Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Virtual mindfulness is an increasingly accessible intervention available world-wide that may reduce psychological distress.” – Suzan Farris

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. But the vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training online has been developed. This has tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants. The research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “New Evidence in the Booming Field of Online Mindfulness: An Updated Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8329762/ ) Sommers-Spijkerman and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness on online mindfulness training to improve psychological health. They identified 97 randomized controlled trials, including a total of 17,464 participants.

 

They report that the published randomized controlled trials found that online mindfulness training produced significant moderate reductions of perceived stress anxiety and depression and increases in mindfulness and well-being. One to 3 months after training there were still significant reductions in anxiety and depression remaining. Although the effects were larger when comparing online mindfulness training to passive control conditions, they were still present in significant when compared to active control conditions.

 

A very large amount of research has accumulated on the effectiveness of online mindfulness training for psychological health. This meta-analysis revealed that this research clearly demonstrates that online mindfulness training has similar effectiveness as face-to-face mindfulness training in improving psychological health. Hence, online training is safe, effective convenient, scalable, and inexpensive, and doesn’t require a trained therapist making it an excellent option for improving psychological health.

 

So, improve psychological health with online mindfulness training.

 

The fear, anxiety and stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health. But . . . these symptoms may be alleviated through safe and convenient online mindfulness practices.” – Wake Forest Baptist Health

 

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

 

Sommers-Spijkerman, M., Austin, J., Bohlmeijer, E., & Pots, W. (2021). New Evidence in the Booming Field of Online Mindfulness: An Updated Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. JMIR mental health, 8(7), e28168. https://doi.org/10.2196/28168

 

Abstract

Background

There is a need to regularly update the evidence base on the effectiveness of online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), especially considering how fast this field is growing and developing.

Objective

This study presents an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing the effects of online MBIs on mental health and the potential moderators of these effects.

Methods

We conducted a systematic literature search in PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science up to December 4, 2020, and included 97 trials, totaling 125 comparisons. Pre-to-post and pre-to-follow-up between-group effect sizes (Hedges g) were calculated for depression, anxiety, stress, well-being, and mindfulness using a random effects model.

Results

The findings revealed statistically significant moderate pre-to-post effects on depression (g=0.34, 95% CI 0.18-0.50; P<.001), stress (g=0.44, 95% CI 0.32-0.55; P<.001), and mindfulness (g=0.40, 95% CI 0.30-0.50; P<.001) and small effects on anxiety (g=0.26, 95% CI 0.18-0.33; P<.001). For well-being, a significant small effect was found only when omitting outliers (g=0.22, 95% CI 0.15-0.29; P<.001) or low-quality studies (g=0.26, 95% CI 0.12-0.41; P<.001). Significant but small follow-up effects were found for depression (g=0.25, 95% CI 0.12-0.38) and anxiety (g=0.23, 95% CI 0.13-0.32). Subgroup analyses revealed that online MBIs resulted in higher effect sizes for stress when offered with guidance. In terms of stress and mindfulness, studies that used inactive control conditions yielded larger effects. For anxiety, populations with psychological symptoms had higher effect sizes. Adherence rates for the interventions ranged from 35% to 92%, but most studies lacked clear definitions or cut-offs.

Conclusions

Our findings not only demonstrate that online MBIs are booming but also corroborate previous findings that online MBIs are beneficial for improving mental health outcomes in a broad range of populations. To advance the field of online MBIs, future trials should pay specific attention to methodological quality, adherence, and long-term follow-up measurements.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8329762/

 

Hallucinogenic Drugs may Effectively Treat Mental Illness

Hallucinogenic Drugs may Effectively Treat Mental Illness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Combined with psychotherapy, some psychedelic drugs like MDMA, psilocybin and ayahuasca may improve symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” – Cristina L. Magalhaes

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin 

have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. More recently hallucinogenic drugs such as MDMA (Ecstasy) and Ketamine have been similarly used. People find the experiences produced by these substances extremely pleasant. eye opening, and even transformative. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Psychedelics and hallucinogens have also been found to be clinically useful as they markedly improve mood, increase energy and enthusiasm and greatly improve clinical depression. The research on the effectiveness of these drugs on mood and mental illness is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

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/PMC7880300/ ) De Gregorio and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the brain mechanisms of hallucinogenic drug actions and their effectiveness as treatments for mental illness.

