Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

Reduce the Risk of Major Depression Relapse with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

a growing body of research is pointing to an intervention that appears to help prevent relapse by altering thought patterns without side effects: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.” – Stacy Lu

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression.

 

Relapsing into depression is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression. MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior.

 

There has been considerable research demonstrating that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is effective in treating depression.  In today’s Research News article “The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/), Schanche and colleagues investigate the ability of  MBCT to reduce risk factors associated with relapse in patients with major depressive disorder.

 

They recruited adult patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder who had at least 3 depressive episodes and who were currently in remission. They were randomly assigned to be on a wait list or to receive 8 weekly 2-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before and after training for rumination, emotion regulation, anxiety, self-compassion, mindfulness, and depression.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were significant reductions in rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and significant increases in emotion regulation, self-compassion and mindfulness. Hence, MBCT significantly improved the psychological well-being of these patients.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) produces a reduction in the types of negative emotional symptoms that could promote a depressive relapse and an increase in factors that could promote resistance to relapse especially the ability to effectively cope with their emotions and compassion for themselves. Mindfulness training has been repeatedly shown in the past to reduce rumination, anxiety, emotional reactivity to stress and depression and increase emotion regulation and self-compassion. The present study demonstrates that these benefits occur in patients in remission from major depressive disorder. This suggests that MBCT is effective in improving the major depressive disorder patients psychological state in a way that suggests that they would be resistant to relapse in the future.

 

So, reduce the risk of major depression relapse with mindfulness.

 

MBCT and CT attempt to reduce the risk of relapse by promoting different skill sets. CT promotes challenging dysfunctional thinking and increasing physical activity level. MBCT promotes nonjudgmental monitoring of moment-by-moment experience, and decentering from thoughts or seeing thoughts as transient mental phenomena and not necessarily valid.” – American Mindfulness Research Association

 

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

 

Elisabeth Schanche, Jon Vøllestad, Endre Visted, Julie Lillebostad Svendsen, Berge Osnes, Per Einar Binder, Petter Franer, Lin Sørensen. The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on risk and protective factors of depressive relapse – a randomized wait-list controlled trial. BMC Psychol. 2020; 8: 57. Published online 2020 Jun 5. doi: 10.1186/s40359-020-00417-1

 

Abstract

Background

The aim of this randomized wait-list controlled trial was to explore the effects of Mindfulness–Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on risk and protective factors for depressive relapse within the domains of cognition, emotion and self-relatedness.

Methods

Sixty-eight individuals with recurrent depressive disorder were randomized to MBCT or a wait-list control condition (WLC).

Results

Completers of MBCT (N = 26) improved significantly on measures assessing risk and protective factors of recurrent depression compared to WLC (N = 30) on measures of rumination (d = 0.59, p = .015), emotion regulation (d = 0.50, p = .028), emotional reactivity to stress (d = 0.32, p = .048), self-compassion (d = 1.02, p < .001), mindfulness (d = 0.59, p = .010), and depression (d = 0.40, p = .018). In the Intention To Treat sample, findings were attenuated, but there were still significant results on measures of rumination, self-compassion and depression.

Conclusions

Findings from the present trial contribute to evidence that MBCT can lead to reduction in risk factors of depressive relapse, and strengthening of factors known to be protective of depressive relapse. The largest changes were found in the domain of self-relatedness, in the form of large effects on the participants’ ability to be less self-judgmental and more self-compassionate.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275325/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Functional Impairment and Avoidance in Major Depressive Disorder

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Functional Impairment and Avoidance in Major Depressive Disorder

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

People at risk for depression are dealing with a lot of negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs about themselves and this can easily slide into a depressive relapse. MBCT helps them to recognize that’s happening, engage with it in a different way and respond to it with equanimity and compassion.” – Willem Kuyken

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating, impairing the ability of the patients to effectively conduct their lives. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail. Behavioral activation involves engaging with what is going on in the present moment and is thought to help with depression while avoiding symptoms and ruminating tend to exacerbate the depression. There is little data, however, of the interplay of activation and mindfulness in patients with major depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Roles of Trait Mindfulness in Behavioral Activation Mechanism for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7202344/), Takagaki and colleagues had adult patients with major depressive disorder complete questionnaires designed to measure behavioral activation for depression including subscales measuring activation, avoidance/rumination, work/school impairment, and social impairment; mindfulness including subscales measuring describe, observe, act with awareness, nonreactivity, and non-judging; depression; and disability.

 

They found that the greater the level of depression the greater the level of disability, avoidance/rumination, and mindful observing and the lower the levels of mindful describing, acting with awareness, nonreacting and non-judging. Similarly, they also found that the higher the levels of avoidance/rumination the greater the levels of depression, disability, and mindful observing and the lower the levels of mindful describing, acting with awareness, nonreacting and non-judging. Structural equation modelling revealed that mindful acting with awareness, nonreacting and non-judging was directly negatively related to avoidance/rumination which was in turn positively related to disability. In addition, mindful acting with awareness and nonreacting were directly negatively related to disability.

