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Mental Health Behavior Brain and Mental Performance Depression

Mindfulness To Help Quiet Your Fears

1 year, 6 months ago

7127  0
Posted on Mar 19, 2020, 3 p.m.

It is no surprise that pretty much everyone is feeling a little on edge and jittery as of late. For those that are looking for some relief there are a bunch of videos on line as well as apps for your mobile devices they may be able to help with that.

A recent study out of Denmark published in the journal Scientific Reports has found that daily use of mindfulness training can help make it easier for people to reduce their body’s fear reactions, and this includes use of apps. Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce the intensity of negative emotion in both healthy people as well as those suffering from psychological problems; research has shown that it can help to treat clinical emotional maladies such as depression, anxiety, stress, and disorders stemming from trauma. 

Although all of the biological mechanisms that cause people to reduce mental disorder symptoms when practicing mindfulness are not fully understood, brain imaging shows that mindfulness training can affect brain regions that are thought to be involved in extinction learning, or learning to let go of certain mental reactions. 

This collaborative study from the University of Southern Denmark, Uppsala University, Lund University, Peking University and the Icahn School of Medicine reveals that mindfulness training helps the brain to expel conditioned fear reaction and produce reduction in threat arousal responses in a subset of healthy participants who were randomly assigned to 4 weeks of daily mindfulness training via the Headspace mobile app or a waitlist control test. 

After 4 weeks the participants were conditioned for fear reactions and within the same day extinguished them; the following day the subjects were evaluated to measure the last effects on their fear reactions. Fear reactions were induced by subjecting participants to images on a computer screen, some of which produced an electric shock to their hands. After a few shocks participants displayed elevated arousal responses when viewing images that delivered shocks demonstrating they had learned conditioned fear reactions; these reactions were measured using skin conductance, and these reactions were eliminated by viewing the same images without the shocks. 

The next day to measure the retention of extinction learning the participants were hooked back up to the computer to view images without being shocked; those who had completed mindfulness training displayed lower fear reactions the following day as compared to the control group and reactions to the images they had been previously shocked while viewing. 

“Our results suggest, that if you combine mindfulness training with exposure therapy, maybe you can achieve larger and longer lasting treatment effects,” said study first author Johannes Björkstrand in a media release. “In this way you could get at an underlying vulnerability factor and more people would respond to these treatments, but studies in clinical populations and actual treatment studies are needed before we can draw any firm conclusions in this matter.”

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