It’s well understood within the medical community that anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills carry the hefty risks of addiction, overdose, serious accidents, and cognitive impairment. Now, a British study published in the BMJ has found that over the course of nearly 8 years, death rates more than doubled in people who were taking these prescription medications.
Stress May Bring Out Empathy in Women, Selfishness in Men
When researchers at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, set out to study how stress impacts empathy and egocentricity, they originally theorized that stress would mostly make people more self-centered. They were surprised to learn, however, that their hypothesis was only true for men.
There’s been a lot of buzz over the past several months over whether taking vitamins and dietary supplements is actually helpful. In December 2013, the Annals of Internal Medicine published an editorial asserting that the effectiveness of vitamins and supplements is not backed by evidence. And in February, a study published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute linked selenium and vitamin D supplementation to an increased risk of prostate cancer in men – something those supplements were previously thought to prevent.
Did the Stress Response Worsen the Global Financial Crisis?
By now, most of us have probably heard of the stress hormone cortisol, which is released by the adrenal glands during the body’s fight-or-flight response. Cortisol has gotten a bad rap — it’s primarily known for causing weight gain, interfering with cognitive functions like memory, and contributing to health issues like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Nervous about a job interview or blind date? A new study suggests that you might want to skip the Facebook stalking ahead of the big day, especially if you have social anxiety.
Facebook “stalking” is something every user of the social media site has done at some point — browsing through profiles of friends, acquaintances, and sometimes even complete strangers. It’s possible to gather a great deal of information about a person by spending just a few minutes on his or her Facebook page.
It’s often recommended that people find a distraction when anxious thoughts set in – start cleaning, call a friend, watch a movie – anything that helps place focus elsewhere. Now, research out of Emory University suggests that getting into a book may be one of the best was to distract one’s self from anxiety. The findings show that reading really does transport you to another place, and it provides a number of cognitive benefits, including reduced anxiety and depression, as well.
Anxiety can be difficult to discuss no matter who you are. Far too many people don’t get the help they need, whether it’s because of the stigma or because they don’t realize they have a treatable problem. However, one group is disproportionately affected by the stigmatization of mental illness, and these individuals are far more likely to suffer from an undiagnosed anxiety disorder: older adults and the elderly.
Yep, it’s February. If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, this is America’s least-favorite month. And for much of the country, this February – and this winter in general — has been brutal. Much of the U.S. hasn’t seen temperatures above freezing in more than a month; regions that typically bundle up in 50-degree weather have found themselves blanketed in snow and ice; and even the folks in sunny California are fearing the consequences of the state’s worst drought in modern history. As a nation, we could use some cheering up.
Between the short daylight hours, the cold, and the snow, this is the time of year that people are most prone to falling into a rut, viewing the events in their days as drudgery they must endure, rather than making the most of their time. It’s easy to forget that peace and contentment can be found through simple measures.
Because of this, it seems to me that February is a good time to take stock of all the little ways you can find happiness in the moment. The point of these quick mood boosters isn’t that these are things you’ve never thought to do before, but rather that when done mindfully, the impact these steps can have on your mood is not insignificant.
Stress-Induced Brain Abnormalities May Trigger Mental Illness
It’s pretty well known that mental illness has both a genetic and an environmental component. Some people are born predisposed to anxiety, depression and other disorders, while others develop those problems in response to hardship or trauma.
Past research has shown that people with stress-related mental illnesses have noticeable brain abnormalities. Now, in a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry this week, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, explain how chronic stress may cause lasting changes in the brain that leave people vulnerable to anxiety and other mood disorders. These findings could help in the development of new kinds of therapies to reduce risk of mental illness after stressful or traumatic experiences.
Last week on this blog, I talked about some of the recent findings I’ve come across on the topic of veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This is an especially exciting time in the field of PTSD research, as fascinating studies of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are being published all the time.
While it’s terrible that anyone has to endure the horrors of PTSD, the condition has been recognized as something affecting soldiers since World War I, when it was called “shell shock syndrome.” But what many people may not realize is that there are significant segments of the civilian population in the United States who are just as likely to develop PTSD as soldiers returning from combat in the Middle East.