 

These results are correlative and caution must be taken in making causal inferences. Nevertheless, the results suggest that the degree of disability/impairment in patients with major depressive disorder is directly and indirectly associated with mindfulness with avoidance/rumination as an intermediary. That is, avoidance of a negative aversive state and engagement in rumination rather than active problem-solving to some extent mediates the association of mindfulness with lower levels of impairment in life. Hence, mindfulness is related to the patient’s ability to better conduct their life and it does so directly and indirectly by being associated with less avoidance of psychological pain and less rumination.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with lower functional impairment and avoidance in major depressive disorder.

 

Mindfulness training can “generate positive emotions by cultivating self-compassion and self-confidence through an upward spiral process, although behavioral activation is action oriented while mindfulness emphasizes the acceptance and awareness of present moment emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations, the two can be complementary.” _ Amanda MacMillan

 

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

 

Takagaki, K., Ito, M., Takebayashi, Y., Nakajima, S., & Horikoshi, M. (2020). Roles of Trait Mindfulness in Behavioral Activation Mechanism for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 845. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00845

 

Abstract

Behavioral activation and mindfulness have both been shown to engender improvement of functional impairment in patients with major depressive disorder. In behavioral activation, the practice of engaging with the direct experience of the present moment is central, especially when targeting avoidance. Consequently, mindfulness affects changes of avoidance in behavioral activation. This study was designed to assess exploratory relations among trait mindfulness, avoidance, and functional impairment in behavioral activation mechanism for depression. For 1042 participants with depression only or for depression with anxiety disorders, we used structural equation modeling to examine relations among trait mindfulness, avoidance, and functional impairment. Trait mindfulness non-reactivity, non-judging, and acting with awareness had a direct negative effect on avoidance. Trait mindfulness non-reactivity, trait non-judging, and trait acting with awareness had indirect negative effects on functional impairment. Results show that each trait mindfulness facet exhibited a distinct pattern of relations with avoidance and impairment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7202344/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Greater Prosocial Behavior and Lower Rumination

Mindfulness is Associated with Greater Prosocial Behavior and Lower Rumination

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

With mindfulness, people deeply experience the present feelings with clarity and emotionally calm, and thus prevents them from suppression or rumination.” – Ying Yang

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial emotions such as compassion, and empathy and prosocial behaviors such as altruism.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness, particularly anxiety and depression. Fortunately, worry and rumination may be interrupted by mindfulness and emotion regulation improved by mindfulness. But there has been little study of the relationships between mindfulness, prosocial behaviors and rumination.

 

In today’s Research News article “Prosocial Behavior Can Moderate the Relationship Between Rumination and Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180177/),  Meng and Meng recruited adults high in rumination and low in rumination and asked them to evaluate what actions that they might take in a number of situations. They randomly assigned half of each group to work with situations that evoked either helping others (prosocial behavior) and the other half to work with neutral situations that didn’t involve helping. They were measured before and after the task for mindfulness and rumination. In a second study they recruited undergraduate students and had them complete questionnaires measuring mindfulness, rumination, and prosocial tendencies.

 

In the first study they found that overall, those participants high in rumination had significantly lower mindfulness than those low in rumination. They also found that the group working with helping situations had a significantly greater increase in mindfulness after the task than those working with the neutral situations and this effect was greatest in participants high in rumination.

 

In the second study they found that the higher the levels or all aspects of rumination the lower the levels of mindfulness. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the tendencies for prosocial behavior. Finally, they performed a moderation analysis and found that those participants high in prosocial tendencies had greater reductions in mindfulness produced by the reflective pondering aspect of rumination than the participants low in tendencies for prosocial behavior.

 

Overall, they found that rumination was associated with lower levels of mindfulness. This is not surprising as rumination involves repetitive thinking about past and future events that is incompatible with present moment awareness, mindfulness. In addition, they found that working on tasks that demanded helping behavior tended to increase mindfulness especially when rumination was high. Further they found that tendencies for prosocial behaviors were associated with higher levels of mindfulness. This suggests that prosocial behavior and mindfulness are significantly related and that evoking thinking about prosocial behavior tends to make the individual more mindful.

 

Although many aspects of this study were correlative and do not indicate causal relationships, it is clear that mindfulness and prosocial behavior are positively related and that rumination interferes with this relationship. They also suggest that engaging in prosocial behavior helps make people who ruminate a lot to be more mindful.

 

Previous research has shown that training in mindfulness increases the tendency to engage in prosocial behavior. This study turns the tables and demonstrates that engaging in prosocial behaviors increases mindfulness. All of which suggests that being aware of what’s going on in the present moment makes the individual more likely to see what others may need and that tending to the needs of others evokes present moment awareness.

 

Mindfulness is associated with greater prosocial behavior and lower rumination.

