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Depression helped by drumming, hope, healthy eating and nature



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Explore (NY). 2011 Jul-Aug;7(4):222-33. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2011.04.002.

Healing the heart: a randomized pilot study of a spiritual retreat for depression in acute coronary syndrome patients.

Warber SL1, Ingerman S, Moura VL, Wunder J, Northrop A, Gillespie BW, Durda K, Smith K, Rhodes KS, Rubenfire M.  1Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. swarber@umich.edu

BACKGROUND:  Depression is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in coronary heart disease. Numerous conventional and complementary therapies may address depression. Few involving spirituality have been tested.

OBJECTIVE:  The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a nondenominational spiritual retreat, Medicine for the Earth (MFTE), on depression and other measures of well-being six- to 18-months post acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

DESIGN/SETTING:  A randomized controlled pilot study of MFTE, Lifestyle Change Program (LCP), or usual cardiac care (control) was conducted in Southeastern Michigan.

PARTICIPANTS:  ACS patients were recruited via local and national advertising (n = 58 enrolled, 41 completed).

INTERVENTIONS: The four-day MFTE intervention included guided imagery, meditation, drumming, journal writing, and nature-based activities. The four-day LCP included nutrition education, exercise, and stress management. Both retreat groups received follow-up phone coaching biweekly for three months.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:  Validated self-report scales of depression, spiritual well-being, perceived stress, and hope were collected at baseline, immediately post-retreat, and at three and six months.

RESULTS: Depression was not significantly different among groups (P = .21). However, the MFTE group had the highest depression scores at baseline and had significantly lower scores at all postintervention time points (P ≤ .002). Hope significantly improved among MFTE participants, an effect that persisted at three- and six-month follow-up (P = .014). Although several measures showed improvement in all groups by six months, the MFTE group had immediate improvement post-retreat, which was maintained.

CONCLUSIONS:  This pilot study shows that a nondenominational spiritual retreat, MFTE, can be used to increase hope while reducing depression in patients with ACS.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:  21724155

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