Improve Anxiety and Depression with an Abbreviated Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Improve Anxiety and Depression with an Abbreviated Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults in the U.S., or 18% of the population. Depression affects over 6% of the population. And anxiety and depression often co-occur. Anxiety and depression are generally treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety and depression. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments.

 

Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders. Mindfulness has also been shown to be effective for depressionMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specifically developed to treat depression and has been shown to be very effective. MBCT, however, is an 8-week program delivered in relatively small groups. It is not clear if a briefer program to larger groups might also be effective.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Brief Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Intervention as a Population-Level Strategy for Anxiety and Depression.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8057287/ )  Burgess and colleagues recruited adult patients with an anxiety or mood disorders and provided them with 5 weekly 2-hour group based session of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) with daily home practice. The group size was larger than the typical MBCT program (i.e., 16–20 participants rather than 12 participants) and meditation practice was reduced to 10-15 minutes compared to the traditional 40 minutes. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, self-compassion, perceived stress, mental well-being, and disability.

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there was significant reductions in anxiety, depression, worry, and acute distress, and significant increases in self-compassion and mental well-being. There were large clinically significant changes such that 50% of the patients had remissions of depression and 20% had remissions of anxiety.

 

It should be noted that there was no control condition in the present study. But previous controlled studies have routinely demonstrated that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) produces significant improvements in anxiety, depression, worry, distress, self-compassion, and mental well-being. So, the present results are unlikely to be due to confounding factors. The present study demonstrates that the significant benefits of MBCT can be produced with an abbreviated program delivered to a large group. This reduces the amount of time clinicians have to devote to the program, thereby reducing cost. It would also be likely that the abbreviated program would improve adherence to the program requirements and reduce drop-outs. This allows more patients at lower cost to have their suffering reduced.

 

So, improve anxiety and depression with an abbreviated Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is designed to help people who suffer repeated bouts of depression and chronic unhappiness. It combines the ideas of cognitive therapy with meditative practices and attitudes based on the cultivation of mindfulness. The heart of this work lies in becoming acquainted with the modes of mind that often characterize mood disorders while simultaneously learning to develop a new relationship to them.” – MBCT.com

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Emilee E. Burgess, Steven Selchen, Benjamin D. Diplock, Neil A. Rector. A Brief Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Intervention as a Population-Level Strategy for Anxiety and Depression. Int J Cogn Ther. 2021 Apr 20 : 1–19. doi: 10.1007/s41811-021-00105-x

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have emerged as clinically effective interventions for anxiety and depression although there are significant barriers to their access in the general population. The present study examined the effectiveness of a 5-week abbreviated mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) intervention for a physician-referred, treatment-seeking, community sample (N = 54) with mood and/or anxiety symptom burden. Treatment effects demonstrated significant reductions in mood and anxiety symptom severity and significant increases in general well-being. Observed effect sizes were generally large, with high response and remission rates. The present study offers preliminary support that an abbreviated MBCT protocol can offer large treatment effects for decreasing mood and anxiety symptoms and could potentially offer an effective population-level strategy to improve cost-effectiveness and access to care.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8057287/

 

Yoga Improves Resident Physician Psychological Health But Doesn’t Appear to be Feasible and Acceptable.

Yoga Improves Resident Physician Psychological Health But Doesn’t Appear to be Feasible and Acceptable.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Slammed by long and unpredictable hours, heavy clinical workloads, fatigue and limited professional control, many medical residents experience stress and even burnout. And surveys indicate this burnout can seriously impact physician well-being and patient care outcomes.” – Jennifer Huber

 

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

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Yoga is a mind-body practice that includes mindfulness and exercise. Yoga practice has been shown to improve the symptoms of burnout. But it is unclear whether it would be feasible and effective for resident physicians.

 

In today’s Research News article “Evaluation of a Yoga-Based Mind-Body Intervention for Resident Physicians: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7961714/ ) Loewenthal and colleagues recruited resident physicians and randomly assigned them to a wait-list control condition or to receive 1-hour, once a week for 6-weeks yoga training with daily home practice. They completed a questionnaire regarding the feasibility of the program. They were also measured before and after training and 2-months later for psychological health, including mindfulness, resilience, perceived stress, professional fulfillment, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and resident well-being.

 

The participants rated the feasibility and acceptability of the program as low and they averaged attending only 1.93 of the 6 sessions with no one completing all 6 sessions. They found that the yoga group had significant increases in mindfulness, resilience, professional fulfillment, and resident well-being and significant decreases in anxiety, perceived stress, and sleep disturbance. While the wait-list group did not.