 

mindfulness meditation training increases compassionate prosocial behaviors.” – J. David Cresswell

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

 

Meng, Y., & Meng, G. (2020). Prosocial Behavior Can Moderate the Relationship Between Rumination and Mindfulness. Frontiers in psychiatry, 11, 289. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00289

 

Abstract

Objective

Rumination, which is a coping style to distress, has become a common mode of thinking about mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Improving mindfulness is an effective way to help people cope with rumination. Individuals who had higher prosocial behaviors reported a high level of mindfulness. This study aimed to explore whether prosocial behavior helps individuals with high-level rumination improve their mindfulness, and explain the reason why prosocial behavior can influence the relationship between mindfulness and rumination.

Methods

Introducing prosocial behavior situations, the first study chose 51 high-level rumination and 53 low-level rumination participants and measured the influence of prosocial behavior on mindful attention awareness in the present moment. In the second study, a questionnaire was conducted among 261 participants to explore the moderating effect of prosocial behavior between rumination and mindfulness.

Results

In individuals with high-level rumination, ΔMAAS (mindful attention awareness scale) (posttest-baseline) scores in the prosocial behavior condition were significantly higher compared to those in the control condition (p=0.003). Meanwhile, prosocial behavior played a moderating effect between reflective pondering of rumination and mindfulness (R2 = 0.03, p=0.004).

Conclusions

Encouraging prosocial behavior is an effective way to improve mindfulness in highly ruminative individuals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180177/

 

Improve Self-Compassion with Psychophysiological Flexibility and Mindfulness

Improve Self-Compassion with Psychophysiological Flexibility and Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, coping with life challenges, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships. It is an inner strength that enables us to be more fully human—to acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from them, and make necessary changes with an attitude of kindness and self-respect.” – Greater Good Science Center

 

One of the more remarkable aspects of Western culture is that in general people do not like themselves. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and since there can only one best, virtually everyone falls short. So, we constantly criticize ourselves for not being the smartest, the swiftest, the strongest, the most liked, the most handsome or beautiful. If there wasn’t something wrong with us, then we would be the best. As a result, we become focused and obsessed with our flaws. This can lead to anxiety and worry.

 

Mindfulness promotes experiencing and accepting ourselves as we are, which is a direct antidote to seeing ourselves in comparison to others and as we wish to be. In other words, mindfulness promotes self-compassion. Self-compassion involves being warm and understanding about ourselves rather than self-criticism. If we have that attitude, we will like ourselves more and suffer less. So, it is important to study the mindfulness and self-compassion and their relationships with the ability to regulate emotional arousal.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is Dispositional Self-Compassion Associated With Psychophysiological Flexibility Beyond Mindfulness? An Exploratory Pilot Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A), Svendsen and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete scales measuring self-compassion, mindfulness, anxiety, and rumination. They also had their cardiac function measured at rest with an electrocardiogram (ECG). This was used to calculate the vagally mediated heart rate variability as a measure of psychophysiological flexibility. It measures the interplay between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, with higher heart rate variability signaling parasympathetic predominance, usually indicating relaxation.

 

Employing regression analysis, they found that the higher the levels of self-compassion the higher the levels of mindfulness and psychophysiological flexibility. They also found that both higher levels of mindfulness and also self-compassion the lower the levels of anxiety and rumination (worry). So, mindfulness is related to self-compassion and lower anxiety and rumination and self-compassion is related to mindfulness and psychophysiological flexibility and lower anxiety and rumination.

 

The findings are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. But they show that mindfulness is significantly related to self-compassion and both are related to better mental health. In prior manipulative studies, it has been demonstrated that mindfulness causes increased self-compassion and decreased anxiety and rumination. So, the present results likely reflect causal connections.

 

The results also demonstrated that self-compassion has the strongest relationship with psychophysiological flexibility suggesting that self-compassion is related to the ability to regulate emotional arousal. It is this ability that may underlie the lower levels of anxiety and rumination found with high levels of self-compassion. Hence, mindfulness and self-compassion are important components of the mental health of young adults.

 

So, improve self-compassion with psychophysiological flexibility and mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness increases empathy and compassion for others and for oneself, and that such attitudes are good for you. To me, that affirms that when we practice mindfulness, we are simultaneously strengthening our skills of compassion.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

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

 

Svendsen JL, Schanche E, Osnes B, Vøllestad J, Visted E, Dundas I, Nordby H, Binder P-E and Sørensen L (2020) Is Dispositional Self-Compassion Associated With Psychophysiological Flexibility Beyond Mindfulness? An Exploratory Pilot Study. Front. Psychol. 11:614. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614

 

Abstract

Background: Dispositional mindfulness and self-compassion are shown to associate with less self-reported emotional distress. However, previous studies have indicated that dispositional self-compassion may be an even more important buffer against such distress than dispositional mindfulness. To our knowledge, no study has yet disentangled the relationship between dispositional self-compassion and mindfulness and level of psychophysiological flexibility as measured with vagally mediated heart rate variability (vmHRV). The aim was thus to provide a first exploratory effort to expand previous research relying on self-report measures by including a psychophysiological measure indicative of emotional stress reactivity.

