Archive for category Mental Health

Can taking vitamin D and calcium help you live longer? – Vitals


Vitamins!

Vitamins! (Photo credit: bradley j)

Can taking vitamin D and calcium help you live longer?

By Susan E. Matthews

MyHealthNewsDaily

Older people who take vitamin D supplements along with calcium may live longer than others, according to a new review of previous studies.

The researchers looked at data regarding the vitamin D intake  of more than 70,000 adults in their 60s and 70s. They found that people who took vitamin D, along with calcium supplements, were 9 percent less likely to die over a three-year period, compared with people who took neither supplement.

However, they found that taking vitamin D alone had no effect on mortality rates.

For every 151 people who took with daily vitamin D and calcium for three years, one life would be spared, according to the researchers’ calculations.

The finding comes on the heels of several studies with conflicting results about the health benefits of vitamin D, including its possible effects on longevity. The new review is the largest of its kind, and included eight randomized controlled trials, said study leader Lars Rejnmark, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. Such trials are considered the strongest type of scientific evidence.

The study confirms researchers’ suspicions  that vitamin D may increase longevity, said Dr. Philippe Autier of the International Prevention Research Institute, who was not involved in the review.

Study participants were generally older people with health conditions, and possibly had inadequate nutrition. Therefore, it’s “not guaranteed that anyone in good health  who takes these vitamins would increase life expectancy,” Autier said.

In the review, the researchers found that 5.5 percent of the 35,412 people who didn’t take vitamin D or calcium died during the study period, whereas 5.3 percent of the 35,116 people who took vitamin D died.

Taking vitamin D, with or without calcium, had a significant effect on mortality rates only after three years; mortality rates were not significantly different among those taking the vitamin after one or two years, according to the study.

Vitamin D and calcium are important throughout life, because of their role in bone health, Rejnmark said. But he recommends people start paying particular attention to their intake “around menopause for women, and around the age of 50 for men.”

While the review was based on studies of people who took supplements, Rejnmark said he does not believe the benefits would be any different for people who get the nutrients through food.

Autier noted that the greatest source of vitamin D is what the skin makes naturally when it is exposed to sunlight. People with darker skin tones, who are less able to produce vitamin D  in response to sunlight, should consider supplements as a viable option, he said.

A total of 87 percent of the studies’ participants were female, but Rejnmark said this had no bearing on the results, and vitamin D and calcium are equally beneficial to both sexes in terms of preserving longevity.

More from MyHealthNewsDaily:

9 Good Sources of Disease-Fighter Vitamin D

8 Tips for Healthy Aging

7 Common Summer Health Concerns

via Can taking vitamin D and calcium help you live longer? – Vitals.

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A Simple Strategy to Let Go of Painful Thoughts and Feelings


English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No one wants to experience pain.  Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, once we’ve encountered pain, it’s natural to want it to end.

But, if you pay attention, you will likely find that there are certain emotionally or mentally painful circumstances that you get caught in.  Maybe it’s the angry thoughts about someone who has hurt you or pessimistic thinking about troubles you have faced.

Each of us has a tendency to get caught in certain types of thinking that prolongs painful emotions.  Instead of enjoying a relaxing evening, we might find ourselves ruminating on something hurtful someone said or rather than solving a difficult problem and moving on, you may find you are again and again drawn to thoughts about how unfair your circumstances are.

Sometimes it seems as if the mind just wants to hold on to these painful thoughts and circumstances.  Even as we try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, we may find ourselves rethinking and reliving painful situations.

Try this:

  • Take a situation that you often find yourself either avoiding and pushing away or painful stuck in.  It may be a situation in which you are ruminating and worried or one that you are fearful of and want to avoid dealing with.
  • When you encounter that situation or thoughts and feelings about that situation, don’t attempt to engage in thinking about it and, at the same time, don’t try to push your thoughts and feelings away.
  • Focus instead on noticing your experience.  You might say to yourself “I’m thinking angry thoughts about that” or “It’s painful to remember my mistake.”  Allow yourself to observe, without judging the situation, your thoughts about the situation or your feelings.

Over time, as you observe your own internal response to this situation, you will find that you no longer need to ruminate about it or push it away.  You will be able to recognize your self-judgments and criticisms of others and let them be.  The pain and the need to attach to it or push it away will pass and you will be able to let it go.

