How Mindfulness Works to Help the Brain Manage Pain

MRI technician practitioner_crop

Can meditation help you feel less pain? What if one week of short meditation classes could change the way your brain perceives pain? Fadel Zeidan, PhD, and his colleagues at Wake Forest University wanted to find out how mindfulness meditation affects pain reception. Specifically, they looked at the areas of the brain responsible for constructing the experience of pain, such as the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and anterior insula. Researchers performed MRI exams on 18 subjects while they applied a series of neutral and painful stimuli. They then asked subjects to focus on the sensations of their breath while…

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A Better Night’s Sleep with Mindfulness

Sleepless

One of the problems with antidepressants is that they sometimes don’t work. Though many people try, it can be difficult to treat depression with antidepressants alone. And the side effects, like fatigue, anxiety, loss of libido, and sleep disturbance, can be frustrating. Dr. Willoughby Britton and her research team at the University of Arizona wanted to find out whether mindfulness could help with sleep disturbance – one of the most common side effects of antidepressants. Researchers randomly assigned 23 participants, all of whom were taking antidepressant medications, to one of two interventions. Some received a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course while…

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Do Your Wandering Thoughts Make You Unhappy? You’re Not Alone

Smartphone

Everywhere I go, I see people glued to their phones – almost obsessed. And you might say, why not? Phones these days can do everything – take photos, store games and books, keep our calendars . . . even help us chart our happiness. Yes, I did say chart our happiness. This app is one that I had first heard of in a Science article. Matthew Killingsworth, a PhD student in Dr. Dan Gilbert’s psychology lab at Harvard, created a smartphone app that allows you to track how happy you are at various times. You register on his site and…

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How to Flip an “Insult” on Its Head

During a week’s-end meeting just before the 4th of July holiday, I realized something . . . . . . everyone present was a woman. Now I think we have a pretty diverse team here at NICABM, but in that moment, all of the guys were out of the office. And as I looked around, it reinforced something that I have always believed in and really, known – girls are every bit as capable, creative, and valuable as their male counterparts. So I thought it was fitting that, this week, I came across a video with exactly this sentiment. It’s…

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Guided Imagery and PTSD: A Different Approach to Treatment

When I visualize a traditional therapist’s office, and then a military boot camp . . . . . . I come up with two very different images. It might seem obvious to those of us within the helping professions that, in order for treatment to be effective, we need to match the intervention to the person sitting in front of us. But what if our own life experiences are so vastly different from our client’s that we’re barely speaking the same language? And, is it possible we don’t even realize the degree to which unfamiliarity with another’s way of life…

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Depression and Traumatic Brain Injury: Can Mindfulness Help?

Woman Depressed. Series

It can happen in the blink of an eye . . . . . . a healthy person on the way to work is suddenly blindsided by another car, and the aftermath can impact not only the driver, but her family and friends as well. Months, maybe even years of surgery, physical therapy, care giving, and treatment may follow and, in the case of traumatic brain injury (TBI), lingering depression may result. That’s why Michel Bédard, PhD, and fellow researchers at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine wanted to look at the effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to reduce…

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