Focused Meditation has Superior Effectiveness for Emotional Disorders

Focused Meditation has Superior Effectiveness for Emotional Disorders

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

               

“meditation can help you relax and reduce stress. It can also help you disengage from stressful or anxious thoughts, and better control your mood.” – Healthline

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for affecting different psychological areas.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object, often the breath. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced including thoughts regardless of its origin.  Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) employs both focused and open monitoring meditation and also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During therapy the patient is trained to investigate and alter aberrant thought patterns. It is important to understand which form of meditation training works best for which conditions.

 

In today’s Research News article “The contributions of focused attention and open monitoring in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for affective disturbances: A 3-armed randomized dismantling trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7802967/ ) Cullen and colleagues recruited adults with mild-moderate depression and anxiety and randomly assigned them to an 8-week program of one of three meditation types; focused meditation, open monitoring meditation, or their combination as occurs in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They were measured before training and weekly over the 8-week program and 12 weeks later for depression, stress, and anxiety.

 

They found that all three meditation programs produced significant improvements in depression, stress, and anxiety at the end of training and 12 weeks later. But Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and focused meditation produced significantly greater reductions in anxiety at the 12-week follow-up than open monitoring meditation. During training statistically significant improvements in depression, stress, and anxiety occurred first for focused meditation, followed by MBCT, and last by open monitoring meditation.

 

These are interesting results that again demonstrate the efficacy of meditation training in improving depression, stress, and anxiety. They also found that the training in both focused and open monitoring meditation as occurs in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) did not produce superior results to the individual meditation types. Finally, they show the focused meditation may be superior to open monitoring meditation in relieving depression, stress, and anxiety. The participants who practiced focused meditation improved faster and at follow up had lower levels of anxiety than those who practiced open monitoring meditation.

 

The reason for the differences in the effectiveness of the different meditation types is unknown. But focused meditation may be simpler and easier to learn and practice than open monitoring meditation. Also, open monitoring meditation by having the practitioner open up awareness to everything that’s being experienced may allow for anxiety, stress, and depression to more easily arise during the session. Future research should investigate these possibilities.

 

So, focused meditation has superior effectiveness for emotional disorders.

 

Within just a week or two of regular meditation, you should see a noticeable change in your mood and stress level. “People will start to feel some inner peace and inner poise, even in the midst of their busy lives,” – Burke Lennihan.

 

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

 

Cullen, B., Eichel, K., Lindahl, J. R., Rahrig, H., Kini, N., Flahive, J., & Britton, W. B. (2021). The contributions of focused attention and open monitoring in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for affective disturbances: A 3-armed randomized dismantling trial. PloS one, 16(1), e0244838. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244838

 

Abstract

Objective

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) includes a combination of focused attention (FA) and open monitoring (OM) meditation practices. The aim of this study was to assess both short- and long-term between- and within-group differences in affective disturbance among FA, OM and their combination (MBCT) in the context of a randomized controlled trial.

Method

One hundred and four participants with mild to severe depression and anxiety were randomized into one of three 8-week interventions: MBCT (n = 32), FA (n = 36) and OM (n = 36). Outcome measures included the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS), and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS). Mixed effects regression models were used to assess differential treatment effects during treatment, post-treatment (8 weeks) and long-term (20 weeks). The Reliable Change Index (RCI) was used to translate statistical findings into clinically meaningful improvements or deteriorations.

Results

All treatments demonstrated medium to large improvements (ds = 0.42–1.65) for almost all outcomes. While all treatments were largely comparable in their effects at post-treatment (week 8), the treatments showed meaningful differences in rapidity of response and pattern of deteriorations. FA showed the fastest rate of improvement and the fewest deteriorations on stress, anxiety and depression during treatment, but a loss of treatment-related gains and lasting deteriorations in depression at week 20. OM showed the slowest rate of improvement and lost treatment-related gains for anxiety, resulting in higher anxiety in OM at week 20 than MBCT (d = 0.40) and FA (d = 0.36), though these differences did not reach statistical significance after correcting for multiple comparisons (p’s = .06). MBCT and OM showed deteriorations in stress, anxiety and depression at multiple timepoints during treatment, with lasting deteriorations in stress and depression. MBCT showed the most favorable pattern for long-term treatment of depression.

Conclusions

FA, OM and MBCT show different patterns of response for different dimensions of affective disturbance.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7802967/

 

Further Improve Health Care Professionals’ Mental Health with Supplemental Mindfulness Training

Further Improve Health Care Professionals’ Mental Health with Supplemental Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The therapeutic applications of mindfulness are considerable and its impact on clinical practice itself appears to be profound. Indeed, several commentators characterize mindfulness as inciting nothing short of a revolution in the way we conduct our mental lives both within the clinic and without.” – Matias P. Raski

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system.

 

Preventing the negative psychological consequences of stress in healthcare professionals has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Once mindfulness has been established it is not known if additional mindfulness training will produce greater benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Interpersonal Mindfulness Program for Health Care Professionals: a Feasibility Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7447696/ ) Bartels-Velthui and colleagues recruited health care professionals who had already received mindfulness training with either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  The participants in the training group were further treated with an Interpersonal Mindfulness Course. This course was designed for participants who had already received mindfulness training to deepen mindful presence, empathy and compassion with other people. The course met for 9-weekly, 2.5-hour sessions combined with 45 to 60 minutes of daily home practice. All participants were measured before and after training for the feasibility and acceptability of the program, mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy, stress, and quality of life.

 

They found that the program was feasible as all participants completed the program and acceptable as 88% report the program to be highly relevant and would recommend it to others. They found that compared to baseline and the control group the participants who received the additional mindfulness training had significant improvements in self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue.

 

These are very interesting findings in that health care professionals who had already received mindfulness training had further increases in self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue when provided a program designed to improve mindfulness with other people. It is well known that mindfulness training improves self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue. These findings, though, suggests that these improvements can be strengthened with further training. In addition, the improvements were in characteristics that would tend to reduce health care professional burnout. The fact that the program emphasized being mindful of other people suggests that the health care workers would be have more empathy and understanding in treating their patients.

 

So, further improve health care professionals’ mental health with supplemental mindfulness training.

 

mindfulness can result in decreased burnout and improved well-being. Mindfulness is a useful way of cultivating self-kindness and compassion, including by bringing increased awareness to and acceptance of those things that are beyond our control.” – Kate Fitzpatrick

 

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

 

Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., van den Brink, E., Koster, F., & Hoenders, H. (2020). The Interpersonal Mindfulness Program for Health Care Professionals: a Feasibility Study. Mindfulness, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01477-5

 

Abstract

Objectives

There are a number of mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) that have demonstrated effectiveness for patients and health care professionals. The Interpersonal Mindfulness Program (IMP) is a relatively new MBP, developed to teach those with prior mindfulness training to deepen their mindful presence, empathy and compassion in the interpersonal domain. The aim of the present study was to examine the feasibility of using the IMP with mental health care workers and assessing its effects on levels of mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy, stress and professional quality of life when compared with the control group participants.

Methods

The IMP training consisted of nine weekly 2.5-h sessions and daily home practice (45–60 min). Twenty-five participants (mean age, 51.4 years) with mindfulness experience participated in the training. Twenty-two individuals in the control group (mean age, 47.5 years) were recruited from those who had followed a mindfulness training before. Feasibility of the IMP was assessed in the training participants in six domains. All study participants completed self-report questionnaires before and after the training.

Results

The IMP training was considered highly acceptable and very useful. The training had a significant positive effect on self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue, but no effect on mindfulness, stress and compassion satisfaction. Five participants reported some mild adverse reactions.

Conclusions

The IMP training appears feasible for health care professionals and seems to induce some positive effects. A few mild adverse effects were reported. Further research on the effectiveness and possible mechanisms of change of the IMP training in larger samples is needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7447696/

 

Change the Brain to Improve Emotion Regulation in Bereaved Individuals with Mindfulness

Change the Brain to Improve Emotion Regulation in Bereaved Individuals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It takes a boat load of self-compassion to allow oneself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at any given time, without judgment, without comparison relative to another’s explicit portrayal of their own process. In this way, to grieve is to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Grief is a normal, albeit complex, process that follows a loss of a significant person or situation in one’s life. This can involve the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience, termination of a relationship, relationship to a long-missing person, etc. Exactly what transpires depends upon the individual and the nature of the loss. It involves physical, emotional, psychological and cognitive processes. In about 15% of people grief can be overly intense or long and therapeutic intervention may become necessary.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found to help with coping with loss and its consequent grief.  Mindfulness-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 is designed to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. Mindfulness training has been shown to change the size, activity and connectivity of brain structures. Hence, MBCT may reduce grief by altering the brain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on bereavement grief: Alterations of resting-state network connectivity associate with changes of anxiety and mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7775995/ ) Huang and colleagues recruited adults who had lost a first degree relative within the last 4 years and had unresolved grief. The patients received an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They met weekly for 2.5 hours and were encouraged to practice for 45 minutes daily at home. They were measured before and after the training for grief, generalized anxiety, depression, emotion regulation, and mindfulness. After training they underwent brain functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) at rest and while viewing pictures of faces with either neutral or negative emotional expressions.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) the participants had significant increases in mindfulness, particularly the describing and non-reacting mindfulness facets, and emotion regulation and significant decreases in grief, anxiety, and depression. The brain connectivity as revealed in the fMRI scans changed after MBCT training with decreased connectivity within the Default Mode Network of the brain and connectivity between the Auditory, Visual, Salience, and frontal-parietal networks during rest but not emotion arousal. In addition, the connectivity between the subcortical caudate with the cortex correlated positively with mindfulness and emotion regulation and negatively with anxiety.

