Friday December 6, 2019

Smartphone Addiction Can Lead To Depression and Loneliness

The study focused on older adolescents, a population researchers say is important because they largely grew up with smartphones and they are at an age and transitional stage in life

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Smartphone
Understanding the direction of the relationship between Smartphone dependency and poor psychological outcomes is critical for knowing how best to address the problem. Pixabay

In a bid to rest the debate on what comes first — Smartphone addiction or depression — a new study has found that young people who are hooked on to their smartphones may be at an increased risk of depression and loneliness.

A growing body of research has identified a link between smartphone dependency and symptoms of depression and loneliness.

However, it’s been unclear whether reliance on smartphones precedes those symptoms, or whether the reverse is true — that depressed or lonely people are more likely to become dependent on their phones.

In a study of 346 participants, ages 18-20, researcher Matthew Lapierre and his collaborators from University of Arizona found that smartphone dependency predicts higher reports of depressive symptoms and loneliness, rather than the other way around.

“The main takeaway is that smartphone dependency directly predicts later depressive symptoms,” said Lapierre, assistant professor in the department of communication.

“There’s an issue where people are entirely too reliant on the device, in terms of feeling anxious if they don’t have it accessible, and they’re using it to the detriment of their day-to-day life.”

In the study, which will be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Lapierre and his co-authors focus on smartphone dependency rather than on general smartphone use, which can actually provide benefits.

Understanding the direction of the relationship between smartphone dependency and poor psychological outcomes is critical for knowing how best to address the problem, said Pengfei Zhao who co-authored the study.

“If depression and loneliness lead to smartphone dependency, we could reduce dependency by adjusting people’s mental health,” Zhao said.

“But if smartphone dependency (precedes depression and loneliness), which is what we found, we can reduce smartphone dependency to maintain or improve wellbeing.”

Smartphone
In a bid to rest the debate on what comes first — Smartphone addiction or depression — a new study has found that young people who are hooked on to their smartphones may be at an increased risk of depression and loneliness. Pixabay

The researchers measured smartphone dependency by asking study participants to use a four-point scale to rate a series of statements, such as “I panic when I cannot use my smartphone.”

The study focused on older adolescents, a population researchers say is important because they largely grew up with smartphones and they are at an age and transitional stage in life where they are vulnerable to poor mental health outcomes, such as depression.

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“It might be easier for late adolescents to become dependent on smartphones, and smartphones may have a bigger negative influence on them because they are already very vulnerable to depression or loneliness,” Zhao noted.

When people feel stressed, they should use other healthy approaches to cope, like talking to a close friend to get support or doing some exercises or meditation, the researchers suggested. (IANS)

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Start Checking Your Cholestrol Level from Mid-20s to Avoid Heart Disease: Study

Cholesterol is a fatty substance - a lipid - found in some foods and also produced in our liver

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Heart
Researchers analysed the data obtained from almost four lakh persons in 19 countries and found a strong link between bad-cholesterol levels and risk of Heart disease from early adulthood over the next 40 years or more. Pixabay

A study has said that people should get their cholesterol levels checked from their mid-20s as the readings can be used to calculate lifetime risks of Heart disease and stroke.

The study, published in “The Lancet”, is the most comprehensive yet to look at the long-term health risks of having too much “bad” cholesterol for decades, the BBC reported.

Researchers maintain that earlier the people take action to reduce cholesterol through diet changes and medication, the better.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance – a lipid – found in some foods and also produced in our liver. It is needed to make hormones like oestrogen and testosterone, Vitamin D and other compounds.

While High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is “good” as it keeps the body healthy, Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is “bad” as it can clog arteries.

Researchers analysed the data obtained from almost four lakh persons in 19 countries and found a strong link between bad-cholesterol levels and risk of cardiovascular disease from early adulthood over the next 40 years or more.

They were able to estimate the probability of a heart attack or stroke for people aged 35 and over, according to their gender, bad-cholesterol level, age and risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, height and weight, and blood pressure.

The BBC quoted the report’s co-author Stefan Blankenberg of the University Heart Center in Hamburg: “The risk scores currently used in the clinic to decide whether a person should have lipid-lowering treatment only assess the risk of cardiovascular disease over 10 years and so may underestimate lifetime risk, particularly in young people.”

Heart
A study has said that people should get their cholesterol levels checked from their mid-20s as the readings can be used to calculate lifetime risks of Heart disease and stroke. Pixabay

Blankenberg told BBC: “I strongly recommend that young people know their cholesterol levels and make an informed decision about the result – and that could include taking a statin.”

However, he added, there is a danger that people could rely on statins rather than leading a health lifestyle and although they were usually well tolerated, studies had not been done on the potential side-effects of taking them over decades.

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British Heart Foundation medical director Nilesh Samani said: “This large study again emphasises the importance of cholesterol as a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

“It also shows that for some people, taking measures at a much earlier stage to lower cholesterol, for example by taking statins, may have a substantial benefit in reducing their lifelong risk from these diseases.” (IANS)