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Mindfulness (MBSR) and Aerobic Exercise both a Help for Social Anxiety

03 Feb

Researchers from Stanford University investigated the effectiveness of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) on Social Anxiety Disorder, as compared with aerobic exercise.

Fifty-six adults (52% female; 41% Caucasian; age mean [M] ± standard deviation [SD]: 32.8 ± 8.4) with SAD were randomized to either an MBSR condition or the active comparison condition of aerobic exercise (AE).
 
At baseline and post-intervention, participants completed measures of social anxiety , depression, stress and sense of well-being (Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, Beck Depression Inventory-II, and Perceived Stress Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Self-Compassion Scale, and UCLA-8 Loneliness Scale).

At 3 months post-intervention, a subset of these measures was re-administered. For clinical significance analyses, 48 healthy adults (52.1% female; 56.3% Caucasian; age [M ± SD]: 33.9 ± 9.8) were recruited.

MBSR and AE participants were also compared with a separate untreated group of 29 adults (44.8% female; 48.3% Caucasian; age [M ± SD]: 32.3 ± 9.4) with generalized social anxiety, who completed assessments over a comparable time period with no intervening treatment.

A 2 (Group) x 2 (Time) repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) on measures of clinical symptoms and well-being were conducted to examine pre-intervention to post-intervention and pre-intervention to 3-month follow-up.

Both MBSR and AE were associated with reductions in social anxiety and depression and increases in subjective well-being, both immediately post-intervention and at 3 months post-intervention.

When participants in the randomized controlled trial were compared with the untreated group, participants in both interventions exhibited improvements on measures of clinical symptoms and well-being.

The research team concludes that nontraditional interventions such as MBSR and AE merit further exploration as alternative or complementary treatments for SAD.

Citation: 
Jazaieri H, Goldin PR, Werner K, Ziv M, Gross JJ. A randomized trial of MBSR versus aerobic exercise for social anxiety disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2012 Jul;68 (7): pages 715-31. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21863. Epub 2012 May 23. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award