 

They report that the different drugs have very different effects on the nervous system although most interact with serotonin receptors. The nervous systems effects appear to alter sensory integration and associations with these sensations resulting in altered experiences.

 

They also report that the published research suggests that psilocybin may be useful in treating anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), LSD may relieve anxiety and depression, that Ketamine may improve major depressive disorder, and MDMA (Ecstasy) may help in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Hence, psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs may be effective in treating mental illness. It needs to be kept in mind that these drugs have powerful effects so they must be administered in controlled environments by trained practitioners.

 

So, hallucinogenic drugs may effectively treat mental illness.

 

Most powerful substances that we know of, that have powerful effects on the central nervous system, are like any powerful tool, They can have dangerous effects, or beneficial effects, if judiciously used in a context where the dangers are known and mechanisms are in place to address them.” – Matthew Johnson

 

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

 

De Gregorio, D., Aguilar-Valles, A., Preller, K. H., Heifets, B. D., Hibicke, M., Mitchell, J., & Gobbi, G. (2021). Hallucinogens in Mental Health: Preclinical and Clinical Studies on LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, and Ketamine. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 41(5), 891–900. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1659-20.2020

 

Abstract

A revamped interest in the study of hallucinogens has recently emerged, especially with regard to their potential application in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. In the last decade, a plethora of preclinical and clinical studies have confirmed the efficacy of ketamine in the treatment of depression. More recently, emerging evidence has pointed out the potential therapeutic properties of psilocybin and LSD, as well as their ability to modulate functional brain connectivity. Moreover, MDMA, a compound belonging to the family of entactogens, has been demonstrated to be useful to treat post-traumatic stress disorders. In this review, the pharmacology of hallucinogenic compounds is summarized by underscoring the differences between psychedelic and nonpsychedelic hallucinogens as well as entactogens, and their behavioral effects in both animals and humans are described. Together, these data substantiate the potentials of these compounds in treating mental diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7880300/

 

Improve Unmedicated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with Mindfulness

 

Improve Unmedicated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a growing pool of research coming out over the last few years suggests that those who are adding mindfulness into treatment for OCD are on the right track.” – John Hershfield

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) sufferers have repetitive anxiety producing intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that result in repetitive behaviors to reduce the anxiety (compulsions). In a typical example of OCD, the individual is concerned about germs and is unable to control the anxiety that these thoughts produce. Their solution is to engage in ritualized behaviors, such as repetitive cleaning or hand washing that for a short time relieves the anxiety. The obsessions and compulsions can become so frequent that they become a dominant theme in their lives. Hence OCD drastically reduces the quality of life and happiness of the sufferer and those around them. About 2% of the population, 3.3 million people in the U.S., are affected at some time in their life.

 

Fortunately, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be treated, and many respond to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). But some do not. Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating OCDMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) involves the combination of mindfulness training and cognitive behavioral therapy. It contains 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. MBCT has been shown to reduce anxiety. So, it makes sense to examine the effectiveness of MBCT for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Unmedicated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial With 6-Month Follow-Up.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8369060/ ) Zhang and colleagues recruited adults diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and randomly assigned them to receive either drugs (SSRIs), or 10 weekly 150-minute sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or an active placebo control treatment, containing education about OCD, group support, and relapse prevention. They were measured before and after treatment and 6 months later for mindfulness, anxiety, depression, social function, and Obsessive-Compulsion severity.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the active placebo control group, both the drugs (SSRIs) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) groups had significant improvements in Obsessive-Compulsion severity. But the differences were no longer significant at the 6-month follow-up where all groups were significantly improved. All groups had significant improvements in anxiety and depression that were maintained at the 6-month follow up.

 

These are interesting results that show that drugs (SSRIs) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)  improve OCD severity after treatment to a greater extent than the placebo group. But 6 months after treatment all groups had equivalent significant improvements on OCD and all groups had significant reductions in anxiety and depression at all post-treatment time points. In other words, drugs, MBCT, and placebo are all effective in improving the symptoms of OCD patients. But drugs and MBCT are slightly more effective immediately after treatment. This suggests that regardless of the actual treatment, OCD is improved if the patients believe that the treatment will improve their symptoms.