 

These efficacy findings are similar to those reported in other studies that yoga training results in increases in mindfulness, resilience, and well-being and significant decreases in anxiety, perceived stress, and sleep disturbance. But the program was very disappointing in feasibility and acceptability. Resident physicians are pressed for time and stressed and may not have the time too attend classes and practice yoga. Other mindfulness programs, particularly those implemented online have been found to be feasible, acceptable, and effective for health care workers. They would appear to be preferable to yoga for resident physicians.

 

So, yoga improves resident physician psychological health but doesn’t appear to be feasible and acceptable.

 

So often we treat others’ bodies and minds, yet often neglect our own. While we encourage our patients to roll out their mats and settle into their asanas, we can remember to do it ourselves. When we treat our stress and anxiety, we will be better able to treat our patients.” – Julia Michie Bruckner,

 

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

 

Loewenthal, J., Dyer, N. L., Lipsyc-Sharf, M., Borden, S., Mehta, D. H., Dusek, J. A., & Khalsa, S. (2021). Evaluation of a Yoga-Based Mind-Body Intervention for Resident Physicians: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Global advances in health and medicine10, 21649561211001038. https://doi.org/10.1177/21649561211001038

 

Abstract

Background and Objective

Mind-body interventions (MBIs) have been shown to be effective individual-level interventions for mitigating physician burnout, but there are no controlled studies of yoga-based MBIs in resident physicians. We assessed the feasibility of a yoga-based MBI called RISE (resilience, integration, self-awareness, engagement) for residents among multiple specialties and academic medical centers.

Methods

We conducted a waitlist controlled randomized clinical trial of the RISE program with residents from multiple specialty departments at three academic medical centers. The RISE program consisted of six weekly sessions with suggested home practice. Feasibility was assessed across six domains: demand, implementation, practicality, acceptability, adaptation, and integration. Self-reported measures of psychological health were collected at baseline, post-program, and two-month follow-up.

Results

Among 2,000 residents contacted, 75 were assessed for eligibility and 56 were enrolled. Forty-four participants completed the study and were included in analysis. On average, participants attended two of six sessions. Feasibility of in-person attendance was rated as 28.9 (SD 25.6) on a 100-point visual analogue scale. Participants rated feasibility as 69.2 (SD 26.0) if the program was offered virtually. Those who received RISE reported improvements in mindfulness, stress, burnout, and physician well-being from baseline to post-program, which were sustained at two-month follow-up.

Conclusion

This is the first controlled study of a yoga-based MBI in residents. While the program was not feasible as delivered in this pilot study, initial analyses showed improvement in multiple measures of psychological health. Residents reported that virtual delivery would increase feasibility.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7961714/

 

A Supportive Environment is Necessary for Mindfulness to Lower Stress and Increase Well-Being at Work

A Supportive Environment is Necessary for Mindfulness to Lower Stress and Increase Well-Being at Work

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is not about living life in slow motion. It’s about enhancing focus and awareness both in work and in life. It’s about stripping away distractions and staying on track with individual, as well as organizational, goals.” –  Rasmus Hougaard

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological, social, and physical health. But, nearly 2/3 of employees worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. These programs attempt to increase the employees’ mindfulness at work and thereby reduce stress. The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based programmes to reduce stress and enhance well-being at work: a realist review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7986896/ )  Micklitz and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve the psychological well-being of employees. They identified 75 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness-based programs in the workplace significantly reduce employee stress and improve well-being. They report that these benefits appear to occur as a result of mindfulness training producing increases in awareness, self-regulation, acceptance, compassion, permission for self-care, growth, and goal attainment. But, in order for this to work, the employees must feel comfortable sharing with peers their emotional difficulties, see that the program aligns with existing goals and practices, and be comfortable with a potential loss of productivity during training.

 

These findings suggest that mindfulness training at work can be effective in improving the employee’s ability to cope with stress and thereby improve their well-being. But a supportive environment must be present in order for the benefits to occur. These include managements acceptance of the program, employees seeing it as management caring for their well-being, and the programs alignment with the employee’s aspirations.

 

So, a supportive environment is necessary for mindfulness to lower stress and increase well-being at work.

 

When we constantly flit from one task to another, the quality of our work can suffer. By practicing mindfulness — simply coming back to the present moment over and over again — we can train ourselves to become more focused.” – David Gelles

 

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

 

Micklitz, K., Wong, G., & Howick, J. (2021). Mindfulness-based programmes to reduce stress and enhance well-being at work: a realist review. BMJ open11(3), e043525. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-043525

Abstract

Objectives

To understand how and why workplace mindfulness-based programmes (MBPs) work or do not work.

Design

A realist review.

