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Distress Can Spread Through Close Social Networks, Warn Experts

Clinicians may need to look beyond an individual’s psychology and look at the individual’s wider social network and the negative or positive impacts it has

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Extreme distress increases risk for dementia: Study. Pixabay

With connecting to people is becoming more easier than ever due to the mushrooming online platforms, experts have warned that they should be careful about who they become friends with as despair and distress can spread through close social networks, up to “three degrees of separation” – or a friend of a friend of a friend.

Doctors, therefore, should consider “social prescribing” — where patients who present with depression are helped to engage with positive activities within their networks.

“The major implication is that instead of only resorting to medication, or individual psychological treatment, clinicians should also look to immediate social networks and wider social context including the influences of friends and family and wellbeing at work,” said Tarun Bastiampillai from Flinders University in Australia.

farmers
“Sometimes, farmers in distress may not approach us as seeking help is considered a stigma. Then we decided to have field teams who would speak to farmers,” she said. Pixabay

Therapeutic interventions can include analysing “depression clusters” and developing more positive and healthy social networks — from relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours to joining a sporting club or hobby group to expand the social network, the researchers said in a letter published in the journal The Lancet.

“More now than ever, we have ways to connect to other people online. Our diary can be full and our lives busy, but are we connecting in a meaningful or harmful way via these online and offline social networks?,” Bastiampillai asked.

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“Clinicians may need to look beyond an individual’s psychology and look at the individual’s wider social network and the negative or positive impacts it has.”

In a hyperconnected world, traditional social networks – face-to-face contacts of daily life – are unravelling with the loss of social supports which is associated with increasing “deaths of despair” related to alcohol, opiate overdose and suicide “becoming more prevalent than ever”, the psychiatrists warned. (IANS)

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Distress May Spike up Risk of Dementia

For the study, the team included 6,807 Danish participants aged 60 years on average

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Extreme distress increases risk for dementia: Study. Pixabay

Men and women who are distressed in midlife could be at higher risk of developing dementia in their old age, suggests a new study.

The study showed that vital exhaustion, which can be perceived as an indicator of psychological distress, is a risk factor for future risk of dementia.

Psychological distress is potentially linked to the risk of dementia through neurological and cardiovascular mechanisms.

The findings, led by researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, revealed that for each additional symptom of vital exhaustion, the risk of dementia rose by two per cent.

While participants reporting five to nine symptoms had a 25 per cent higher risk of dementia than those with no symptoms, those reporting 10 to 17 symptoms had a 40 per cent higher risk of dementia compared with not having symptoms.

However, the researchers are yet not aware of "exactly how anticholinergics might cause dementia", the researchers said.
Representational Image- dementia, Pixabay

Importantly, physiological stress response, including cardiovascular changes and excessive production of cortisol over a prolonged period, may also contribute to linking psychological distress with an increased risk of dementia, revealed the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Stress can have severe and harmful consequences not just for our brain health, but our health in general. Cardiovascular risk factors are well-known modifiable risk factors for dementia, and in some countries, a stagnation or even a decreasing incidence of dementia has been observed,” said Sabrina Islamoska, postdoctoral student from the varsity.

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For the study, the team included 6,807 Danish participants aged 60 years on average.

Psychological distress is an important risk factor that should receive more focus when considering prevention initiatives in relation to later dementia, the team said. (IANS)