Methods: Fifty-three university students filled out the “Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire” (FFMQ) and the “Self-Compassion Scale” (SCS), and their heart rate was measured during a 5 min resting electrocardiogram. Linear hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the common and unique variance explained by the total scores of the FFMQ and the SCS on level of resting vmHRV.

Results: Higher SCS total scores associated significantly with higher levels of vmHRV also when controlling for the FFMQ total scores. The SCS uniquely explained 7% of the vmHRV. The FFMQ total scores did not associate with level of vmHRV.

Conclusion: These results offer preliminary support that dispositional self-compassion associates with better psychophysiological regulation of emotional arousal above and beyond mindfulness

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00614/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1302118_69_Psycho_20200416_arts_A

 

Improve Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Improve Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy gaining popularity in the treatment of anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is also used to treat other conditions including depression, eating disorders, chronic pain, and substance use disorders.” – Deborah Glasofer

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and has also been shown to relieve anxietyACT 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 “A Multiple-Baseline Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Focused on Repetitive Negative Thinking for Comorbid Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7082425/), Ruiz and colleagues recruited 6 adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and also depression. They received a 3 session Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) protocol of 90, 60, and 60 minutes focused on repetitive negative thinking implemented at different times on a multiple baseline. They were measured weekly over the internet for emotional symptoms (a combination of anxiety, depression and perceived stress), worry, experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, perseverative thinking, and valuing.

 

They found that all participants demonstrated no significant changes during the 5 or more weeks of the baseline period in emotional symptoms or worry. But once Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was provided all participants immediately demonstrated a precipitous decline in emotional symptoms, worry, experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, and perseverative thinking that was maintained for 3 months. Effect sizes were very large and 5 of the 6 participants had clinically significant changes in emotional symptoms and worry.

 

It is well established that mindfulness training reduces anxiety, depression, perceived, stress, and worry. Nevertheless, the results of the present study are striking. Administration of a brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)  focused on repetitive negative thinking produced dramatic clinically significant improvements in the core symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and depression. The fact that this was accomplished in 3-sessions is important as it reduces the investment of therapists in treatment, reducing costs and improving the numbers of people being able to be treated. These findings suggest that this brief form of mindfulness-based therapy be implemented for anxiety and deprressive disorders.

 

So, improve Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

 

ACT helps you take action on your values, instead of letting your anxiety dictate your decisions and your days.” –  Margarita Tartakovsky

 

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

 

Ruiz, F. J., Luciano, C., Flórez, C. L., Suárez-Falcón, J. C., & Cardona-Betancourt, V. (2020). A Multiple-Baseline Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Focused on Repetitive Negative Thinking for Comorbid Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 356. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00356

 

Abstract

Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is a core feature of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression. Recently, some studies have shown promising results with brief protocols of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) focused on RNT in the treatment of emotional disorders in adults. The current study analyzes the effect of an individual, 3-session, RNT-focused ACT protocol in the treatment of severe and comorbid GAD and depression. Six adults meeting criteria for both disorders and showing severe symptoms of at least one of them participated in the study. A delayed multiple-baseline design was implemented. All participants completed a 5-week baseline without showing improvement trends in emotional symptoms (Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale – 21; DASS-21) and pathological worry (Penn State Worry Questionnaire; PSWQ). The ACT protocol was then implemented, and a 3-month follow-up was conducted. Five of the six participants showed clinically significant changes in the DASS-21 and the PSWQ. The standardized mean difference effect sizes for single-case experimental design were very large for emotional symptoms (d = 3.34), pathological worry (d = 4.52), experiential avoidance (d = 3.46), cognitive fusion (d = 3.90), repetitive thinking (d = 4.52), and valued living (d = 0.92 and d = 1.98). No adverse events were observed. Brief, RNT-focused ACT protocols for treating comorbid GAD and depression deserve further empirical tests.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7082425/

 

Improve Adolescent Psychological Health with Mindfulness

Improve Adolescent Psychological Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It may be that mindfulness leads to an increase in self-compassion and a decrease in experiential avoidance. It may be selective attention — if you focus on your breath, you have less bandwidth to ruminate. There are a lot of factors that are operative and we’re just beginning to tease out and deconstruct them. It’s like tasting a soup with 10 spices. Is there one main ingredient or is the flavor a combination of things?” – Stuart Eisendrath

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required.

 

Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms. Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects Of Modified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) On The Psychological Health Of Adolescents With Subthreshold Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6758632/), Zhang and colleagues recruited university students (aged 18-22 years) who scored high in depression but were not at clinically diagnosable levels. They were randomly assigned to receive either an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or to a no-treatment control condition. They were measured before and after training for depression, mindfulness, and rumination.

