adaptive resilience involves the ability to adapt to stressful life circumstances and events. It involves the “individual’s ability to tolerate experiences such as change, personal problems, illness, pressure, failure, and painful feelings.” On the other hand, “bounce-back” resilience involves the ability to recover from stressful events. Since mindfulness focuses the individual on the present moment, it would be expected that it would influence the experience and coping with stressful events as they’re occurring. This is the case with adaptive resilience. On the other hand, mindfulness moves attention away from past events and would thus not be expected to influence coping with past stressful events as is the case with “bounce-back” resilience. Hence, it makes sense that mindfulness training would affect adaptive resilience and not “bounce-back” resilience.

 

It is important for the well-being of first responders that they be able to cope with the, at times, intense stress and trauma involved in their jobs. Hence, mindfulness training may be very beneficial as the present results suggest. This may help to prevent illness, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, the fact that mindfulness was taught with a smartphone app is important as it makes the training convenient and adaptable to the individual’s schedule. It is also highly scalable allowing for inexpensive widespread availability of the training.

 

So, Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App.

 

“Because PTSD is an anxiety disorder, episodes of distress occur when a person begins to worry about the future based on previous painful, intense or stressful memories. Meditation can help bring that person’s attention back to the current moment, which reduces or eliminates anxiety.” – Erin Fletcher

 

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

 

Joyce, S., Shand, F., Lal, T. J., Mott, B., Bryant, R. A., & Harvey, S. B. (2019). Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(2), e12894. doi:10.2196/12894

 

Abstract

Background

A growing body of research suggests that resilience training can play a pivotal role in creating mentally healthy workplaces, particularly with regard to protecting the long-term well-being of workers. Emerging research describes positive outcomes from various types of resilience training programs (RTPs) among different occupational groups. One specific group of workers that may benefit from this form of proactive resilience training is first responders. Given the nature of their work, first responders are frequently exposed to stressful circumstances and potentially traumatic events, which may impact their overall resilience and well-being over time.

Objective

This study aimed to examine whether a mindfulness-based RTP (the Resilience@Work [RAW] Mindfulness Program) delivered via the internet can effectively enhance resilience among a group of high-risk workers.

Methods

We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) comprising 24 Primary Fire and Rescue and Hazmat stations within New South Wales. Overall, 12 stations were assigned to the 6-session RAW Mindfulness Program and 12 stations were assigned to the control condition. A total of 143 active full-time firefighters enrolled in the study. Questionnaires were administered at baseline, immediately post training, and at 6-month follow-up. Measurements examined change in both adaptive and bounce-back resilience as well as several secondary outcomes examining resilience resources and acceptance and mindfulness skills.

Results

Mixed-model repeated measures analysis found that the overall test of group-by-time interaction was significant (P=.008), with the intervention group increasing in adaptive resilience over time. However, no significant differences were found between the intervention group and the control group in terms of change in bounce-back resilience (P=.09). At 6-month follow-up, the group receiving the RAW intervention had an average increase in their resilience score of 1.3, equating to a moderate-to-large effect size compared with the control group of 0.73 (95% CI 0.38-1.06). Per-protocol analysis found that compared with the control group, the greatest improvements in adaptive resilience were observed among those who completed most of the RAW program, that is, 5 to 6 sessions (P=.002).

Conclusions

The results of this RCT suggest that mindfulness-based resilience training delivered in an internet format can create improvements in adaptive resilience and related resources among high-risk workers, such as first responders. Despite a number of limitations, the results of this study suggest that the RAW Mindfulness Program is an effective, scalable, and practical means of delivering online resilience training in high-risk workplace settings. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a mindfulness-based RTP delivered entirely via the internet has been tested in the workplace.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/

 

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Meditation or Yoga

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Meditation or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation helps bring about the kind of deep self-awareness, or mindfulness, that can create a therapeutic basis for reducing the symptoms of PTSD. We can meet difficult emotions, difficult memories, and difficult experiences through meditation,” Stephanie Lopez

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); about 7%-8%. PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, avoiding situations that remind them of the event memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are serious and troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Exercise also appears to be effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the meditation and yoga training in treating PTSD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation and Yoga for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analytic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5939561/ ), Gallegos and colleagues reviewed, summarized and performed a meta-analysis of the 19 published randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) of the application of mindfulness training, meditation, and/or yoga for the treatment of the symptoms of PTSD. They found that the research reports that all techniques including mindfulness training, meditation, and yoga produced significant improvements in the symptoms of PTSD regardless of whether they were compared to active or inactive control conditions. They all had moderate to large effect sizes.

 

This summary of the research is very encouraging and suggests that mindfulness, meditation, and yoga training are safe and effective adjunctive treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is not known exactly how these trainings improve PTSD but they are known to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress, improve the regulation of emotions, and reduce worry and rumination, all of which should be beneficial for PTSD sufferers.

 

So, improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with meditation or yoga.

 

“Veterans struggling with the growing problem of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have new hope in helping to alleviate their symptoms with Mindful Yoga Therapy (MYT), according to research that finds the specific yoga practices in its protocol can help improve their physical and psychological well-being.” – Mindful Yoga Therapy

 

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

 

Gallegos, A. M., Crean, H. F., Pigeon, W. R., & Heffner, K. L. (2017). Meditation and Yoga for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analytic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Clinical Psychology Review, 58, 115–124. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2017.10.004

 

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic and debilitating disorder that affects the lives of 7-8% of adults in the U.S. Although several interventions demonstrate clinical effectiveness for treating PTSD, many patients continue to have residual symptoms and ask for a variety of treatment options. Complementary health approaches, such as meditation and yoga, hold promise for treating symptoms of PTSD. This meta-analysis evaluates the effect size (ES) of yoga and meditation on PTSD outcomes in adult patients. We also examined whether the intervention type, PTSD outcome measure, study population, sample size, or control condition moderated the effects of complementary approaches on PTSD outcomes. The studies included were 19 randomized control trials with data on 1,173 participants. A random effects model yielded a statistically significant ES in the small to medium range (ES = −.39, p < .001, 95% CI [−.57, −.22]). There were no appreciable differences between intervention types, study population, outcome measures, or control condition. There was, however, a marginally significant higher ES for sample size ≤ 30 (ES = −.78, k = 5). These findings suggest that meditation and yoga are promising complementary approaches in the treatment of PTSD among adults and warrant further study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5939561/

Improve PTSD After Sexual Trauma with Mindfulness Plus Exercise

Improve PTSD After Sexual Trauma with Mindfulness Plus Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Clinical studies have shown that mindfulness-based treatments can be helpful for people suffering from PTSD. The non-judgmental outlook that mindfulness works to cultivate can help folks accept their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, and reduce the avoidance, intrusive thoughts, and numbness symptoms characteristic of PTSD. Mindfulness practices may decrease survivors’ feelings of guilt, shame, and other negative emotions, and increase their positive feelings toward themselves and others.” – Jezmina Von Thiele

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Many, but, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. PTSD can be produced by interpersonal violence which includes physical or sexual violence. Sexual violence is all too common with 1 out of every 6 women having experienced attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are serious and troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Exercise also appears to be effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the combination of exercise and mindfulness training in treating PTSD.

 

In today’s Research News article “MAP Training My Brain™: Meditation Plus Aerobic Exercise Lessens Trauma of Sexual Violence More Than Either Activity Alone.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5924799/ ), Shors and colleagues recruited adult college women and randomly assigned them to one of four conditions; meditation, aerobic exercise, meditation plus aerobic exercise, or no treatment. Meditation and aerobic exercise sessions lasted 30 minutes each. There were 2 sessions per week for 6 weeks. They were measured before and after training for thoughts and feelings following trauma, self-worth, rumination, and stressful life memories.