 

So, improve unmedicated obsessive-compulsive disorder with mindfulness

 

Mindfulness requires you to be aware of intrusive thoughts or triggers, accept and possibly internally analyze any discomforts caused by such thoughts and resist the urge to respond with compulsions.” – NOCD

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Zhang, T., Lu, L., Didonna, F., Wang, Z., Zhang, H., & Fan, Q. (2021). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Unmedicated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial With 6-Month Follow-Up. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 661807. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.661807

 

Abstract

Background: This was the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to compare the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on unmedicated obsessive-compulsive disorder with that of the first-line treatment for OCD (SSRIs) or a placebo, as well as to analyze the treatment acceptability and safety of MBCT.

Methods: A total of 123 unmedicated OCD patients with mild to moderate symptoms were randomly assigned into selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors group (SSRIs group), MBCT group or psycho-education group (PE group), respectively. They were intervened for 10 weeks. The Yale–Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) grade was the primary outcome, and Hamilton Depression Scale-24 (HAMD-24) and Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA) grades were secondary outcomes to be measured at baseline, mid-intervention, post-intervention and 14, 22, and 34 weeks of follow-up. The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS) were used to assess mindfulness and social functions, respectively. In addition, treatment acceptability (dropout rate and frequency of occurrence) and safety [adverse event (AE)] of MBCT were investigated.

Results: Significant differences were detected in the treatment responses among SSRIs group, MBCT group and PE group. Notably, treatment responses were significantly better in the former two groups than that of PE group (χ2 = 6.448, p = 0.04), although we did not identify significant differences between SSRIs group and MBCT group (χ2 = 1.220, p = 0.543). Observed until 6 months of follow-up, there were no significant differences in treatment response among three groups. No AE was recorded in MBCT group.

Conclusion: MBCT is effective in the treatment of unmedicated OCD with mild to moderate symptoms comparable to that of SSRIs, which contributes to maintain the treatment outcomes at follow-up. Besides, MBCT is safe with a good clinical compliance.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8369060/

 

Better Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic is Associated with Exercise and Meditation

Better Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic is Associated with Exercise and Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Introducing a mindfulness and meditation practice during this pandemic has the potential to complement treatment and is a low-cost beneficial method of providing support with anxiety for all.” C. Behan

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. 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. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, meditation may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Meditation and Physical Activity on the Mental Health Impact of COVID-19-Related Stress and Attention to News Among Mobile App Users in the United States: Cross-sectional Survey.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045775/ ) Green and colleagues recruited adult participants online who used the meditation app “Calm” and had them complete a questionnaire measuring worry regarding Covid-19, meditation, exercise, and health related behaviors. They also had them complete measures of habits, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms.

 

There were 8,392 responses. They reported a significant increase in meditation and exercise during Covid-19. But the greater the worry about Covid-19, the lower the levels of meditation and exercise and the greater the levels of perceived stress and PTSD symptoms.  They found that the Covid-19 worry was associated with lower the levels of meditation and exercise and these decreases were in turn associated with higher levels of perceived stress, PTSD symptoms, anxiety and depression. Hence, worry about Covid-19 appears to be detrimental to mental health as a result of decreases meditation and exercise.

 

These results are correlational, and caution must be exercised in concluding causation. In addition, the sample was composed of users of a meditation app and thus the results may not be predictive of the responses of non-meditators. But the associations are clear. Worry about the pandemic is associated with decreases in meditation and exercise which are in turn associated with poorer mental health.

 

This suggests that methods to support continued meditation practice and exercise during the pandemic may be helpful in improving mental health during the pandemic. They may mitigate the detrimental effects of worry about the pandemic. Indeed, previous research has found that mindfulness training improves mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

So, better mental health during the covid-19 pandemic is associated with exercise and meditation.

 

certain meditation, yoga asana (postures), and pranayama (breathing) practices may possibly be effective adjunctive means of treating and/or preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection” – William Bushell

 

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

 

Green, J., Huberty, J., Puzia, M., & Stecher, C. (2021). The Effect of Meditation and Physical Activity on the Mental Health Impact of COVID-19-Related Stress and Attention to News Among Mobile App Users in the United States: Cross-sectional Survey. JMIR mental health, 8(4), e28479. https://doi.org/10.2196/28479

 

Abstract

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has been declared an international public health emergency, and it may have long-lasting effects on people’s mental health. There is a need to identify effective health behaviors to mitigate the negative mental health impact of COVID-19.

