Friday, August 15, 2014

Mind over matter


When Joanne Ring’s husband passed away three years ago, she found herself working through a grief process that became nearly impossible to manage. Raising four young boys and working fulltime as an ICU nurse only added to her stress and anxiety. Although her primary care physician offered medication to help her cope with her anxiety, Ring felt there was a better option. She turned to the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement in Charlestown, which works with the MGH Wellness Center and Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine (BHI), to offer group mind-body intervention (MBI) as a plausible option for treating anxiety and depression.
The eight-week MBI group is provided at MGH community health centers in Revere and Charlestown by licensed clinical social workers trained in MBI at BHI. The groups meet once weekly for 90 minutes. The program includes teaching methods eliciting the relaxation response using a variety of techniques, along with promoting adaptive cognitive practices, such as optimism and acceptance; promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as recommendations for nutrition, exercise, and restorative sleep; and building social support.

“The BHI Wellness Center conducted a retrospective study looking at the medical records of 124 patients who had participated in the MBI groups for anxiety and depression,” says Kathleen Miller, RN, PhD, director of the BHI Wellness Center, and a principal author of the study. “Participants in our study showed improvements in symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as decreases in perceived stress. Based on this, we think the group MBI may be a good resource for community health center providers to recommend as adjunctive treatment for anxiety, depression and stress.”

Ring says, “If I hadn’t learned some of the strategies channeling the relaxation response, I likely would have ended up on medication – a route I really didn’t want to take. The tools I’ve learned to manage my stress and anxiety, coupled with positive lifestyle alterations, have truly changed my life for the better.”

The study, entitled “The Effectiveness of a Community-based, Mind-Body Group for Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety,” was published in the summer 2014 issue of Advances in Mind-Body Medicine.

Read more articles from the 08/15/14 Hotline issue.


Back to Top