 

The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 1-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants are also encouraged to perform daily practice. The program was modified to be better targeted at adolescents. It instructed the adolescents on the application of mindfulness practices to everyday life, including experiencing the pleasant/sad moments in life, walking, sleeping, eating, breathing and exercising to keep the attitude of “mindfulness”.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control condition the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program produced large and significant decreases in depression and rumination and increases in mindfulness. Hence, the study demonstrated that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) modified for adolescents is a safe and effective treatment to improve the psychological health of adolescents who had subclinical levels of depression.

 

It should be mentioned that the control condition did not include any activities and thus leaves open the possibilities of confounding by experimenter or participant bias or placebo effects. Also, the lack of a standard MBSR program for comparison to the modified program does not allow for a conclusion that the modifications produced an improved program. Nevertheless the results are encouraging that the modified MBSR program may be useful in relieving the suffering of the large numbers of adolescents with sub-clinical depression.

 

So, improve adolescent psychological health with mindfulness.

 

“It is well-documented that mindfulness helps to relieve depression and anxiety in adults.1-4 A small but growing body of research shows that it may also improve adolescent resilience to stress through improved cognitive performance and emotional regulation.” – Malka Main

 

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

 

Zhang, J. Y., Ji, X. Z., Meng, L. N., & Cai, Y. J. (2019). Effects Of Modified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) On The Psychological Health Of Adolescents With Subthreshold Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 15, 2695–2704. doi:10.2147/NDT.S216401

 

Abstract

Background

Sub-threshold depression (SD) has been associated with impairments in adolescent health which increase the rate of major depression. Researchers have shown the effectiveness of mindfulness on mental health, however whether the traditional mindful skills were suitable for youngsters, it was not clear. This study investigated the effects of a tailed Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on their psychological state.

Methods

A double-blind, randomized controlled trial was carried out. 56 participants who met the inclusion criteria agreed to be arranged randomly to either the MBSR group (n=28) or the control group (n=28). Participants in MBSR group received a tailored 8-week, one time per week, one hour each time group intervention. The effectiveness of intervention was measured using validated scales, which including BDI-II, MAAS, RRS at three times (T1-before intervention; T2-after intervention; T3-three months after intervention). A repeated-measures analysis of variance model was used to analyze the data.

Results

The results showed significant improvements in MBSR group comparing with control group that depression level decreased after the 8-week intervention and the follow up (F =17.721, p < 0.00). At the same time, RRS score was significantly decreased at T2 and T3(F= 28.277, p < 0.00). The results also showed that MBSR promoted the level of mindfulness and the effect persisted for three months after intervention (F=13.489, p < 0.00).

Conclusion

A tailored MBSR intervention has positive effects on psychology health among SD youngsters, including decrease depression and rumination level, cultivate mindfulness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6758632/

 

Improve Emotion Regulation in Teacher Trainees with Mindfulness

Improve Emotion Regulation in Teacher Trainees with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindful emotion regulation represents the capacity to remain mindfully aware at all times, irrespective of the apparent valence or magnitude of any emotion that is experienced. It does not entail suppression of the emotional experience, nor any specific attempts to reappraise or alter it in any way. Instead, MM involves a systematic retraining of awareness and nonreactivity, leading to defusion from whatever is experienced, and allowing the individual to more consciously choose those thoughts, emotions and sensations they will identify with, rather than habitually reacting to them.” – Richard Chambers

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

Teachers experience burnout at high rates. Roughly a half a million teachers out of a workforce of three million, leave the profession each year and the rate is almost double in poor schools compared to affluent schools. Indeed, nearly half of new teachers leave in their first five years. Burnout frequently results from emotional exhaustion. Hence, methods of improving teacher emotion regulation need to be studied. Intervening during teacher training may be a useful strategy as improving emotion regulation very early before the teaching career begins may prepare the teachers to better deal with the difficulties of their profession.

 

In today’s Research News article “Improving emotion regulation and mood in teacher trainees: Effectiveness of two mindfulness trainings.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6749600/), Wimmer and colleagues recruited college students who intended to become school teachers and assigned them to one of four conditions, mindfulness training with yoga, mindfulness training without yoga, awareness training, or no-treatment. The mindfulness training was based upon Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The modified MBSR program consisted of 7 weekly 1.5-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The teachers are also encouraged to perform 20 minutes of daily practice. Awareness training occurred on a similar schedule and emphasized reflections on consciousness and awareness. They were measured before and after training for emotion regulation, response style, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that in comparison to the no-treatment control and baseline both mindfulness groups had significant increases in reappraisal and decreases in symptom‐focused rumination, distraction, and depressive mood. These effects of mindfulness training were found to be, in part, mediated by the distraction strategy of emotion regulation. There were no significant differences in the effects of mindfulness training with and without yoga on emotion regulation or mood.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training regardless of whether yoga is included is effective in increasing emotion regulation in college students aspiring to become teachers. It is interesting that distraction was to some extent a mediator of the effects of mindfulness training. This strategy involves dealing with strong emotions by shifting attention to more pleasant aspects of the situation. Mindfulness training, by improving attentional control, may facilitate the ability to shift attention to other distracting areas.

