Mindfulness Meditation 2

Yogic breathing shows promise in reducing symptoms of PTSD

September 11, 2014

Science Daily/University of Wisconsin-Madison

New research offers hope for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers there have shown that a breathing-based meditation practice called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga can be an effective treatment for PTSD.

 

One of the greatest casualties of war is its lasting effect on the minds of soldiers. This presents a daunting public health problem: More than 20 percent of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a 2012 report by RAND Corp.

 

Individuals with PTSD suffer from intrusive memories, heightened anxiety, and personality changes. The hallmark of the disorder is hyperarousal, which can be defined as overreacting to innocuous stimuli, and is often described as feeling “jumpy,” or easily startled and constantly on guard.

 

Hyperarousal is one aspect of the autonomic nervous system, the system that controls the beating of the heart and other body functions, and governs one’s ability to respond to his or her environment. Scientists believe hyperarousal is at the core of PTSD and the driving force behind some of its symptoms.

 

Standard treatment interventions for PTSD offer mixed results. Some individuals are prescribed antidepressants and do well while others do not; others are treated with psychotherapy and still experience residual affects of the disorder.

 

Sudarshan Kriya Yoga is a practice of controlled breathing that directly affects the autonomic nervous system. While the practice has proven effective in balancing the autonomic nervous system and reducing symptoms of PTSD in tsunami survivors, it has not been well studied until now.

 

“A clinician could use a ‘tool box’ of psychological assessments to determine the cognitive and emotional style of the patient, and thereby determine a treatment that would be most effective for that individual,” he says. “Right now, a large fraction of individuals who are given any one type of therapy are not improving on that therapy. The only way we can improve that is if we determine which kinds of people will benefit most from different types of treatments.”

 

That assessment is critical. At least 22 veterans take their own lives every day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Because Sudarshan Kriya Yoga has already been shown to increase optimism in college students, and reduce stress and anxiety in people suffering from depression, it may be an effective way to decrease suffering and, quite possibly, the incidence of suicide among veterans.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140911151651.htm

In Addiction, Meditation Is Helpful When Coupled With Drug, Cognitive Therapies

Dec. 19, 2013 — 
Science Daily/University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Using a computational model of addiction, a literature review and an in silico experiment, theoretical computer scientist Yariv Levy and colleagues suggest in a new paper this week that rehabilitation strategies coupling meditation-like practices with drug and behavior therapies are more helpful than drug-plus-talk therapy alone when helping people overcome addiction.

Levy says, “Our higher-level conclusion is that a treatment based on meditation-like techniques can be helpful as a supplement to help someone get out of addiction. We give scientific and mathematical arguments for this.”

His theoretical research approach using virtual subjects is rather unusual, Levy acknowledges, but it’s now gaining significant trust because it offers some strengths. In particular, because it relies on the increasing amount of available data and knowledge, in silico research offers quick preliminary tests of “rationally supported speculations,” he says, before full-scale experiments are launched with human patients or animals.

“I am a theoretician, so I use other peoples’ studies and try to see how they work together and how experiments fit in,” Levy points out. “This work follows a knowledge repository (KR) model, where the knowledge comes from other peoples’ theories and experiments. By consolidating them, we propose some hypotheses that we hope will subsequently be tested by experts in the field.” The KR model used in his current work incorporates pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, neuropsychological, cognitive and behavioral components, the researcher notes.

Among other outcomes, Levy says, “We try to describe what could be the cognitive effect of using a nicotine patch. What does it imply at the cognitive level, when people are willing to use one? Others have showed changes in prefrontal cortex where decisions are made, in executive function, as drug use progresses. Also, we did a small simulation of a couple of weeks with a patch, then tried to simulate the cognitive effect of using meditation for a few weeks.”
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131219154547.htm

Meditation for Anxiety, Depression?

Jan. 6, 2014 — 
Science Daily/Johns Hopkins Medicine
Some 30 minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, a new Johns Hopkins analysis of previously published research suggests.

"A lot of people use meditation, but it's not a practice considered part of mainstream medical therapy for anything," says Madhav Goyal, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of a study published online Jan. 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine. "But in our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants." These patients did not typically have full-blown anxiety or depression.

"A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing," Goyal says. "But that's not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways."