 

They found that after the combined meditation plus exercise condition and meditation alone, but not exercise alone or no treatment, there was a significant reduction in thoughts and feelings following trauma. They also found that only after the combined meditation plus exercise condition were there significant reductions in rumination and increases in self-worth. When women who had experience sexual trauma were examined, they found that only after the combined meditation plus exercise condition, were there significant reductions in thoughts and feelings following trauma, and rumination and increases in self-worth.

 

These results suggest that the combination of exercise plus meditation is much more effective in reducing trauma related psychological symptoms than either alone especially in women who had experienced sexual trauma. This suggests that treating both the mind and the body is particularly effective in dealing with the psychological sequela of trauma. It will be interesting in future research to see if this is also true in treating PTSD in men and with physical and combat trauma.

 

So, improve PTSD after sexual trauma with mindfulness plus exercise.

 

“Women who experience sexual violence, and people who experience trauma, tend to ruminate over what happened—asking themselves why it happened or if they could have done something differently. The more you think about it, the more you go over the memories, the more memories you make. MAP Training diminished those thoughts in women who experienced violence.” – Tracey Shors

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tracey J. Shors, Han Y. M. Chang, Emma M. Millon. MAP Training My Brain™: Meditation Plus Aerobic Exercise Lessens Trauma of Sexual Violence More Than Either Activity Alone. Front Neurosci. 2018; 12: 211. Published online 2018 Apr 23. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00211

 

Abstract

Sexual violence against women often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental illness characterized by intrusive thoughts and memories about the traumatic event (Shors and Millon, 2016). These mental processes are obviously generated by the brain but often felt in the body. MAP Training My Brain™ is a novel clinical intervention that combines mental training of the brain with physical training of the body (Curlik and Shors, 2013; Shors et al., 2014). Each training session begins with 20-min of sitting meditation, followed by 10-min of slow-walking meditation, and ending with 30-min of aerobic exercise at 60–80% of the maximum heart rate (see maptrainmybrain.com). In previous studies, the combination of mental and physical (MAP) training together significantly reduced symptoms of depression and ruminative thoughts, while reducing anxiety (Shors et al., 20142017; Alderman et al., 2016). We also documented positive changes in brain activity during cognitive control and whole-body oxygen consumption in various populations. In the present pilot study, we asked whether the combination of meditation and aerobic exercise during MAP Training would reduce trauma-related thoughts, ruminations, and memories in women and if so, whether the combination would be more effective than either activity alone. To test this hypothesis, interventions were provided to a group of women (n = 105), many of whom had a history of sexual violence (n = 32). Groups were trained with (1) MAP Training, (2) meditation alone, (3) aerobic exercise alone, or (4) not trained. Individuals in training groups completed two sessions a week for at least 6 weeks. MAP Training My Brain™ significantly reduced post-traumatic cognitions and ruminative thoughts in women with a history of sexual violence, whereas meditation alone, and exercise alone did not. MAP Training significantly enhanced a measure of self-worth, whereas meditation and exercise alone did not. Similar positive effects were observed for all participants, although meditation alone was also effective in reducing trauma-related thoughts. Overall, these data indicate the combination of meditation and exercise is synergistic. As a consequence, MAP Training is preferable and especially so for women who have experienced sexual violence in their past. Simply put, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5924799/

 

Reduce Psychological Symptoms of Trauma with Mindfulness

Reduce Psychological Symptoms of Trauma with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Focusing on the present moment? Those with OCD rarely do that. Instead they either find themselves immersed in the world of “what ifs,” worrying about everything that might go wrong, or agonizing over things they think might have already gone wrong. Lots of thinking about the future and the past. Not so much about the present.” – Janet Singer

 

Trauma leaves in its wake a syndrome of posttraumatic symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that over half of adults will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. It’s been estimated that of adolescents, 8% have been exposed to sexual assault, 17% physical assault, and 39% had witnessed violence. This is tragic unto itself, but childhood trauma can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life.

