Rheumatic diseases are associated with increased risk of psychological distress, anxiety and depressed mood. Negative emotional states, such as sorrow, worry, irritability and fatigue are common. Recent studies have shown that acknowledgement and expression of these distressing emotions are an essential part of adjustment to chronic diseases. In recent years a range of newer approaches categorised as mindfulness- and acceptance-based therapies have been applied in the treatment of the mental distress that may accompany chronic diseases. The core aspect in these approaches is training in open-hearted moment-to-moment awareness of internal experiences, such as thoughts, emotions and sensations without judging or wishing things to be otherwise. These experiences are seen as a part of being human, rather than a sign of pathology, weaknesses or limitations. It is believed that experiencing the present moment with an attitude of openness, curiosity and acceptance can effectively counter the effect of stressors, whereas excessive orientation towards the past or future can be related to feelings of depression and anxiety.
The basic methods in mindfulness training are different awareness exercises with the breath as an anchor, body scan, mindful movement through yoga exercises and awareness in daily activities. Reflections on own experiences are promoted through group discussions. The most frequently applied approach is the mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR). Another approach is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), in which mindfulness-based exercises are combined with values-based action. A third approach is the Norwegian vitality training program (VTP) that combines mindfulness training with various creative exercises and expressive writing. These approaches have been applied to people with a wide range of chronic somatic conditions, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia and inflammatory arthritis.
Although the evidence is still limited, existing studies have shown that mindfulness-based training has the potential to alleviate emotional distress and promote well being in terms of reduced anxiety, depression and fatigue, and increased self-efficacy in people with fibromyalgia and inflammatory arthritis. The effects on pain are less conclusive.
During the presentation, participants will have the opportunity to experience a short awareness exercise.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared