Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness Meditation-Based Interventions

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness Meditation-Based Interventions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation is related to improved mental health across a variety of disorders, including different anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and chronic pain symptom reduction.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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

 

Over the last few decades, a vast amount of research has been published on the benefits of mindfulness practices on the mental and physical health of the practitioners. Many reviews, summarizations, and meta-analyses have been performed of these studies. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what these meta-analyses have found.

 

In today’s Research News article “The empirical status of mindfulness-based interventions: A systematic review of 44 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://centerhealthyminds.org/assets/files-publications/Goldberg-the-empirical-status.pdf ) Goldberg and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of previous meta-analyses of published randomized controlled studies on benefits of sustained meditation practices on mental and physical well-being. They identified 44 published meta-analyses, representing 336 randomized controlled trials, which included a total of 30,483 participants.

 

They report that the meta-analyses of published randomized controlled trials found that sustained mindfulness meditation practices in comparison to passive, no treatment, controls had a very wide range of beneficial effects across a wide range of participants from children to the elderly, over a variety of programs from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to mobile health, over a variety of psychological issues from anxiety to psychoses, and over a wide range of diseases from chronic pain to cancer. These effects were present immediately post treatment and at later follow-ups (an average of 7 months after treatment).

 

Comparison of these mindfulness meditation practices to active control conditions such as attentional controls to evidence-based treatments, resulted in reduced effect sizes and many were non-significant. Mindfulness meditation practices had significantly superior effects than active controls for adults, children, employees, and health care professionals/trainees but not for students. They were superior for psychiatric disorders, substance use, smoking, and depression but not for physical health conditions, pain, weight/eating-related conditions, cancer, or anxiety. They were superior for stress, and psychiatric symptoms but not for sleep, physical health symptoms, objective measures, or physiological measures.

 

These findings are essentially summaries of summaries and are based upon a wide variety of different researchers, methodologies, cultures, and time frames. Yet, the results are fairly consistent. In comparison to doing nothing, passive controls, mindfulness meditation practices are very beneficial for a wide range of physical and psychological issues over a wide range of ages. But these practices when compared to other types of treatments, are less effective and at times not superior. Nevertheless, this meta-analysis of meta-analyses paints a clear picture of the wide-ranging efficacy of mindfulness meditation practices for the relief of physical and psychological issues. These results verify the unprecedented depth and breadth of benefits of mindfulness meditation practices.

 

So, improve physical and mental well-being with mindfulness meditation-based interventions.

 

Practicing mindfulness exercises can have many possible benefits, including: reduced stress, anxiety and depression, less negative thinking and distraction, and improved mood,” -Mayo Clinic

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Goldberg, S. B., Riordan, K., Sun, S., & Davidson, R. J. (2021). The empirical status of mindfulness-based interventions: A systematic review of 44 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Perspectives on Psychological Science 1–23, DOI: 10.1177/1745691620968771

 

Abstract

In response to questions regarding the scientific basis for mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), we evaluated their empirical status by systematically reviewing meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We searched six databases for effect sizes based on ≥4 trials that did not combine passive and active controls. Heterogeneity, moderators, tests of publication bias, risk of bias, and adverse effects were also extracted. Representative effect sizes based on the largest number of studies were identified across a wide range of populations, problems, interventions, comparisons, and outcomes (PICOS). A total of 160 effect sizes were reported in 44 meta-analyses (k=336 RCTs, N=30,483 participants). MBIs showed superiority to passive controls across most PICOS (ds=0.10-0.89). Effects were typically smaller and less often statistically significant when compared to active controls. MBIs were similar or superior to specific active controls and evidence-based treatments. Heterogeneity was typically moderate. Few consistent moderators were found. Results were generally robust to publication bias, although other important sources of bias were identified. Reporting of adverse effects was inconsistent. Statistical power may be lacking in meta-analyses, particularly for comparisons with active controls. As MBIs show promise across some PICOS, future RCTs and meta-analyses should build upon identified strengths and limitations of this literature.

https://centerhealthyminds.org/assets/files-publications/Goldberg-the-empirical-status.pdf

 

Mind Wandering is Associated with Poorer Mental Health and Greater Creative Thinking

Mind Wandering is Associated with Poorer Mental Health and Greater Creative Thinking

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mind-wandering in the sense of the mind moving freely from one idea to another has huge benefits in terms of arriving at new ideas. It’s by virtue of free movement that we generate new ideas, and that’s where creativity lies.” – Kalina Christoff

 

We spend a tremendous amount of waking time with our minds wandering and not on the present environment or the task at hand. We daydream, plan for the future, review the past, ruminate on our failures, exalt in our successes. In fact, we spend almost half of our waking hours off task with our mind wandering. Mindfulness is the antithesis of mind wandering. When we’re mindful, we’re paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment. In fact, the more mindful we are the less the mind wanders and mindfulness training reduces mind wandering.

 

You’d think that if we spend so much time with the mind wandering it must be enjoyable. But, in fact research has shown that when our minds are wandering, we are actually less happy than when we are paying attention to what is at hand. There are times when mind wandering may be useful, especially in regard to planning and creative thinking. But, for the most part, it interferes with our concentration on the present moment and what we’re doing and makes us unhappy. But mind wandering is also associated with creative thinking. So, it makes sense to look at the relationship of mind wandering with creative thought and mental illness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind wandering in creative problem-solving: Relationships with divergent thinking and mental health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180068/ ) Yamaoka and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of creative (divergent) thinking, including fluency, flexibility, and originality subscales, depression, schizotypal personality, and mind wandering.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mind wandering, the higher the levels of divergent thinking, including fluency, flexibility, and originality subscales, and the higher the levels of depression and schizotypal personality. This was true with both bivariate and multiple linear correlations. People with schizotypal personality tend to be loners, have difficulty with relationships, and can display odd speech and behavior. These people also appear to have high levels of mind wandering. This along with the heightened depression suggests that mind wandering is associated with mental illness.

 

These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But these findings suggest that mind wandering is good news and bad news. The unusual thinking generated during mind wandering is associated with creativity. But at the same time, it is associated with poorer mental health. Mindfulness training reduces mind wandering and improves depression and mental illness suggesting that mindfulness training may be an antidote to the mental illness associated with mind wandering.

 

So, mind wandering is associated with poorer mental health and greater creative thinking.

 

A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.” – Matthew A. Killingsworth

 

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

 

Yamaoka, A., & Yukawa, S. (2020). Mind wandering in creative problem-solving: Relationships with divergent thinking and mental health. PloS one, 15(4), e0231946. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231946

 

Abstract

Previous research has shown that mind wandering has both positive and negative effects. Mind wandering may improve creative problem solving; however, it could also lead to negative moods and poor mental health. It has also been shown that some forms of mental illness are positively related to creativity. However, the three factors of mind wandering, divergent thinking, and mental health have not been examined simultaneously, so it is possible that these relationships are manifested by spurious correlations. Therefore, we examined the relations among the three factors while controlling for each of their confounding effects. We asked 865 participants (458 men, 390 women, 17 unknown; Mage = 18.99 years, SD = 1.16) to complete a questionnaire measuring mind wandering traits, divergent thinking, and mental health measures including depressive symptoms and schizotypal personality. Multiple regression analysis showed that people who reported more depressive symptoms, schizotypal personality, and divergent thinking, were more likely to engage in mind-wandering. Our results indicated that frequency of mind wandering was linked to a risk of poorer mental health as well as to higher divergent thinking ability. In future research, we will examine the features of mind wandering related to divergent thinking and mental health by considering the contents of wandering thoughts and whether they are ruminative or not. We also need to examine whether the same results will be found when studying professionals in creative occupations, and when using different scoring methods in divergent thinking tests.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180068/

 

Distress Is Lower during a COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Mindful People

Distress Is Lower during a COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Mindful People

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“During the current pandemic, there is so much uncertainty concerning the future, and many threats to our security (physical, social, emotional, and financial). It is totally natural and normal to feel anxious, fearful, and frustrated. . . Mindfulness can help us acknowledge this situation, without allowing us to be carried away with strong emotions; it can, in turn, help bring ourselves back to a centered calm. Only then can we see more clearly what it is we have control over and what it is that we do not.” – Michigan Medicine

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the COVID-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for healthcare workers and people caring for patients with COVID-19 and for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. But it is also true for healthy individuals who worry about infection for themselves or loved ones.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress, reduce anxiety levels, and improve mood.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Age and Gender as Protective Factors Against Psychological Distress During COVID-19 Pandemic.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A ) Conversano and colleagues solicited adult participants online during a government ordered lockdown and had them complete measures of COVID-19 experiences, mindfulness, psychological distress, and mental illness symptoms.

 

They found strong negative relationships between mindfulness and psychological distress. They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of psychological distress including somatic symptoms, symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, internalizing symptoms, depression, anxiety, hostility, phobia, paranoia, psychoticism, and sleep disturbance. They also found weak relationships with age and gender such that younger and female participants tended to have higher psychological distress.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Mindfulness may produce reduced distress or conversely distress may produce reduced mindfulness or some third factor may produce both. Nevertheless, the results show that during a pandemic lockdown that the people who have high levels of mindfulness also have low levels of psychological distress.

 

So, distress is lower during a COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in mindful people.

