Mindfulness and Mind-body Practices in Mental Health Care

Modern therapies in mental health care are benefiting from mindfulness.

Posted Dec 13, 2017

Mindfulness and mind-body practices in mental health care

Mindfulness training includes numerous styles of meditation and guided imagery. Mind-body practices include taijiquan, qigong, yoga, and others that involve both the mind and the body. Improved capacity for focused attention and reflection has been proposed as an important nonspecific psychological benefit of mind-body practices. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are secular approaches widely used to treat mental health problems. Research findings support that MBCT is a beneficial therapy for depressed mood and both MBSR and MBCT are beneficial interventions for many anxiety disorders.

Mind-body practices combined with cognitive behavioral therapy improve outcomes

The regular practice of a mind-body skill may be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or antidepressants in individuals with moderately depressed mood. Mindfulness training combined with cognitive therapy may enhance outcomes more than cognitive therapy alone. In an open trial, 60 women with postpartum depressed mood and anxiety experienced significant relief during the first four weeks following childbirth using a combined relaxation-guided imagery protocol. Depressed patients who had previously been diagnosed with somatoform disorders experienced greater improvements in mood when guided imagery was combined with antidepressants than with antidepressants alone.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy improves depressed mood and well-being in individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder

Findings of a small pilot study suggest that regular use of MBCT may significantly improve executive functioning, memory, and ability to complete tasks in stable individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Improvements in executive functioning persisted up to three months after treatment ended. Twelve individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder who participated in 12 weekly group sessions of MBCT exhibited increased mindfulness, lower residual depressive mood symptoms, increased capacity for emotional regulation abilities, and generally improved psychological well-being and psychosocial functioning. Large prospective trials are needed to confirm these findings and determine the optimal type and frequency of MBCT for cognitive symptoms of bipolar disorder. 


The Integrative Mental Health Solution, 10 e-books on non-pharmacologic treatments of common mental health problems, by James Lake MDhttp://theintegrativementalhealthsolution.com/