 

It is not known whether these effects of mindfulness training are lasting and may influence the students’ abilities to deal with the stresses of teaching in the future. It would be hoped that mindfulness training may help to prepare prospective teachers to effectively work with the emotions that arise from their profession. This would then improve their resistance to professional burnout. It remains for future research to investigate the longevity of the emotion regulation improvements.

 

So, improve emotion regulation in teacher trainees with mindfulness.

 

our emotions don’t have to take over your life or interfere with your important relationships when you learn how to understand, manage, and respond to your emotions more effectively. Become mindful of your own personal tendencies and emotional triggers. Notice what situations tend to prompt emotional responses in you. When you increase self-knowledge in this way, you are better prepared to competently and confidently employ emotion regulation coping skills no matter what the situation.” – Laura Chang

 

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

 

Wimmer, L., von Stockhausen, L., & Bellingrath, S. (2019). Improving emotion regulation and mood in teacher trainees: Effectiveness of two mindfulness trainings. Brain and behavior, 9(9), e01390. doi:10.1002/brb3.1390

 

Abstract

Background/Objective

The present research investigated potential effects of mindfulness training on emotion regulation and mood of future schoolteachers in a nonrandomized pre–post design, and whether these are influenced by the yoga component of mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) and/or by homework practice.

Method

N = 169 university students received either mindfulness training (experimental groups), awareness activities (active control group), or no training (passive control group), in the context of university seminars. Allocation to groups was bound by the seminar chosen by participants, and in that sense was self‐selected. Mindfulness was trained in two adapted MBSR courses, one of which including yoga, and the other excluding yoga.

Results

Specific benefits of both mindfulness training groups were observed for emotion regulation in terms of an increase in cognitive reappraisal and a reduction in symptom‐focused rumination as well as depressive mood. No benefits of mindfulness training were observed for reductions in expressive suppression, self‐focused rumination, anxious, and negative mood or an increase in distraction and positive mood respectively. Mindfulness training with and without yoga was mostly equally effective. Outcomes were largely not moderated by practice quantity or quality, but reductions in depressive mood were mediated by gains in reappraisal and distraction.

Conclusions

Mindfulness training can be implemented in the context of university seminars to foster advantageous emotion regulation strategies and lower depressive mood in future schoolteachers. Discontinuing yoga within mindfulness interventions does not seem to reduce training benefits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6749600/

 

Improve Well-Being, Attention, and Emotions with Meditation

Improve Well-Being, Attention, and Emotions with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

How are you feeling? Meditation gives us a chance to entertain that question at a deeper level. It can give us the room to fully experience an emotion for what it is.” – Mindful

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

There are, however, a number of different meditation techniques. Two common forms are focused and open monitoring meditation practices. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, learns to filter out distracting stimuli, including thoughts, and learns to stay focused on the present moment, filtering out thoughts centered around the past or future. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. These include bodily sensations, external stimuli, and even thoughts. The meditator just observes these thoughts and lets them arise and fall away without paying them any further attention.

 

What forms of meditation work best to improve emotions and over what period of time is necessary for practice to produce benefits have not been well studied. In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Different Stages of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Emotion Regulation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6610260/), Zhang and colleagues recruited young adults (aged 19-32) who had not engaged in meditation practice previously and randomly assigned them to either a wait list control condition or an 8-week mindfulness training program. The mindfulness training consisted of 4 weeks of focused meditation followed by 4 weeks of open monitoring meditation. They met for 2 hours once a week and were requested to practice at home daily for 20-30 minutes. They were measured before training, at the 4-week point of training and after training for mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, anxiety, depression, rumination, and a cognitive attention task (Stroop task).

 

They found that the meditation group significantly increased in mindfulness from baseline to the 4-week point with further increases observed at 8 weeks, while the control group did not increase. For the meditation group positive emotions were significant higher at both 4 and 8 weeks while rumination, negative emotions, anxiety, and depression were significant lower. The meditation group also had significantly improved ability to attend to stimuli amid interference at 4- and 8-weeks post-training while the control group did not.

 

The results are interesting and suggest that 4 weeks of focused meditation practice improves the psychological well-being of young adults while an additional 4 weeks of open monitoring meditation practice either maintains or further increases the benefits. These results replicate many previous findings that mindfulness training significantly improves mindfulness, attention, and emotions, and significantly reduces rumination, anxiety, and depression. This strongly supports providing meditation training for young adults to improve their psychological health and well-being.

 

So, improve well-being, attention, and emotions with meditation.