Eligibility criteria for selection

We considered any studies (experimental quasi-experimental, observational, qualitative and mixed-methods studies) of workplace MBPs as long as they provided data to explain our programme theories. All MBP formats and delivery modes were included.

Analysis

Consistent with realist review methodology, we systematically screened and analysed data to explain how and why workplace MBPs work or do not work. These explanations were consolidated into a programme theory augmented by theories from organisational literature, such as conservation of resources theory.

Results

Findings from 75 primary studies suggest that workplace MBPs enable participants (including healthcare professionals) to deal more skillfully with stressful events and improve their well-being. The mechanisms involved can be grouped around awareness/self-regulation, acceptance/compassion, feeling permitted to take care of self, sense of growth and promise of goal attainment. In order for professionals to invest in an MBP and benefit from it, it is important that they feel safe to engage with self-care at work and share emotional difficulties among peers. It is also important that employees are able to link the programme and its activities to existing goals and practices. Concerns of being non-productive, of not getting work done or of being exposed in front of colleagues can result in strategic use of brief mindfulness exercises, non-adherence or drop-out.

Conclusions

Simply offering an MBP to (healthcare) professionals in order to reduce stress and enhance well-being does not suffice. A supportive environment must exist in order for the programme’s benefits to be reaped.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7986896/

 

Reduce Stress and Improve Healthcare Worker Well-Being with Mindfulness

Reduce Stress and Improve Healthcare Worker Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, improving sleep and reduce stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Reducing stress and promoting well-being in healthcare workers using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for life.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7903308/ ) Strauss and colleagues recruited healthy adult healthcare workers and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) along with 40 minutes of daily practice.  MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting, walking and body scan meditations, and cognitive therapy that attempts to teach patients to distinguish between thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors, and to recognize irrational thinking styles and how they affect behavior. MBCT was developed specifically to treat depression. For this study it was modified to be more appropriate for the general population. The participants were measured before and after training for attendance and practice amounts, stress, anxiety, depression, mental well-being, burnout, presenteeism, compassion, and mindfulness.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group after Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) there were significant increases in mindfulness, mental well-being, and self-compassion, and significant decreases in anxiety, depression, and stress. They also found that the greater the increases in mindfulness and self-compassion produced by MBCT the greater the increase in mental well-being and the decrease in stress.

 

These findings are similar to those found in previous research with different groups that Mindfulness training increases well-being and self-compassion, and decreases anxiety, depression, and stress. Hence, mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being of healthcare workers. This should help protect them against burnout and increase their resilience in the face of high workplace stress.

 

So, reduce stress and improve healthcare worker well-being with mindfulness.

 

As we become more adept at dwelling in the living presence of our own experience, we begin to connect more deeply with patients, as well as co-workers and family members. Mindfulness practice provides a simple and practical way to recapture the calling of healing.” – Penn Medicine

 

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

 

Strauss, C., Gu, J., Montero-Marin, J., Whittington, A., Chapman, C., & Kuyken, W. (2021). Reducing stress and promoting well-being in healthcare workers using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for life. International journal of clinical and health psychology : IJCHP, 21(2), 100227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijchp.2021.100227

 

Background/Objective

Healthcare workers play a critical role in the health of a nation, yet rates of healthcare worker stress are disproportionately high. We evaluated whether mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for life (MBCT-L), could reduce stress in healthcare workers and target a range of secondary outcomes. Method: This is the first parallel randomised controlled trial of MBCT-L. Participants were NHS workers, who were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive either MBCT-L or wait-list. The primary outcome was self-reported stress at post-intervention. Secondary variables were well-being, depression, anxiety, and work-related outcomes. Mixed regressions were used. Mindfulness and self/other-compassion were explored as potential mechanisms of effects on stress and wellbeing. Results: We assigned 234 participants to MBCT-L (n = 115) or to wait-list (n = 119). 168 (72%) participants completed the primary outcome and of those who started the MBCT-L 73.40% (n = 69) attended the majority of the sessions. MBCT-L ameliorated stress compared with controls (B = 2.60, 95% CI = 1.63‒3.56; d = -0.72; p < .0001). Effects were also found for well-being, depression and anxiety, but not for work-related outcomes. Mindfulness and self-compassion mediated effects on stress and wellbeing. Conclusions: MBCT-L could be an effective and acceptable part of a wider healthcare workers well-being and mental health strategy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7903308/

 

Mindfulness’ Association with Well-Being is Diminished by Adverse Childhood Experiences

Mindfulness’ Association with Well-Being is Diminished by Adverse Childhood Experiences

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness instruction may mitigate the negative effects of stress and trauma related to adverse childhood exposures, improving short- and long-term outcomes, and potentially reducing poor health outcomes in adulthood.” – Robin Ortiz

 

Childhood trauma can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, childhood maltreatment can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. How individuals cope with childhood maltreatment helps determine the effects of the maltreatment on their mental health.