 

The Default Mode Network is thought to underly mind wandering and self-referential thinking. So, the decreases in connectivity may signal heightened present moment awareness. In addition, the changes in the connectivity between cortical areas were negatively related to emotion regulation while the connectivity between cortical and subcortical areas were positively related to emotion regulation. This suggests that MBCT training decreased effects of external perception on emotion regulation while increasing the effects of internal sensations.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a comparison, control, condition. So, the passage of time, participant expectancy effects, attentional effects, or experimenter bias may have been responsible for the observed changes. Nevertheless, the results suggest that MBCT training for bereaved patients improves their mental health and reduces grief. The brain scans suggest that the training altered the brain to increase present moment awareness and dependence of the person’s internal state in regulating emotions.

 

So, change the brain to improve emotion regulation in bereaved individuals with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness practice is not meant to minimize that pain or to convince people that everything is OK, but rather to help you recognize the reality of your circumstances, and to do so in a nonjudgmental and self-compassionate way.” – Stephanie Pritchard

 

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

 

Huang, F. Y., Hsu, A. L., Chao, Y. P., Shang, C. M., Tsai, J. S., & Wu, C. W. (2020). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on bereavement grief: Alterations of resting-state network connectivity associate with changes of anxiety and mindfulness. Human brain mapping, 42(2), 510–520. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25240

 

Abstract

Bereavement, the experience of losing a loved one, is one of the most catastrophic but inevitable events in life. It causes grief and intense depression‐like sadness. Recent studies have revealed the effectiveness and proficiency of mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in emotional regulation among bereavement populations. MBCT improves the well‐being of the bereaved by enhancing cognitive performances. Regarding the neural correlates of bereavement grief, previous studies focused on the alleviation of emotion–cognition interferences at specific brain regions. Here, we hypothesized that the bereavement grief fundamentally triggers global alterations in the resting‐state brain networks and part of the internetwork connectivity could be reformed after MBCT intervention. We recruited 19 bereaved individuals who participated the 8‐week MBCT program. We evaluated (a) the large‐scale changes in brain connectivity affected by the MBCT program; as well as (b) the association between connectivity changes and self‐rated questionnaire. First, after MBCT, the bereaved individuals showed the reduction of the internetwork connectivity in the salience, default‐mode and fronto‐parietal networks in the resting state but not under emotional arousal, implying the alleviated attention to spontaneous mind wandering after MBCT. Second, the alterations of functional connectivity between subcortical (e.g., caudate) and cortical networks (e.g., cingulo‐opercular/sensorimotor) were associated with the changes of the mindfulness scale, the anxiety and the emotion regulation ability. In summary, MBCT could enhance spontaneous emotion regulation among the bereaved individuals through the internetwork reorganizations in the resting state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7775995/

 

Improve Major Depression in the Real World with Mindfulness

Improve Major Depression in the Real World with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Depression is not only the most common mental illness, it’s also one of the most tenacious. Up to 80 percent of people who experience a major depressive episode may relapse. Drugs may lose their effectiveness over time, if they work at all. But 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. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment 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. MBCT has been found to be effective in treating depression.

 

Most of the research studies that have examined the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depression were conducted in controlled laboratory settings. But the real world of therapeutic interventions are less consistent and much more complex and messy. This raises the question as to how effective MBCT may be for the treatment of major depression in real world.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for major depressive disorder: evidence from routine outcome monitoring data.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7745235/ ) Geurts and colleagues recruited patients with major depressive disorder who had received treatment with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Their psychiatric diagnosis was recorded and before and after treatment they completed measures of mindfulness, depression, worry, and self-compassion.

 

They found that after treatment the patients had significant increases in mindfulness and self-compassion and significant decreases in depression and worry. The also found that the greater the increases in mindfulness and self-compassion and decreases in worry, the greater the decreases in depression. They found that having a job mattered as those patients who had employment had significantly greater reductions in depression than the unemployed.

 

These findings are in line with those in more controlled lab studies of significant improvements in major depressive disorder produced by Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). The importance of the present studies is that they demonstrate that similar improvement occur in real world clinical settings. Finally, they suggest that MBCT may increase mindfulness and self-compassion and decrease worry and these improvements are associated with greater relief of depression.

 

So, improve major depression in the real world with mindfulness.

 

“Still, there are a handful of key areas — including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety — in which well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with effects similar to other existing treatments.”Alvin Powell

 

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

 

Geurts, D., Compen, F. R., Van Beek, M., & Speckens, A. (2020). The effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for major depressive disorder: evidence from routine outcome monitoring data. BJPsych open, 6(6), e144. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2020.118

 

Abstract

Background

Meta-analyses show efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in terms of relapse prevention and depressive symptom reduction in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). However, most studies have been conducted in controlled research settings.