 

In many ways, COVID-19 has shown us just how connected and how much the same we really are. All of us—and some of us more than others—are vulnerable to getting sick and none of us wants to become ill. Viewed through the lens of interconnectedness, practicing mindfulness as the coronavirus spreads is not only a way to care for ourselves but a way to care for everyone around us.” – Kelly Baron

 

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

 

Conversano C, Di Giuseppe M, Miccoli M, Ciacchini R, Gemignani A and Orrù G (2020) Mindfulness, Age and Gender as Protective Factors Against Psychological Distress During COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Psychol. 11:1900. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900

 

Objective: Mindfulness disposition is associated with various psychological factors and prevents emotional distress in chronic diseases. In the present study, we analyzed the key role of mindfulness dispositions in protecting the individual against psychological distress consequent to COVID-19 social distancing and quarantining.

Methods: An online survey was launched on March 13, 2020, with 6,412 responses by April 6, 2020. Socio-demographic information, exposure to the pandemic, and quarantining were assessed together with psychological distress and mindfulness disposition. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to study the influence of predictive factors on psychological distress and quality of life in Italian responders during the early days of lockdown. Pearson correlations were calculated to study the relationship between mindfulness and psychiatric symptoms.

Results: Multivariate linear regression run on socio-demographics, COVID-19-related variables, and mindfulness disposition as moderators of overall psychological distress showed that mindfulness was the best predictor of psychological distress (β = −0.504; p < 0.0001). High negative correlations were found between mindfulness disposition and the overall Global Severity Index (r = −0.637; p < 0.0001), while moderate to high associations were found between mindfulness and all SCL-90 sub-scales.

Discussion: Findings showed that high dispositional mindfulness enhances well-being and helps in dealing with stressful situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Mindfulness-based mental training could represent an effective intervention to stem post-traumatic psychopathological beginnings and prevent the onset of chronic mental disorders.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01900/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A

 

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness.

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

Objectives:

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

Methods:

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

Results:

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

Conclusions:

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

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

 

Meditation Alters a Variety of Biological Mechanisms and Improves Mental Disorders

Meditation Alters a Variety of Biological Mechanisms and Improves Mental Disorders

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Meditation-which come in many variations-has long been acknowledged as a tool to master the mind and cope with stress. Science is increasingly validating those claims, especially for depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).” – Mental Health America

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. There are a number of ways that meditation practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology. It is useful to review and summarize what has been discovered regarding the mechanisms by which meditation practice improves mental disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Biological mechanism study of meditation and its application in mental disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7359050/) Shen and colleagues review and summarize the published scientific research studies on the mechanisms by which meditation practice improves mental disorders.

 

They report that the published research has found complex and widespread changes in the nervous system occur as a result of meditation. In the central nervous system these are relatively long lasting changes in the amount and connectivity of the brain tissue, termed neuroplastic changes, and these may underlie the beneficial changes in the meditators. In addition, meditation appears to alter the peripheral nervous system, in particular, the autonomic nervous system. Meditation increases parasympathetic activity that underlies vegetative functions and relaxation. This may be one mechanism by which meditation improves stress responses.

 

They further report that the published research found that meditation improves the functions of the immune and inflammatory systems. These effects also improve stress responses and fighting off disease. Hence, the effects of meditation on these biological process may underlie meditations ability to improve health. Since inflammatory responses often accompany mental illnesses, this may also be a mechanism by which meditation improved mental disease.

 

On a genetic, microbiological, level meditation has been found to alter the expression of genes that promote health. This may be the underlying reason that meditation improves the immune and inflammatory systems. Also, on the genetic level the research has found that meditation promotes the preservation of telomeres. These are the ends of the chromosomes that shorten throughout the lifetime and are thought to perhaps underlie cellular aging. This mechanism may underlie meditation’s ability to slow the aging process.

 

Meditation has been found through systematic controlled research to improve a wide array of mental illnesses. These include depression, including major depressive disorders, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Schizophrenia. In addition, meditation has been found to aid in recovery from substance abuse disorders and to help prevent relapse.

 

It is clear from the published scientific research that meditation alters a wide array of physiological processes and improves and improves an equally wide array of mental illnesses. It will be important in the future to link the two to begin to understand what physiological changes underlie which improvements in mental illness. Regardless it is clear that meditation has many beneficial effects that promote physical and mental well-being.

 

So, practice meditation to alter a variety of biological mechanisms and improve mental disorders.

 

Mindfulness exercises are valuable and useful for anyone, but most especially for people who are struggling with mental illness or addictions. “ – Sarah Levin

 

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

 

Shen, H., Chen, M., & Cui, D. (2020). Biological mechanism study of meditation and its application in mental disorders. General psychiatry, 33(4), e100214. https://doi.org/10.1136/gpsych-2020-100214

 

Abstract

In recent years, research on meditation as an important alternative therapy has developed rapidly and been widely applied in clinical medicine. Mechanism studies of meditation have also developed progressively, showing that meditation has great impact on brain structure and function, and epigenetic and telomere regulation. In line with this, the application of meditation has gradually been expanded to mental illness, most often applied for major depressive disorders and substance-related and addictive disorders. The focus of this paper is to illustrate the biological mechanisms of meditation and its application in mental disorders.

