By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
There are many studies showing that mindfulness and positive attitude can improve mood, anxiety, and happiness.
But what exactly do you need to do? And how often?
A recent study suggests possible clues.
What did the study involve?
• 65 women ages 18-46 years, with a mean age of 28.35 years.
• Randomly assigned to wait-list or gratitude or mindfulness groups.
• Online exercise of gratitude or mindfulness 4 times per week for 3 weeks.
What exactly was the intervention?
Four times a week for 3 consecutive weeks:
• Gratitude group was asked to list 5 things they felt grateful for; and 1 thing they were most grateful for.
• Mindfulness group kept a mindfulness diary for listing thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the present moment; and did mindfulness meditation, called the Body Scan.
• This took 10–15 minutes to complete.
What did the results show?
By the end of the study, compared to the wait list control group, participants reported being:
• Less depressed on Edinburgh Depression Scale.
• Less stress on The Perceived Stress Scale
• More Happy on the Subjective Happiness Scale
Gratitude was more helpful for stress, and mindfulness was more helpful for depression and happiness.
What about effect size, side effects or drop-out rate?
• Overall effect size ranged from 10-20%,but the time commitment was also small (4x/week).
• Even though the intervention was a few minutes 4 times per week, only about half the participants completed the study.
• No side effects were reported
What are some caveats?
• This was a small study with specific exercises; larger studies to confirm results would be helpful.
• Since the study population was women only, we don’t know how well these specific techniques would work for other populations.
• Individual responses may vary.
• For the amount of time invested, the results are impressive.
What are some resources to improve depression?
• Counseling at the OSU Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service
• Holiday stress article from the Mayo Clinic
• Mindfulness and Body scan techniques at the OSU Wexner Medical Center
• Depression information at the National Institute of Mental Health
• Anonymous mental health screen
• Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Could mindfulness techniques and gratitude practices help you feel better? How do you know?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
Oleary K, Dockray S. The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE. Volume 21, Number 4, 2015, pp. 243–245