Aims

We aimed to investigate the effectiveness of MBCT in patients with MDD presenting in real-world clinical practice. Moreover, we assessed whether guideline recommendations for MBCT allocation in regard to recurrence and remission status of MDD hold in clinical practice.

Method

This study assessed a naturalistic cohort of patients with (recurrent) MDD, either current or in remission (n = 765), who received MBCT in a university hospital out-patient clinic in The Netherlands. Outcome measures were self-reported depressive symptoms, worry, mindfulness skills and self-compassion. Predictors were MDD recurrence and remission status, and clinical and sociodemographic variables. Outcome and predictor analyses were conducted with linear regression.

Results

MBCT adherence was high (94%). Patients with a lower level of education had a higher chance of non-adherence. Attending more sessions positively influenced improvement in depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms significantly reduced from pre- to post-MBCT (Δ mean = 7.7, 95%CI = 7.0–8.5, Cohen’s d = 0.75). Improvement of depressive symptoms was independent from MDD recurrence and remission status. Unemployed patients showed less favourable outcomes. Worry, mindfulness skills and self-compassion all significantly improved. These improvements were related to changes in depressive symptoms.

Conclusions

Previous efficacy results in controlled research settings are maintained in clinical practice. Results illustrate that MBCT is effective in routine clinical practice for patients suffering from MDD, irrespective of MDD recurrence and remission status.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7745235/

 

Improve Mental and Physical Health in Anxious, Depressed Patients with Mindfulness and Qigong

Improve Mental and Physical Health in Anxious, Depressed Patients with Mindfulness and Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” – Elizabeth Hoge.

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults in the U.S., 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. Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders. Anxiety and depression are generally treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety and depression. 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. Mindfulness has also been shown to be effective for depression. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression and has been shown to be very effective. In addition, mind-body practices such as qigong have also been shown to be effective for anxiety and depression. Recently, qigong practice has been combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to treat anxiety and depression. The relative efficacy of MBCT and qigong-Based Cognitive Therapy has not been tested.

 

In today’s Research News article “A randomized controlled trial on the comparative effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and health qigong-based cognitive therapy among Chinese people with depression and anxiety disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7734764/ ) Chan and colleagues recruited adults who had been diagnosed with either an anxiety disorder or depression and randomly assigned them to either a no-treatment control condition or to receive 8 weekly 2 hour sessions of either Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Qigong-Based Cognitive Therapy (a combination of Qigong practice along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). They were measured before and after training and 8 weeks later for physical and mental health, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, sleep quality, and self-efficacy.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control, the participants who received either Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Qigong-Based Cognitive Therapy had significantly reduced anxiety, depression, and perceived stress, and significantly increased sleep quality and self-efficacy. These improvements were either sustained or even greater still at the 8-week follow-up. The decreases in anxiety and depression were significantly greater in the Qigong group than in the MBCT group. But the MBCT group had significantly greater improvements in overall mental health than the Qigong group while the Qigong group had significantly greater improvements in physical health than the MBCT group.

 

These are interesting results and to my knowledge the first direct comparison of the effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Qigong-Based Cognitive Therapy on patients with anxiety and depression. MBCT has been previously established to significantly improve anxiety, depression, perceived stress, sleep, and self-efficacy and Qigong has similarly been established to significantly improve anxiety, depression, perceived stress, sleep, and self-efficacy. So, the improvements observed in the current study relative to the no-treatment group are expected. What is new is the findings that MBCT is superior for the improvement of mental health while Qigong is superior for the improvement of physical health in patients with diagnosed anxiety and depression.

 

So, improve mental and physical health in anxious, depressed patients with mindfulness and qigong.

 

depression and anxiety scores were significantly decreased after participation in an 8-week mindfulness group therapy for depressive and anxious people.” – Tora Takahashi

 

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

 

Chan, S., Chan, W., Chao, J., & Chan, P. (2020). A randomized controlled trial on the comparative effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and health qigong-based cognitive therapy among Chinese people with depression and anxiety disorders. BMC psychiatry, 20(1), 590. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02994-2

 

Abstract

Background

The goal of this study was to investigate treatment outcome and related intervention processes of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy versus health qigong-based cognitive therapy versus waitlist control among individuals with mood disorders.

Methods

A total of 187 individuals with mood disorders were randomized and allocated into mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, health qigong-based cognitive therapy, or waitlist control groups. All participants were assessed at three time points with regard to depressive and anxiety symptoms, physical and mental health status, perceived stress, sleep quality, and self-efficacy. Linear mixed models analysis was used to test the individual growth model by studying the longitudinal data.