 

It has been found that experiencing the feelings and thoughts produced by trauma completely allows for better coping. This can be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms. But it is not known how mindfulness interacts with adverse childhood experiences to impact psychological well-being later on.

 

In today’s Research News article “Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychological Well-Being in Chinese College Students: Mediation Effect of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7915366/ ) Huang and colleagues recruited college juniors and seniors online and had them complete measures of psychological well-being, mindfulness, and adverse childhood experiences (“including abuse (psychological, physical, or sexual), neglect, household challenges such as violence perpetrated against mother and cohabitation with individuals who use substances or have mental illness or incarceration history, from the first 18 years of life”.)

 

They found that the students for the most part experienced low levels of adverse childhood experiences with an average of 0.69 experiences. They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the levels of psychological well-being and the lower the levels of adverse childhood experiences. In addition, the higher the levels of adverse childhood experiences, the lower the levels of psychological well-being. A mediation analysis revealed that adverse childhood experiences were associated with reduced levels of psychological well-being directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower levels of mindfulness, lowering their ability to improve psychological well-being.

 

These findings are correlational and as such conclusions regarding causation cannot be conclusively drawn. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness improves psychological well-being, and lowers the symptoms of trauma, and that trauma diminishes well-being. So the present findings likely also represent causal linkages. Hence, the results suggest that mindfulness is good for the psychological well-being of college students but mindfulness is diminished by adverse childhood experiences and these experiences also directly decrease the students’ well-being.

 

Trauma during the early years of life can have a negative impact on the individual for the rest of their lives. The fact that mindfulness can mitigate these effects is heartening. It suggests the mindfulness training should be routinely implemented for individuals who experienced trauma in their formative years.

 

So, mindfulness’ association with well-being is diminished by adverse childhood experiences.

 

mindfulness training may enable those experiencing post-traumatic stress to be better able to inhibit or reduce the pernicious cycle of negative thoughts, feelings, and memories that accompany traumatic stress.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

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

 

Huang, C. C., Tan, Y., Cheung, S. P., & Hu, H. (2021). Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychological Well-Being in Chinese College Students: Mediation Effect of Mindfulness. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1636. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041636

 

Abstract

Literature on the antecedents of psychological well-being (PWB) has found that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and mindfulness are associated with PWB; less is known, however, about the role of mindfulness, a type of emotional and self-regulation, in the pathway between ACEs and PWB. This study used data from 1871 college students across China to examine the relation between ACEs and PWB, and whether the relation was mediated by mindfulness. The findings from structural equation modelling indicate a statistically significant negative association between ACEs and PWB, while mindfulness was strongly and positively associated with PWB. The effect of ACEs on PWB was reduced once mindfulness was controlled for in the analysis. This provides evidence that mindfulness was able to partially mediate the effects of negative life experiences on psychological well-being. This calls for mindfulness interventions targeted toward students with a history of ACEs to buffer the effects of ACEs on PWB.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7915366/

 

Yoga Practitioners Have Better Psychological Health During the Covid-19 Lockdown

Yoga Practitioners Have Better Psychological Health During the Covid-19 Lockdown

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the well understood underlying mechanisms for the use of yoga for stress reduction and immune modulation shall be considered as the basis for its complimentary role in the management of an infectious condition like COVID-19.“ – H. R. Nagendra

 

Yoga practice 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. Yoga practice is known to decrease the psychological and physical responses to stress. So, yoga practice may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga an effective strategy for self-management of stress-related problems and wellbeing during COVID19 lockdown: A cross-sectional study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7875402/ ) Sahni and colleagues recruited adults online during the Covid-19 lockdown. They separated the participants into three groups; those who practice yoga, other spiritual practices, and non-practitioners. The participants completed online measures of Covid-19 perceptions, depression, anxiety, perceived stress, general well-being, resilience, peace of mind, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that in comparison to the spiritual practices and non-practitioners, the yoga practitioners had a significantly higher level of Covid-19 perception of personal control, and significantly lower levels of illness concern and emotional impact of COVID19. In addition, the yoga practitioners had significantly lower levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress and significantly higher levels of peace of mind. well-being, and cognitive reappraisal strategies of emotion regulation. In general, they found that the longer that the yoga practitioners had practiced, the greater the benefits.

 

This study examined existing groups and there wasn’t random assignment. Hence, the findings could be due to systematic differences between people who choose to engage in yoga, other spiritual practices, or no practice. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that yoga practice causes decreased depression, anxiety, and perceived stress, and increased well-being. So, the difference seen here between groups probably represent the causal effects of yoga practice.

 

These results suggest that practicing yoga makes an individual more resistant to the deleterious psychological effects of the pandemic and the associated lockdown. It appears to improve the practitioners’ psychological well-being, peace of mind, attitude toward the pandemic, and ability to regulate emotions. In addition, the greater the amount of yoga practice, the greater the benefits. These yoga-produced abilities may well underlie yoga practice’s positive impact on various diseases.

 

So, yoga practitioners have better psychological health during the Covid-19 lockdown.

 

COVID-19 has caused levels of stress and anxiety to skyrocket and it’s (understandably) taking a toll on people’s mental health. One thing that can help? Yoga.”- CorePower Yoga

 

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

 

Sahni, P. S., Singh, K., Sharma, N., & Garg, R. (2021). Yoga an effective strategy for self-management of stress-related problems and wellbeing during COVID19 lockdown: A cross-sectional study. PloS one, 16(2), e0245214. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245214

 

Abstract

This cross-sectional research aims to study the effect of yoga practice on the illness perception, and wellbeing of healthy adults during 4–10 weeks of lockdown due to COVID19 outbreak. A total of 668 adults (64.7% males, M = 28.12 years, SD = 9.09 years) participated in the online survey. The participants were grouped as; yoga practitioners, other spiritual practitioners, and non-practitioners based on their responses to daily practices that they follow. Yoga practitioners were further examined based on the duration of practice as; long-term, mid-term and beginners. Multivariate analysis indicates that yoga practitioners had significantly lower depression, anxiety, & stress (DASS), and higher general wellbeing (SWGB) as well as higher peace of mind (POMS) than the other two groups. The results further revealed that the yoga practitioners significantly differed in the perception of personal control, illness concern and emotional impact of COVID19. However, there was no significant difference found for the measure of resilience (BRS) in this study. Yoga practitioners also significantly differed in the cognitive reappraisal strategy for regulating their emotions than the other two groups. Interestingly, it was found that beginners -those who had started practicing yoga only during the lockdown period reported no significant difference for general wellbeing and peace of mind when compared to the mid- term practitioner. Evidence supports that yoga was found as an effective self- management strategy to cope with stress, anxiety and depression, and maintain wellbeing during COVID19 lockdown.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7875402/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Improved Coping and Mental Well-Being During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Mindfulness is Associated with Improved Coping and Mental Well-Being During the Covid-19 Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Right now it’s very easy to let your brain spin out with the frightening possibilities. Practicing mindfulness helps bring us back to the present, and away from the brink.” – David Anderson

 

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. One of the primary effects of mindfulness that may be responsible for many of its benefits is that it improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress. T

 

he COVID-19 pandemic is extremely stressful particularly during a lockdown and hence 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. So, mindfulness, because of its ability to improve stress responding, may be helpful in coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “Coping with COVID-19 – Longitudinal analysis of coping strategies and the role of trait mindfulness in mental well-being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7843110/ )  Götmann and colleagues recruited online adults during a Covid-19 lockdown in Germany. At 13 different points in time, they completed measures of mindfulness, coping strategies, well-being, savoring, resilience, and depression.

 

They found that the higher the levels of trait mindfulness the higher the levels of well-being, savoring, and problem solving coping and the lower the levels of distraction and denial and blaming coping. But of the mindfulness facets only self-regulated attention was associated with higher levels of problem solving and savoring and only orientation toward experience was associated with lower levels of distraction and denial and blaming and higher levels of well-being. Further they found that well-being was positively related to problem solving coping was negatively related to blaming.

 

Using structural equation modelling, they were able to show that mindfulness was positively related to well-being as a result of self-regulated attention which was positively related to problem solving coping and in turn well-being. On the other hand, they found that mindfulness was positively related to well-being as a result of orientation to experience being negative related to distraction and denial and blaming and in turn higher well-being.

 

These results are interesting but correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But prior research has demonstrated that mindfulness produces higher well-being and positive coping. So, the present results are likely due to causal connections between these variables. The findings additionally suggest that mindfulness has a twofold connection with well-being via two mindfulness facets. Attention promoted a positive coping mechanism which in turn improved well-being while non-judging of experience interfered with negative coping mechanisms’ ability to detract from well-being.