Objective

The objectives of this study were to (1) examine the regional differences in mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress, in light of the state-level prevalence of COVID-19 cases; (2) estimate the associations between mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress and health behavior engagement (ie, physical activity, mindfulness meditation); and (3) explore the mediating effect of health behavior engagement on the associations between mental health and COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey was distributed to a sample of US adult paying subscribers to the Calm app (data were collected from April 22 to June 3, 2020). The survey assessed COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress; health behavior engagement; and mental health (ie, perceived stress, posttraumatic stress disorder, and anxiety and depression). Statistical analyses were performed using R software. Differences in COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress and mental health by location were assessed using t tests and chi-square tests. Logistic and ordinary least squares models were used to regress mental health and health behavior on COVID-19–related worry, attention to news, and stress; moreover, causal mediation analysis was used to estimate the significance of the mediation effects.

Results

The median age of the respondents (N=8392) was 47 years (SD 13.8). Participants in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) reported higher levels of stress, more severe depression symptoms, greater worry about COVID-19, paying more attention to COVID-19–related news, and more stress related to social distancing recommendations than participants living in other regions. The association between worry about COVID-19 and perceived stress was significantly mediated by changes in physical activity (P<.001), strength of meditation habit (P<.001), and stopping meditation (P=.046). The association between worry about COVID-19 and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms was significantly mediated by changes in physical activity (P<.001) and strength of meditation habit (P<.001).

Conclusions

Our findings describe the mental health impact of COVID-19 and outline how continued participation in health behaviors such as physical activity and mindfulness meditation reduce worsening of mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These data have important implications for public health agencies and health organizations to promote the maintenance of health habits to reduce the residual mental health burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045775/

 

Improve the Well-Being of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents with Mindfulness

Improve the Well-Being of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based parenting program can be an effective intervention for reducing the stress experienced by parents of children with special needs.” – Elizabeth J. Shaffer

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. Children with special health care needs include a variety of conditions from psychological such as anxiety disorders or depression to chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes or chronic pain, to developmental issues such as autism. They place considerable burdens on their caregivers.  Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

There has been accumulating research on the application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of children with special health care needs and their caregivers and there is a need to review and summarize the findings. In today’s Research News article “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents: 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/PMC8345967/ ) Parmar and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of children with special health care needs and their caregivers.

 

They identified 10 published research studies. They report that the published research finds that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) produces significant reductions in depression and perceived stress, and increases in psychological flexibility in the children. On the other hand, the parents did not show similar improvements except for a small improvement in psychological flexibility.

 

The published research, then, suggests that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective for children with special health care needs in reducing mental distress and increasing their flexibility in dealing with it.  ACT also produce small improvements in their caregivers. This suggests that ACT should be recommended to increase mindfulness in children with special health care needs to improve their psychological well-being.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

cultivating a more mindful way of parenting is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Parents experienced increased mindful awareness and improved psychological well-being, and they were more accepting of their children. Their children also had fewer behavior problems and enhanced positive interaction with their parents.” – Manika Petcharat

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Parmar, A., Esser, K., Barreira, L., Miller, D., Morinis, L., Chong, Y. Y., Smith, W., Major, N., Church, P., Cohen, E., & Orkin, J. (2021). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(15), 8205. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158205

 

Abstract

Context: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an emerging treatment for improving psychological well-being. Objective: To summarize research evaluating the effects of ACT on psychological well-being in children with special health care needs (SHCN) and their parents. Data Sources: An electronic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Ovid/EMBASE and PsycINFO (January 2000–April 2021). Study Selection: Included were studies that assessed ACT in children with SHCN (ages 0–17y) and/or parents of children with SHCN and had a comparator group. Data Extraction: Descriptive data were synthesized and presented in a tabular format, and data on relevant outcomes (e.g., depressive symptoms, stress, avoidance and fusion) were used in the meta-analyses to explore the effectiveness of ACT (administered independently with no other psychological therapy) compared to no treatment. Results: Ten studies were identified (child (7) and parent (3)). In children with SHCN, ACT was more effective than no treatment at helping depressive symptoms (standardized mean difference [SMD] = −4.27, 95% CI: −5.20, −3.34; p < 0.001) and avoidance and fusion (SMD = −1.64, 95% CI: −3.24, −0.03; p = 0.05), but not stress. In parents of children with SHCN, ACT may help psychological inflexibility (SMD = −0.77, 95% CI: −1.07, −0.47; p < 0.01). Limitations: There was considerable statistical heterogeneity in three of the six meta-analyses. Conclusions: There is some evidence that ACT may help with depressive symptoms in children with SHCN and psychological inflexibility in their parents. Research on the efficacy of ACT for a variety of children with SHCN and their parents is especially limited, and future research is needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345967/