Results

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and health qigong-based cognitive therapy both produced greater improvements on all outcome measures as compared with waitlist control. Relatively, more reductions of mood symptoms were observed in the health qigong-based cognitive therapy group as compared with the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy group. Health qigong-based cognitive therapy is more conducive to physical health status whereas mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has more favorable mental health outcomes. Individual growth curve models indicated that alterations in perceived stress was the common predictor of mood changes in both intervention groups.

Conclusions

The predominant emphasis on physical health in health qigong-based cognitive therapy makes it more acceptable and effective than mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as applied in Chinese individuals with mood disorders. The influence of Chinese culture is discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7734764/

 

Reduce Current Depressive Symptoms with Mindfulness

Reduce Current Depressive Symptoms with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Depression is not only the most common mental illness, it’s also one of the most tenacious. . . But 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. 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. 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 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. MBCT has been found to be effective in treating depression. The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to take a look at what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for the treatment of current depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6687569/ ) Goldberg and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for current depression. They identified 13 published controlled studies.

 

They report that the published studies found that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)  produced significant improvements in depressive symptoms when compared to non-specific control conditions; those that did not suggest therapeutic effects. On the other hand, compared to control conditions in which the condition was portrayed as therapeutic, MBCT produced equivalent reductions in depressive symptoms. They also report that the improvements do not last and were no longer present at follow-ups as long as 6 months post-treatment.

 

The results suggest that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)  is a safe and effective treatment for current depressive symptoms. But it does not appear to be superior to other therapies and does not have lasting efficacy. This suggests that further research needs to be performed to determine what are the components of therapy that produce improvements and which do not. They also suggest that booster treatments periodically after the primary treatment may be needed to maintain effectiveness.

 

So, reduce current depressive symptoms with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is designed to help people who suffer repeated bouts of depression and chronic unhappiness. It combines the ideas of cognitive therapy with meditative practices and attitudes based on the cultivation of mindfulness.” – MBCT.com

 

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

Goldberg, S. B., Tucker, R. P., Greene, P. A., Davidson, R. J., Kearney, D. J., & Simpson, T. L. (2019). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for the treatment of current depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis. Cognitive behaviour therapy, 48(6), 445–462. https://doi.org/10.1080/16506073.2018.1556330

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) appears to be a promising intervention for the prevention of relapse in major depressive disorder, but its efficacy in patients with current depressive symptoms is less clear. Randomized clinical trials of MBCT for adult patients with current depressive symptoms were included (k = 13, N = 1,046). Comparison conditions were coded based on whether they were intended to be therapeutic (specific active controls) or not (non-specific controls). MBCT was superior to non-specific controls at post-treatment (k = 10, d = 0.71, 95% CI [0.47, 0.96]), although not at longest follow-up (k = 2, d = 1.47, [−0.71, 3.65], mean follow-up = 5.70 months across all studies with follow-up). MBCT did not differ from other active therapies at post-treatment (k = 6, d = 0.002, [−0.43, 0.44]) and longest follow-up (k = 4, d = 0.26, [−0.24, 0.75]). There was some evidence that studies with higher methodological quality showed smaller effects at post-treatment, but no evidence that effects varied by inclusion criterion. The impact of publication bias appeared minimal. MBCT seems to be efficacious for samples with current depressive symptoms at post-treatment, although a limited number of studies tested the long-term effects of this therapy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6687569/

 

Improve Mindfulness’ Benefits for Cancer Survivors with Smart-Messaging

Improve Mindfulness’ Benefits for Cancer Survivors with Smart-Messaging

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Cancer is a traumatic event that changes a person’s life. Utilizing mindfulness tools can provide peace and hope. Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can assist with long term effects of happiness and positivity.” – Erin Murphy-Wilczek

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depressionMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) consists of mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During therapy the patient is trained to investigate and alter aberrant thought patterns underlying their reactions to cancer. MBCT has been found to help relieve the symptoms of cancer survivors. It makes sense to explore ways to improve the effectiveness of MBCT for cancer patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Using smart-messaging to enhance mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for cancer patients: A mixed methods proof of concept evaluation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7004102/ ) Wells and colleagues evaluated whether providing text message reminders could enhance the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for the relief of anxiety and depression in cancer patients. They recruited adult cancer patients with mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression and provided them with 8 weekly sessions of MBCT along with 40 minutes daily home practice. The patients could refuse messaging or opt to receive text messages 3 times per week reminding them of their home practice and could request up to 9 more messages per week. They were measured before and after each session and 1 month after the completion of the training for depression, anxiety, and general mental health.

 

They found that 87% of the patients receiving smart messaging completed the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program while only 38% of the non-messaging patients completed the MBCT program. Both groups had significant reductions in anxiety and depression that were maintained 1 month after treatment. But the smart messaging group had significantly greater reductions in depression.

