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    5 Health Conditions With Surprising Psychological Solutions

    5 Health Conditions With Surprising Psychological Solutions

    Instead of taking a pill, maybe you should talk about it.

    That’s the upshot of a slew of recent studies that show many health conditions previously believed to be completely physiological in origin, actually have psychological causes — and psychotherapeutic cures.

    “A wealth of research has surfaced showing clear relationships between psychological stress and major diseases,” psychologist Dr. Jack Singer told Newsmax Health.

    Mind-Body Connection

    The origins of disease-causing stress are rooted in our evolutionary history, says Dr. Singer.

    “Our bodies are hot-wired genetically from the cavemen days to react to perceived danger by shutting down bodily systems not necessary for immediate survival.”

    Dr. Judith Beck, clinical professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy in Pennsylvania, told Newsmax Health:

    “We have found that the mind-body connection is inextricable. By applying cognitive behavior therapy to a wide range of medical situations, we can improve the quality of life of even chronically ill patients and cure many diseases without drugs or medication.”

    Many people associate aches and pains with the aging process. They resign themselves to living with these aches because they think it’s natural. But these pains are more likely the result of a treatable injury. You can check out herniated disc treatment sarasota fl who are expert on this situations.

    Here are five examples of common physical conditions with surprising psychological solutions:

    Headache: When headaches hit, most of us reach for over-the-counter drugs. However, a growing body of xarelto lawsuit research shows that psychotherapy can prevent chronic headaches. Click here for more details.
    This is especially true of tension headaches, the most common kind.

    Dr. Beck says that teaching “mindfulness” helps people identify stressors and deal with them before a headache strikes.

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This chronic gastrointestinal disorder is on the increase, now affecting an estimated 45 million Americans. While diet and lifestyle changes may be necessary, experts say that 50-90 percent of IBS patients benefit from psychological counseling.

    Obesity: More than two-thirds of Americans over 20 are overweight or obese. Dr. Beck, co-author of the best-selling book, The Diet Trap Solution, says that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) often helps patients lose weight — and keep it off.

    “It’s not only that people are eating too much, they aren’t paying attention to why they are eating,” she says.

    “We teach our clients how to avoid mistakes and not to beat themselves up when they slip up. There is a vast amount of research that shows CBT along with diet and exercise greatly improve weight-loss outcomes.”

    Chronic Pain: Millions of Americans are living with chronic pain. Dr. Beck helps her clients learn to deal with the fear and anxiety that comes with pain, which, in turn, provides relief.

    “Many people are fearful and anxious because they feel that they cannot enjoy life anymore,” she says. “For example, they love dancing but are afraid that this will exacerbate their pain.

    “In the office we encourage them to take a few dance steps and gradually build on small successes so that they realize they can enjoy certain activities and stop putting limitations on their lives. We shift the focus away from the pain to enjoying life again.”

    Insomnia: Studies have shown that people who have trouble falling and staying asleep fare better with CBT than by taking popular sleep drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien.

    “We not only stress good sleep hygiene habits like shutting off electronics and eating lightly before bed, we also teach our patients that losing some sleep isn’t a disaster and they can still function,” says Beck.

    “Very often it is the anxiety and fear of not being able to sleep that keeps them awake. They think, ‘What if I can’t sleep tonight? What will happen tomorrow?’

    “When they realize that tomorrow will come along and they will make it through the day, the anxiety lessens and the insomnia often disappears.”

    The Illusion of Control: Are There Benefits to Being Self-Deluded?

    The Illusion of Control
    Do people always over-estimate how much they control their lives?

    The ‘illusion of control’ is this: people tend to overestimate their perceived control over events in their lives. It’s well documented and has been tested over-and-over in lots of different studies over four decades.

    Here’s an example: you choose an apple which tastes delicious. You assume you are very skilled at choosing apples (when in fact the whole batch happens to be good today).

    Another: you enter the lottery and win millions. You assume that this is (partly) a result of how good your lucky numbers are (in fact lotteries are totally random so you can’t influence them with the numbers you choose. Although most of us know and accept this, we still harbour an inkling that maybe it does matter which numbers we choose).

    Sometimes this illusion manifests as magical thinking. In one study participants watched another person try to shoot a miniature basketball through a hoop (Pronin et al., 2006). When participants willed the player to make the shot, and they did, they felt it was partly down to them, even though they couldn’t possibly be having any effect.

    It’s like pedestrians in New York who still press the button to get the lights to change, despite the fact they do nothing. Since the late 80s all the traffic signals have been controlled by computer, but the city won’t pay to have the buttons removed. It’s probably just as well: they help boost people’s illusion of control. We feel better when we can do something that feels like it might have an effect (even if it doesn’t).