 

How individuals cope with trauma helps determine the effects of the trauma on their mental health. Trying to avoid thinking about or being in touch with internal experiences, experiential avoidance, disallows the individual from confronting the experiences and could exacerbate the negative effects of the trauma. On the other hand, experiencing the feelings and thoughts completely would allow for better coping. This would be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms. In today’s Research News article “Effects of Traumatic Experiences on Obsessive-Compulsive and Internalizing Symptoms: The Role of Avoidance and Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654743/ ), Kroska and colleagues investigate the roles of mindfulness and experiential avoidance on psychiatric symptoms of trauma in adolescents.

 

They recruited troubled students from an alternative High School and had them complete measurements of childhood trauma, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. They also recruited college students and had them complete the same measure and additional measures of internalizing, including anxiety and depression. They then performed a statistical analysis of the responses including a mediation analysis.

 

They found that with the troubled youths, experiential avoidance was associated with greater obsessive-compulsive symptoms. They found that childhood trauma was associated with lower levels of mindfulness, while high levels of mindfulness were associated with lower levels of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Hence, for the troubled youths, experiential avoidance was associated with greater psychiatric symptoms while mindfulness was associated with lower symptoms and that childhood trauma tended to impair mindfulness.

 

With the college students they found that childhood trauma was associated with both greater experiential avoidance and with lower mindfulness, especially the observing facet of mindfulness. In addition, obsessive-compulsive symptoms were associated with higher levels of avoidance and lower levels of mindfulness. In looking at internalizing, anxiety and depression, a similar pattern emerged. Childhood trauma was associated with both greater experiential avoidance and with lower mindfulness and internalizing symptoms were associated with higher levels of avoidance and lower levels of mindfulness.

 

These results suggest that childhood trauma is associated with higher levels of psychiatric symptoms including both obsessive-compulsive and internalizing symptoms and that these associations of childhood trauma are mediated by higher levels of experiential avoidance and lower levels of mindfulness. This further suggests the nature of the mechanisms for trauma effects on mental health, with trauma acting through increasing avoidance and decreasing mindfulness to impair mental health.

 

These findings may help to improve therapeutic interventions for the treatment of the symptoms of trauma. They suggest that treatments targeted at increasing mindfulness and lowering experiential avoidance would produce great mental health benefits for survivors of childhood trauma.

 

“Our results suggest that mindfulness may provide some resilience against the poor adult health outcomes that often result from childhood trauma,” – Robert Whitaker

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kroska, E. B., Miller, M. L., Roche, A. I., Kroska, S. K., & O’Hara, M. W. (2018). Effects of Traumatic Experiences on Obsessive-Compulsive and Internalizing Symptoms: The Role of Avoidance and Mindfulness. Journal of Affective Disorders, 225, 326–336. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2017.08.039

 

Abstract

Background

Trauma exposure is associated with adverse psychological outcomes including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms. Adolescence is increasingly recognized as a period of vulnerability for the onset of these types of psychological symptoms. The current study explored the mediating roles of experiential avoidance and mindfulness processes in the association between retrospective reports of childhood trauma and current internalizing and OC symptoms in adolescents.

Method

A group of at-risk adolescents (N =51) and a group of college students (N =400) reported on childhood trauma, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, anxiety, depressive, and OC symptoms. Mediation analyses were performed to examine the mechanistic roles of avoidance and mindfulness in the association between trauma and internalizing and OC-specific symptoms.

Results

In the group of at-risk adolescents, experiential avoidance and mindfulness both significantly mediated the association between childhood trauma and OC symptoms. In the college student sample, experiential avoidance mediated the association between trauma and OC symptoms. Experiential avoidance, as well as the observe, act with awareness, and nonjudgmental facets of mindfulness all significantly mediated the association between trauma and internalizing symptoms.