Still having trouble letting go?  In his book, Full Catastrophe LivingJon Kabat-Zinn suggests that when something has a strong hold on your mind, try to direct your attention to what “holding on” feels like.  Become an expert in understanding your own attachment to this worry or problem.  Even when you are struggling to let go, you can become skilled at understanding yourself and the consequences of both holding on and letting go.

You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.

 

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Early male friendship as a precursor to substance abuse in girls


Two girls

Two girls (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The findings show that girls tend to initiate the transition to a mixed-gender friendship network earlier than boys, and continue this transition at a faster pace during adolescence. As a result girls who experienced this transition early and fast were more likely to develop substance abuse problems during late adolescence.

Researchers followed a sample of almost 400 adolescents (58% girls), aged twelve to eighteen, from a large French-speaking school district in Canada. They were interviewed annually over a seven-year period about their friendship network and their use of alcohol and drugs.

Lead author Dr. François Poulin, “Peer relationships are considered to be one of the main risk factors for substance use. However, for boys, the formation of other-sex friendships is not associated with later substance use problems. Boys reported receiving higher levels of emotional support from their other-sex friends, whereas girls receive more support from their same-sex friends. It is possible that having other-sex friends is protective for boys because they gain emotional support and are therefore less likely to engage in problem behavior.”

The study finds that among girls, antisocial behavior and early pubertal maturation accelerated the increase in the proportion of other-sex friends. Compared to their same-sex friends, girls tended to form friendships with older males in out-of-school contexts. Since the legal drinking age is 18 in Canada, it may simply be more difficult for younger girls to purchase their own alcohol, thus older boys become one point of access for this substance. The study findings imply that parents may wish to take a more active role in monitoring their daughters’ friendships, especially with older boys.

The authors maintain that by middle adolescence, once this transition has been completed, the impact of other-sex friendships on girls’ maladjustment fades away. Mixed-gender networks then become more normative and girls are more likely to form romantic relationships with their male peers. The influence of boys on girls’ substance-using behavior might then operate in the context of these romantic relationships.

The authors suggest that future studies should also examine the longitudinal associations between other-sex friends and other outcomes such as educational achievement and antisocial behavior. Finally, aspects of these other-sex friendships in early adolescence should be more carefully investigated, including the setting in which they take place, their linkages with the rest of the youth’s friendship network, and parental supervision of these new emerging relationships

via Early male friendship as a precursor to substance abuse in girls.

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In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers’ Judgments


English: Sagittal MRI slice with highlighting ...

English: Sagittal MRI slice with highlighting (red) indicating the nucleus accumbens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The study, by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Georgia State University, appears in the July/August 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at mostly White psychiatrically healthy Americans ages 9 to 17 to determine what happens in the brains of preteens and teens at a time of significant change in social behavior. The youths looked at photos of peers and rated their interest in interacting with each one. Then they underwent a brain scan while reviewing the pictures and rated how much each young person in the picture might want to interact with them in return. The youths were told they would be matched with a peer for a chat after the scan.

The study found that in older girls (as compared to younger girls), brain regions (the nucleus accumbens, insula, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala) associated with social rewards and motivation, processing emotions, hormonal changes, and social memory responded differently when they thought about being judged by their peers, especially peers with whom they wanted to interact. These differences were not evident between younger and older boys.

“The findings offer a fresh perspective on how changes in the brain relate to changes in the way young people think and feel about how their peers view them,” according to Amanda E. Guyer, a research fellow at NIMH, who led the study. “They are relevant for parents, teachers, and clinicians who are trying to help teens adjust socially during adolescence. They may be especially relevant for girls, who are more likely than boys to feel anxious and depressed at this time.”

via In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers’ Judgments.

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Women Prefer Prestige Over Dominance In Mates


A new study in the journal Personal Relationships reveals that women prefer mates who are recognized by their peers for their skills, abilities, and achievements, while not preferring men who use coercive tactics to subordinate their rivals. Indeed, women found dominance strategies of the latter type to be attractive primarily when men used them in the context of male-male athletic competitions

Jeffrey K. Snyder, Lee A. Kirkpatrick, and H. Clark Barrett conducted three studies with college women at two U.S. universities. Participants evaluated hypothetical potential mates described in written vignettes. The studies were designed to examine the respective effects of men’s dominance and prestige on women’s assessments of men.

Women are sensitive to the context in which men display domineering behaviors when they evaluate men as potential mates. For example, the traits and behaviors that women found attractive in athletic competitions were unattractive to women when men displayed the same traits and behaviors in interpersonal contexts. Notably, when considering prospective partners for long-term relationships, women’s preferences for dominance decrease, and their preferences for prestige increase.

