Saturday December 15, 2018

Loneliness Can Worsen Mental Health And Can Double The Risk Of Dying

People with poor social support may have worse health

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Loneliness Can Worsen Mental Health And Can Double The Risk Of Dying
Loneliness Can Worsen Mental Health And Can Double The Risk Of Dying, Pixabay
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Men and women who “feel lonely” are more likely to have worse mental health, heart disease conditions and die early than those “living alone”, according to a study.

The findings showed that loneliness was associated with a doubled mortality risk in women and nearly doubled risk in men.

Both men and women who felt lonely were three times more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression, and had a significantly lower quality of life than those who did not feel lonely.

“Loneliness is a strong predictor of premature death, worse mental health, and lower quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease, and a much stronger predictor than living alone, in both men and women,” said Anne Vinggaard Christensen, doctoral student, at the Copenhagen University Hospital.

The results were presented at the annual nursing congress EuroHeartCare 2018 in Dublin.

The study investigated whether poor social network was associated with worse outcomes in 13,463 patients with ischaemic heart disease, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), heart failure, or heart valve disease.

Feeling lonely was associated with poor outcomes in all patients regardless of their type of heart disease, and even after adjusting for age, level of education, other diseases, body mass index, smoking, and alcohol intake.

People with poor social support may have worse health outcomes because they have unhealthier lifestyles, are less compliant with treatment, and are more affected by stressful events.

A mental patient
A mental patient, flickr

But, when “we adjusted for lifestyle behaviours and many other factors in our analysis, we still found that loneliness is bad for health,” Christensen said.

According to European guidelines on cardiovascular prevention, people who are isolated or disconnected from others are at increased risk of developing and dying prematurely from coronary artery disease.

Also read: Raw fruits veggies consumption boosts mental health

The guidelines recommend assessment of psychosocial risk factors in patients with established cardiovascular disease and those at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. (IANS)

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Meditation Helps Veterans Well With PTSD: Study

Meditation could be more acceptable to veterans who might associate mental health treatment with weakness.

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Veterans, PTSD, Afghan. Taliban
A U.S soldier patrols at night in Khost province, Afghanistan, seen through night vision equipment. About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the Veterans Affairs health system. VOA

Meditation worked as well as traditional therapy for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in a small experiment sponsored by the Department of Defense.

One method preferred by the Department of Veterans Affairs is exposure therapy, but it doesn’t work for everyone and many can’t handle what it requires: purposely recalling traumatic events and confronting emotions.

Meditation could be a better choice for some, the researchers said.

Exposure therapy unpopular

The experiment tested meditation against exposure therapy, which involves working with a therapist and gradually letting go of fears triggered by painful memories.

PTSD
There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States.

Many vets won’t try exposure therapy or drop out because it’s too difficult, said Thomas Rutledge, the study’s senior author and a Veterans Affairs psychologist in San Diego.

Evidence for meditation “allows us to put more options on the table” with confidence they work, Rutledge said.

The study was published Thursday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

Follow-up study needed

About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the VA health system. The VA already is using meditation, yoga and similar approaches to supplement traditional therapy with PTSD, said Paula Schnurr, executive director of the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

While the three-month study adds to evidence supporting these lifestyle practices, Schnurr said, more research is needed to learn how long meditation’s benefits last.

Stress, meditation, PTSD
Meditation can boost emotional intelligence, cut stress at workplace. Pixabay

“There’s no follow-up in this study,” Schnurr noted, and one therapist did 80 percent of the exposure therapy so the findings hinge largely on one therapist’s skills.

Researchers measured symptoms in about 200 San Diego area veterans randomly assigned to one of three groups. Some learned to meditate. Others got exposure therapy. The third group attended classes where they learned about nutrition and exercise.

All sessions were once a week for 90 minutes.

After three months, 61 percent of the meditation group improved on a standard PTSD assessment, compared to 42 percent of those who got exposure therapy and 32 percent of those who went to classes. When researchers accounted for other factors, meditation was better than the classes and equally effective as exposure therapy.

The researchers defined success as at least a 10-point improvement in scores on a standard symptoms test, given to participants by people who did not know which kind of treatment they’d received. The test measures symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.

 

CyclingStress, meditation, PTSD
Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health. Pixabay

 

PTSD also can be treated with medications or other types of talk therapy. Many of the participants were taking prescribed medicine for PTSD.

Most of the vets were men with combat-related trauma, so it’s not clear whether meditation would be equally effective in women or with other types of trauma.

More interest, styles

There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States. A government survey last year found 14 percent of adults said they had recently meditated, up from 4 percent from a similar survey five years earlier.

There are many styles of meditation. The type taught to vets in the study was transcendental meditation, or TM, which involves thinking of a mantra or sound to settle the mind.

TM was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles in the late 1960s. Some of the study authors are affiliated with a university in Fairfield, Iowa, founded by Maharishi. Their role was to oversee the meditation training.

Also Read: 2 War-Stricken Towns in Somalia Finally Receive Health Care: UN

Rutledge, who was the principal researcher, said he does not practice meditation himself.

Meditation could be more acceptable to veterans who might associate mental health treatment with weakness, Rutledge said.

“It’s probably less threatening,” he said. “It may be easier to talk to veterans about participating in something like meditation.” (VOA)