 

These findings were produced by people experiencing a Covid-19 lockdown. They suggest that mindfulness is very beneficial during stressful times. It promotes the ability to cope with the situation in a constructive manner and suppresses non-constructive coping. It thus leads to better well-being in the midst of a public health crisis.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with improved coping and mental well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

“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

 

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

 

Götmann, A., & Bechtoldt, M. N. (2021). Coping with COVID-19 – Longitudinal analysis of coping strategies and the role of trait mindfulness in mental well-being. Personality and individual differences, 175, 110695. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2021.110695

 

Abstract

Policy interventions intended to fight COVID-19 forced people to cope with several restrictions on their personal freedom. The present work addressed the question of how people dealt with stressors during a lockdown period and investigated the role of trait mindfulness and its subcomponents in coping and mental well-being. We recruited a sample of 93 participants to study coping reactions using a multi-wave study over a period of two-months with 13 measurement points. Multilevel analysis revealed that engagement-related coping such as problem-solving was positively related to well-being; the opposite was true for disengagement coping such as blaming. The mindfulness facet orientation towards experience (being open and accepting experiences without judgment) was negatively related to disengagement coping, while the facet self-regulated attention (awareness of the present moment) was positively related to engagement coping. Self-regulated attention but not orientation towards experience was associated with savoring positive aspects of COVID-related changes over time. Engagement-related coping mediated the effects of trait mindfulness on well-being. The findings point to the differential effects of subcomponents of trait mindfulness in the context of coping and mental well-being. Further implications are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7843110/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Improved Psychological Well-Being in Patients with Persistent Mental Illness

Spirituality is Associated with Improved Psychological Well-Being in Patients with Persistent Mental Illness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

No cure that fails to engage our spirit can make us well.” – Victor Frankl

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. But there is still a need to investigate the relationships of spirituality with psychological well-being in patients with persistent mental illness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality and Employment in Recovery from Severe and Persistent Mental Illness and Psychological Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827133/ ) Saiz and colleagues recruited adult patients with persistent mental illness who were in a program to prepare them for employment. The disorders included psychoses, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and mood disorders. The patients completed questionnaires measuring stage of recovery, hope, self-determination, psychological well-being, including self-acceptance, positive relationships, autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth and purpose in life subscales, employment, work motivation including of satisfaction, integration into the work environment, social acceptance, social performance, job skills, self-esteem, perception of family support and job assertiveness subscales, spiritual experiences and spiritual well-being.

 

They report that the higher the levels of spirituality and work motivation, the higher the levels of psychological well-being and recovery. When spirituality and work motivation were used together as predictors of recovery only spirituality was significantly related. Similarly, when spirituality and work motivation were used together as predictors of psychological well-being only spirituality was significantly related. Hence, when work motivation is considered, only spirituality is significantly related to psychological well-being and recovery.

 

These findings for patients with persistent mental illness make sense as spirituality has been found in the past with other groups to be associated with psychological well-being and better mental health. The findings, though, are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. Only that spirituality is associated with to psychological well-being and recovery can be ascertained. But this association is potentially important and suggests that the promotion of spirituality may be beneficial for patients with persistent mental illness, helping them recover better and be psychologically healthier. This remains for future research.

 

So, spirituality is associated with improved psychological well-being in patients with persistent mental illness.

 

“many people with mental illness desire the incorporation of spirituality in their recovery process/treatment.” – Jan-Stella Metheany

 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Saiz, J., Galilea, M., Molina, A. J., Salazar, M., Barsotti, T. J., Chopra, D., & Mills, P. J. (2021). Spirituality and Employment in Recovery from Severe and Persistent Mental Illness and Psychological Well-Being. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 57. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare9010057

 

Abstract

People diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) face multiple vulnerabilities, including when seeking employment. Among SPMI patients, studies show that a stronger sense of spirituality can help to reduce psychotic symptoms, increase social integration, reduce the risk of suicide attempts and promote adherence to psychiatric treatment. This study examined how the variables spirituality and employment affect the recovery process and psychological well-being of people with SPMI who attend employment recovery services. The sample consisted of 64 women and men diagnosed with an SPMI. The assessment instruments included the Recovery Assessment Scale, Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale, Work Motivation Questionnaire, Daily Spiritual Experience Scale, and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being (FACIT-Sp12). Hierarchical regression analyses were performed to compare three different models for each dependent variable (recovery and psychological well-being). The findings showed that job skills predicted psychological well-being and recovery. When spiritual variables were included in the model, job skills dropped out and the dimension meaning/peace of the FACIT-Sp12 emerged as the only significant predictor variable. Integrating spirituality into recovery programs for people with SPMI may be a helpful complement to facilitate the recovery process and improve psychological well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827133/

 

Maintain Vacation Benefits with Meditation

Maintain Vacation Benefits with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

If you’re going to go on a vacation see if you can integrate meditation to really double up on that impact.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

A leisure vacation can rejuvenate the individual in body and mind. It decreases mental and physical fatigue and increases happiness. But unfortunately, its effects rapidly dissipate. It doesn’t take long for the positive benefits to wear off. Meditation retreats also rejuvenate the individual in body and mind, decreasing fatigue and increasing happiness. The effects of meditation appear have been generally found to be relatively longer lasting. Attending a meditation retreat or including meditation on vacation may help to sustain the effectiveness of the vacation for a longer period of time.