Mindfulness meditation, the type that showed the most promise, is typically practiced for 30 to 40 minutes a day. It emphasizes acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment and relaxation of body and mind.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140106190050.htm

Two behavioral interventions help cancer patients struggling with sleep issues

January 10, 2014
Science Daily/Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Cancer patients who are struggling with sleep troubles, due in part to pain or side effects of treatment, can count on two behavioral interventions for relief – cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), researchers report in a new study published. While CBT-I is the gold standard of care, MBSR is an additional treatment approach that can also help improve sleep for cancer patients, the study found.

"Insomnia and disturbed sleep are significant problems that can affect approximately half of all cancer patients," said lead study author Sheila Garland, PhD, a Clinical Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellow at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center in Integrative Oncology and Behavioral Sleep Medicine. "If not properly addressed, sleep disturbances can negatively influence therapeutic and supportive care measures for these patients, so it's critical that clinicians can offer patients reliable, effective, and tailored interventions."

When assessed three months after completing an eight-week treatment protocol, the researchers found that both CBT-I and MBSR reduced insomnia severity across each group. However, the effects in the CBT-I group occurred more rapidly whereas the MBSR group tended to show more gradual improvement over time. Both groups significantly increased their total sleep time and reduced the amount of time it took them to fall asleep or return to sleep during the night. Both groups also experienced improvements in mood and stress-related symptoms following the interventions.

"That MBSR can produce similar improvements to CBT-I and that both groups can effectively reduce stress and mood disturbance expands the available treatment options for insomnia in cancer patients," said Dr. Garland. "This study suggests that we should not apply a 'one size fits all model' to the treatment of insomnia and emphasizes the need to individualize treatment based on patient characteristics and preferences."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140110130952.htm

Mindfulness helps undergraduates stay on track

January 14, 2014
Science Daily/University of Miami
A form of mental training called mindfulness training, specifically designed for undergraduate students, shows promise as a tool to train attention and improve learning during the academic semester, according to a new study.

The study is the first to examine the incidence of mind wandering and the impact of mindfulness training, at different time points in the academic calendar. The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

"This work was the first to integrate mindfulness training into the academic semester by embedding training in students' course schedules, hosting training in the academic building to best accommodate their schedules, and providing a supervised space for mindfulness exercises," says Amishi Jha, associate professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and principal investigator of the study.

The results indicate that the groups did not differ at the start of the semester. However, by the end of the training interval, the control group showed diminished attention and reported increased mind wandering, while those who participated in the program showed significant improvements in attention and no increase in reported mind wandering.

The study is titled "Taming a Wandering Attention: Short-form Mindfulness Training in Student Cohorts." Co-authors are Alexandra B. Morrison, postdoctoral associate in psychology; Merissa Goolsarran, research associate in psychology; and Scott L. Rogers, director of the Mindfulness in Law Program at UM School of Law.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114103042.htm

Beating pain and painkillers: New mental intervention treatment

February 4, 2014
Science Daily/University of Utah
With nearly one-third of Americans suffering from chronic pain, prescription opioid painkillers have become the leading form of treatment for this debilitating condition. Unfortunately, misuse of prescription opioids can lead to serious side effects -- including death by overdose. A new treatment has shown to not only lower pain but also decrease prescription opioid misuse among chronic pain patients.

Results of a study by Garland published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, showed that the new treatment led to a 63 percent reduction in opioid misuse, compared to a 32 percent reduction among participants of a conventional support group. Additionally, participants in the new treatment group experienced a 22 percent reduction in pain-related impairment, which lasted for three months after the end of treatment.

The new intervention, called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement, or MORE, is designed to train people to respond differently to pain, stress and opioid-related cues.

MORE targets the underlying processes involved in chronic pain and opioid misuse by combining three therapeutic components: mindfulness training, reappraisal and savoring.

•    Mindfulness involves training the mind to increase awareness, gain control over one's attention and regulate automatic habits.

•    Reappraisal is the process of reframing the meaning of a stressful or adverse event in such a way as to see it as purposeful or growth promoting.

•    Savoring is the process of learning to focus attention on positive events to increase one's sensitivity to naturally rewarding experiences, such as enjoying a beautiful nature scene or experiencing a sense of connection with a loved one.

"People who are in chronic pain need relief, and opioids are medically appropriate for many individuals," Garland said. "However, a new option is needed because existing treatments may not adequately alleviate pain while avoiding the problems that stem from chronic opioid use."