 

This is a proof of concept study which demonstrated that smart messaging could be effectively used in conjunction with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). The results, though, need to be interpreted with great caution. The patients decided whether to receive the messages or not and very different patients might have opted in compared those that refused the messaging. These differences in the groups could account for the observed differences in participation and depression. But this study establishes that this smart messaging method is feasible with cancer patients with suggestions of improved impact of the therapy. A randomized controlled trial is now needed.

 

So, improve mindfulness’ benefits for cancer survivors with smart-messaging.

 

It turns out that some of the most difficult elements of the cancer experience are very well-suited to a mindfulness practice.” – Linda Carlson

 

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

 

Wells, C., Malins, S., Clarke, S., Skorodzien, I., Biswas, S., Sweeney, T., Moghaddam, N., & Levene, J. (2020). Using smart-messaging to enhance mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for cancer patients: A mixed methods proof of concept evaluation. Psycho-oncology, 29(1), 212–219. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.5256

 

Abstract

Objective

Depression and anxiety lead to reduced treatment adherence, poorer quality of life, and increased care costs amongst cancer patients. Mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an effective treatment, but dropout reduces potential benefits. Smart‐message reminders can prevent dropout and improve effectiveness. However, smart‐messaging is untested for MBCT in cancer. This study evaluates smart‐messaging to reduce dropout and improve effectiveness in MBCT for cancer patients with depression or anxiety.

Methods

Fifty‐one cancer patients attending MBCT in a psycho‐oncology service were offered a smart‐messaging intervention, which reminded them of prescribed between‐session activities. Thirty patients accepted smart‐messaging and 21 did not. Assessments of depression and anxiety were taken at baseline, session‐by‐session, and one‐month follow‐up. Logistic regression and multilevel modelling compared the groups on treatment completion and clinical effectiveness. Fifteen post‐treatment patient interviews explored smart‐messaging use.

Results

The odds of programme completion were eight times greater for patients using smart‐messaging compared with non‐users, controlling for age, gender, baseline depression, and baseline anxiety (OR = 7.79, 95% CI 1.75 to 34.58, p = .007). Smart‐messaging users also reported greater improvement in depression over the programme (B = ‐2.33, SEB = .78, p = .004) when controlling for baseline severity, change over time, age, and number of sessions attended. There was no difference between groups in anxiety improvement (B = ‐1.46, SEB = .86, p = .097). In interviews, smart‐messaging was described as a motivating reminder and source of personal connection.

Conclusions

Smart‐messaging may be an easily integrated telehealth intervention to improve MBCT for cancer patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7004102/

 

Improve Depression in International Students with Positive Coping with Mindfulness

Improve Depression in International Students with Positive Coping with Mindfulness

 

with practice, meditation can help many people control how they react to the stress and anxiety that often leads to depression,” – John Denninger

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. It is common in college students. There is a lot of pressure on college students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This can lead to stress, anxiety and depression which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. International students face the additional stress of being immersed in an alien culture and being separated from family and friends. 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. It is important to determine if mindfulness training can help to relieve depression in international college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Mediating Effects of Coping Style on the Effects of Breath Count Mindfulness Training on Depressive Symptoms among International Students in China.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7474765/ ) Gu and colleagues recruited foreign college students in china and randomly assigned them to receive no treatment, but encouraged to exercise, or 8-weeks for 2-hours per week of either normal college counseling or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program that emphasized attention to the breath. They were measured before and after training for depression, life events including family life, work and study life, and family and friends’ life, and positive and negative coping. In addition, saliva samples were taken and assayed for cortisol levels.

 

They found that in general international college students had mild levels of depression and that the higher the levels of depression the greater the problems with life events and the lower the coping ability. They found that both mindfulness training and normal counseling, but not exercise, resulted in significant reductions in depression and cortisol levels. In addition, those students who had positive coping styles had greater reductions in depression after mindfulness training than either of the other groups.

 

That mindfulness training can reduce depression, especially with or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been well documented in prior research. Additionally, it found that students with positive coping styles benefited the most from the therapy. Additionally, it found that students with positive coping styles benefited the most from the therapy. In addition, mindfulness training reduced cortisol levels suggesting a reduction in stress levels in these students. Again, mindfulness training has been previously been shown to reduce cortisol levels and stress. The contribution of the present study is that it demonstrates that mindfulness training is effective in reducing stress and depression in international students.

 

It is interesting that MBCT training was no more effective than traditional college counseling. MBCT training was specifically developed to treat depression. So, it is surprising that it was not superior to normal counselling. It is possible that since the students were only mildly depressed in the first place there was limited ability to show improvement creating a floor effect. Indeed, depression index levels at the end of training indicated no depression was present at all following training. Perhaps if the students were more depressed to start with, MBCT training would have a greater opportunity to demonstrate superiority. Nevertheless, it is clear that mindfulness training can reduce the depression found in international students especially in students who have strong positive coping ability.