 

Mindfulness Increases Resiliency During a Pandemic

Mindfulness Increases Resiliency During a Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“These are trying times, but incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.” – Rae Jacobson

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. 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. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress both for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Mindfulness is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Physical Activity and Mindfulness on Resilience and Depression During the First Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic..” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1696300_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210803_arts_A ) Antonini and colleagues used emails to recruit adults who were engaged in either exercise or mindfulness practice during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in Switzerland. They had them complete measures of resilience and depression at two different times during the lockdown.

 

They found that mindfulness practitioners had significantly lower resilience than exercisers and that had women had significantly lower resilience and greater depression than men. They also found that the resilience of the mindfulness group significantly increased from the first to the second measurement while the exercisers did not. But the depression of the exercise group significantly declined from the first to the second measurement while the mindfulness group did not. Overall, the higher the levels of resilience the lower the levels of depression at both measurement times.

 

These are interesting results but are correlational, so no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. The results suggest that resilience tends to counteract depression. They also suggest that mindfulness practitioners are initially less resilient during a stressful time than exercisers but that they increase in resilience as the lockdown continues. On the other hand, exercisers decrease in depression over the same period of time.

 

Dealing with a public health emergency lockdown can be extremely stressful and requires resilience in the face of the stress to effectively deal with it. Mindfulness appears to allow for a growth in resilience making the practitioners better able to cope. On the other hand, exercise appears to help with the depression resulting from the lockdown. Unfortunately, they did not look at mindfulness practitioners who were also exercisers to observe if the combination has additive benefits.

 

So, mindfulness increases resiliency during a pandemic.

 

mindfulness meditation might be a viable low-cost intervention to mitigate the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics.” – Julie Lei Zhu

 

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

 

Antonini Philippe R, Schwab L and Biasutti M (2021) Effects of Physical Activity and Mindfulness on Resilience and Depression During the First Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Psychol. 12:700742. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742

 

The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic generated a significant number of stressors that the Swiss population had to deal with. In order to cope with and adapt to such adversity, it is essential to have protective factors that allow for resilience. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of mindfulness and physical activity on depression and resilience during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A quantitative method was adopted asking participants who were engaged in physical activity or mindfulness to fill a battery of measures of depression and resilience and some demographic questions. The results showed that mindfulness practice strengthened the initial level of resilience of practitioners, suggesting that mindfulness meditation is a tool for coping with adversity during a potentially traumatic event. Conversely, physical activity practitioners maintained a stable resilience score over time, suggesting that exposure to adversity did not disrupt their state of biopsychospiritual homeostasis. Moreover, being physically active decreased the depression score over time. Regarding demographic variables, gender differences were observed in the average scores in the resilience scale and in the Depression Inventory.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700742/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1696300_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210803_arts_A

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Dementia Patient and Caregiver Outcomes

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Dementia Patient and Caregiver Outcomes

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Research has shown preliminary but promising results for mindfulness-based interventions to benefit people with dementia and caregivers.” – Lotte Berk

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. Dementia patients require caregiving particularly in the later stages of the disease. Caregiving for dementia patients is a daunting intense experience that can go on for four to eight years with increasing responsibilities as the loved one deteriorates. This places tremendous psychological and financial stress on the caregiver. Hence, there is a need to both care for the dementia patients and also for the caregivers. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving. In addition, mindfulness training has been found to help protect aging individuals from physical and cognitive declines.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Baseline Patient and Caregiver Mindfulness on Dementia Outcomes.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8324319/ ) Innis and colleagues recruited patients with dementia and their caregivers and both were measured for cognitive function, functional activities, health related quality of life, verbal learning, memory, executive function, visual ability, mindfulness, resilience, vulnerability, and Apolipoprotein E. In addition, “caregivers completed ratings of care confidence, care preparedness, burden, mood, and appraisals of caregiving”.  Finally, a subset of participants underwent brain scanning with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

 

They found that participants without dementia had significantly higher levels of mindfulness than those with even mild dementia. They also found that the higher the level of patient mindfulness the lower the caregiver ratings of patient dementia, the higher the ratings of health-related quality of life, and the lower the rated patient impairment, cognitive complaints, anxiety, and depression. In addition, the higher the patient’s level of mindfulness the higher the levels of cognition, verbal learning, memory, visuospatial ability, and resilience and the lower the levels of vulnerability. Finally, the found that the association of patient mindfulness on cognitive ability was mediated by resilience and vulnerability.