MORE is currently being tested in a pilot brain imaging trial as a smoking cessation treatment, and there are plans to test the intervention with people suffering from mental health problems who also have alcohol addiction. Further testing on active-duty soldiers with chronic pain and a larger trial among civilians is planned. If studies continue to demonstrate positive outcomes, MORE could be prescribed by doctors as an adjunct to traditional pain management services.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204123450.htm

Mindfulness meditation may improve decision-making

February 12, 2014
Science Daily/Association for Psychological Science
New findings suggest that mindfulness meditation, which cultivates awareness of the present moment and clears the mind of other thoughts, may help people make smarter choices.

People have trouble cutting their losses: They hold on to losing stocks too long, they stay in bad relationships, and they continue to eat large restaurant meals even when they're full. This behavior, often described as "throwing good money after bad," is driven by what behavioral scientists call the "sunk-cost bias."

"Most people have trouble admitting they were wrong when their initial decisions lead to undesirable outcomes," says researcher Andrew Hafenbrack, lead author on the new research and doctoral candidate at INSEAD. "They don't want to feel wasteful or that their initial investment was a loss. Ironically, this kind of thinking often causes people to waste or lose more resources in an attempt to regain their initial investment or try to 'break even.'"

Across a series of studies, Hafenbrack and co-authors found that mindfulness meditation, which cultivates awareness of the present moment and clears the mind of other thoughts, may help to counteract this deep-rooted bias.

"We found that a brief period of mindfulness meditation can encourage people to make more rational decisions by considering the information available in the present moment, while ignoring some of the other concerns that typically exacerbate the 'sunk cost bias,'" explains Hafenbrack.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140212112745.htm

Positive health technique for stressed nurses found

March 3, 2014
Science Daily/Taylor & Francis
Within the health care industry and beyond, daily exposure to stress can lead to negative consequences for employees both on and off the job – from apathy and burnout to physical illness or mental impairments. New research suggests the implementation of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program can reduce employee stress and burnout. In the study, a sample of 41 female nurses from a large healthcare company participated in an 8 week scheduled course of guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices, facilitated group discussion, stretching and yoga, work and home assignments, and individually tailored instruction and support. Results showed statistical improvement in both overall health and wellness of the nurses at each point of intervention.

"Mindfulness is defined as a self-directed practice for relaxing the body and calming the mind through focusing on present-moment awareness."

"This is a universal practice and can be utilized by a variety of clinical and non-clinical populations as well as by a variety of professions," according to lead researcher Dawn Bazarko, Senior Vice President of the Center for Nursing Advancement at UnitedHealth Group. "Health care workers present as a primary target audience due to the nature of their work and the impact that mindfulness can have on patient care and the creation of safer, higher-quality care environments. However, the practice is ideal for anyone from front line call center agents to busy executives."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140303103746.htm

Integrating meditation with science

April 2, 2014
Science Daily/Brown University
Mindfulness meditation produces personal experiences that are not readily interpretable by scientists who want to study its psychiatric benefits in the brain. Researchers have now been able to integrate mindfulness experience with hard neuroscience data to advance more rigorous study.

Mindfulness is always personal and often spiritual, but the meditation experience does not have to be subjective. Advances in methodology are allowing researchers to integrate mindfulness experiences with brain imaging and neural signal data to form testable hypotheses about the science -- and the reported mental health benefits -- of the practice.

"In the neuroscience of mindfulness and meditation, one of the problems that we've had is not understanding the practices from the inside out," said co-presenter Catherine Kerr, assistant professor (research) of family medicine and director of translational neuroscience in Brown's Contemplative Studies Initiative. "What we've really needed are better mechanisms for generating testable hypotheses -- clinically relevant and experience-relevant hypotheses."

Carefully coded data on experience -- "grounded theory methodology" -- supports the formulation and testing of hypotheses and a scientific investigation of mindfulness. Now researchers are gaining the tools to trace experiences described by meditators to specific activity in the brain.

"We're going to [discuss] how this is applicable as a general tool for the development of targeted mental health treatments," Santoyo said. "We can explore how certain experiences line up with certain patterns of brain activity. We know certain patterns of brain activity are associated with certain psychiatric disorders."