Conclusions

Over the past two decades, meditation has been used in a great variety of fields to relieve stress, regulate emotions and promote physical and mental health. In recent years, the application of meditation in the psychiatric field has gradually received attention. It has become an adjunctive and alternative therapy for depression, PTSD and ADHD and has been carried out for the acute and remission stages of treatment for severe schizophrenia. Additionally, it can ameliorate emotional distress, craving and withdrawal symptoms in substance addiction. However, the current researchers adopt different meditation methods and diverse training durations, which leads to the inability to systematically evaluate which type of meditation is more beneficial to which populations or diseases, and to completely elucidate the biological mechanism of meditation. In the future, further targets for selective meditation subtypes along with prescribed training time, and randomised controlled studies with sufficient samples are required to determine the efficacy of meditation on the one hand, and simultaneously study the mechanisms behind meditation on the mind–body interaction, which can better display the positive function of meditation as an ancient physical and mental healing method in promoting human health.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7359050/

 

Lower Suicide Risk in College Students with Mindfulness

Lower Suicide Risk in College Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Zhongyong thinking still plays an important role in regulating mental distress and maintaining subjective well-being among contemporary Chinese young adults.” – Xeuling Yang

 

Around 43,000 people take their own lives each year in the US. Someone dies from suicide every 12.3 minutes. Worldwide over 800,000 people die by suicide every year. The problem is far worse than these statistics suggest as it has been estimated that for every completed suicide there were 12 unsuccessful attempts. In other words, about a half a million people in the U.S. attempt suicide each year. Yet compared with other life-threatening conditions there has been scant research on how to identify potential suicide attempters, intervene, and reduce suicidality.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce suicidalityDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a mindfulness-based therapy targeted at changing the problem behaviors including self-injury and suicide. Behavior change is accomplished through focusing on changing the thoughts and emotions that precede problem behaviors, as well as by solving the problems faced by individuals that contribute to problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In DBT five core skills are practiced; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness.

 

Zhong‐Yong thinking emphasizes pursuing the middle ground and never going to extremes and is characterized by acting appropriately and flexibly under different situations. It would seem to be compatible with the kinds of training occurring in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and would tend to be an antidote for suicidal thinking. Although it would seem reasonable combining Zhong‐Yong thinking with DBT would improve its effectiveness in lowering the risk of suicide, there have been no systematic studies.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Zhong-Yong thinking based dialectical behavior therapy group skills training versus supportive group therapy for lowering suicidal risks in Chinese young adults: A randomized controlled trial with a 6-month follow-up.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7303376/) Yang and colleagues recruited high suicide risk college students and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 2-hour once a week for 12 weeks program of either Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) modified for inclusion of Zhong‐Yong thinking or a supportive group therapy program based upon interpersonal psychology focusing on emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. They were measured before and after training and 6 months later for suicide behaviors and ideation, hopelessness, psychological distress, and psychopathological symptoms.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the groups that received either treatment has significant reductions in suicide behaviors and ideation, hopelessness, psychological distress, and psychopathological symptoms. But at the 6-month follow up the treatment groups differed with the Zhong-Yong thinking based Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group producing significantly greater improvements of obsessive compulsive, anxiety, hostility, phobic, and psychotic symptoms in comparison to supportive group therapy.

 

The results are promising that Zhong-Yong thinking based Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can reduce suicidality and risk factors for suicide in college students and maintain the benefits for 6 months after the end of active treatment. Although supportive therapy was equally beneficial on the short-term, it was less effective on the long-term. So, Zhong-Yong thinking based DBT would appear to be the superior treatment. It would be important in future research to compare Zhong-Yong thinking based DBT to traditional DBT to determine if the addition of training in Zhong-Yong thinking increases the benefits.

 

So, lower suicide risk in college students with mindfulness.

 

those who scored high on the Zhongyong Thinking Scale had substantially lower scores on anxiety and depressive symptoms, and had higher scores on self-esteem and life satisfaction.” – Xeuling Yang

 

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

 

Yang, X., Liu, D., Wang, Y., Chen, Y., Chen, W., Yang, C., Zhang, P., Ding, S., & Zhang, X. (2020). Effectiveness of Zhong-Yong thinking based dialectical behavior therapy group skills training versus supportive group therapy for lowering suicidal risks in Chinese young adults: A randomized controlled trial with a 6-month follow-up. Brain and behavior, 10(6), e01621. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1621

 

Abstract

Background

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a first‐line treatment for the prevention of suicide. Zhong‐Yong thinking could be viewed as a Chinese way of dialectical thinking, has long been a culturally dictating thinking style in China. To enhance cultural adaptability, we integrated Zhong‐Yong thinking into DBT group skills training and examined its efficacy in suicidal prevention compared with a supportive group therapy and a wait‐list group in high‐risk suicidal Chinese college students.