 

These results are based upon correlations and thus causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the associations are clear. The degree of mindfulness of dementia patients is associated with better cognitive ability, emotional health, and resilience and lower levels of vulnerability. These latter relationships appear to be the intermediaries between the patient’s mindfulness and their cognitive ability. It has been shown that mindfulness training in normal individuals produces improvements in resilience. This suggests that mindfulness may help protect against cognitive decline by improving the patient’s resilience and lessening their vulnerability to the effects of aging. This further suggests the possibility that mindfulness training might help to ameliorate the cognitive decline associated with dementia. It remains for future research to explore these possibilities.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better dementia patient and caregiver outcomes.

 

Alzheimer’s disease patients who practice mindfulness may have better outcomes than those who do not.” – Josh Baxt

 

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

 

Innis, A. D., Tolea, M. I., & Galvin, J. E. (2021). The Effect of Baseline Patient and Caregiver Mindfulness on Dementia Outcomes. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD, 79(3), 1345–1367. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-201292

 

Abstract

Background:

Mindfulness is the practice of awareness and living in the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness-based interventions may improve dementia-related outcomes. Before initiating interventions, it would be beneficial to measure baseline mindfulness to understand targets for therapy and its influence on dementia outcomes.

Objective:

This cross-sectional study examined patient and caregiver mindfulness with patient and caregiver rating scales and patient cognitive performance and determined whether dyadic pairing of mindfulness influences patient outcomes.

Methods:

Individuals (N = 291) underwent comprehensive evaluations, with baseline mindfulness assessed using the 15-item Applied Mindfulness Process Scale (AMPS). Correlation, regression, and mediation models tested relationships between patient and caregiver mindfulness and outcomes.

Results:

Patients had a mean AMPS score of 38.0 ± 11.9 and caregivers had a mean AMPS score of 38.9 ± 11.5. Patient mindfulness correlated with activities of daily living, behavior and mood, health-related quality of life, subjective cognitive complaints, and performance on episodic memory and attention tasks. Caregiver mindfulness correlated with preparedness, care confidence, depression, and better patient cognitive performance. Patients in dyads with higher mindfulness had better cognitive performance, less subjective complaints, and higher health-related quality of life (all p-values<0.001). Mindfulness effects on cognition were mediated by physical activity, social engagement, frailty, and vascular risk factors.

Conclusion:

Higher baseline mindfulness was associated with better patient and caregiver outcomes, particularly when both patients and caregivers had high baseline mindfulness. Understanding the baseline influence of mindfulness on the completion of rating scales and neuropsychological test performance can help develop targeted interventions to improve well-being in patients and their caregivers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8324319/

 

Improve Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave with Mindfulness

Improve Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Since stress compromises our immune system, becoming caught up in this way can slow down our recovery. Instead, aim to approach your illness with care, seeing things as they are, with acceptance and compassion.” — Mark Bertin

 

Chronic Pain and mental health issues are the most common causes of long-term sick leave. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain. There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain.

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. Even after remission there are a number of symptoms that remain. These include lingering dysphoria, impaired psychosocial functioning, fatigue, and decreased ability to work. These residual symptoms can lead to relapse. Mindfulness training is also 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.

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the suffer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects, and these drugs are often abused. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. This suggests that ACT may be an effective treatment for women who are on long-term sick leave.

 

In today’s Research News article “Comparing the Efficacy of Multidisciplinary Assessment and Treatment, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, with Treatment as Usual on Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave-A Randomised Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916944/ ) Finnes and colleagues recruited working age women who were on long-term sick leave and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), or ACT in combination with a multidisciplinary team consisting of a physician, a psychologist, an occupational therapist and a social worker. They were measured before and after treatment and at 6 and 12 months after treatment for sick leave, satisfaction with treatment, pain, anxiety, depression, satisfaction with life, and general health well-being.

