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Cultivation of mindfulness, the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment, produces beneficial effects on well-being and ameliorates psychiatric and stress-related symptoms. Mindfulness meditation has therefore increasingly been incorporated into psychotherapeutic interventions. Although the number of publications in the field has sharply increased over the last two decades, there is a paucity of theoretical reviews that integrate the existing literature into a comprehensive theoretical framework. In this article, we explore several components through which mindfulness meditation exerts its effects: (a) attention regulation, (b) body awareness, (c) emotion regulation (including reappraisal and exposure, extinction, and reconsolidation), and (d) change in perspective on the self. Recent empirical research, including practitioners' self-reports and experimental data, provides evidence supporting these mechanisms. Functional and structural neuroimaging studies have begun to explore the neuroscientific processes underlying these components. Evidence suggests that mindfulness practice is associated with neuroplastic changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, temporo-parietal junction, fronto-limbic network, and default mode network structures. The authors suggest that the mechanisms described here work synergistically, establishing a process of enhanced self-regulation. Differentiating between these components seems useful to guide future basic research and to specifically target areas of development in the treatment of psychological disorders.
BACKGROUND:Persisting high levels of relapse, morbidity and mortality in bipolar disorder (BD) in spite of first-line, evidence-based psychopharmacology has spurred development and research on adjunctive psychotherapies. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an emerging psychotherapy that has shown benefit in related and comorbid conditions such as major depressive, anxiety, and substance disorders. Furthermore, neurocognitive studies of MBCT suggest that it may have effects on some of the theorized pathophysiological processes in BD. METHODS: We conducted a systematic literature review using PsychINFO and PubMed databases to identify studies reporting clinical and/or neurocognitive findings for MBCT for BD. RESULTS: This search revealed 13 articles. There was a wide range in methodological quality and most studies were underpowered or did not present power calculations. However, MBCT did not appear to precipitate mania, and there is preliminary evidence to support a positive effect on anxiety, residual depression, mood regulation, and broad attentional and frontal-executive control. LIMITATIONS: As meta-analysis is not yet possible due to study heterogeneity and quality, the current review is a narrative synthesis, and therefore net effects cannot be estimated. CONCLUSIONS: MBCT for BD holds promise, but more high-quality studies are needed in order to ascertain its clinical efficacy. Recommendations to address the limitations of the current research are made.
BackgroundSelf-management of health is important for improving health outcomes among primary care patients with chronic disease. Anxiety and depressive disorders are common and interfere with self-regulation, which is required for disease self-management. An insurance-reimbursable mindfulness intervention integrated within primary care may be effective for enhancing chronic disease self-management behaviors among primary care patients with anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress-related and adjustment disorders compared with the increasingly standard practice of referring patients to outside mindfulness resources. Objective Mindfulness Training for Primary Care (MTPC) is an 8-week, referral-based, insurance-reimbursable program integrated into safety-net health system patient-centered medical homes. We hypothesized that MTPC would be more effective for catalyzing chronic disease self-management action plan initiation within 2 weeks, versus a low-dose comparator (LDC) consisting of a 60-min mindfulness introduction, referral to community and digital resources, and addition to a 6-month waitlist for MTPC. Participants Primary care providers (PCPs) and mental health clinicians referred 465 patients over 12 months. All participants had a DSM-V diagnosis. Design and Interventions Participants (N = 136) were randomized in a 2:1 allocation to MTPC (n = 92) or LDC (n = 44) in a randomized controlled comparative effectiveness trial. MTPC incorporates mindfulness, self-compassion, and mindfulness-oriented behavior change skills and is delivered as insurance-reimbursable visits within primary care. Participants took part in a chronic disease self-management action planning protocol at week 7. Main Measures Level of self-reported action plan initiation on the action plan initiation survey by week 9. Key Results Participants randomized to MTPC, relative to LDC, had significantly higher adjusted odds of self-management action plan initiation in an intention-to-treat analysis (OR = 2.28; 95% CI = 1.02 to 5.06, p = 0.025). Conclusions An 8-week dose of mindfulness training is more effective than a low-dose mindfulness comparator in facilitating chronic disease self-management behavior change among primary care patients.