Methods

A total of 97 suicidal participants were randomized to either Zhong‐Yong thinking based DBT group skills training (DBTZYT, n = 33), or supportive group therapy (SGT; n = 32), or wait‐list group (WL; n = 32). DBTZYT was a 12‐week program based on Zhong‐Yong thinking instead of dialectical thinking, coaching participants mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. Supportive group therapy was a 12‐week program aiming at improving interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation skills. Outcome measures were assessed at pre‐ and post‐treatment and 6‐month follow‐up.

Results

At post‐treatment measures, the levels of suicidal ideation, hopelessness, psychache symptoms, and general psychopathology had significantly decreased in both intervention groups; at the 6‐month follow‐up measures, the intervention effects were better maintained in the DBTZYT group rather than in the SGT group. Specifically, DBTZYT was more effective in relieving participants’ long‐term obsessive‐compulsive, anxiety, hostility, phobic, psychotic, and additional symptoms.

Conclusions

Zhong‐Yong thinking not only could integrate with DBT skills training in Chinese young adult population, but also has special strength in enhancing DBT’s efficacy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7303376/

 

Mindfulness Improves the Emotion Regulation in Patients with Schizophrenia

Mindfulness Improves the Emotion Regulation in Patients with Schizophrenia

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness treatments do not aim to decrease the occurrence or severity of the symptoms of psychosis, but by helping to reduce the distress people experience, many of these treatments help indirectly to alleviate psychotic symptoms as well.” – Tania Lecomte

 

Schizophrenia is the most common form of psychosis. It effects about 1% of the population worldwide. It appears to be highly heritable and involves changes in the brain. It is characterized by both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include hallucinations; seeing and, in some cases, feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t there, or delusions; unshakable beliefs that, when examined rationally, are obviously untrue. Negative symptoms include a reduced ability to function normally, neglect of personal hygiene, lack of emotion, blank facial expressions, speaking in a monotone, loss of interest in everyday activities, social withdrawal, an inability to experience pleasure, and a lack of insight into their symptoms. The symptoms of schizophrenia usually do not appear until late adolescence or early adulthood.

 

Schizophrenia is very difficult to treat with psychotherapy and is usually treated with antipsychotic drugs. These drugs, however, are not always effective, sometimes lose effectiveness, and can have some difficult side effects. Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for a variety of mental health problems, including psychosis. Mindfulness has also been shown to associated with lower symptom severity of schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia have difficulty regulating emotions and mindfulness training improves emotion regulation. Hence, it makes sense to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training in improving emotion regulation in patients with schizophrenia.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Programme for Emotional Regulation in Individuals with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7075335/), Lam and colleagues recruited adult patients diagnosed with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and randomly assigned them to a treatment as usual control condition or to receive a 90 minute once a week for 8 weeks Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Program (MBPP) including “engagement and empowerment, mindfulness in daily living and problem solving, mindfulness in illness management and equip and prepare for the future.” Patients also performed daily mindfulness practice. They were measured before and after training and 3 months later for the emotion regulation processes of reappraisal and suppression, rumination, psychotic symptoms, mindfulness, anxiety, and depression.

 

Engagement in the Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Program (MBPP) was high with 85% of participants attending 6 or more sessions with average attendance of 6.88 sessions. The average amount of home practice was 31 minutes per week. Hence the program can be successfully implemented and is acceptable to the patients.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual group after Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Program (MBPP) there was a significant improvement in mindfulness and the emotion regulation strategy of reappraisal. These improvements were maintained for 3 months after the end of training. The results suggest that mindfulness training improves the emotion regulation strategy of reappraisal in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders.

 

Reappraisal is a cognitive strategy to reinterpret the origin and meaning of an emotional event to reduce its impact. This is an effective emotion regulation strategy to help the individual cope with emotions. Since, problems with emotions are common in schizophrenia, improving emotion regulation may be of great assistance to them in dealing with the symptoms of the disease.

 

So, mindfulness improves the emotion regulation in patients with schizophrenia.

 

“mindfulness-based psycho-educational intervention expressly designed for patients with schizophrenia can be well tolerated and result in better illness outcomes than either standard treatment alone or standard treatment supplemented by a more typical psycho-educational approach. This is an important finding because of the widely held belief that psychotic patients can neither tolerate nor benefit from mindfulness-based interventions.” – American Mindfulness Research Association

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Lam, A., Leung, S. F., Lin, J. J., & Chien, W. T. (2020). The Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Programme for Emotional Regulation in Individuals with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 16, 729–747. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S231877

 

Abstract

Background

Emotion dysregulation has emerged as a transdiagnostic factor that potentially exacerbates the risk of early-onset, maintenance, and relapse of psychosis. Mindfulness is described as the awareness that emerges from paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It gently pulls the mind out of the negative emotions induced by the disparity between expectation and reality by focusing on the present moment, instead of worrying about the future or regretting the past. However, only a few research has ever focused on the efficacy of using a mindfulness-based intervention to improve emotion regulation in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Psychoeducation Programme (MBPP) on the emotion regulation of individuals with schizophrenia, in particular, to access emotion regulation strategies. The objective of this study was to find out whether MBPP is feasible for improving emotion regulation strategies, in terms of rumination, cognitive reappraisal, and expressive suppression, with a sustainable effect at a three-month follow-up.

