Improve Well-Being in Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve Well-Being in Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

You can be a victim of cancer, or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset.” — Dave Pelzer

 

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 depression. The research is accumulating. So it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on symptoms of depression, anxiety, and cancer-related fatigue in oncology patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9282451/ ) Chayadi and colleagues review summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of  the effectiveness of mindfulness training (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), or Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) on the psychological well-being of cancer patients. They identified 36 published research studies including a total of 1650 cancer patients. Most of the studies employed MBSR.

 

They report that in comparison to baseline and to control conditions, mindfulness training produced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and fatigue in the cancer patients. These improvements were present immediately after training and 3-months later. Hence, mindfulness training improved the physical and psychological well-being of cancer patients. This suggests that mindfulness training should be incorporated into the routine care of patients with cancer..

 

Cancer is a journey, but you walk the road alone. There are many places to stop along the way and get nourishment — you just have to be willing to take it.” — Emily Hollenberg

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chayadi E, Baes N, Kiropoulos L. The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on symptoms of depression, anxiety, and cancer-related fatigue in oncology patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2022 Jul 14;17(7):e0269519. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269519. PMID: 35834503; PMCID: PMC9282451.

 

Abstract

Objective

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly being integrated into oncological treatment to mitigate psychological distress and promote emotional and physical well-being. This review aims to provide the most recent evaluation of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) treatments, in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and CRF in oncology populations.

Methods

A search using the following search terms was conducted: (mindful* OR mindfulness* OR mindfulness-based* OR MBI* OR MBCT OR MBSR OR MBCR) AND (Oncol* OR cancer OR neoplasm OR lymphoma OR carcinoma OR sarcoma) to obtain relevant publications from five databases: PsycINFO, PubMed, Embase, and MEDLINE by EC, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global from January 2000 to February 2022. 36 independent studies (n = 1677) were evaluated for their overall effect sizes (using random-effects models), subgroup analyses, and quality appraisals. Evaluations were performed separately for non-randomized (K = 20, n = 784) and randomized controlled trials (K = 16, n = 893).

Results

The results showed that MBIs have significant medium effects in reducing symptoms of depression (Hedges’ g = 0.43), anxiety (Hedges’ g = 0.55) and CRF (Hedges’ g = 0.43), which were maintained at least three months post-intervention. MBIs were also superior in reducing symptoms of anxiety (Hedges’ g = 0.56), depression (Hedges’ g = 0.43), and CRF (Hedges’ g = 0.42) in oncology samples relative to control groups. The superiority of MBIs to control groups was also maintained at least three months post-intervention for anxiety and CRF symptoms, but not for depressive symptoms. The risk of bias of the included studies were low to moderate.

Conclusions

This review found that MBIs reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety and CRF in oncology populations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9282451/

Improve Brain Function in the Elderly with Mindfulness

Improve Brain Function in the Elderly with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Most people think that aging is irreversible and we know that there are mechanisms even in the human machinery that allow for the reversal of aging, through correction of diet, through anti-oxidants, through removal of toxins from the body, through exercise, through yoga and breathing techniques, and through meditation.” – Deepak Chopra

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our cognitive (mental) abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners

 

In today’s Research News article “Cerebral Blood Flow and Brain Functional Connectivity Changes in Older Adults Participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8869750/ ) Moss and colleagues recruited adults over the age of 65 years and provided them with an 8-week of once a week 2-hour programs of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) along with home practice. MBSR consists of meditation, yoga, and body scan practices along with group discussion. Before and after the program they were measured for anxiety and depression. In addition they underwent cerebral blood flow measurement and connectivity measurement with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline the elderly had significant decreases in depression and significant increases in cerebral blood flow in a variety of cortical areas after mindfulness training. They also found significantly increased connectivity between the anterior cingulate cortex and the left insular cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, putamen, and left orbitofrontal cortex.

 

These changes in the brains of the elderly are significant as they suggest that mindfulness training reverses, at least in part, the decline in the nervous system that occurs with aging. This is likely to also signal protection of cognitive capacity.

 

There are great reasons to fear what happens if you don’t create a robust social schedule for the rest of your life or practice mindfulness meditation for the rest of your life.” ― John Medina

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Moss AS, Reibel DK, Wintering N, Vedaei F, Porter H, Khosravi M, Heholt J, Alizadeh M, Mohamed FB, Newberg AB. Cerebral Blood Flow and Brain Functional Connectivity Changes in Older Adults Participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. Behav Sci (Basel). 2022 Feb 14;12(2):48. doi: 10.3390/bs12020048. PMID: 35200299; PMCID: PMC8869750.

 

Abstract

There is a growing interest in the potential beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation training in protecting against age-related physical, emotional, and cognitive decline. The current prospective, single-center, single-arm study investigated if functional magnetic resonance imaging-based changes in cerebral blood flow and brain functional connectivity could be observed in 11 elderly adults (mean age 79) after participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The results showed significantly (p < 0.05) altered cerebral blood flow and functional connectivity in the cingulate gyrus, limbic structures, and subregions of the temporal and frontal lobes, similar to findings of other meditation-related studies in younger populations. Furthermore, these changes were also associated with significant improvements in depression symptoms. This study suggests that the MBSR program can potentially modify cerebral blood flow and connectivity in this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8869750/

 

Improve the Emotion Regulation of Midwives with Mindfulness

Improve the Emotion Regulation of Midwives with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. This is a very important consequence of mindfulness. Humans are very emotional creatures and these emotions can be very pleasant, providing the spice of life. But when they get extreme, they can produce misery and even mental illness. 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9103483/ ) Aghamohammadi and colleagues examined the effectiveness of mindfulness training on emotion regulation and perceived stress in Iranian midwives. The participants were randomly assigned either to a wait-list control condition or to receive an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) program modified for Iranian culture.

 

They report that mindfulness training significantly improved emotion regulation and self-efficacy and decreased perceived stress and hopelessness in the midwives. The improvements in emotion regulation included increases in acceptance of emotional responses, performance of goal-oriented behaviors in the face of a stressful situation, accessing emotional strategies, and improving emotional clarity.

 

These findings suggest that mindfulness training improves the ability to appreciate but control emotions producing improvements in mental health.

 

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Aghamohammadi F, Saed O, Ahmadi R, Kharaghani R. The effectiveness of adapted group mindfulness-based stress management program on perceived stress and emotion regulation in midwives: a randomized clinical trial. BMC Psychol. 2022 May 13;10(1):123. doi: 10.1186/s40359-022-00823-7. PMID: 35562792; PMCID: PMC9103483.

 

Abstract

Background

Midwives’ stress can have negative consequences on their emotional state, burnout, and poor quality of midwifery care. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of an adapted mindfulness-based stress management program on perceived stress and the emotional regulation of midwives.

Methods

The study was a parallel randomized clinical trial on the midwives working in general hospitals of Zanjan, Iran. In this study, 121 midwives registered to participate based on the census sampling method were screened using a cut point of ≥ 28 in the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). From the initial sample, 42 subjects had inclusion criteria assigned to two groups of control (n = 21) and intervention (n = 21) using online random allocation. The intervention group received an 8-week adapted mindfulness-based stress management program. This program emanates from the Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR program, which has been adjusted according to the Iranian culture. The ANCOVA and repeated measure analysis of variance test were used to compare groups over time.

Results

The results showed that the group intervention effectively affected perceived stress (P = 0.001) and difficulty in emotion regulation during the post-intervention period (P = 0.001). Moreover, the interventions were effective in emotion regulation (P = 0.003), but it was not effective on perceived stress (P = 0.125) at the 3-month follow-up.

Conclusions

This adapted mindfulness-based program successfully reduced stress and increased emotion regulation strategies in midwives; however, the long-term outcomes of this treatment program need further consideration.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9103483/

Mindfulness Improves the Psychological Well-Being of Lung Cancer Patients

Mindfulness Improves the Psychological Well-Being of Lung Cancer Patients

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

You can be a victim of cancer, or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset.” — Dave Pelzer

 

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 general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has also been shown to be helpful with the residual symptoms in cancer survivors, the psychological and physical ability to deal with cancer treatment and improves sleep. The research findings have been accumulating. So, it makes sense to take a look at what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Psychological Outcomes and Quality of Life in Patients With Lung Cancer: A Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.901247/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1896364_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220705_arts_A&id_mc=312338674&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c ) Tian and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the of the published research studies of the effectiveness of a mindfulness practice, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on the psychological well-being of lung cancer survivors. MBSR consists of meditation, yoga, body scan, and group discussion.

 

They identified 17 published research studies that included a total of 1680 participants. They report that the published research found that the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced a significant reduction in cancer related fatigue, anxiety, depression, and psychological distress, and significantly increased mindfulness, self-efficacy, and sleep quality.

 

Hence, the research to date supports the use of mindfulness training to improve the psychological well-being of lung cancer survivors.

 

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” – Unknown

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tian X, Yi L-J, Liang C-S-S, Gu L, Peng C, Chen G-H and Jiménez-Herrera MF (2022) The Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Psychological Outcomes and Quality of Life in Patients With Lung Cancer: A Meta-Analysis. Front. Psychol. 13:901247. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.901247

 

Objective: The impact of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on psychological outcomes and quality of life (QoL) in lung cancer patients remains unclear. This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the MBSR program on psychological states and QoL in lung cancer patients.

Methods: Eligible studies published before November 2021 were systematically searched from PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and Wanfang databases. The risk of bias in eligible studies was assessed using the Cochrane tool. Psychological variables and QoL were evaluated as outcomes. We used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system to grade the levels of evidence. Statistical analysis was conducted using RevMan 5.4 and STATA 14.0.

Results: A total of 17 studies involving 1,680 patients were included for meta-analysis eventually. MBSR program significantly relieved cancer-related fatigue (standard mean difference [SMD], −1.26; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.69 to −0.82; moderate evidence) and negative psychological states (SMD, −1.35; 95% CI, −1.69 to −1.02; low evidence), enhanced positive psychological states (SMD, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.56–1.27; moderate evidence), and improved quality of sleep (MD, −2.79; 95% CI, −3.03 to −2.56; high evidence). Evidence on MBSR programs’ overall treatment effect for QoL revealed a trend toward statistical significance (p = 0.06, low evidence).

Conclusion: Based on our findings, the MBSR program shows positive effects on psychological states in lung cancer patients. This approach should be recommended as a part of the rehabilitation program for lung cancer patients.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.901247/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1896364_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20220705_arts_A&id_mc=312338674&utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Article+Alerts+V4.1-Frontiers&utm_term=%%%3d++++++REDIRECTTO(+++++CONCAT(%27http%3a%2f%2fjournal.frontiersin.org%2farticle%2f%27%2c+TreatAsContent(field(%40article%2c+%27DOI__c%27))%2c+%27%2ffull%3futm_source%3dF-AAE%26utm_medium%3dEMLF%26utm_campaign%3dMRK_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(JobID)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(%40FieldId)%2c+%27_%27%2c+TreatAsContent(Substring(Replace(Field(%40field%2c+%27Name%27)%2c+%27+%27%2c

 

Mindfulness Reduces Stress and Negative Emotions in College Students

Mindfulness Reduces Stress and Negative Emotions in College Students

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can be admitted to the best universities and there is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance and lead to burnout.