    A beneficial illusion?

    It’s sometimes argued that the illusion of control is beneficial because it can encourage people to take responsibility. It’s like when a person is diagnosed with an illness; they want to take control through starting medication or changing their diet or other aspect of their lifestyle.

    Similarly, studies find that hospital patients who are able to administer their own painkillers from https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/treatments/pain-relief/dihydrocodeine-30mg-tablets/ typically give themselves lower doses than those who have them prescribed by doctors, but they experience no more pain (Egan, 1990: What does it mean to a patient to be “in control”)a study has also shown that many people try to find how to get rid of external hemorrhoids permanently very desperately.

    Feeling in control can also urge us on to do things when the chances of success are low. Would you apply for that job if you knew how little control you had over the decision? No. But if you never apply for any jobs, you can’t get them. So we pump ourselves up, polish our résumé and practice our interview technique.

    But the illusion of control isn’t all roses.

    To return to the discussion of lotteries, we can see the illusion of control operating in the financial markets. Traders often feel they have more control over the market than they really do. Indeed one study has shown that the more traders think they are in control, the worse their actual performance (O’Creevy & Nicholson, 2010). A word of caution there for those who don’t respect the forces of randomness.

    More generally, some argue that the illusion of control stops us learning from our mistakes and makes us insensitive to feedback. When you feel you’re in charge, you are more likely to ignore the warning signals from the environment that things are not under your control. Indeed an experiment has shown that the more power you feel, the stronger the illusion of control becomes (Fast et al., 2009).

    Illusion of futility

    So far, so orthodox. What’s fascinating is the idea that the illusion of control itself may be an illusion, or at least only part of the story.

    What if the illusion of having control depends heavily on how much control we actually have? After all, we’re not always totally out-of-the-loop like the experiments above suggest. Sometimes we have a lot of control over the outcomes in our life.

    This has been recently tested out in a series of experiments by Gino et al. (2011). What they found was that the illusion of control flips around when control over a situation is really high. When participants in their studies actually had plenty of control, suddenly they were more likely to underestimate it.

    This is a pretty serious challenge to the illusion of control. If backed up by other studies, it reverses the idea that the illusion of control is usually beneficial. Now we’re in a world where sometimes the illusion is keeping us back.

    For example, applying for more jobs increases the chance of getting one, exercise does make you more healthy, buying a new car does make you poorer. All these are areas in which we have high levels of control but which we may well be assuming we haven’t.

    This effect will have to be renamed the illusion of futility. In other words: when you have high control, you underestimate how much what you do really matters.

    Lack of Education Is As Deadly As Smoking

    Lack of Education Is As Deadly As Smoking

    Data from over one million people born over 20 years finds a clear link between education and lifespan and shows that lack of education is as deadly as smoking.

    A strong link has been found between education and mortality. Data gathered from 1986 to 2006 on more than one million people estimated the number of mortalities that were linked to low levels of education.

    The research suggests that higher level of education can potentially save lives over time. To understand how, researchers studied people born in 1925, 1935, and 1945. They found a strong link between poor education and causes of death such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

    The survival rate was much higher for well-educated people as they were more likely to find ways to prevent and treat diseases. Higher education is also a strong predictor of living longer and being healthier because of factors including higher income, improved social and psychological well-being and social status.

    Dr Virginia Chang, associate professor of population health at NYU School of Medicine, said:

    “In public health policy, we often focus on changing health behaviors such as diet, smoking, and drinking.

    Education — which is a more fundamental, upstream driver of health behaviors and disparities — should also be a key element of U.S. health policy.”

    The research suggests that 145,243 deaths in the US could be saved if adults without a high school degree went on to complete that level of education.

    And 110,068 deaths could be saved in the US if adults with some college education completed their bachelor’s degree.

    Dr Patrick Krueger the first author of this study said:

    “Our results suggest that policies and interventions that improve educational attainment could substantially improve survival in the U.S. population, especially given widening educational disparities.

    Unless these trends change, the mortality attributable to low education will continue to increase in the future.”

    The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE (Krueger et al., 2015).

    How To Get Rid of Negative Thoughts

    How To Get Rid of Negative Thoughts

    Repressing thoughts doesn’t work so here are 8 ways to get rid of negative thoughts.

    It’s one of the irritations of having a mind that sometimes it’s hard to get rid of negative thoughts. It could be a mistake at work, money worries or perhaps a nameless fear. Whatever the anxiety, fear or worry, it can prove very difficult to control.

