Effectiveness of ‘mantram’ repetitions in military-related PTSD

Bormann, J.E., et al. (2018). Individual Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Using Mantram Repetition: A Randomized Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Psychiatry. Online 20 Jun 2018, https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17060611. From the Abstract.

Objective: Previous studies suggest that group “mantram” (sacred word) repetition therapy, a non-trauma-focused complementary therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may be an effective treatment for veterans.

Design: The study was a two-site, open-allocation, blinded-assessment randomized trial involving 173 veterans diagnosed with military-related PTSD from two Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics.

Results: Individually delivered mantram repetition therapy was generally more effective than present-centered therapy for reducing PTSD symptom severity and insomnia.

Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: meditation vs walking

Burke, C. A. (2010). Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: A preliminary review of current research in an emergent field. Journal of child and family studies19(2), 133-44, 10.5455/jbh.20180727033842. Full text.

Extract from Abstract. We conducted a side-to-side comparison of mindfulness meditation versus mindfulness-based walking on psychological functioning.

Participants (23 young adults) completed three laboratory visits (1-week apart). Session 1 included a familiarization trial. Sessions 2 and 3 (counterbalanced) included either a 10-minute guided mindfulness session or a 10-minute mindfulness-based treadmill walk (employing mindfulness meditation techniques while walking). . . .

The psychological outcomes, assessed before and after each visit, included various cognitive (e.g., executive function), affect (e.g., perceived valence, distinct emotions, and arousal), and psychological (e.g., anxiety and fatigue) outcomes.

Both mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based walking had similar effects on improving various cognitive, affect, and psychological parameters. Such findings demonstrate the health-enhancing effects of these brief interventions and provide individuals and health professionals with various options (based on preference) to choose from to facilitate improved psychological well-being.

Reducing blood pressure and stress

Ponte, P., et al. (2018). Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation In Reducing Blood Pressure And Stress In Patients With Arterial Hypertension. Journal of Hypertension36, e294-e295.

From the Abstract. The objective of this randomized controlled trial is to evaluate the benefits of mindfulness meditation in controlling ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and the impact of the intervention on anxiety, stress and depression levels in a Mediterranean population.

Twenty-four and 18 patients [n = 42; mean age 56.5 (7.7) years; similar men and women proportions] with high-normal BP or grade I hypertension were enrolled to an intervention and a control group, respectively.

For 2 h/week over 8 weeks, the intervention group received mindfulness training and the control group attended health education talks. The patients attended pre-intervention, week 4, week 8 and week 20 follow-up visits. . . .

Improvements were observed in the intervention group in terms of being less judgemental, more accepting and less depressed. In conclusion, by week 8 the mindfulness group had lower clinically measured SBP, 24-h SBP, at-rest SBP and diastolic BP values.

Is spirituality a critical ingredient of meditation?

Wachholtz, A. B., & Pargament, K. I. (2005). Is spirituality a critical ingredient of meditation? Comparing the effects of spiritual meditation, secular meditation, and relaxation on spiritual, psychological, cardiac, and pain outcomes. Journal of behavioral medicine28(4), 369-384. Full text.

Abstract. This study compared secular and spiritual forms of meditation to assess the benefits of a spiritual intervention.

Participants were taught a meditation or relaxation technique to practice for 20 min a day for two weeks. After two weeks, participants returned to the lab, practiced their technique for 20 min, and placed their hand in a cold-water bath of 2◦C for as long as they could endure it. The length of time that individuals kept their hand in the water bath was measured. Pain, anxiety, mood, and the spiritual health were assessed following the two-week intervention.

Significant interactions occurred (time × group); the Spiritual Meditation group had greater decreases in anxiety and more positive mood, spiritual health, and spiritual experiences than the other two groups. They also tolerated pain almost twice as long as the other two groups.

iRest for older adults with depression

Wahbeh, H., & Nelson, M. (2018-9). iRest Meditation for Older Adults with Depression Symptoms: A Pilot Study. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, no. 29, doi: 10.17761/2019-00036. Full text.

Abstract. Older adults, a rapidly growing population in the United States, have fewer physiological reserves and are more likely to be affected by stress, making them especially susceptible to depression symptoms. Meditation offers promising potential as an effective treatment; however, few studies have evaluated meditation interventions for this demographic.

The objectives of this pilot study were to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of an iRest meditation program in older adults with depression symptoms and to collect preliminary data on its effect on depression and depression-related symptoms compared to a vacation control.

The study occurred at the Institute of Noetic Sciences EarthRise Retreat Center and participants’ homes. Thirty generally healthy older adults, aged 55–90, with depression symptoms were recruited. Participants were randomly assigned to a 2-day retreat of either iRest meditation training or vacation. After the retreat, participants were asked to complete 20 minutes of home practice per day for 6 weeks; this consisted of either guided meditations (iRest) or music (vacation).

Data were collected pre- and post-retreat and then 6 weeks later. Measures included depression-related variables (expectancy, depression symptoms, perceived stress, resilience, pain, sleep quality, and spirituality) and biomarkers (voice stress analysis, heart rate, heart rate variability).

We found the iRest intervention for older adults with depression symptoms to be feasible and acceptable. Preliminary results at 6 weeks demonstrated improvements in sleep impairment in older adults compared to the control group and promising trends in improvements in depression symptoms and pain severity.

Neural effects on patients with major depressive disorder: systematic review

Vignaud, P., et al. (2018). Neural effects of mindfulness-based interventions on patients with major depressive disorder: A systematic review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, vol. 88, pp. 98-105, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.03.004.

Abstract. Growing evidence has suggested that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) could have beneficial effects on the acute phase of depression and on the prevention of depressive relapse or recurrence. Despite growing clinical interest, the effects of MBIs on brain functioning in patients with MDD remain unclear. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the changes in brain functioning associated with MBIs in patients with MDD.

A systematic search was conducted, and of the 56 articles found, 8 were eligible. MBIs have modulatory effects on several brain regions implicated in the pathophysiology of MDD, such as the prefrontal cortex, the basal ganglia, the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, and the parietal cortex. These regions have been implicated in self-awareness, attention and emotion regulation.

Some of these findings were consistent with the effects of MBIs observed in healthy subjects and patients with other psychiatric disorders, especially enhanced activity in the frontal and subcortical regions related to the improved somatosensory awareness. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms of MBIs in MDD.

Interventions for psychiatric disorders

Goldberg, S. B., et al. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions for psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical psychology review, vol. 59, pp. 52-60, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2017.10.011. Full text.

Highlights —

•  We examined the relative efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions on clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

•  142 randomized clinical trials were included (N = 12,005 participants). Control conditions were coded on a five-tier system.

•  At post-treatment, mindfulness interventions were equivalent to evidence-based treatments and superior to other comparisons.

•  At follow-up, mindfulness interventions were equivalent to minimal and evidence-based treatments and superior to others.

•  The most consistent evidence for mindfulness-based interventions was seen for depression, pain, smoking, and addictions.