 

It is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, these practices have been found to reduce stress and improve psychological health in college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Investigating the effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on stress level and brain activity of college students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9121238/ ) An and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to either a no-treatment control condition or to receive 8 weekly 1.5-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) along with home practice. MBSR consists of meditation, yoga, and body scan practices along with group discussion. They were measured before and after training and 2 months later for perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. They also had their electroencephalogram (EEG) measured while performing a stressful task (easy, moderate, and hard mental arithmetic, and the Stroop task).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment group, the students who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training had significantly reduced levels of perceived stress, anxiety, and depression that were maintained 2 months later with the exception of perceived stress which continued to significantly decline from the end of training to 2 months later. They also found that during the stressful tasks that the alpha rhythm power in the EEG was significantly increased in the frontal, temporal, and occipital areas after MBSR.

 

Alpha power is reflective of relaxation. These findings then suggest that mindfulness training improves psychological well-being and the ability to relax under stress. Although not investigated, the improvements should translate into better academic performance. Nevertheless, mindfulness training is highly beneficial to college students and should be recommended.

 

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

An A, Hoang H, Trang L, Vo Q, Tran L, Le T, Le A, McCormick A, Du Old K, Williams NS, Mackellar G, Nguyen E, Luong T, Nguyen V, Nguyen K, Ha H. Investigating the effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on stress level and brain activity of college students. IBRO Neurosci Rep. 2022 May 14;12:399-410. doi: 10.1016/j.ibneur.2022.05.004. PMID: 35601693; PMCID: PMC9121238.

 

Abstract

Financial constraints usually hinder students, especially those in low-middle income countries (LMICs), from seeking mental health interventions. Hence, it is necessary to identify effective, affordable and sustainable counter-stress measures for college students in the LMICs context. This study examines the sustained effects of mindfulness practice on the psychological outcomes and brain activity of students, especially when they are exposed to stressful situations. Here, we combined psychological and electrophysiological methods (EEG) to investigate the sustained effects of an 8-week-long standardized Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention on the brain activity of college students. We found that the Test group showed a decrease in negative emotional states after the intervention, compared to the no statistically significant result of the Control group, as indicated by the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) (33% reduction in the negative score) and Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS-42) scores (nearly 40% reduction of three subscale scores). Spectral analysis of EEG data showed that this intervention is longitudinally associated with increased frontal and occipital lobe alpha band power. Additionally, the increase in alpha power is more prevalent when the Test group was being stress-induced by cognitive tasks, suggesting that practicing MBSR might enhance the practitioners’ tolerance of negative emotional states. In conclusion, MBSR intervention led to a sustained reduction of negative emotional states as measured by both psychological and electrophysiological metrics, which supports the adoption of MBSR as an effective and sustainable stress-countering approach for students in LMICs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9121238/

 

Improve Physiological Relaxation in Breast Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Improve Physiological Relaxation in Breast Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based meditation can help ease the stress, anxiety, fear, and depression that often come along with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.” –  Breastcancer.org

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a mindfulness training program that includes meditation practice, body scan, yoga, and discussion along with daily home practice. MBSR has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients in general and also specifically for the symptoms of breast cancer survivors. So, it makes sense to further explore the mechanisms of the effectiveness of MBSR for the treatment of breast cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9180838/ ) and colleagues recruited breast cancer survivors who had received a diagnosis and treatment at least 2 years ago. They either participated in a 6 week, 2 hour once a week session of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or usual care. Before and after treatment they were measured for heart rate, heart rate variability with an electrocardiogram.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) the survivors had significantly lower resting heart rate and higher heart rate variability. Increases in heart rate variability indicates a reduction in physiological activation, an increase in parasympathetic relaxation, providing a physiological indicator of physiological relaxation. This suggests that MBSR resulted in greater relaxation in the breast cancer survivors and this is an indicator of improved physical and psychological well-being in these cancer survivors.

 

So, mindfulness training increases physiological relaxation in breast cancer survivors.