 

“in order to successfully navigate life, you need to be able to both name the emotion you’re experiencing and describe the feelings that make up your experience. This is where meditation can help, by teaching us to observe, identify, and respond instead of just react.” – Richard Miller

 

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

 

Zhang, Q., Wang, Z., Wang, X., Liu, L., Zhang, J., & Zhou, R. (2019). The Effects of Different Stages of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Emotion Regulation. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 208. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00208

 

Abstract

This study examined mood enhancement effects from 4-week focusing attention (FA) meditation and 4-week open monitoring (OM) meditation in an 8-week mindfulness training program designed for ordinary individuals. Forty participants were randomly assigned to a training group or a control group. All participants were asked to perform cognitive tasks and subjective scale tests at three time points (pre-, mid-, and post-tests). Compared with the participants in the control group, the participants in the meditation training group showed significantly decreased anxiety, depression, and rumination scores; significantly increased mindfulness scores; and significantly reduced reaction times (RTs) in the incongruent condition for the Stroop task. The present study demonstrated that 8-week mindfulness meditation training could effectively enhance the level of mindfulness and improve emotional states. Moreover, FA meditation could partially improve individual levels of mindfulness and effectively improve mood, while OM meditation could further improve individual levels of mindfulness and maintain a positive mood.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6610260/

 

Improve Psychopathology with Meditation

Improve Psychopathology with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse.” – Kelle Walsh

 

There are vast numbers of people who suffer with mental illnesses; psychopathology. In the United states it has been estimated that in any given year 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness. Many are treated with drugs. But drug treatment can produce unwanted side effects, don’t work for many patients, and often can lose effectiveness over time. Mindfulness practices provide a safe alternative treatment. They have been found to be helpful with coping with these illnesses and in many cases reducing the symptoms of the diseases. Hence, it appears that mindfulness practices are safe and effective treatments for a variety of psychiatric conditions including anxietydepressionpsychosesaddictions, etc.. Since there has accumulated a large amount of research, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been discovered.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation and Psychopathology.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6597263/), Wielgosz and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies investigating the efficacy of mindfulness meditation practices for the treatment of a variety of psychopathologies.

 

They report that mindfulness meditation produces significant improvements in depression and in anxiety disorders in comparison to inactive and active control conditions. Efficacy is equivalent to that of other evidence-based treatments. The research suggests that meditation reduces depression by decreasing rumination and anxiety by reducing repetitive negative thinking. Hence, meditation training is an excellent safe and effective treatment for these prevalent mental illnesses.

 

They also report that mindfulness meditation produces significant improvements in chronic pain intensity and unpleasantness in comparison to inactive but not active control conditions. Efficacy is equivalent to that of other evidence-based treatments. This is true for chronic low back pain fibromyalgia, migraine, and chronic pelvic pain. Meditation also appears to improve the quality of life of chronic pain patients. The research suggests that meditation reduces chronic pain by decreasing negative emotional reactivity. Such reactivity appears to intensify pain and meditation reduces this reactivity and thereby reduces pain.

 

They report that mindfulness meditation produces significant improvements in substance abuse disorders in comparison to inactive and active control conditions and even in comparison to other evidence-based treatments. It appears to reduce substance use frequency, use-related problems, and craving. This is important as addictions are very difficult to treat and frequently relapse.

 

There is evidence that mindfulness meditation is effective in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) both in children and adults and also post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But there are currently no comparisons to the effects of other active or evidence-based treatments. It will be important to have randomized controlled trials with active controls to better assess the efficacy of meditation for the treatment of ADHD and PTSD.

 

There is emerging evidence that mindfulness meditation may be effective for eating disorders, and major mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, major depression, and psychosis. But there is a need for more, better controlled research.

 

Hence, this comprehensive review suggests that mindfulness meditation is a useful treatment for a variety of types of psychopathology. It is amazing that such a simple practice as meditation can have such wide-ranging benefits for such diverse mental illnesses. Meditation appears to act indirectly by strengthening cognitive, emotional, and stress related process that in turn have beneficial effects on the psychopathologies. Hence, it is clear that mindfulness meditation is a safe and effective treatment for psychopathologies that can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

 

So, improve psychopathology with meditation.

 

“When they’re depressed, people are locked in the past. They’re ruminating about something that happened that they can’t let go of. When they’re anxious, they’re ruminating about the future — it’s that anticipation of what they can’t control. In contrast, when we are mindful, we are focused on the here and now. Mindfulness trains individuals to turn their attention to what is happening in the present moment.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

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

 

Wielgosz, J., Goldberg, S. B., Kral, T., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2019). Mindfulness Meditation and Psychopathology. Annual review of clinical psychology, 15, 285–316. doi:10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-021815-093423

 