Patients and Methods

A single-blinded pilot randomised controlled trial with repeated-measures designs was adopted. Forty-six participants diagnosed with schizophrenia and its subtypes were randomised in either the 8-week mindfulness-based psychoeducation programme or treatment-as-usual (control) group.

Results

The results of the Generalised Estimating Equations test indicated that the MBPP group showed a significant improvement in reappraisal at a three-month follow-up (β = −6.59, Wald’s χ2=4.55, p=0.033), and a significant reduction in rumination across time. However, the Generalised Estimating Equations indicated no significant difference in rumination and expressive suppression in the MBPP group. Two participants reported having unwanted experiences, including feelings of terror and distress during the mindfulness practice.

Conclusion

The MBPP appeared to be effective for improving emotion regulation, which will contribute to future large-scale RCT to confirm the treatment effects in more diverse groups of schizophrenic patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7075335/

 

Mindfulness Therapies May Be Cost-Effective for the Treatment of Mental Illness

Mindfulness Therapies May Be Cost-Effective for the Treatment of Mental Illness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“[Mindfulness] is a cost-saving alternative to treatment as usual over the trial duration from both a healthcare and a societal perspective for patients with a diagnosis of depression, anxiety or stress and adjustment disorders.” – Sanjib Saha

 

There has developed a large volume of research findings supporting the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the treatment of mental illnesses. Effectiveness has been documented for a wide variety of psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, stress responses, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, addictions, and major mental illnesses. But there is little understanding of the cost-effectiveness of these mindfulness trainings. So, it is important take a serious look at the costs of implementing these therapies in comparison to the healthcare savings produced and/or the costs of other treatments of similar effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Are acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions ‘value for money’? Evidence from a systematic literature review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6588093/), Duarte and colleagues review and summarize the published studies of the cost-effectiveness of acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions. The following acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions were identified:  Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) , Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT),  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness‐based relapse prevention (MBRP), and other mindfulness meditation and mindfulness training. They identified 10 published studies.

 

They reported that the published studies found mixed results depending on the type of economic analysis and the comparator condition. In general, they report that acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions are mildly cost-effective for the treatment of depression, emotional unstable personality disorder, and general mental health conditions. It is clear, however, that this issue needs to be further studied.

 

In an age of high healthcare costs, it is important to perform economic analyses of treatments. Before widespread implementation of a treatment it is important to know that the costs of implementing the treatments are less than the healthcare savings produced. Various acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions can be expensive to implement and the savings produced hard to evaluate. So, the analysis has produced ambiguous results. One way to improve the cost-effectiveness of acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions is to implement the therapies online or with smartphone technologies. This markedly reduces the costs while maintaining effectiveness.

 

So, mindfulness therapies may be cost-effective for the treatment of mental illness.

 

“MBSR reduced costs to society by $724 per year in comparison to usual care, and reduced healthcare costs to payers by $982; it also increased participants’ quality-adjusted life years.” – Patricia Herman

 

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

 

Duarte, R., Lloyd, A., Kotas, E., Andronis, L., & White, R. (2019). Are acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions ‘value for money’? Evidence from a systematic literature review. The British journal of clinical psychology, 58(2), 187–210. doi:10.1111/bjc.12208

 

Abstract

Objectives

Acceptance and mindfulness‐based interventions (A/MBIs) are recommended for people with mental health conditions. Although there is a growing evidence base supporting the effectiveness of different A/MBIs for mental health conditions, the economic case for these interventions has not been fully explored. The aim of this systematic review was to identify and appraise all available economic evidence of A/MBIs for the management of mental health conditions.

Methods

Eight electronic bibliographic databases (MEDLINE, MEDLINE In‐Process & Other Non‐Indexed Citations, EMBASE, Web of Science, NHS Economic Evaluation Database (EED), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), Health Technology Assessment (HTA) database, and EconLit) were searched for relevant economic evaluations published from each database’s inception date until November 2017. Study selection, quality assessment, and data extraction were carried out according to published guidelines.

