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Stress In Life: Respond Differently And Live Longer?

“This job is killing me” is not a statement of jest. It is a desperate plea of outright sincerity.

Stress, anxiety, depression — all have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. But can interventions to help people cope with stress positively affect longevity and decrease risk of dying? The results of a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine would imply the answer is an encouraging “yes.”

Constructively dealing with stress is easier said than done, but it would seem logical that if we can reduce our psychological and social stressors we might live longer and delay the inevitable wear and tear on our vessels. This study proved that one such intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for patients who suffered a first heart attack, lowered the risk of fatal and nonfatal recurrent cardiovascular disease events by 41 percent over eight years. Nonfatal heart attacks were almost cut in half. Excitement may be dampened by the fact that all-cause mortality did not statistically differ between the intervention and control groups, but did trend towards an improvement in the eight years of follow up.

Definitely less suffering. Maybe less deaths.

The authors state that psychosocial stressors have been shown to account for an astounding 30 percent of the attributable risk of having a heart attack. Chronic stressors include low socioeconomic status, low social support, marital problems, and work distress. Emotional factors also correlated with cardiovascular disease include major depression, hostility, anger, and anxiety. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

Winterize Your Mind And Body

This is a guest post from Dr. Jennifer Wider.

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Winterize Your Mind And Body

During the winter months, certain health issues may arise that women should have on their radar. From mental health issues like stress, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), to physical concerns like skin care, the winter can certainly pack an extra punch.

Depression peaks during the holiday season, affecting more than 17 million Americans, according to the National Mental Health Association. On average, women are more vulnerable to stress-related illnesses like depression and anxiety than men. One study, conducted by Pacific Health Laboratories, revealed that 44 percent of American women report feeling sad through the holidays compared to 34 percent of American men.

“Depression of any kind is more common in females than males,” explains Greg Murray, M.D., lecturer and clinical psychologist at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. “A pattern of elevated depression in the winter months is more marked in women than in men.”

There are a host of different reasons why women may be more susceptible to stress during the winter than men. Women tend to be the primary caretakers of the family and often take on the extra burden of the holidays with gift buying, entertaining, and coordinating visits with extended family. For working women, the added responsibilities can be difficult to balance, especially if they are already balancing a family, job, childcare and eldercare duties. Read more »

The Health Hive: Is It Ready For Primetime?

Maybe not according to this report from the CDC. They studied Internet use with respect to adherence behavior and a number of health-related outcomes. It suggests that folks who diss the doc in favor of the Internet may not do as well as we think.

This quote caught me:

The data also revealed that personal determinants such as neuroticism (reflects anxiety and emotionality) and health-related poorer quality of life differentiated internet-instigated non-adherent respondents from their counterparts.

More plainly put: If you trust your life to an anonymous guy on Twitter with the handle @YourHealthGuru, you might not do as well as if you partnered with a trained professional. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into the study. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Addicted To Indoor Tanning?

According to the Archives of Dermatology, there are people who are addicted to indoor tanning. That journal reported on a study of 421 university students in the northeastern United States. Using self-reported questionnaires, they screened for alcoholism and substance use as well as anxiety and depression. They also had a questionnaire about addiction to indoor tanning.

If you’re scratching your head (as I was), there’s a medically-accepted criteria known as CAGE (cut down, annoyed, guilty, eye-opener) that correlates with addiction, so they used this for “addiction” to indoor tanning also. They found that more of the kids who met the criteria for addiction to indoor tanning also had greater anxiety, greater use of alcohol, marijuana and other substances. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Internet Addiction Is Real

Internet addiction is becoming a major problem, and it’s less and less surprising when reports focusing on this issue are being published. Lately, the New York Times came up with the analysis of a recent study:

Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.

Susan Moeller, the study’s project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.

I did some research and browsed the website of Microsoft’s Internet Addiction Recovery Program. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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