They found that when meditators of several different traditions reported feelings of "effortless doing" and "undistracted awareness" during their meditation, their PCC showed little activity, but when they reported that they felt distracted and had to work at mindfulness, their PCC was significantly more active. Given the chance to observe real-time feedback on their PCC activity, some meditators were even able to control the levels of activity there.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402105742.htm

Mindfulness-based meditation helps teenagers with cancer

March 13, 2014
Science Daily/Universite de Montreal
Mindfulness-based meditation could lessen some symptoms associated with cancer in teens, according to the results of a clinical trial intervention. Mindfulness-based meditation focuses on the present moment and the connection between the mind and body. Adolescents living with cancer face not only the physical symptoms of their condition, but also the anxiety and uncertainty related to the progression of the disease, the anticipation of physical and emotional pain related to illness and treatment, the significant changes implied in living with cancer, as well as the fear of recurrence after remission

Differences between both groups were not large enough for the researchers to impute observed benefits solely to the mindfulness component of the sessions. "The social support provided to the adolescents in the mindfulness group could possibly explain observed benefits on mood and sleep," Malboeuf-Hurtubise said. "Nonetheless, mindfulness-based interventions for teenagers with cancer appear as a promising option to lighten psychological inconveniences of living with cancer." The researchers intend to offer members of the control group an opportunity to undertake the meditation sessions
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313212633.htm

Mindfulness: Think before you eat and make healthier choices

Science Daily/May 7, 2014
British Psychological Society (BPS)
Making individuals more aware of their eating behaviour (mindfulness) can lead to healthier choices and help prevent emotional eating. The link between food consumption and psychological wellbeing seems more complex than the direct relationship of hunger and eating, one of the researchers said.

This is the finding of a study by Ioanna Koptsi, an MSc student from the University of East London, to be presented at a poster session the British Psychological Society annual conference today, Thursday 8 May 2014, at the Birmingham International Convention Centre.

Ioanna Koptsi said: "The link between food consumption and psychological wellbeing seems more complex than the direct relationship of hunger and eating. This study focused on understanding the role mindfulness plays in general eating behavior and in individual's Body Mass Index (BMI)"

The results showed that when individuals were more aware of their eating behaviour, they tended to respond less to emotional cues, and seem more mindful, regarding both food consumption and maintenance of healthier BMI.

Ioanna explained: "Eating behaviour undoubtedly represents a challenge in modern life and both current and previous studies acknowledge the complexity of research on this topic. Emotional cues such as aggression, depression and anxiety can cause people to be less mindful of their eating habits.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140507211636.htm

Mindfulness training for military could help them deal with stress

May 16, 2014
Science Daily/University of California - San Diego
Mindfulness training -- a combination of meditation and body awareness exercises -- can help U.S. Marine Corps personnel prepare for and recover from stressful combat situations. The study suggests that incorporating meditative practices into pre-deployment training might be a way to help the U.S. military reduce rising rates of stress-related health conditions, including PTSD, depression and anxiety, within its ranks.

The study, published in the May 16, 2014 online issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that incorporating meditative practices into pre-deployment training might be a way to help the U.S. military reduce rising rates of stress-related health conditions, including PTSD, depression and anxiety, within its ranks.

"Mindfulness training won't make combat easier," said Martin Paulus, MD, professor of psychiatry and senior author. "But we think it can help Marines recover from stress and return to baseline functioning more quickly."

Drawing on the teachings of Zen Buddhism, scientists describe mindfulnes as a mental state characterized by "full attention to the present moment without elaboration, judgment or emotional reactivity." Mindfulness training, traditionally practiced through sitting meditation, attempts to cultivate this mental state by quieting the mind of extraneous thoughts.

In the study, Marine infantrymen in four platoons at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton took an eight-week course in mindfulness, tailored for individuals operating in highly stressful environments.

The course included classroom instruction on meditation and homework exercises, as well as training on interoception -- the ability to help the body regulate its overall physical equilibrium (homeostasis) by becoming aware of bodily sensations, such as tightness in the stomach, heart rate and tingling of the skin. "If you become aware of tightness in your stomach, your brain will automatically work to correct that tightness," Paulus explained.

Participating Marines, along with others who had not undergone mindfulness training, then spent a day in mock immersive combat at a 32,000-square-foot training facility staged to resemble a rural Middle Eastern village. During the day's exercises, Marines patrolled the village, met village leadership and responded to a highly realistic ambush.