Results

Ten relevant economic evaluations presented in 11 papers were identified. Seven of the included studies were full economic evaluations (i.e., costs and effects assessed), and three studies were partial economic evaluations (i.e., only costs were considered in the analysis). The A/MBIs that had been subjected to economic evaluation were acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR). In terms of clinical presentations, the evaluation of cost‐effectiveness of A/MBIs has been more focused on depression and emotional unstable personality disorder with three and four economic evaluations, respectively. Three out of seven full economic evaluations observed that A/MBIs were cost‐effective for the management of mental health conditions. Nevertheless, the heterogeneity of included populations, interventions, and economic evaluation study types limits the extent to which firm conclusions can currently be made.

Conclusion

This first substantive review of economic evaluations of A/MBIs indicates that more research is needed before firm conclusions can be reached on the cost‐effectiveness of A/MBIs for mental health conditions.

Practitioner points

The findings of the review provide information that may be relevant to mental health service commissioners and decision‐makers as all economic evidence available on acceptance and mindfulness‐based interventions for mental health conditions is summarized.

Evidence relating to the cost‐effectiveness and cost‐saving potential of acceptance and mindfulness‐based interventions is focused mainly on depression and emotional unstable personality disorder to date.

Heterogeneity in the specific forms of acceptance and mindfulness‐based interventions may limit generalizability of the findings.

The number of health economic evaluations relating to acceptance and mindfulness‐based interventions remains relatively small. Further research in this area is required.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6588093/

 

Improve Major Depressive Disorder with Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapy

Improve Major Depressive Disorder with Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness meditation may help to prevent major depressive disorder in people with subclinical depression.” – Jasmin Collier

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. It is also generally episodic, coming and going. Some people only have a single episode but most have multiple reoccurrences of depression.  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. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time.

 

Clearly, there is a need for treatment alternatives that can be effective alone or in combination with drugs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been particularly effective for depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior. Recently, mindfulness has been added to produce Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and this also has been found to be effective in treating depression. It is important at this point to step back and review the published studies of the application of CBT and MBCT for the prevention of relapse in patients who are in remission from major depressive disorder.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effect of CBT and its modifications for relapse prevention in major depressive disorder: 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/PMC6389220/), Zhang and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the relative effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for the prevention of relapse in patients who are in remission from major depressive disorder. They found 16 randomized controlled trials with adults who were in remission from diagnosed major depressive disorder.

 

They report that the research found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was effective in preventing relapse of major depressive disorder in comparison to control conditions even at long-term (up to 6 years) follow-up. They also found that Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was effective in preventing relapse of major depressive disorder in comparison to control conditions but only for patients who had at least 3 prior depressive episodes. They also report that MBCT had equivalent ability to antidepressant drugs for preventing relapses.

 

The published literature presents a clear case for the effectiveness of both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for the prevention of relapse of major depressive disorder. CBT would appear to be effective even for patients who had only one or two prior episodes while MBCT appeared to be effective for patients with a longer history of relapse. Since MBCT contains CBT it is surprising that while CBT was effective for patients with few relapses MBCT was not. This will require further research to clarify this apparent conundrum.

 

Regardless, it is clear from the published controlled research that CBT and MBCT have long-lasting effectiveness for preventing relapse in patients with major depressive disorder and are equivalent to the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs. They may be an excellent substitute for employing drugs. The results suggest that restructuring the aberrant thought processes characteristic of patients with depression is an effective way to prevent relapse. This further suggests that these aberrant thought processes may be an important contributor to causing depression relapse.

 

So, improve major depressive disorder with mindfulness and cognitive therapy.

 

mindfulness training seems to be a feasible way for people with mild or subthreshold depression to protect against their symptoms getting worse. . . . Mindfulness training can “generate positive emotions by cultivating self-compassion and self-confidence through an upward spiral process,” – Amanda MacMillan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Zhang, Z., Zhang, L., Zhang, G., Jin, J., & Zheng, Z. (2018). The effect of CBT and its modifications for relapse prevention in major depressive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry, 18(1), 50. doi:10.1186/s12888-018-1610-5

 

Abstract

Background

The risk of relapse in major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with high worldwide disease burden. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and its modifications might be effective in relapse prevention. The aim of this review was to evaluate the efficacy of these treatments for reducing relapse of MDD.

Methods

The retrieval was performed in the databases of MEDLINE via Pubmed, EMBASE and PsycINFO via OVID, The Cochrane Library and four Chinese databases. Clinical trials registry platforms and references of relevant articles were retrieved as well. Hazard ratio (HR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) were used to pool evidences.

Results

A total of 16 eligible trials involving 1945 participants were included. In the first 12 months, CBT was more efficacious than control in reducing the risk of developing a new episode of depression for MDD patients in remission (HR:0.50, 95%CI:0.35–0.72, I2 = 11%). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was more efficacious than control only among patients with 3 or more previous depressive episodes (HR:0.46, 95%CI:0.31–0.70, I2 = 38%). Besides, compared with maintenance antidepressant medication (m-ADM), MBCT was a more effective intervention (HR:0.76, 95%CI:0.58–0.98, I2 = 0%). These positive effects might be only maintained at two and nearly 6 years follow up for CBT.