 

In today’s Research News article “Is a meditation retreat the better vacation? effect of retreats and vacations on fatigue, emotional well-being, and acting with awareness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7869997/ ) Blasche and colleagues recruited adult participants in meditation retreats and also individuals who planned a vacation over the same period of time. They separated the vacation participants who did and did not include meditation in their vacation. They were measured before and after the retreat/vacation and

weeks later for acting with awareness, fatigue, emotional well-being, relaxation, control, and mastery.

 

They found that after the retreat/vacation all groups had significant reductions in fatigue and emotional well-being while on the retreat and vacation with meditation groups had significant increases in acting with awareness. Ten weeks later, however, only the retreat and vacation with meditation groups had maintained significant increases in acting with awareness and emotional well-being and decreases in fatigue.

 

These are interesting findings. But, it needs to be recognized that this was not a randomized study and the participants who chose to go on retreat or those who meditate during a vacation may be significantly different than those who do not meditate during the vacation. People who meditate may be the kinds of people who get the most out of their vacations.

 

Regardless, the results suggest that all types of vacations improve the physical and mental health of the participants, when meditation is not included the benefits fade over the next few weeks. But including meditation either in retreat of during a vacation significantly improves the longevity of the benefits. This further suggests that including some quiet reflective time in a vacation is important in maximizing the impact of the vacation on the well-being of the participants.

 

So, maintain vacation benefits with meditation.

 

So the “vacation effect” brings short term good news for everyone, and the “meditation effect” brings longer-lasting good news, especially when you keep at it!” – Crystal Goh

 

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

 

Blasche, G., deBloom, J., Chang, A., & Pichlhoefer, O. (2021). Is a meditation retreat the better vacation? effect of retreats and vacations on fatigue, emotional well-being, and acting with awareness. PloS one, 16(2), e0246038. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0246038

 

Abstract

It is well established that leisure vacations markedly improve well-being, but that these effects are only of short duration. The present study aimed to investigate whether vacation effects would be more lasting if individuals practiced meditation during the leisure episode. Meditation is known to improve well-being durably, among others, by enhancing the mental faculty of mindfulness. In this aim, leisure vacations during which individuals practiced meditation to some extent were compared with holidays not including any formal meditation practice as well as with meditation retreats (characterized by intense meditation practice) utilizing a naturalistic observational design. Fatigue, well-being, and mindfulness were assessed ten days before, ten days after, and ten weeks after the stays in a sample of 120 individuals accustomed to meditation practices. To account for differences in the experience of these stays, recovery experiences were additionally assessed. Ten days after the stay, there were no differences except for an increase in mindfulness for those practicing meditation. Ten weeks after the stay, meditation retreats and vacations including meditation were associated with greater increases in mindfulness, lower levels of fatigue, and higher levels of well-being than an “ordinary” vacation during which meditation was not practiced. The finding suggests that the inclusion of meditation practice during vacation could help alleviate vacations’ greatest pitfall, namely the rapid decline of its positive effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7869997/

 

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 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. Mindfulness appears to work well in clinical settings. But does it work well when mindfulness is trained in groups in community settings. It makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based programmes for mental health promotion in adults in nonclinical settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7799763/ ) Galante and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based programs to improve mental health. They identified 136 trials including a total of 11,605 participants of the effectiveness of community-based group mindfulness programs.

 

They report that in comparison to no treatment controls, mindfulness-based programs produced significant improvements in anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and mental well-being. In comparison to non-therapeutic active controls mindfulness-based programs produced significant improvements in depression, and mental well-being. Finally, mindfulness-based programs did not appear to improve mental health to a greater extent that other therapeutic treatments. They further found that mindfulness-based programs appeared to work best for high-risk participants or those with subclinical levels of mental disorders.

 

There appears to be extensive research findings that suggest that group mindfulness-based programs in non-clinical, community, are as effective in improving mental health as other therapies. In particular they appear to decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress and increase mental well-being. But, these programs do not appear to further improve mental health in people who already have excellent mental health. This suggests that mindfulness-based community programs should be implemented to improve the mental health of at-risk individuals or those who have metal health issues.

