Affective dysregulation takes many shapes, but mostly appears in the form of psychosis, depression, anxiety, and related conditions. Some of the hallmark symptoms of these issues include feelings of paranoia and perceived social discomfort. More specifically, people who have depression often report low levels of social acceptance and high levels of paranoia. These symptoms can lead someone to isolate and withdraw, further exacerbating symptoms of depression.
One approach that has proven to be effective at minimizing these negative feelings is mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT). This method of therapy differs from traditional cognitive behavioral therapy in that it focuses on acceptance and detachment from feelings rather than transformation of feelings and beliefs. In other words, people who receive MBCT are taught how to detach from their feelings of paranoia and social discomfort and to recognize that the feelings are simply feelings, and are not reality.
Dina Collip of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands wanted to take a closer look at the effects of MBCT for individuals with paranoia. Using a sample of 64 individuals with depression, Collip assessed how eight weeks of MBCT affected social acceptance and paranoia on a daily basis. She evaluated these outcomes and compared them to those of 66 control participants with depression who did not receive MBCT.
Collip found that the participants in the MBCT condition had a significant decrease in paranoia and a dramatic increase in social acceptance. In contrast, those in the control condition had increases in paranoia and decreases in social acceptance over the eight-week period.
Collip believes these results are extremely important as social acceptance and interaction is critical for psychological well-being. This factor has a large impact on symptom trajectory and targeting these two specific factors of acceptance and paranoia could radically improve the psychological health of individuals with depression and other conditions. She added, “MBCT confers a substantial benefit on subclinical paranoia and may interrupt the social processes that maintain and foster paranoia in individuals with residual affective dysregulation.”
Collip, D., Geschwind, N., Peeters, F., Myin-Germeys, I., Van Os, J., et al. (2013). Putting a hold on the downward spiral of paranoia in the social world: A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in individuals with a history of depression. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66747. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066747
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