 

They found that there were no significant differences between Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), or ACT plus team with the women’s satisfaction with treatment. But in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual group, both treatments produced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, pain intensity and significant increases in satisfaction with life, and general health well-being. At one year after treatment the ACT plus team group had significantly more patients classified as recovered than the ACT alone group.

 

These results demonstrate that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective in treating the physical and psychological symptoms of women who were on long-term sick leave. Women on long-term sick leave are very difficult to treat as their issues have resisted improvement for a substantial period of time. So, the ability of ACT to improve these symptoms is impressive. Adding the team produced slightly better outcomes at 12 months but the additional cost of the team is quite significant. So, from a cost effectiveness standpoint, ACT alone is superior.

 

So, improve health outcomes in women on long-term sick leave with mindfulness.

 

Musculoskeletal pain, depression, and anxiety cause the majority of all sick leave. . . Interestingly enough, mindfulness has become an important construct in return-to-work rehabilitation.” – Emily Lipinski

 

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

 

Finnes, A., Anderzén, I., Pingel, R., Dahl, J., Molin, L., & Lytsy, P. (2021). Comparing the Efficacy of Multidisciplinary Assessment and Treatment, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, with Treatment as Usual on Health Outcomes in Women on Long-Term Sick Leave-A Randomised Controlled Trial. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1754. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041754

 

Abstract

Background: Chronic pain and mental disorders are common reasons for long term sick leave. The study objective was to evaluate the efficacy of a multidisciplinary assessment and treatment program including acceptance and commitment therapy (TEAM) and stand-alone acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compared with treatment as usual (Control) on health outcomes in women on long-term sick leave. Method: Participants (n = 308), women of working age on long term sick leave due to musculoskeletal pain and/or common mental disorders, were randomized to TEAM (n = 102), ACT (n = 102) or Control (n = 104). Participants in the multidisciplinary assessment treatment program received ACT, but also medical assessment, occupational therapy and social counselling. The second intervention included ACT only. Health outcomes were assessed over 12 months using adjusted linear mixed models. The results showed significant interaction effects for both ACT and TEAM compared with Control in anxiety (ACT [p < 0.05]; TEAM [p < 0.001]), depression (ACT [p < 0.001]; TEAM [p < 0.001]) and general well-being (ACT [p < 0.05]; TEAM [p < 0.001]). For self-rated pain, there was a significant interaction effect in favour of ACT (p < 0.05), and for satisfaction with life in favour of TEAM (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Both ACT alone and multidisciplinary assessment and treatment including ACT were superior to treatment as usual in clinical outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916944/

 

Mindfulness-Based Therapies Effectively Treat Cardiovascular Disease

Mindfulness-Based Therapies Effectively Treat Cardiovascular Disease

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

What’s good for the mind also tends to be good for the heart. The mind-calming practice of meditation may play a role in reducing your risk of heart disease.” – Harvard Health

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A myriad of treatments has been developed including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of cardiovascular disease patients decline engaging in these lifestyle changes, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Contemplative practices have been shown to be safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease. Practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have been shown to be helpful for heart health and to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. The research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to pause and take a look at what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Physical and Psychological Wellbeing in Cardiovascular Diseases: 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/PMC8227381/ ) Marino and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. They identified 17 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that mindfulness-based therapies produced significant decreases in systolic blood pressure, heart palpitations, heart rate, depression, and perceived stress, and significant increases in the quality of life of patients with cardiovascular disease. Hence, mindfulness-based therapies are effective in improving the physiological and psychological state of patients with cardiovascular disease and should be recommended for the treatment of these patients.

 

So, mindfulness-based therapies effectively treat cardiovascular disease.

 

people who meditated had lower rates of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and coronary artery disease.” – Science Daily

 

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

 

Marino, F., Failla, C., Carrozza, C., Ciminata, M., Chilà, P., Minutoli, R., Genovese, S., Puglisi, A., Arnao, A. A., Tartarisco, G., Corpina, F., Gangemi, S., Ruta, L., Cerasa, A., Vagni, D., & Pioggia, G. (2021). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Physical and Psychological Wellbeing in Cardiovascular Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Brain sciences, 11(6), 727. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060727

 

