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Recent research: mindfulness (mechanisms & practice), prevalence (abuse & suicidality), health anxiety imagery & CBT for kids

Here are half a dozen recent research studies - two on aspects of mindfulness, two on sobering prevalence rates, one on imagery in health anxiety, and one on CBT with children.  Fuller details, links and abstracts for all studies are listed further down this page.  Willem Kuyken and colleagues looked at "How does mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) work?" in helping recurrent depression sufferers.  They came up with some fascinating and provocative findings.  For example it appears that MBCT acts differently from standard CBT, although they are both helpful in reducing risk of depressive relapse.  Standard CBT (and maintenance antidepressants too) reduce cognitive reactivity to experiences of induced low mood, and this appears important in how they lessen relapse risk.  MBCT however seems to act not by reducing cognitive reactivity so much as by decoupling the reactivity from a tendency then to slide into depression.  It appears this decoupling is mediate

Manchester BABCP conference: positive psychology and depression (third post)

The second day of the annual BABCP conference in Manchester started bright and early.  I wrote a bit in my room - I've already written a couple of posts about the first day of the conference - before heading down for an early breakfast.  Breakfast was good - much better than yesterday's disappointing packed lunch.  Social too, chatting to a couple of other "early birds" about the conference and CBT more generally.  Back to my student room - the whole conference is at the main Manchester university.  Then a good difficulty to have - trying to decide between two interesting options - either Nick Tarrier running a "skills class" on "Broad Minded Affective Coping (BMAC): a new and positive technique for the CBT tool box" or a symposium with the initially unappetizing title "Understanding anhe

Recent research: six studies on mindfulness, values & meaning

Here are half a dozen recent research studies on mindfulness, values & meaning - fuller details, links and abstracts for all studies are listed further down this page.  Hofmann and colleagues' meta-analysis on "The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression" found encouraging effect sizes for mindfulness training and concluded "These results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations".  Meanwhile Barnhofer & Chittka underlined the toxicity of ruminative brooding with their demonstration that the well-demonstrated link between neurotic temperament and depression is mediated by "Tendencies to respond to mild low mood with ruminative thinking".  They conclude that "The results suggest that neuroticism predisposes individuals to depression by generally increasing the likelihood of ruminative responses to low mood&quo

Handouts & questionnaires for improved assessment & monitoring of panic disorder

For quite some time, I've used Katherine Shear's "Panic Disorder Severity Scale (PDSS)" as my main way of assessing and monitoring the severity of panic disorder.  I've recently woken up to the fact that there is a specifically designed "Self Report" version of this scale.  It is copyrighted, but Dr Shear has given permission for clinicians to use the scale freely in their practice and for researchers to use it in non-industry settings.  For other uses of the scale, Dr Shear should be contacted.  Click on "Panic Disorder Severity Scale - Self Report (PDSS-SR)"  to download a PDF of this excellent assessment measure 

Recent research: two studies on panic, two on attention training for anxiety disorders, and three on the effects of child abuse

Here are seven recent papers on panic, attention training, and the effects of childhood sexual abuse (all details & abstracts to these studies are listed further down this blog post).  Pfaltz & colleagues report on a novel ambulatory respiratory monitoring system that seems to demonstrate that panic sufferers are not routinely suffering from breathing abnormalities (e.g. hyperventilation) when they go about their daily lives.  The CBT theory of panic disorder would go along with this - panic being seen as due, in part, to catastrophizing about the meaning of experienced physical sensations rather than due to simply having unusual physical sensations.  Shelby et al's paper extends this understanding concluding that with sufferers from non-cardiac chest pain (NCCP) "Chest pain and anxiety were directly related to greater disability and indirectly related to physical and psychosocial disability via pain catastrophizing.

Attachment, compassion & relationships

Well I didn't sleep too well last night.  Catero, my wife, and I went to the cinema yesterday evening and watched "500 Days of Summer" . I enjoyed it and it got me thinking about relationships.  The "Summer" of the title is a woman who doesn't believe in romantic love.  She's kind of charming and maddening and, as I biked away from the cinema, I wondered how I would have approached treating her if she had come to me for therapy!  Interestingly a newspaper reviewer commented that the film is "weirdly incurious about the inner life of its female lead".

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