    The most intuitive method to get rid of negative thoughts is trying to suppress them by pushing it out of our minds.

    Unfortunately, as many studies have shown, thought suppression doesn’t work. Ironically, trying to push thoughts out of mind only makes them come back stronger. It’s a very frustrating finding, but one that’s been replicated experimentally again and again.

    So, what alternatives exist to get rid of negative thoughts we’d rather not have going around in our heads? In an article for American Psychologist, the expert on thought suppression, Daniel Wegner, explains some potential methods to get rid of negative thoughts (Wegner, 2011). Here are my favourite:

    1. Focused distraction

    The natural tendency when trying to get your mind off, say, a social gaff you made, is to try and think about something else: to distract yourself. The mind wanders around looking for new things to focus on, hopefully leaving you in peace.

    Distraction does work but, oddly enough, studies suggest it is better to distract yourself with one thing, rather than letting the mind wander.

    That’s because aimless mind wandering is associated with unhappiness; it’s better to concentrate on, say, a specific piece of music, a TV programme or a task.

    2. Avoid stress

    Another intuitive method for avoiding persistent thoughts is to put ourselves under stress. The thinking here is that the rush will leave little mental energy for the thoughts that are troubling us.

    When tested scientifically, this turns out to be a bad approach. In fact, rather than being a distraction, stress makes the unwanted thoughts come back stronger, so it certainly should not be used as a way of avoiding unpleasant thoughts.

    3. Postpone the thought until later

    While continuously trying to suppress a thought makes it come back stronger, postponing it until later can work.

    Researchers have tried asking those with persistent anxious thoughts to postpone their worrying until a designated 30-minute ‘worry period’. Some studies suggest that people find this works as a way of side-stepping thought suppression.

    So save up all your worrying for a designated period and this may ease your mind the rest of the time.

    4. Paradoxical therapy

    What if, instead of trying to suppress a worrying repetitive thought about, say, death, you head straight for it and concentrate on it?

    It seems paradoxical that focusing in on a thought might help it go away, but some research suggests this can work. It’s based on the long-established principle of ‘exposure therapy’: this is where, for example, arachnophobes are slowly but surely exposed to spiders, until the fear begins to fade.

    This approach is not for the faint-hearted, but research suggests it can be useful to get rid of negative thoughts when used by those tackling obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.

    5. Acceptance

    Along similar lines, but not so direct, there’s some evidence that trying to accept unwanted thoughts rather than doing battle with them can be beneficial. Here are the instructions from one study which found it decreased participants’ distress:

    “Struggling with your target thought is like struggling in quicksand. I want you to watch your thoughts. Imagine that they are coming out of your ears on little signs held by marching soldiers. I want you to allow the soldiers to march by in front of you, like a little parade. Do not argue with the signs, or avoid them, or make them go away. Just watch them march by.” (Marcks & Woods, 2005, p. 440)

    6. Meditate

    Similar to acceptance, Buddhist mindfulness meditation promotes an attitude of compassion and non-judgement towards the thoughts that flit through the mind. This may also be a helpful approach to get rid of negative thoughts.

    7. Self-affirmation

    Self-affirmation is the latest psychological cure-all. It involves thinking about your positive traits and beliefs and has been found to increase social confidence and self-control, amongst other benefits.

    It may also be helpful to get rid of negative thoughts, although it has only been tested experimentally a few times.

    8. Write about it

    In contrast to self-affirmation, expressive writing—writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings—has been tested extensively and it does have various health and psychological benefits (although generally only with a small effect).

    Writing emotionally about yourself, then, may help to get rid of negative thoughts.

    Common Vitamin Deficiency Linked to Depression in Women

    Common Vitamin Deficiency Linked to Depression in Women

    Very common vitamin deficiency linked to higher levels of depression

    Almost half of young women have insufficient vitamin D levels, which is linked to depression.

    The new study also found that over one-third of young women had signs of clinical depression. Dr David Kerr, the psychologist who led the study, said:

    “Depression has multiple, powerful causes and if vitamin D is part of the picture, it is just a small part.

    But given how many people are affected by depression, any little inroad we can find could have an important impact on public health.”

    While many suspect a link between the vitamin deficiency and depression, studies have not often confirmed it. Dr Kerr continued:

    “The new study was prompted in part because there is a widely held belief that vitamin D and depression are connected, but there is not actually much scientific research out there to support the belief.

    I think people hear that vitamin D and depression can change with the seasons, so it is natural for them to assume the two are connected.”

    Vitamin Deficiency

    To test the link researchers recruited 185 female college students between the ages of 18-25. The study focused on women because they are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression. Their vitamin D levels were measured from their blood. Depression symptoms were checked every week for five weeks.