 

So, improve depression in international students with positive coping with mindfulness.

 

Depression makes someone more likely to react to life’s setbacks with negative, judgmental thinking, which can lower their mood and trigger a new episode. Mindfulness helps create mental space around these thoughts, enabling people at risk to observe, with kindness, the patterns of the mind that might otherwise drag them down.” – Ed Halliwell

 

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

 

Gu, S., Li, Y., Liang, F., Feng, R., Zeng, Z., & Wang, F. (2020). The Mediating Effects of Coping Style on the Effects of Breath Count Mindfulness Training on Depressive Symptoms among International Students in China. Neural plasticity, 2020, 8859251. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8859251

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training has gained popularity in the scientific field and has been proposed as an efficient way for emotional regulation. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is designed especially for depressive people in reducing risk of depression relapse and is recommended in national guidelines as a treatment choice for relapse prevention in recurrent depression. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of mindfulness training on depressive symptoms of international students and probe into the mediating role of mindfulness in stressful events and depression. In addition, we introduced a new kind of mindfulness training, the breathing exercise-based mindfulness training, which is based on the integration of Buddhism and Daoism. Self-report questionnaires assessing the coping style, abnormal depressive behavior, and stressful live events were completed in 260 international students in China (mean age = 21.4 years). The results showed that (1) many international students showed depression symptoms, (2) stressful life events play a completely mediating role in the initiation of depression and anxiety, and (3) mindfulness training for 8 weeks significantly reduced the depressive symptoms, and it was also related to a positive coping style. This study has certain theoretical significance in exploring the mechanism of the occurrence and development of depression among international students and provides useful tools for this special group of international students. In addition, the international students can also learn Chinese culture through the training. These findings indicate that mindfulness training and positive coping style are interrelated with treating depressive symptoms for international students.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7474765/

 

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is recommended as a treatment for people with mental ill-health as well as those who want to improve their mental health and wellbeing.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children, to adolescents, to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

There is a vast array of techniques for the development of mindfulness. It is important to establish the most efficacious techniques and their dosages for the treatment of common mental illnesses. It is particularly important, for reasons of affordability, to employ techniques that qualify for insurance reimbursement.

 

In today’s Research News article “Insurance-Reimbursable Mindfulness for Safety-Net Primary Care Patients: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7009938/ ) Gawande and colleagues recruited adults with a non-severe mental health diagnosis and randomly assigned them to receive either a high or low dose mindfulness training. The high dose training consisted of 8 weeks of twice a week 1-hour mindfulness trainings along with daily 30-45 minutes of home practice. The mindfulness training was adapted from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) including meditation, trauma-informed practices, and self-compassion training. The low dose mindfulness training consisted of a single 60-minute introduction to mindfulness and encouragement to practice mindfulness. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, disease self-efficacy, mindfulness, self-compassion, and perceived control of disease.

 

The most common disorders were anxiety disorders in 37% and depression in 32% of the participants. They found that in comparison to baseline the high dose mindfulness group had significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress and significant increases in disease self-efficacy, mindfulness, and self-compassion. The low dose mindfulness group had only a significant reduction in perceived stress. The high dose mindfulness group had significant greater increases in mindfulness and self-compassion and decreases in anxiety than the low dose group. Importantly, the high dose mindfulness intervention was accepted for reimbursement by insurance companies.

 

The study is important in that it demonstrated that insurance would cover the high dose treatment. This is important for making the treatment affordable for insured clients. The study demonstrated as have a variety of other research studies that mindfulness training produces significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress and significant increases in disease self-efficacy, mindfulness, and self-compassion. But the study had a unique control condition of a low dose mindfulness training. The high dose intervention produced significant improvements in mental illness disease symptoms that were for the most part better than those of the low dose. This establishes that participant expectancies and positive biases toward mindfulness training cannot account for the improvements. It also demonstrates that greater doses of mindfulness training produce greater benefits for patients with non-severe mental health issues.

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness.

 

“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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Gawande, R., Pine, E., Griswold, T., Creedon, T., Vallejo, Z., Rosenbaum, E., Lozada, A., & Schuman-Olivier, Z. (2019). Insurance-Reimbursable Mindfulness for Safety-Net Primary Care Patients: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 10(9), 1744–1759. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01116-8

 

Abstract

Objectives:

Mindfulness is effective for reducing anxiety and depression and increasing chronic disease self-management. An accessible, insurance-reimbursable model for implementation in patient-centered medical homes within US healthcare systems has promise for patients with multi-morbid conditions. Clarifying both the dose needed to impact anxiety, depression and self-management, and the design requirements for accessible primary care implementation, is essential.