Conclusion

The use of CBT for MDD patients in remission might reduce risk of relapse. Besides, the effect of MBCT was moderated by number of prior episodes and MBCT might only be effective for MDD patients with 3 or more previous episodes. Further exploration for the influence of previous psychological intervention is required.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6389220/

 

Improve Severe Mental Illness with Yoga and Mindfulness

Improve Severe Mental Illness with Yoga and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga does in fact have positive effects on mild depression and sleep problems, and it improves the symptoms of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and ADHD among patients using medication.” – Alexandra Sifferin

 

Psychoses are mental health problems that cause people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. This might involve hallucinations; seeing and, in some cases, feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t objectively there, or delusions; unshakable beliefs that, when examined rationally, are obviously untrue. The combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking can often severely disrupt perception, thinking, emotion, and behavior, making it difficult if not impossible to function in society without treatment. Psychoses appear to be highly heritable and involves changes in the brain. Psychoses are very difficult to treat with psychotherapy and are usually treated with antipsychotic drugs. These drugs, however, are not always effective, sometimes lose effectiveness, and can have some difficult side effects. Hence, there is a need for safe and effective alternative treatments for psychosis.

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. It is also generally episodic, coming and going. Some people only have a single episode but most have multiple reoccurrences of depression.  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. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time.

 

Clearly, there is a need for treatment alternatives that can be effective alone or in combination with drugs. Both mindfulness and yoga training has been shown to be beneficial for patients with psychosis and with major depression. It is important at this point to step back and review the published studies of the application of mindfulness and yoga practices for the treatment of severe mental illnesses, In today’s Research News article “Role of Yoga and Mindfulness in Severe Mental Illnesses: A Narrative Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329226/ ), Sathyanarayanan and colleagues review and summarize 49 published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness and yoga practices for the treatment of severe mental illnesses.

 

They report that the research finds that both mindfulness practices and yoga practice in combination with antipsychotic medications significantly reduces both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, improves the patient’s ability to effectively engage in everyday activities and also improves higher level thought processes, cognition. With Bipolar Disorder they report that there are only a very small number of studies that suggest improvements but more research is needed. With Major Depressive Disorders both mindfulness and yoga practices have been shown to produce significant reductions in depression alone or in combination with anti-depressive medications.

 

Hence, they find that the current published research supports the use of either mindfulness or yoga practices for the treatment of severe mental illnesses. There is clearly a need for more research, but the studies to date are very encouraging. They suggest that these practices are safe and effective whether used alone or in combination with drugs and may then be a needed alternative treatment to drugs.

 

So, improve severe mental illness with yoga and mindfulness.

 

“Yoga can be an incredible tool for self-growth, empowerment, healing, and health for those with mental disorders.” – Zoie Kanakis

 

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

 

Sathyanarayanan, G., Vengadavaradan, A., & Bharadwaj, B. (2019). Role of Yoga and Mindfulness in Severe Mental Illnesses: A Narrative Review. International journal of yoga, 12(1), 3-28.

 

Abstract

Background:

Yoga has its origin from the ancient times. It is an integration of mind, body, and soul. Besides, mindfulness emphasizes focused awareness and accepting the internal experiences without being judgemental. These techniques offer a trending new dimension of treatment in various psychiatric disorders.

Aims:

We aimed to review the studies on the efficacy of yoga and mindfulness as a treatment modality in severe mental illnesses (SMIs). SMI includes schizophrenia, major depressive disorder (MDD), and bipolar disorder (BD).

Methods:

We conducted a literature search using PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library with the search terms “yoga,” “meditation,” “breathing exercises,” “mindfulness,” “schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders,” “depressive disorder,” and “bipolar disorder” for the last 10-year period. We also included relevant articles from the cross-references.

Results:

We found that asanas and pranayama are the most commonly studied forms of yoga for schizophrenia. These studies found a reduction in general psychopathology ratings and an improvement in cognition and functioning. Some studies also found modest benefits in negative and positive symptoms. Mindfulness has not been extensively tried, but the available evidence has shown benefits in improving psychotic symptoms, improving level of functioning, and affect regulation. In MDD, both yoga and mindfulness have demonstrated significant benefit in reducing the severity of depressive symptoms. There is very sparse data with respect to BD.

Conclusion:

Both yoga and mindfulness interventions appear to be useful as an adjunct in the treatment of SMI. Studies have shown improvement in the psychopathology, anxiety, cognition, and functioning of patients with schizophrenia. Similarly, both the techniques have been established as an effective adjuvant in MDD. However, more rigorously designed and larger trials may be necessary, specifically for BD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329226/