The scientists found that the heart and breathing rates of those who had received mindfulness training returned to their normal, baseline levels faster than those who had not received the mindfulness training. Blood levels of a tell-tale neuropeptide suggested that the mindfulness-trained Marines experienced improved immune function, as well.

Subsequent magnetic resonance imaging scans revealed that the mindfulness-trained Marines had reduced activity patterns in regions of the brain responsible for integrating emotional reactivity, cognition and interoception. Lori Haase, a postdoctoral fellow in Paulus' lab and a co-author of the study, said similar brain activity patterns had been observed in high performance athletes and Navy seals. High-activity levels in these areas of the brain, she noted, are associated with anxiety and mood disorders. The scientists hypothesize that reduced brain activity in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate may be characteristic of elite performers in general.

"That we can re-regulate the activity in these areas with so little training is this study's most significant finding," Paulus said. "Mindfulness helps the body optimize its response to stress by helping the body interpret stressful events as bodily sensations. The brain adds less emotional affect to experiences and this helps with stress recovery."
:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140516092519.htm

Mindfulness intervention for people with diabetes, coronary heart disease

May 29, 2014
Science Daily/Taylor & Francis
Researchers examine how meditation and mindfulness affect people with diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease. Mindfulness-based interventions have been hailed as effective in targeting negative cognitions such as worry and thought suppression, but their ability to improve long-term conditions (LTCs) has remained unexamined. Mindfulness, as defined by the study, is a "heightened sense of present centered self-awareness that fosters non-judgmental observations of emotions, bodily states, and other sensations in the attentional field, leading to mental well being."

On the importance of mindfulness in improving the health of people with long term conditions, lead author Dr. Peter Coventry has said, "mindfulness based interventions appear to be an acceptable and effective way for some people with long term conditions to regain a sense of balance and self-determination in their lives by allowing them to accept their limitations and focus on what is achievable in the present rather than worrying about the past or what they might not be able to do in the future. In this sense it is a means to help people self-manage their illness and it has the potential to offer people long term benefits if practiced regularly and built into their daily routines."

Meditation and mindfulness skills led to improved sleep, greater relaxation, and more-accepting approaches to illness and illness experience. At the end of the six-week meditation course, worry and thought suppression were significantly reduced. Long term effects were not studied. Overall, however, the data suggest that meditation and mindfulness may have been particularly useful during the early phase of LTCs or immediately after an acute event, when participants' perceived that anxiety and worry were more potent health threats. There is scope to investigate optimal timing of meditation and mindfulness training for people with long term conditions.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529142313.htm

Just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation alleviates stress

July 2, 2014
Science Daily/Carnegie Mellon University
Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs. New research is the first to show that brief mindfulness meditation practice -- 25 minutes for three consecutive days -- alleviates psychological stress. The study investigates how mindfulness meditation affects people's ability to be resilient under stress.

The participants who received the brief mindfulness meditation training reported reduced stress perceptions to the speech and math tasks, indicating that the mindfulness meditation fostered psychological stress resilience. More interestingly, on the biological side, the mindfulness mediation participants showed greater cortisol reactivity.

"When you initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, you have to cognitively work at it -- especially during a stressful task," said Creswell. "And, these active cognitive efforts may result in the task feeling less stressful, but they may also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production."

Creswell's group is now testing the possibility that mindfulness can become more automatic and easy to use with long-term mindfulness meditation training, which may result in reduced cortisol reactivity.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140702122535.htm

Non-diet approach to weight management more effective in worksite wellness programs

July 7, 2014
Science Daily/University of Missouri-Columbia
Researchers have found that 'Eat for Life,' a new wellness approach that focuses on mindfulness and intuitive eating as a lifestyle, is more effective than traditional weight-loss programs in improving individuals' views of their bodies and decreasing problematic eating behaviors

Problematic eating behaviors and dissatisfaction with one's body are familiar struggles among women. To combat those behaviors, which have led to higher healthcare premiums and medical trends, employers have offered worksite wellness programs to employees and their families. However, the vast majority of wellness programs limit their approach to promoting diets, which may result in participants regaining the majority of their weight once the programs end. 

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that "Eat for Life," a new wellness approach that focuses on mindfulness and intuitive eating as a lifestyle, is more effective than traditional weight-loss programs in improving individuals' views of their bodies and decreasing problematic eating behaviors.

"Intuitive eating and mindfulness are two relatively new intervention approaches that have been effective in supporting healthy eating and body image," Rossy said. "Eat for Life encourages individuals to become more engaged with their internal body signals and not the numbers on the scales."