Methods:

We tested feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of Mindfulness Training for Primary Care (MTPC), an 8-week, referral-based, insurance-reimbursable mindfulness program integrated within primary care, compared with a Low-Dose Comparator (LDC), consisting of a 60-minute mindfulness introduction plus referral to community and digital resources. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline and 8 weeks. MTPC is trauma-informed, incorporates mindfulness-oriented behavior change skills, and is designed to target anxiety, depression, stress, and chronic illness selfmanagement. Participants schedule a PCP visit to co-create a self-management action plan during week 6.

Results:

Primary care providers (PCP) referred 344 patients over 14 months. Eighty-one participants with DSM-V anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, trauma- and stress-related disorders participated in this pilot randomized-controlled comparative effectiveness trial [MTPC (n=54); LDC (n=27)]. These data suggest that MTPC was more effective than LDC for reducing anxiety (p=0.01), enhancing mindfulness (p=0.02) and self-compassion (p=0.001), and for catalyzing selfmanagement behavior change through action plan initiation (OR=4.34, p=0.03).

Conclusions:

MTPC was successfully integrated into a health system, was billed to insurance, and was acceptable to a diverse primary care population. Replication with a larger study and further accessibility adaptations are needed to confirm and expand these pilot results.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7009938/

 

Improve Bipolar Disorder with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Improve Bipolar Disorder with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Bipolar disorder can be complicated by stress, and having bipolar disorder is stressful in itself. Relaxation techniques such as meditation can reduce the stress you experience from bipolar disorder, which can help you keep your mood in check.” – Timothy Legg

 

Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic Depressive Disorder, is a mood disorder characterized by alternating states of extreme depression, relative normalcy, and extreme euphoria (mania). The symptoms of depression and mania are so severe that the individual is debilitated and unable to conduct their normal daily lives. The depression is so severe that suicide occurs in about 1% of cases of Bipolar Disorder. There are great individual differences in Bipolar Disorder. The extreme mood swings can last for a few days to months and can occur only once or reoccur frequently.

 

Bipolar Disorder affects about 1% of the population throughout the world at any time. But about 3% to 10% of the population may experience it sometime during their lives. It is usually treated with drugs. But these medications are not always effective and can have difficult side effects. This disorder has been generally been found to be very difficult to treat with psychotherapy. Hence, there is a great need for alternative treatments.

 

Mindfulness practices and treatments have been shown to be effective for major mental disorders, including  depression and anxiety disorders and to improve the regulation of emotions.  Mindfulness-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.

 

It would seem appropriate to summarize what has been learned about the efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for the treatment of bipolar disorder. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder: A systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7448295/) Lovas and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effectiveness of MBCT for the treatment of bipolar disorder. They identified 13 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) significantly reduced depressive symptoms of patients with bipolar disorder while not eliciting symptoms of mania. MBCT appears to also reduce anxiety and suicidality. It appears to reduce depressive symptoms and improve mood by decreasing rumination, repetitive negative thoughts. It also appeared to improve attentional control, broadening present moment awareness from a focus on negative thoughts. In addition, it appears to create reappraisal, such that the patients were able to reappraise their negative thoughts as just thoughts and not facts. The improvements in depressive symptoms were found to be related to the amount of home practice during MBCT training.

 

These are promising results suggesting that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a safe and effective treatment for the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. But the authors report that the published research studies were generally of low research quality and underpowered to discern statistically significant effects. So, better designed and larger studies need to be conducted before firm conclusions regarding benefits can be reached.

 

So, improve bipolar disorder with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

 

mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may help individuals with bipolar disorder prevent depressive episodes and has lasting benefits to the brain and cognition.” – BP Magazine

 

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

 

Lovas, D. A., & Schuman-Olivier, Z. (2018). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder: A systematic review. Journal of affective disorders, 240, 247–261. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2018.06.017

 

Abstract

Background:

Persisting high levels of relapse, morbidity and mortality in bipolar disorder (BD) in spite of first-line, evidence-based psychopharmacology has spurred development and research on adjunctive psychotherapies. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an emerging psychotherapy that has shown benefit in related and comorbid conditions such as major depressive, anxiety, and substance disorders. Furthermore, neurocognitive studies of MBCT suggest that that may have effects on some of the theorized pathophysiological processes in BD.

Methods:

We conducted a systematic literature review using PsychINFO and PubMed databases to identify studies reporting clinical and/or neurocognitive findings for MBCT for BD.

Results:

This search revealed 13 articles. There was a wide range in methodological quality and most studies were underpowered or did not present power calculations. However, MBCT did not appear to precipitate mania, and there is preliminary evidence to support a positive effect on anxiety, residual depression, mood regulation, and broad attentional and frontal-executive control.

Limitations:

As meta-analysis is not yet possible due to study heterogeneity and quality, the current review is a narrative synthesis, and therefore net effects cannot be estimated.

Conclusions:

MBCT for BD holds promise, but more high-quality studies are needed in order to ascertain its clinical efficacy. Recommendations to address the limitations of the current research are made.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7448295/