 

practice mindfulness meditation to help you better handle the stressors that life is throwing your way. Being more mindful can also help you remain physically active and stick to a healthy diet – all key ingredients for successfully navigating cancer survivorship!” – Jessica Pieczynski

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wang, S. J., Chang, Y. C., Hu, W. Y., Chang, Y. M., & Lo, C. (2022). The Comparative Effect of Reduced Mindfulness-Based Stress on Heart Rate Variability among Patients with Breast Cancer. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(11), 6537. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19116537

 

Abstract

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a powerful tool for observing interactions between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This study evaluated HRV during a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program among women with breast cancer after receiving treatment. A quasi-experimental, nonrandomized design was used. Patients were allocated to usual care (n = 25) and MBSR (n = 25) groups. HRV was measured using recognized methods to assess the autonomic nervous system. Two-way ANOVA and t-tests were used to examine HRV changes between and within groups, respectively. A significant interaction effect of time with group was observed on heart rate (F (1, 96) = 4.92, p = 0.029, η2 = 0.049). A significant difference was also observed within the MBSR group preintervention and postintervention with regard to heart rate (t (24) = −3.80, p = 0.001), standard deviation of the RR interval (t (24) = 5.40, p < 0.001), root-mean-square difference in the RR interval (t (24) = 2.23, p = 0.035), and high-frequency power (t (24) = 7.73, p < 0.001). Large effect sizes for heart rate and SDNN of 0.94 and 0.85, respectively, were observed between the MBSR and usual care groups. This study provides preliminary evidence that an MBSR program may be clinically useful for facilitating parasympathetic activity associated with feelings of relaxation in treated breast cancer survivors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9180838/

Reduce Teacher Stress with Mindfulness

Reduce Teacher Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Daily mindfulness practice has been scientifically proven to reduce teacher stress and burnout, in turn improving their effectiveness and engagement with their students.” – InnerExplorer

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This often produces burnout; fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy. 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.

 

Mindfulness techniques are gaining increasing attention for the treatment of the symptoms of stress and burnout. They have been demonstrated to be helpful in reducing the psychological and physiological responses to stress and for treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments including schools.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction for school teachers: a cluster-randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8975540/ ) Bonde and colleagues recruited school teachers and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 8 weekly 2.5 hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) consisting of training in meditation, yoga, and body scan, with group discussion, and homework. They were measured before and after training and 3 months later for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, well-being, resilience, mindfulness, and resting state.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the teachers who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly lower levels of perceived stress, discontinuity of mind, and bodily awareness that were maintained 3 months later. Although there were no direct measures of burnout, the reductions in stress produced by MBSR would suggest that the training reduced the likelihood of burnout in school teachers.

 

Mindfulness training reduces stress in school teachers.

 

Research shows that teachers experience stress as a result of multiple factors. One thing that can help educators work through this stress, reduce teacher burnout, improve self-efficacy, and increase job satisfaction is meditation and mindfulness.” – April Netz

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bonde, E. H., Fjorback, L. O., Frydenberg, M., & Juul, L. (2022). The effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction for school teachers: a cluster-randomized controlled trial. European journal of public health, 32(2), 246–253. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckab223

 

Abstract

Background

Teaching has been found to be one of the most stressful occupations. Hence, current interest in reducing stress and enhancing the well-being of teachers is strong. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is documented to be effective in reducing stress and increasing well-being. This study investigated the effectiveness of delivering MBSR to lower secondary school teachers as a part of a teacher-training programme.

Methods

This study was a nested trial within the parallel cluster-randomized controlled trial, Stress-free Everyday LiFe for Children and Adolescents REsearch (SELFCARE). Schools were recruited from all five geographical regions in Denmark between May 2018 and May 2019. One to three teachers from each school were allowed to participate. At baseline, 110 schools, representing 191 lower secondary school teachers, were cluster-randomized to intervention or a wait-list control group. The intervention group received MBSR during 2019 and the wait-list control group during 2020. Data were collected at baseline and after 3  and 6 months. The primary outcome was measured by Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Data were analyzed using a mixed-effect linear regression model and bootstrapped for cluster effects.

Results

At 3 months, the intervention group statistically significantly reduced their PSS score 1.7 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.04–3.3] points more than did the wait-list control group. At 6 months, the intervention group had statistically significantly reduced their mean PSS score 2.1 (95% CI: 0.5–3.8) points more than the wait-list control group.