“These findings directly contradict the dating advice of some pop psychologists who advise men to be aggressive in their social interactions. Women most likely avoid dominant men as long-term romantic partners because a dominant man may also be domineering in the household.” the authors conclude.

via Women Prefer Prestige Over Dominance In Mates.

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Women happier in relationships when men feel their pain


Love Hurts (Incubus song)

Love Hurts (Incubus song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The study involved a diverse sample of couples and found that men’s and women’s perceptions of their significant other’s empathy, and their abilities to tell when the other is happy or upset, are linked to relationship satisfaction in distinctive ways, according to the article published online in the Journal of Family Psychology.

“It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man’s investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times. This is consistent with what is known about the dissatisfaction women often experience when their male partner becomes emotionally withdrawn and disengaged in response to conflict,” said the study’s lead author, Shiri Cohen, PhD, of Harvard Medical School.

Researchers recruited 156 heterosexual couples for the experiment. Of those, 102 came from the Boston area and were younger, urban, ethnically and economically diverse and in a committed but not necessarily married relationship. In an effort to find couples who varied in the ways they resolved conflicts and controlled their emotions, they also looked for couples with a history of domestic violence and/or childhood sexual abuse. The remaining participants, from Bryn Mawr, Pa., were older, suburban and middle-class married couples with strong ties to the community. In all, 71 percent of couples were white, 56 percent were married and their average length of relationship was three-and-a-half years.

Each participant was asked to describe an incident with his or her partner over the past couple of months that was particularly frustrating, disappointing or upsetting. The researchers’ audio recorded the participant making a one- to two-sentence statement summarizing the incident and reaction and then brought the couples together and played each participant’s statements. The couples were told to try to come to a better understanding together of what had happened and were given approximately 10 minutes to discuss it while the researchers videotaped them. Following the discussions, the participants viewed the videotape and simultaneously rated their negative and positive emotions throughout, using an electronic rating device. The device had a knob that moved across an 11-point scale that ranged from “very negative” to “neutral” to “very positive.”

Using these ratings, the researchers selected six 30-second clips from the videotape that had the highest rated negative or positive emotions by each partner. The researchers showed the clips to the participants and had them complete questionnaires about their feelings during each segment as well as their perceptions of their partner’s feelings and effort to understand them during the discussion. They also measured the participants’ overall satisfaction with their relationships and whether each partner considered his or her partner’s efforts to be empathetic.

Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men’s ability to read their female partner’s positive emotions correctly. However, contrary to the researchers’ expectations, women who correctly understood that their partners were upset during the videotaped incident were much more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than if they correctly understood that their partner was happy. Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not. The authors suggest that being empathetic to a partner’s negative emotions may feel threatening to the relationship for men but not for women.

The findings also show that the more men and women try to be empathetic to their partner’s feelings, the happier they are. The authors suggest that this research should encourage couples to better appreciate and communicate one another’s efforts to be empathetic.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

via Women happier in relationships when men feel their pain.

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Heavy Women Have Lower Quality Relationships, But Same Is Not True For Men, Study Finds


The research—conducted jointly by Professor Latner and New Zealand clinical psychologist Dr. Alice D. Boyes addresses body image, weight, romantic relationships, and differences between men and women.

Associations between body mass index (BMI) and relationship quality and other partner/relationship perceptions were investigated in 57 couples in New Zealand. Heavier women had lower quality relationships, which they predicted were more likely to end. They partnered with less desirable men and thought their partners would rate them as less warm/trustworthy.

The male partners of heavier women judged the women’s bodies less positively and men rated heavier women as poorer matches to their ideal partners for attractiveness/vitality. In contrast, men’s BMIs were generally not associated with relationship functioning. These findings point to the potential mechanisms that may contribute to heavier women’s relationship difficulties.

“Prejudice and discrimination are commonly directed at overweight individuals. However, few previous studies have examined whether weight stigma occurs within established romantic relationships. Our results suggest it does,” said Dr. Latner.

via Heavy Women Have Lower Quality

English: A schematic showing the group marriag...

English: A schematic showing the group marriage relationship. The picture illustrates that 4 types of relationships are possible (male-male, male-female, female-male, female-female), between each of the involved persons in the marriage scheme. The dotted lines means that more parties can be added to the scheme. Note:The arrows between the symbols only connects one symbol on each side. I.e. 1 male (or female) symbol with 1 male (or female) symbol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

s, But Same Is Not True For Men, Study Finds.