Rossy found that women who participated in Eat for Life reported higher levels of body appreciation and intuitive eating and lower levels of problematic eating behaviors such as binging, purging and fasting, as compared to women who did not participate in the program. Eat for Life participants' weights ranged from normal to morbidly obese, and some women displayed eating disorder behaviors. At the end of the program, participants in the Eat for Life program were significantly more likely not to exhibit disordered eating. Mindfulness was a major factor in all of the positive outcomes, Rossy said.

"Eat for Life is not just for individuals with eating disorders," said Rossy. "This type of intervention program is for a variety of individuals who want to have more knowledge on how to be healthy and how to appreciate their bodies' value."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707134331.htm

Mothers of children with autism benefit from peer-led intervention

July 21, 2014
Science Daily/Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Peer-led interventions that target parental well-being can significantly reduce stress, depression and anxiety in mothers of children with disabilities, according to new findings. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers examined two treatment programs in a large number of primary caregivers of a child with a disability. Participants in both groups experienced improvements in mental health, sleep and overall life satisfaction and showed less dysfunctional parent-child interactions.

"The well-being of this population is critically important because, compared to parents of typically developing children, parents of children with developmental disabilities experience substantially higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and as they age, physical and medical problems," said lead author Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor and director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development and professor of Psychology and Human Development, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. "Add to this the high prevalence of developmental disabilities -- about one in five children -- and the fact that most adult children with intellectual disabilities remain at home with aging parents, we have a looming public health problem on our hands."

Nearly 250 mothers of children with autism or other disabilities were randomized into one of two programs: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Positive Adult Development (PAD). The MBSR approach is more physical, emphasizing breathing exercises, deep belly breathing, meditation and gentle movement. The PAD approach is more cognitive and uses exercises such as practicing gratitude

"Our research and findings from other labs indicate that many mothers of children with disabilities have a blunted cortisol response, indicative of chronic stress," Dykens said. "Compared to mothers in control groups, this population mounts a poorer antibody response to influenza vaccinations, suggesting a reduced ability to fight both bacterial and viral infections. They also have shorter telomeres, associated with an advanced cellular aging process, and have poorer sleep quality, which can have deleterious health effects. All of this results in parents who are less available to manage their child's special needs or challenging behaviors."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721123710.htm

Mindfulness training benefits U.S. veterans with diabetes

August 6, 2014
Science Daily/American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE)
Mindfulness training, including focused breathing and awareness training, helped U.S. veterans with diabetes significantly lower their diabetes-related distress and blood sugar levels and improve their self-management of the disease, researchers report. Diabetes-related distress is associated with poorer self-management and negative effects of the disease.

"The veterans were much more receptive to mindfulness training than we anticipated," said Monica M. DiNardo, Ph.D., principal investigator, diabetes educator, nurse practitioner and health scientist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. "We were surprised at the dramatic decrease in diabetes-related stress. The veterans said the more mindful they were, the better they were able to manage their diabetes."

The study included 28 veterans with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who participated in the Mind-STRIDE program at VA Pittsburgh, which stands for Mindful Stress Reduction In Diabetes Education. The program presented information on what stress does to the body and how mindfulness training can help reduce stress, and provided practical training in mindful stress reduction techniques. The participants learned how to:

• Be "more present"

• Improve their body awareness

• Separate thoughts, emotions and body sensations

• Develop focused attention

They were directed to practice the techniques of focused breathing and mindful movement for 15 minutes every day for three months, and were given a CD to guide them through the exercises at home.

Diabetes is a significant problem in the U.S. veteran population. More than 25 percent of the 1 million veterans who have received care through the Veterans Administration have diabetes.

More than 29 million Americans -- nearly one in 10 -- have diabetes, a disorder in which the body doesn't effectively process glucose, which provides the body fuel for energy and growth. If diabetes isn't treated, it can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, blindness and kidney problems. In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't produce insulin, which processes glucose. In Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or doesn't react properly to the insulin it does produce. More than 90 percent of people with diabetes have Type 2. Diabetes can't be cured, but can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140806093933.htm

Hatha yoga boosts brain function in older adults, study suggests

August 18, 2014
Science Daily/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Practicing hatha yoga three times a week for eight weeks improved sedentary older adults' performance on cognitive tasks that are relevant to everyday life, researchers report. The findings involved 108 adults between the ages of 55 and 79 years of age, 61 of whom attended hatha yoga classes. The others met for the same number and length of sessions and engaged in stretching and toning exercises instead of yoga.