Conclusion

It is possible to reduce perceived stress among lower secondary school teachers by delivering MBSR as part of a teacher-training programme.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8975540/

 

Improve Autoimmune Hepatitis with Mindfulness

Improve Autoimmune Hepatitis with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Conventional medicine is great at taking test results and making recommendations based on those results, but it doesn’t really show you how to go about your day-to-day life with a chronic disease. Mindfulness is a practical coping tool and it’s always there when all else seems to fail.” – Shannon Harvey

 

The immune system is designed to protect the body from threats like stress, infection, injury, and toxic chemicals. One of its tools is the Inflammatory response. This response works quite well for short-term infections and injuries. But when inflammation is protracted and becomes chronic, it can itself become a threat to health. It can produce autoimmune diseases such as colitis, Chron’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, increased cancer risk, lung disease, sleep disruption, gum disease, decreased bone health, psoriasis, and depression.

 

When the immune system attacks the liver, it produces autoimmune hepatitis which damages the liver. It is rare but affects women four times more often than men. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response. So, it would seem reasonable that mindfulness training may be effective in treating autoimmune hepatitis.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based stress reduction may decrease stress, disease activity, and inflammatory cytokine levels in patients with autoimmune hepatitis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9011026/ ) Alrabadi and colleagues recruited adult patients with autoimmune hepatitis and treated them with 8 weekly 2 hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It involves meditation, yoga, body scan, group discussion, and homework. The patients were measured before and after training and 8 and 12 months later for perceived stress, emotion regulation, and self-control. In addition, blood was drawn and assayed for inflammatory cytokines.

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) there was a significant reduction in perceived stress and the doses of the steroid prednisone that persisted 12 months later. In addition, plasma cytokine levels were significantly improved after treatment. This is an uncontrolled pilot study whose findings suggest that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for patients with autoimmune hepatitis, reducing inflammation and stress levels.

 

Mindfulness training appears to be and effective treatment for autoimmune diseases in general including autoimmune hepatitis.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Alrabadi, L. S., Dutton, A., Rabiee, A., Roberts, S. J., Deng, Y., Cusack, L., Silveira, M. G., Ciarleglio, M., Bucala, R., Sinha, R., Boyer, J. L., & Assis, D. N. (2022). Mindfulness-based stress reduction may decrease stress, disease activity, and inflammatory cytokine levels in patients with autoimmune hepatitis. JHEP reports : innovation in hepatology, 4(5), 100450. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhepr.2022.100450

 

Abstract

Background & Aims

Psychological and life stressors may impact autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) disease activity and increase relapse risk. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a validated course that reduces stress reactivity, and improves stress and emotion regulation. This single-arm exploratory pilot study of adult patients with AIH aimed to define the impact of an 8-week MBSR program on quality of life, disease activity, and cytokine mediators.

Methods

The perceived stress survey-10 (PSS) and the brief self-control scale (BSCS) measured subjective distress and self-control. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and cytokine levels were measured, and immunosuppressant doses recorded.

Results

Seventeen patients completed the MBSR program. Post-MBSR, 71% (n = 12) showed PSS score improvement at 8 weeks vs. baseline (median 15 vs. 21, p = 0.02). At 12 months, PSS improvement persisted vs. baseline (median 15 vs. 21, p = 0.02). Post-MBSR, 71% (n = 12) showed BSCS score improvement at 8 weeks vs. baseline (median 4.1 vs. 3.8, p = 0.03). At 12 months, the median BSCS score remained significant (3.9 vs. 3.8, p = 0.03). After the 8-week MBSR, the 35% of patients with ALT >34 U/L had a median ALT reduction (44.5 vs. 71.5 U/L, p = 0.06), whereas the 71% of patients on prednisone had significant dose reductions (5.75 vs. 10 mg, p = 0.02) which persisted at 12 months vs. baseline (3.75 vs. 10 mg, p = 0.02) without a compensatory increase in steroid-sparing dosing. Significant improvement was noted in peripheral blood cytokine levels (IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-17, IL-23, and sCD74/MIF ratio) from baseline to 8 weeks.

