Mindfulness For Bipolar
There are numerous research studies that support the use of Mindfulness techniques to treat depression, anxiety, and bipolar mood swings. The use of Mindfulness techniques in therapy have become “best practice” as a result of positive outcomes. Indeed, it is now very much a mainstream therapy in a wide range of settings so, let’s explore what Mindfulness is.
Mindfulness techniques include a skill set that and individual acquires through learning, practicing, and then using. An individual learns a variety of different ways to quietly become aware, with full acceptance of, and without judging, one’s thoughts, feelings, physiological responses etc. The art/science includes the development of the “observer” so that a person observes their own experience. This process itself can be calming. Additional mindfulness technique include consciously focusing on one’s breath, or on each bite of food, or each step one is walking, or even the drops dripping from a faucet. The focus itself quiets the mind, and relaxes the body. The idea is to first develop a keen awareness of one’s thoughts and emotions, and then over time to learn how to control one’s thoughts, which leads to changes in emotions, and changes in behaviors. By practicing mindfulness, a person develops that ability to be fully present “in the moment” , or the “here and now” . There is much more to mindfulness than can be described in this post, and I will try to elaborate in later posts, but this is a brief gist.
To get an idea of what the research about the mindfulness is I listed a couple below. The summary of one study found in CNS Neuroscience and Therapists conducted in 2011 concluded that “…treating residual mood symptoms with MBCT may be another avenue to improving mood, emotion regulation, well-being, and functioning in individuals with bipolar disorder.” This study reported the following results: “At the end of treatment, as well as at the 3 months follow-up, participants showed increased mindfulness, lower residual depressive mood symptoms, less attentional difficulties, and increased emotion-regulation abilities, psychological well-being, positive affect, and psychosocial functioning.”[i]
Another study conducted in 2014 found in The British Journal of Psychiatry was summarized with this statement, “The study’s results indicate that group mindfulness treatment, conducted by certified instructors in primary health care, is as effective a treatment method as individual CBT for treating depression and anxiety,” Sundquist said in a press release. “This means that group mindfulness treatment should be considered as an alternative to individual psychotherapy, especially at primary health care centers that can’t offer everyone individual therapy.”[ii]
I wanted to provide you with some ideas for suggested reading and website urls that will lead you to additional information:
· Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder: How Mindfulness and Neuroscience Can Help You Manage Your Bipolar Symptoms; William R. Marchand, psychiatrist and neuroscientist, ordained monk in the Soto Zen Tradition. http://www.warwicks.com/book/9781626251854
· Mindfulness Reduces the Way Stress Affects the Brain; Rick Nauert; PsychCentra: http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/02/13/mindfulness-reduces-the-way-stress-affects-the-brain/81200.html
· Medical Daily; Mindfullness is Just as Effective as Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Treating Anxiety, Depression; Nov 29, 2014 02:15 PM By Lecia Bushak
CNS Neuroscience and Therapists: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Nonremitted Patients with Bipolar Disorder;Thilo Deckersbach1,2, ;Britta K. Hölzel1,2,3,;Lori R. Eisner1,2, et.al.;Article first published online: 2 APR 2011;DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2011.00236.x
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2011.00236.x/abstract (retrieved 5/6/2015)
Source: Sundquist J, Lilja A, Palmer K, Memon A, Wang X, Johansson L. “Mindfulness group therapy in primary care patients with depression, anxiety and stress and adjustment disorders: randomized controlled trial.” The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2014.