"Participants in the yoga intervention group showed significant improvements in working memory capacity, which involves continually updating and manipulating information," McAuley said. "They were also able to perform the task at hand quickly and accurately, without getting distracted. These mental functions are relevant to our everyday functioning, as we multitask and plan our day-to-day activities." Previous studies have found that yoga can have immediate positive psychological effects by decreasing anxiety, depression and stress, Gothe said.

At the end of the eight weeks, the yoga group was speedier and more accurate on tests of information recall, mental flexibility and task-switching than it had been before the intervention. The stretching-and-toning group saw no significant change in cognitive performance over time. The differences seen between the groups were not the result of differences in age, gender, social status or other demographic factors, the research team reported.

Hatha yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that involves meditation and focused breathing while an individual moves through a series of stylized postures, said Neha Gothe, who led the study with University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley. Beckman Institute director Arthur Kramer also contributed to the study. Gothe is now a professor at Wayne State University.

"Hatha yoga requires focused effort in moving through the poses, controlling the body and breathing at a steady rate," Gothe said. "It is possible that this focus on one's body, mind and breath during yoga practice may have generalized to situations outside of the yoga classes, resulting in an improved ability to sustain attention."

"Participants in the yoga intervention group showed significant improvements in working memory capacity, which involves continually updating and manipulating information," McAuley said. "They were also able to perform the task at hand quickly and accurately, without getting distracted. These mental functions are relevant to our everyday functioning, as we multitask and plan our day-to-day activities."

Previous studies have found that yoga can have immediate positive psychological effects by decreasing anxiety, depression and stress, Gothe said.

"These studies suggest that yoga has an immediate quieting effect on the sympathetic nervous system and on the body's response to stress," she said. "Since we know that stress and anxiety can affect cognitive performance, the eight-week yoga intervention may have boosted participants' performance by reducing their stress."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140818113215.htm

Mindfulness-based depression therapy reduces health care visits

August 21, 2014
Science Daily/Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
A mindfulness-based therapy for depression has the added benefit of reducing health-care visits among patients who often see their family doctors, according to a new study. The research showed that frequent health service users who received mindfulness-based cognitive therapy showed a significant reduction in non-mental health care visits over a one-year period, compared with those who received other types of group therapy.

The mindfulness therapy group had one fewer non-mental health visit per year, for every two individuals treated with this therapy -- which translates into a reduction of nearly 2,500 visits to primary care physicians, emergency departments or non-psychiatric specialists in Ontario over eight years.

"We speculate that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has elements that could help people who are high health-care utilizers manage their distress without needing to go to a doctor," says Dr. Paul Kurdyak, lead author and Director of Health Systems Research at CAMH and Lead of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Program at ICES.

"Primary care physicians play a large role in managing patients with distress, and they often report feeling overwhelmed and unable to effectively deal with cases of medically unexplained symptoms," says Dr. Kurdyak. "This study shows the potential of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to help both patients and their doctors."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140821115838.htm

Mindfulness training for memory impaired, their caregivers

August 25, 2014
Science Daily/Northwestern University
Mindfulness training for individuals with early-stage dementia and their caregivers together in the same class was beneficial for both groups, easing depression and improving sleep and quality of life. Just eight sessions of training made a positive difference, resulting in more joy, less worry.

This is the first study to show that the caregiver and the patient both benefit from undergoing mindfulness training together. This is important because caregivers often don't have much time on their own for activities that could relieve their emotional burden.

The training also helps the patient and caregiver accept new ways of communicating, scientists said.

"One of the major difficulties that individuals with dementia and their family members encounter is that there is a need for new ways of communicating due to the memory loss and other changes in thinking and abilities," noted study co-author Sandra Weintraub, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Feinberg and a neuropsychologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "The practice of mindfulness places both participants in the present and focuses on positive features of the interaction, allowing for a type of connection that may substitute for the more complex ways of communicating in the past. It is a good way to address stress."

"We saw lower depression scores and improved ratings on sleep quality and quality of life for both groups," said Paller, director of the cognitive neuroscience program. "After eight sessions of this training we observed a positive difference in their lives."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825152608.htm

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