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation is increasingly incorporated into mental health interventions, and theoretical concepts associated with it have influenced basic research on psychopathology. Here, we review the current understanding of mindfulness meditation through the lens of clinical neuroscience, outlining the core capacities targeted by mindfulness meditation and mapping them onto cognitive and affective constructs of the Research Domain Criteria matrix proposed by the National Institute of Mental Health. We review efficacious applications of mindfulness meditation to specific domains of psychopathology including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and substance abuse, as well as emerging efforts related to attention disorders, traumatic stress, dysregulated eating, and serious mental illness. Priorities for future research include pinpointing mechanisms, refining methodology, and improving implementation. Mindfulness meditation is a promising basis for interventions, with particular potential relevance to psychiatric comorbidity. The successes and challenges of mindfulness meditation research are instructive for broader interactions between contemplative traditions and clinical psychological science.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6597263/

Improve Mental Health Postpartum with Perinatal Mindfulness Training

Improve Mental Health Postpartum with Perinatal Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the ideal treatment plan for perinatal depression and anxiety often includes mindfulness techniques. Exercises such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation, for example, have been shown to reduce blood pressure and promote recovery from many illnesses.” – Edith Gettes

 

The birth of a child is most often a joyous occasion. But often the joy turns to misery. Immediately after birth it is common for the mother to experience mood swings including what has been termed “baby blues,” a sadness that may last for as much as a couple of weeks. But some women experience a more intense and long-lasting negative mood called postpartum depression. This occurs usually 4-6 weeks after birth in about 15% of births; about 600,000 women in the U.S. every year. For 50% of the women the depression lasts for about a year while about 30% are still depressed 3 years later.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression in general and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. But it is not known if the effectiveness of mindfulness training during the perinatal period carries over to the postpartum period. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression and consists of mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During therapy the patient is trained to investigate and alter aberrant thought patterns underlying depression. So, it would make sense to study the effectiveness of MBCT administered during the perinatal period on postpartum mental health issues.

 

In today’s Research News article “Postpartum Outcomes and Formal Mindfulness Practice in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Perinatal Women.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6070304/), Luberto and colleagues recruited pregnant women (average of 15.5 weeks pregnant) and provide them with an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before and after training and 3 months postpartum for anxiety, depression, worry, mindfulness, self-compassion, meditation frequency, and home practice.

 

They found that after treatment there were significant increases in mindfulness and self-compassion and significant decreases in anxiety, depression, and worry. These improvements were maintained at 3-months postpartum except for depression that had a further significant decline. After the intervention 91% of the women continued to practice meditation and 65% continued practicing yoga. During the postpartum period 55% of the women continued to practice meditation and 25% continued practicing yoga. There were no significant differences in the outcomes for women who continued to practice versus those that didn’t.

 

These results are important in that they demonstrate that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)  produces important benefits for the mental health of pregnant women that endure into the postpartum period. This is important as “baby blues” and postpartum depression are frequent and difficult consequences of childbirth. The findings suggest that MBCT training during pregnancy may help to prevent “baby blues” and postpartum depression. Hence, MBCT the produces lasting improvements in the psychological state of women during both the perinatal and postpartum periods.

 

So, improve mental health postpartum with perinatal mindfulness training.

 

By paying attention, by being mindful, I was able to accept things that spun me out previously. I still had low points, but I was better equipped to manage and accept them as feelings and moments, and move on. . . . What I thought was caused by hormone fluctuations and “baby blues” was actually much more severe.” – Kristi Pahr

 

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

 

Luberto, C. M., Park, E. R., & Goodman, J. H. (2018). Postpartum Outcomes and Formal Mindfulness Practice in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Perinatal Women. Mindfulness, 9(3), 850–859. doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0825-8

 

Abstract

Anxiety is common during pregnancy and associated with poorer outcomes for mother and child. Our single-arm pilot study of an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) intervention for pregnant women with elevated anxiety showed significant pre- to post-intervention improvements in anxiety, depression, worry, mindfulness, and self-compassion. It remains unclear whether these improvements are maintained post-partum and whether amount of formal mindfulness practice is correlated with outcomes. The current study examined whether 1) improvements in psychosocial outcomes were maintained three months postpartum; 2) women were adherent to formal practice recommendations; and 3) amount of mindfulness practice was correlated with outcomes. Twenty-three pregnant women (Mage=33.5, SD=4.40; 75% White; 71% with Generalized Anxiety Disorder) completed home practice logs throughout the intervention, and self-report measures before and after the intervention and three months postpartum. Results indicated that previously reported post-intervention improvements in anxiety, worry, mindfulness, and self-compassion were maintained postpartum (p’s<.05), and reductions in depression further improved (p<.001). Participants were generally adherent to mindfulness practice recommendations during the intervention (54%-80% weekly adherence; M=17.31 total practice hours [SD=7.45]), and many continued practicing one-week post-intervention (91%) and postpartum (55%). Mindfulness practice during the intervention was not significantly correlated with any outcome at post-intervention or postpartum. Mindfulness practice postpartum was only marginally related to improved worry postpartum (p=.05). MBCT may be associated with maintained improvements in psychosocial outcomes for women during pregnancy and postpartum, but the role of mindfulness practice is unclear. Research using larger samples and randomized controlled designs is needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6070304/