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Objective: Pro-inflammatory cytokines have been implicated in the pathophysiology and maintenance of depression. This study investigated the effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on salivary pro-inflammatory correlates of depression (IL-6, TNF-α) and self-reported symptoms of depression in college women. Methods: Sixty-four females with a cut score of ≥16 on the Center for Epidemiological Studies for Depression Scale (CES-D) were assigned to a 4-week mindfulness-based intervention (MBI; N = 31) or a contact-control group (N = 33). For both groups, salivary cytokines and depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and posttreatment. For the mindfulness group only, salivary cytokines were also assessed at a 3-month follow-up. Results: Both groups showed similar reductions in depression. However, MBI (vs. control) predicted greater reductions in IL-6 and TNF-α; changes in IL-6 were sustained at 3-month follow-up. Higher baseline depressive symptoms predicted greater reductions in inflammation in the mindfulness group. Conclusion: MBIs may reduce inflammatory immune markers commonly implicated in depression. Individuals with greater depressive symptoms may benefit more from mindfulness training. Although reductions in salivary cytokines in the mindfulness condition were not attributable to changes in depressive symptoms, future work should examine the possibility that such reductions are protective against the development of future depressive episodes.
We investigated whether three different meditation practices that are commonly used in mindfulness-based interventions lead to differential changes in psychological health outcomes when presented separately. Participants included 141 undergraduates assigned to a sitting meditation, body scan, or mindful yoga condition. Participants in all conditions attended three weekly 1-h sessions (105 min of guided meditation and 75 min of discussion) in addition to pre- and post-intervention questionnaires collected in separate sessions. Participants reported significant improvements in the tendency to describe one’s experience, rumination, self-compassion, and psychological well-being regardless of condition. The following between-group differences in change over time emerged: (1) mindful yoga was associated with greater increases in psychological well-being than the other two practices, (2) sitting meditation and mindful yoga were both associated with greater decreases in difficulties with emotion regulation than the body scan, and (3) sitting meditation was associated with greater increases in the tendency to take a nonevaluative stance toward observed stimuli than the body scan.
The pain of rejection is a crucial component of normal social functioning; however, heightened sensitivity to rejection can be impairing in numerous ways. Mindfulness-based interventions have been effective with several populations characterized by elevated sensitivity to rejection; however, the relationship between mindfulness and rejection sensitivity has been largely unstudied. The present study examines associations between rejection sensitivity and multiple dimensions of dispositional mindfulness, with the hypothesis that a nonjudgmental orientation to inner experiences would be both associated with decreased rejection sensitivity and attenuate the impact of sensitivity to rejection on general negative affect. A cross-sectional sample of undergraduates (n = 451) completed self-report measures of rejection sensitivity, dispositional mindfulness, and trait-level negative affect. Significant zero-order correlations and independent effects were observed between most facets of dispositional mindfulness and rejection sensitivity, with nonjudging demonstrating the largest effects. As predicted, rejection sensitivity was associated with negative affectivity for people low in nonjudging (β = .27, t = 5.12, p < .001) but not for people high in nonjudging (β = .06, t = .99, p = .324). These findings provide preliminary support for mindfulness, specifically the nonjudging dimension, as a protective factor against rejection sensitivity and its effects on affect.
The present study investigated the relative effects of mindfulness, reappraisal and suppression in reducing sadness, and the extent to which implementation of these strategies affects cognitive resources in a laboratory context. A total of 171 Singaporean undergraduate participants were randomly assigned to receive brief training in mindfulness, reappraisal, or suppression prior to undergoing a sad mood induction. Individual adherence to Asian cultural values was assessed as a potential moderator of strategy effectiveness. Participants rated their mood and completed a Color-Word Stroop task before and after mood regulation instructions. Analyses using multi-level modelling showed that the suppression condition caused less robust declines in sadness over time compared to mindfulness. There was also a nonsignificant trend in which mindfulness was associated with greater sadness recovery compared to reappraisal. Suppression resulted in lower average sadness compared to mindfulness among those high on Asian cultural values, but not those low on Asian cultural values. Both mindfulness and reappraisal buffered against increases in Stroop interference from pre-to post-regulation compared to suppression. The findings highlight the advantage of mindfulness as a strategy effective not only in the regulation of sad mood, but also in the preservation of cognitive resources in the context of mood regulation.
The symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) have been characterized as deficits in mindfulness. Mindfulness can be defined as nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness. The present study investigates the theory that, consistent with this conceptualization, the extent to which acting with awareness predicts reduced BPD features and related dysfunction depends upon levels of nonjudgment. In a sample of 223 undergraduates, we calculated the interaction between awareness-based and nonjudging-based mindfulness skills using subscales of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. Regression analyses demonstrated a significant effect of the interaction on several difficulties that are common in BPD: problems with relationships, emotion-related impulsivity, and anger rumination. For acting with awareness to benefit individuals with these difficulties, a less judgmental stance toward internal experiences may be necessary. These findings have significant treatment implications and demonstrate the importance of assessing mindfulness as a multifaceted, synergistic construct.
Although self-report measures of dispositional mindfulness have good psychometric properties, a few studies have shown unexpected positive correlations between substance use and mindfulness scales measuring observation of present-moment experience. The current study tested the hypothesis that the relationship between present-moment observation and substance use is moderated by the tendency to be nonjudgmental and nonreactive toward the observed stimuli. Two hundred and ninety-six undergraduates completed the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), a calendar measuring periods of substance use, and a measure of the Five-Factor Model of personality. Controlling for FFMQ and personality subscales, significant interactions between the observing and nonreactivity subscales indicated that the observing subscale was negatively associated with substance use at higher levels of nonreactivity but positively associated with periods of substance use at lower levels of nonreactivity. Results support the use of statistical interactions among FFMQ subscales to test for the presence of interactive effects of different aspects of mindfulness.