Conclusions

MBSR significantly improved perceived stress and self-control scores while decreasing ALT levels, steroid requirements, and inflammatory cytokine levels in this pilot study in adult AIH. Stress modification may impact quality of life and disease activity, and should be further evaluated as an intervention in AIH.

Lay summary

Autoimmune hepatitis can reduce quality of life and mental health, while stress may impact autoimmune hepatitis itself. We piloted mindfulness-based stress reduction as a strategy to reduce stress in adult patients with autoimmune hepatitis and found that the intervention reduced perceived stress and may have also impacted the disease by improving inflammation and medication needs. Stress reduction should be further studied to improve quality of life and possibly to impact disease activity in autoimmune hepatitis.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9011026/

Mindfulness Training Produces no Harm

Mindfulness Training Produces no Harm

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the occurrence of AEs during or after meditation practices is not uncommon, and may occur in individuals with no previous history of mental health problems.” – M. Farias

 

People begin meditation with the misconception that meditation will help them escape from their problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, meditation does the exact opposite, forcing the meditator to confront their issues. In meditation, the practitioner tries to quiet the mind. But, in that relaxed quiet state, powerful, highly emotionally charged thoughts and memories are likely to emerge. The strength here is that meditation is a wonderful occasion to begin to deal with these issues. But often the thoughts or memories are overwhelming. At times, professional therapeutic intervention may be needed.

 

Many practitioners never experience these negative experiences or only experience very mild states. There are, however, few systematic studies of the extent of negative experiences. In general, the research has reported that unwanted (negative) experiences are quite common with meditators, but for the most part, are short-lived and mild. There is, however, a great need for more research into the nature of the experiences that occur during meditation.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Prevalence of harm in mindfulness-based stress reduction.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7889774/ ) Hirshberg and colleagues compared patients who had received treatment with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to those on a wait-list. MBSR was either delivered in community settings or was part of a formal randomized clinical trial and consisted of 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and group discussion with daily homework. They were measured before and after treatment for global psychological symptom severity and bothersome physical symptoms. They were also measured for anxiety, depression, interpersonal sensitivity, paranoid ideation, and psychoticism.

 

They found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) significantly improved psychological and physical symptoms and only a small number of patients experienced increases in symptoms at a much lower proportion than control participants. There was not a single comparison in which MBSR led to greater harm than occurred in controls.

 

Hence, no evidence was found that mindfulness training led to harm greater than with no treatment while there was clear evidence for mindfulness training producing significantly lower levels of psychological and physical symptoms.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was clearly a safe and effective treatment to improve mental and physical well-being,

 

 

“Meditation isn’t magic. Like any other treatment for stress or mood disorders, it comes with side effects.” – Simon Spichak

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hirshberg, M. J., Goldberg, S. B., Rosenkranz, M., & Davidson, R. J. (2020). Prevalence of harm in mindfulness-based stress reduction. Psychological medicine, 1–9. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720002834

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness meditation has become a common method for reducing stress, stress-related psychopathology and some physical symptoms. As mindfulness programs become ubiquitous, concerns have been raised about their unknown potential for harm. We estimate multiple indices of harm following Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on two primary outcomes: global psychological and physical symptoms. In secondary analyses we estimate multiple indices of harm on anxiety and depressive symptoms, discomfort in interpersonal relations, paranoid ideation and psychoticism.

Methods

Intent-to-treat analyses with multiple imputation for missing data were used on pre- and post-test data from a large, observational dataset (n = 2155) of community health clinic MBSR classes and from MBSR (n = 156) and waitlist control (n = 118) participants from three randomized controlled trials conducted contemporaneous to community classes in the same city by the same health clinic MBSR teachers. We estimate change in symptoms, proportion of participants with increased symptoms, proportion of participants reporting greater than a 35% increase in symptoms, and for global psychological symptoms, clinically significant harm.