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Young men more vulnerable to relationship ups and downs than women


In the study of more than 1,000 unmarried young adults between the ages of 18 and 23, Wake Forest Professor of Sociology Robin Simon challenges the long-held assumption that women are more vulnerable to the emotional rollercoaster of relationships. Even though men sometimes try to present a tough face, unhappy romances take a greater emotional toll on men than women, Simon says. They just express their distress differently than women.

Simon’s research is published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Anne Barrett, associate professor of sociology at Florida State University, co-authored the article.

“Our paper sheds light on the association between non-marital romantic relationships and emotional well-being among men and women on the threshold of adulthood,” Simon says. “Surprisingly, we found young men are more reactive to the quality of ongoing relationships.”

That means the harmful stress of a rocky relationship is more closely associated with men’s than women’s mental health. The researchers also found that men get greater emotional benefits from the positive aspects of an ongoing romantic relationship. This contradicts the stereotypic image of stoic men who are unaffected by what happens in their romantic relationships.

Simon suggests a possible explanation for the findings: For young men, their romantic partners are often their primary source of intimacy — in contrast to young women who are more likely to have close relationships with family and friends. Strain in a current romantic relationship may also be associated with poor emotional well-being because it threatens young men’s identity and feelings of self-worth, she says.

She also explains how men and women express emotional distress in different ways. “Women express emotional distress with depression while men express emotional distress with substance problems,” Simon says.

While young men are more affected emotionally by the quality of their current relationships, young women are more emotionally affected by whether they are in a relationship or not, Simon says. So, young women are more likely to experience depression when the relationship ends or benefit more by simply being in a relationship.

For the study, Simon and Barrett analyzed data from a large sample of young adult men and women in south Florida. The survey data was originally gathered for a long-term study of mental health and the transition to adulthood.

Simon says there is much still to learn about these relationships between men and women in early adulthood, so she advocates for more research on this prolonged and varied period in the life course that is characterized by identity exploration, a focus on the self, and forging new relationships.

via Young men more vulnerable to relationship ups and downs than women.

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Video: About Psychodynamic Psychotherapy


Video: About Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
By JOHN M. GROHOL, PSYD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Joseph Burgo, one of our bloggers here at Psych Central, has recently inaugurated a new series of videos about psychodynamic psychotherapy, aimed at people who may be considering treatment and don’t know quite what to expect from this particular type of therapy.

His first video deals with the intake or initial consultation, focusing on the anxieties felt by both client and therapist as they embark upon a new relationship with a total stranger. His next video will focus on the types of issues that come up during the first few sessions; in future, he plans to cover other issues such as: the emergence of the transference, vacation breaks, the role of humor, therapist errors, etc.

These videos will appear on his YouTube channel and Dr. Burgo will announce each new one via his Therapy Case Notes blog. Even if you’re already familiar with psychodynamic psychotherapy, his thoughts about first sessions apply to all types of treatment and may be of interest:

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Positive Thinking Reduces Depression in Girls


Positive Thinking Reduces Depression in Girls | Psych Central News

Positive Thinking Reduces Depression in Girls
By TRACI PEDERSEN Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 29, 2012
In a new preliminary study by Stanford researchers, daughters of depressed mothers were able to witness their own stress levels go down on a real-time brain scan as they switched from negative thoughts to happy ones.

The girls, ages 10 to 14, were the focus of the study based on previous findings that girls born from depressed mothers, or from mothers who have experienced depression, have a higher risk of the illness.

Depressed people have more intense responses to negative experiences, including increased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol (stress hormone) production. By observing the girls’ brain activity when they were shown upsetting pictures — such as an accident — and measuring the stress response with a graph, the researchers could then ask the girls to try to lower the graph by thinking of positive thoughts like playing with pets.

Happy and amazed, the girls found out that they were able to decrease the level with their own thoughts.

Another study task included looking at two faces on a computer screen: one negative and one positive.  The girls were then asked to move a dot toward the positive face and click on it.  Then another pair of images appeared and the same situation was repeated over and over. The game taught the depression-prone girls to choose the more positive option when presented with a choice.

The Stanford research could help these girls learn to prevent depression. A followup period after the tests seemed to suggest the potential for depression prevention. After putting the girls through some tests to bring on stress, they did not react as strongly.

The research could offer new insights into how people who are genetically predisposed to depression can prevent depression, or perhaps reduce its severity, through the use of cognitive techniques.

Source:  Stanford University

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