Abstract

Background: Recently, there has been an increased interest in the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) for people with cardiovascular diseases (CVD), although the exact beneficial effects remain unclear. Methods: This review aims to establish the role of MBI in the management of wellbeing for patients with CVD. Seventeen articles have been included in this systematic synthesis of the literature and eleven in the meta-analysis. Results: Considering physical (i.e., heart rate, blood pressure) and psychological outcomes (i.e., depression, anxiety, stress, styles of coping), the vast majority of studies confirmed that MBI has a positive influence on coping with psychological risk factors, also improving physiological fitness. Random-effects meta-analysis models suggested a moderate-to-large effect size in reducing anxiety, depression, stress, and systolic blood pressure. Conclusions: Although a high heterogeneity was observed in the methodological approaches, scientific literature confirmed that MBI can now be translated into a first-line intervention tool for improving physical and psychological wellbeing in CVD patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8227381/

 

Improve Cognitive Ability in Elementary School Children with Mindfulness

Improve Cognitive Ability in Elementary School Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness [has been linked] to two core social-emotional skills: self-regulation and self-awareness. Skills in these areas teach students not only how to recognize their thoughts, emotions, and actions, but also how to react to them in positive ways.” – Waterford.org

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the academic, cognitive, psychological, emotional and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance. But there have been few studies comparing the effects of mindfulness training to other types of training for elementary schoolchildren.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Versus Story Reading Intervention in Public Elementary Schools: Effects on Executive Functions and Emotional Health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.576311/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1679696_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210713_arts_A ) Milaré and colleagues recruited 2 classrooms of children 8-9 years of age. One class received an 8-week mindfulness training that met twice a week for 30 minutes. The instructions were on awareness, generosity, and heartfulness. The other class received 8 weeks of story reading that met twice a week for 15 minutes. The stories were targeted to moral and emotional issues appropriate for children. They were measured before and after training for stress, anxiety, depression, positive and negative emotions, and executive functions including attention.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline both groups had significant improvements in executive functions including attention, processing speed, and controlled attention. On the other hand, the story reading but not mindfulness group had decreases in depression and negative emotions.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a control condition, so improvements from baseline might have been due to a number of confounding factors including practice effects, expectancy effects, experimenter bias etc. In addition, there wasn’t random assignment of the children to condition. But in adults it is well established that mindfulness training produces improvements in executive functions including attention. This is not surprising as mindfulness training involves focusing attention which is important for cognitive performance. The present study suggests that these benefits also accrue to 8-9 year-old children. Improving cognitive skills particularly attention in children is important and may well lead to improved academic performance.

 

It is interesting that targeted story reading produced similar cognitive benefits and also some emotional improvements. This may be due to the fact that the stories included emotional issues pertinent to children while the mindfulness training did not include mindfulness of emotions. This suggests that the mindfulness program could be improved by including paying attention to emotions.

 

So, improve cognitive ability in elementary school children with mindfulness.

 

Students . . . have been spending anywhere from 10 to 12 minutes per day on mindfulness exercises. But classes appear to be gaining more instruction time as a result because there are fewer outbursts and disruptions.” – Emily DeRuy

 

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

 

Milaré CAR, Kozasa EH, Lacerda S, Barrichello C, Tobo PR and Horta ALD (2021) Mindfulness-Based Versus Story Reading Intervention in Public Elementary Schools: Effects on Executive Functions and Emotional Health. Front. Psychol. 12:576311. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.576311

 

Introduction: In this study we compared the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) with a story reading intervention (SI) on the executive functions and psychological profile of children in two different public schools in São Paulo, Brazil.

Methods: In this controlled clinical trial, 207 children aged 8 to 9 years old responded to the Five-Digit Test (FDT), stress levels, depression, anxiety, positive and negative affect, at baseline (T0) and 8 weeks later (T1). From T0 to T1, school 1 participated in MBI classes and school 2 in IS classes.

Results: In school 1 (MBI), children improved their scores on all tests except reading (errors) and counting (errors) compared with school 2. No differences were observed between groups in terms of emotional health.

Conclusion: It is feasible to implement MBI or SI in Brazilian public schools. Students in the MBI group presented broader effects in executive functions, while students in the SI group showed a trend toward reduced negative affect and depression symptoms.

Highlights

This study contributes to the scientific evidence of the positive effects of Mindfulness and Story reading on executive functions and emotional well-being in children. Neither intervention had significant effects on depression, anxiety, stress, positive, and negative affect (although Story reading showed a trend in reducing negative affect and depression), while the Mindfulness-Based Intervention had relatively broader effects on executive functions.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.576311/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1679696_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210713_arts_A