Results

We find no evidence that MBSR leads to higher rates of harm relative to waitlist control on any primary or secondary outcome. On many indices of harm across multiple outcomes, community MBSR was significantly preventative of harm.

Conclusions

Engagement in MBSR is not predictive of increased rates of harm relative to no treatment. Rather, MBSR may be protective against multiple indices of harm. Research characterizing the relatively small proportion of MBSR participants that experience harm remains important.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7889774/

Improve Sexual Function in Women with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

Improve Sexual Function in Women with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is extraordinary; it is as if they replace you with someone else. Positive thinking increased my willingness to return to life.” – International Society for Sexual Medicine

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many patients today are surviving cancer. But cancer survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, loss of personal control, impaired quality of life, and psychiatric symptoms which have been found to persist even ten years after remission. Also, cancer survivors can have to deal with a heightened fear of reoccurrence. So, safe and effective treatments for the symptoms in cancer and the physical and psychological effects of the treatments are needed.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a mindfulness training program that includes meditation practice, body scan, yoga, and discussion along with daily home practice. MBSR has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients in general and also specifically for the symptoms of breast cancer survivors. So, it makes sense to further explore the effectiveness of MBSR training for the treatment of sexual function in breast cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction on female sexual function and mental health in patients with breast cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8799961/ ) Chang and colleagues recruited breast cancer survivors and provided them with either a 6-weeks of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or treatment as usual. They were measured before and after for sexual function, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and quality of life.

 

They found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produce significant increases in sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction and significant reductions in anxiety and perceived stress.

 

Because of the nature of the treatments for breast cancer, sexual confidence and performance may be challenged. It is very important to these women’s well-being that they return to normal engagement in sex. It is very encouraging that mindfulness training appears to improve sexual satisfaction in these women after treatment. This, in turn, markedly improves their mental health.

 

Mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions are highly beneficial for reducing depression, fatigue, and stress in the short term. . . Breast cancer survivors are recommended to practice MBSR as part of their daily care routine.” – Yun-Chen Chang

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chang, Y. C., Lin, G. M., Yeh, T. L., Chang, Y. M., Yang, C. H., Lo, C., Yeh, C. Y., & Hu, W. Y. (2022). Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction on female sexual function and mental health in patients with breast cancer. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, 30(5), 4315–4325. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06540-y

 

Abstract

Purpose

There have been few studies using mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to improve sexual function in Asian women with breast cancer. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of mindfulness intervention on female sexual function, mental health, and quality of life in patients with breast cancer.

Methods

Fifty-one women with breast cancer were allocated into 6-week MBSR (n=26) sessions or usual care (n=25), without differences in group characteristics. The research tools included the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21 (DASS-21), and the EuroQol instrument (EQ-5D). The Greene Climacteric Scale (GCS) was used to verify the foregoing scale. The effects of MBSR were evaluated by the differences between the post- and pre-intervention scores in each scale. Statistical analyses consisted of the descriptive dataset and Mann-Whitney ranked-pairs test.

Results

Although MBSR did not significantly improve sexual desire and depression in patients with breast cancer, MBSR could improve parts of female sexual function [i.e., Δarousal: 5.73 vs. -5.96, Δlubrication: 3.35 vs. -3.48, and Δsatisfaction: 8.48 vs. 1.76; all p <.005], with a range from small to medium effect sizes. A significantly benefits were found on mental health [Δanxiety: -10.92 vs.11.36 and Δstress: -10.96 vs.11.40; both p <.001], with large effect sizes, ranging from 0.75 to 0.87.

Conclusion

Our study revealed that MBSR can improve female sexual function and mental health except for sexual desire and depression in women with breast cancer. Medical staff can incorporate MBSR into clinical health education for patients with breast cancer to promote their overall quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8799961/