(Natural News) If you’ve dismissed mindfulness as a fad, you could be missing out on a very valuable tool for your mental health. In fact, it can be just as effective as the gold standard therapy – individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – for a range of psychiatric symptoms, according to a new study published in European Psychiatry.
Mindfulness entails tuning into the present moment. By paying attention to your feeling sand thoughts as well as the world surrounding you, you can gain a keen awareness that allows you to enhance your mental well-being. It’s particularly useful for those who are prone to destructive ways of thinking as it helps people realize how unhelpful their thinking is. Over time, it allows them to notice when their thoughts are heading into negative patterns and regain control over them to deal more productively.
Researchers from Sweden’s Center for Primary Healthcare Research (CPF) studied 215 patients who were suffering from anxiety, depression, and stress disorders and were recruited from a number of healthcare centers across Sweden. In the eight-week randomized and controlled trial, they studied psychiatric symptoms and measured how they changed throughout the treatment as the participants underwent either individual CBT or mindfulness in group therapy.
In both groups, the average score for the 15 subscales measured dropped significantly. These included general anxiety, depression, stress, interpersonal sensitivity, psychoticism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, aggression, paranoid ideation and phobic anxiety.
There were no differences in the effectiveness of treatment among the two groups, showing that mindfulness group therapy is just as valuable as individual CBT for many of the most common psychiatric symptoms plaguing people today.
This is a useful finding because individual therapy can be quite expensive and there aren’t enough qualified practitioners to meet the current demand. Group therapy using mindfulness can help free up healthcare resources, and it’s also a lot more accessible for many people.
Professor Jan Sundquist, the leader of the study, said that finding alternative treatments like group mindfulness is essential as mental illness rates continue to rise. He feels that the scarce resources available could be reallocated to group mindfulness therapy and help more people.
Plenty of studies illustrate the effectiveness of mindfulness
Earlier this year, researchers from the U.K.’s Coventry University discovered that mind-body interventions (MBI) can essentially reverse the changes in DNA that lead to stress. While yoga is currently the most popular MBI, mindfulness also falls under this category.
After reviewing 18 studies that involved 846 participants in total over an average period of 11 years, they found that people who practiced MBIs such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation and Tai Chi actually had a diminished production of the molecule known as NF-kB. This molecule is responsible for causing cellular inflammation that can lead to physical and mental health issues over time, including cancer and depression. By lowering the production of NF-kB, MBIs alleviate stress and help avoid the health conditions it often brings about.
Last year, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy (MBCT) helped patients as much as common antidepressants without any harmful side effects. In the study, which was the biggest analysis of research into this topic, those suffering from depression who underwent MBCT had a 31 percent lower likelihood of suffering from a relapse within the subsequent 60 weeks.
If you’d like to bring some mindfulness into your own life, try to notice everything around you as you go about your daily life. Pay attention to the air moving past your body while you walk and the texture of the food you eat, for example. Some people find it helpful to choose a regular time, such as the walk home from work, to tune into everything around them. You can also start to notice your surroundings in a new way by choosing a different seat on the bus or taking a different route to work.