Limitations

The group of at-risk adolescents was small, and the college student group was demographically homogeneous. All data was self-report and cross-sectional.

Conclusion

The current study demonstrated that experiential avoidance and mindfulness processes may be the mechanisms through which the association between trauma and obsessive-compulsive and trauma and internalizing symptoms exist in adolescents. These findings provide potential targets for clinical intervention to improve outcomes for adolescents who have experienced trauma.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654743/

Improve Stress and Trauma Effects on Children with Mindfulness

Improve Stress and Trauma Effects on Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practice helps children connect with positive emotional and social experiences, often things that a traumatized brain struggles to do.” – Mindful

 

Trauma comes in many forms, from abuse to warfare, from children to the elderly, from natural and man-made causes, and from the rich to the poor. But, regardless of the cause or the characteristics of the individuals, it leaves in its wake a syndrome of posttraumatic symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily.

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Over a third of children interviewed in school had experienced at least one trauma and 9% had experienced at least 5 traumatic events. It’s been estimated that of adolescents, 8% have been exposed to sexual assault, 17% physical assault, and 39% had witnessed violence. It is estimated that 15% of children show symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is tragic unto itself, but childhood trauma can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. So, it is important to develop methods to help individuals cope with trauma.

 

There have been many treatments employed each with varying but limited success. Most treatments have been used with adults. There is very little research investigating the effects of treatment on childhood trauma. Mindfulness training has been found to be effective for trauma in adults, particularly from the middle and upper classes. Yoga has been shown to be effective with trauma in children. In today’s Research News article “The Role of Mindfulness in Reducing the Adverse Effects of Childhood Stress and Trauma.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/4/3/16/htm

Ortiz and Sibinga review the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices on the physical and psychological effects of childhood trauma.

 

They report that the results of published studies support the effectiveness of mindfulness training to mitigate the effects of childhood trauma in adults. It appears to buffer stress and improve resilience and as a result reduces the later psychological and physical effects of the trauma, including anxiety, depression, stress, burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, addictions, decreased quality of life, cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity. They also report that published studies of the effects of mindfulness practices on children who have experienced trauma find that, like with adults, school children who have experienced trauma show significant improvements in mental and physical symptoms, including, resilience, anxiety, depression, self-hostility, negative emotions, rumination, sleep, self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, suicidal thoughts, quality of life, social behavior, and coping ability.

 

These are outstanding findings that strongly suggest that mindfulness training is an effective therapeutic strategy to help both children and adults cope with the psychological and physical sequalae of trauma. With the high prevalence rates of trauma in childhood, mindfulness training may be a needed solution to the short- and lont-term effects of this rampant problem.

 

So, improve the stress and trauma effects on children with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness may provide some resilience against the poor adult health outcomes that often result from childhood trauma. Mindfulness training may help adults, including those with a history of childhood trauma, to improve their own well-being and be more effective with children.” – Robert Whitaker

 

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

Ortiz, R.; Sibinga, E.M. The Role of Mindfulness in Reducing the Adverse Effects of Childhood Stress and Trauma. Children 2017, 4, 16.

 

Abstract

Research suggests that many children are exposed to adverse experiences in childhood. Such adverse childhood exposures may result in stress and trauma, which are associated with increased morbidity and mortality into adulthood. In general populations and trauma-exposed adults, mindfulness interventions have demonstrated reduced depression and anxiety, reduced trauma-related symptoms, enhanced coping and mood, and improved quality of life. Studies in children and youth also demonstrate that mindfulness interventions improve mental, behavioral, and physical outcomes. Taken together, this research suggests that high-quality, structured mindfulness instruction may mitigate the negative effects of stress and trauma related to adverse childhood exposures, improving short- and long-term outcomes, and potentially reducing poor health outcomes in adulthood. Future work is needed to optimize implementation of youth-based mindfulness programs and to study long-term outcomes into adulthood.

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/4/3/16/htm