Cognitive defusion as a mechanism of mindfulness in alleviating depression, anxiety, and stress
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Mindfulness theory focuses on purposefully acknowledging present mental and physical experiences with openness and acceptance. As such, mindfulness interventions have been effective in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as reducing perceived stress. Moreover, evidence suggests that the effects of these mindfulness interventions may be mediated by a reduction in cognitive fusion, or the tendency to get caught up in one’s thoughts. Due to the high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in university students, a convenient treatment program would be beneficial to mitigate these feelings. However, few studies have examined the effectiveness of an online mindfulness-based intervention for this population. In this study, we recruited n = 92 students through the University of Regina, although there were several cases of missing data due to error with the online survey during data collection. Participants completed a newly created, brief online mindfulness-based intervention called Mindfulness and SelfCompassion Online Program (Mind-OP), and also filled out weekly symptom questionnaires to track their symptoms (e.g. the PHQ-9, GAD-7, and PSS). Our findings indicated that the MindOP intervention may be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as lowering stress. However, cognitive defusion was not found to be a significant mediator in the relationship between treatment outcomes and symptom reduction. The practical implications of this study are promising, as the brief online nature of Mind-OP makes the program a convenient and effective way for students to deal with anxiety, depression and stress while balancing a busy schedule.