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness.

 

simple changes in lifestyle can lead to improved mental health and wellbeing.  Mindfulness is one such practice—with strong research supporting its usefulness for those suffering from anxiety, depression, or even just daily stress.” – U Minnesota

 

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

 

Galante, J., Friedrich, C., Dawson, A. F., Modrego-Alarcón, M., Gebbing, P., Delgado-Suárez, I., Gupta, R., Dean, L., Dalgleish, T., White, I. R., & Jones, P. B. (2021). Mindfulness-based programmes for mental health promotion in adults in nonclinical settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. PLoS medicine, 18(1), e1003481. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003481

 

Abstract

Background

There is an urgent need for mental health promotion in nonclinical settings. Mindfulness–based programmes (MBPs) are being widely implemented to reduce stress, but a comprehensive evidence synthesis is lacking. We reviewed trials to assess whether MBPs promote mental health relative to no intervention or comparator interventions.

Methods and findings

Following a detailed preregistered protocol (PROSPERO CRD42018105213) developed with public and professional stakeholders, 13 databases were searched to August 2020 for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) examining in–person, expert–defined MBPs in nonclinical settings. Two researchers independently selected, extracted, and appraised trials using the Cochrane Risk–of–Bias Tool 2.0. Primary outcomes were psychometrically validated anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and mental well–being questionnaires at 1 to 6 months after programme completion. Multiple testing was performed using p < 0.0125 (Bonferroni) for statistical significance. Secondary outcomes, meta–regression and sensitivity analyses were prespecified. Pairwise random–effects multivariate meta–analyses and prediction intervals (PIs) were calculated.

A total of 11,605 participants in 136 trials were included (29 countries, 77% women, age range 18 to 73 years). Compared with no intervention, in most but not all scenarios MBPs improved average anxiety (8 trials; standardised mean difference (SMD) = −0.56; 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.80 to −0.33; p–value < 0.001; 95% PI −1.19 to 0.06), depression (14 trials; SMD = −0.53; 95% CI −0.72 to −0.34; p–value < 0.001; 95% PI −1.14 to 0.07), distress (27 trials; SMD = −0.45; 95% CI −0.58 to −0.31; p–value < 0.001; 95% PI −1.04 to 0.14), and well–being (9 trials; SMD = 0.33; 95% CI 0.11 to 0.54; p–value = 0.003; 95% PI −0.29 to 0.94). Compared with nonspecific active control conditions, in most but not all scenarios MBPs improved average depression (6 trials; SMD = −0.46; 95% CI −0.81 to −0.10; p–value = 0.012, 95% PI −1.57 to 0.66), with no statistically significant evidence for improving anxiety or distress and no reliable data on well–being. Compared with specific active control conditions, there is no statistically significant evidence of MBPs’ superiority. Only effects on distress remained when higher–risk trials were excluded. USA–based trials reported smaller effects. MBPs targeted at higher–risk populations had larger effects than universal MBPs. The main limitation of this review is that confidence according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach is moderate to very low, mainly due to inconsistency and high risk of bias in many trials.

Conclusions

Compared with taking no action, MBPs of the included studies promote mental health in nonclinical settings, but given the heterogeneity between studies, the findings do not support generalisation of MBP effects across every setting. MBPs may have specific effects on some common mental health symptoms. Other preventative interventions may be equally effective. Implementation of MBPs in nonclinical settings should be partnered with thorough research to confirm findings and learn which settings are most likely to benefit.

Author summary

Why was this study done?

Mindfulness courses to increase well–being and reduce stress have become very popular; most are in community settings.

Many randomised controlled trials (RCTs) tested whether mindfulness courses show benefit, but results are varied and, to our knowledge, there are no reviews combining the data from these studies to show an overall effect.

What did the researchers do and find?

Worldwide, we identified 136 RCTs on mindfulness training for mental health promotion in community settings. We reviewed them all, assessed their quality, and calculated their combined effects.

We showed that, compared with doing nothing, mindfulness reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, and increases well–being, but we cannot be sure that this will happen in every community setting.

In these RCTs, mindfulness is neither better nor worse than other feel–good practices such as physical exercise, and RCTs in this field tend to be of poor quality, so we cannot be sure that our combined results represent the true effects.

What do these findings mean?

Mindfulness courses in the community need to be implemented with care, because we cannot assume that they work for everyone, everywhere.

We need good quality collaborative research to find out which types of communities benefit from the different types of mindfulness courses available.

The courses that work best may be those aimed at people who are most stressed or in stressful situations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7799763/