    The results showed that women of colour had particularly high vitamin deficiency for vitamin D, with 61% being deficient. This compared to low vitamin D levels in 35% of other women.

    Vitamin D is important for both mental and physical health. Physically, it has been linked to better bone health, muscle function, and cardiovascular health.

    Vitamin D is created in the body with exposure to sunlight. It is also found in some foods, such as milk, eggs and oily fish.

    Dr Kerr concluded:

    “Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and readily available.

    They certainly shouldn’t be considered as alternatives to the treatments known to be effective for depression, but they are good for overall health.”

    The vitamin deficiency study is published in the journal Psychiatry Research (Kerr et al., 2015)

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    Panic Attacks: Study Reveals Best Type of Treatment

    Panic attacks

    Large study compares the effectiveness of different types of therapies for panic disorders.

    Cognitive behavioural therapy is the best treatment for panic disorders, a new study finds. In addition, most people prefer therapy over taking anti-anxiety medication. Dr. Barbara Milrod, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, said:

    “Panic disorder is really debilitating — it causes terrible healthcare costs and interference with functioning.

    We conducted this first ever large panic disorder study to compare therapy types and see if one type of therapy is preferable over another.”

    Panic disorders involve suffering from an extreme feeling of anxiety and fear, sometimes for no apparent reason. Panic attacks can also be triggered by many things, including irrational fears such as phobias. During panic attacks people can tremble, become sweaty, feel sick and may experience heart palpitations.

    The study randomised around 200 people with panic disorders to various different commonly-used therapies. Therapy lasted for around three months and involved one 45-minute session each week.

    Across the two different sites where the therapies were tested, cognitive behavioural therapy was the most effective, and only one-quarter of people dropped out.

    Professor Milrod said:

    “If patients stick it out and continue with therapy rather than drop out, they have a far greater chance of seeing positive results or getting better.”

    The study was published in the  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Mildrod et al., 2015).

    This Supplement May Stop Sadness Becoming Depression

    stop sadness becoming depressionProbiotics may stop sadness becoming depression by helping people let go of the past, a new study has discovered.

    Researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition found that probiotics stopped people ruminating so much.

    Rumination is when people focus on bad experiences and feelings from the past. Dr Laura Steenbergen, the study’s first author, said:

    “Rumination is one of the most predictive vulnerability markers of depression. Persistent ruminative thoughts often precede and predict episodes of depression.”

    In the study 40 people were given a sachet to take with water or milk every day for four weeks. Half of the people received sachets that contained a multispecies probiotic. The other half received a placebo for the four weeks. Before and afterwards people’s so-called ‘cognitive reactivity’ was measured.

    ‘Cognitive reactivity’ is the extent to which a sad mood can turn into something more serious.

    The authors explained the results:

    “…in the probiotics supplementation condition participants perceived themselves to be less distracted by aggressive and ruminative thoughts when in a sad mood.”

    In other words, when people felt sad, those taking the probiotics ruminated less. The authors write:

    “…studies have shown that the tendency to engage in ruminative thoughts is sufficient to turn mood fluctuations into depressive episodes, and that individuals who typically respond to low mood by ruminating about possible causes and consequences of their state have more difficulties in recovering from depression.”

    Probiotics have been increasingly linked to good mental health. But this is the first study to identify this specific link. Dr Lorenza Colzato, another of the study’s authors, said:

    “Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood.

    As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”

    The research is published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (Steenbergen et al., 2015).

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    Negative Emotions are Bad for Your Health

    Negative Emotions are Bad for Your HealthIf you’re an ‘A’-Type personality and get stressed easily at everyday irritations, you could be lining yourself up for mental health problems in the future. Negative emotions are bad for your health.

    In fact, getting irritated about the small things in life is just as bad for your health as eating a poor diet or not exercising.

    Using data from two national surveys, researchers found negative responses to daily stresses such as arguments with a partner, conflicts at work, standing in long queues or sitting in traffic led to psychological distress or anxiety and mood disorders ten years later. See real readings from a legitimate psychic medium here to know more about your future anxieties. Visit TranquilMe to learn more about massages that make your body relaxed.

    The results were published in the journal Psychological Science and based on data from the Midlife Development in the United States project and the National Study of Daily Experiences, from men and women aged 25 and 74.

    Team leader Professor Charles said: “How we manage daily emotions matters to our overall mental health. We’re so focused on long-term goals that we don’t see the importance of regulating our emotions. Changing how you respond to stress and how you think about stressful situations is as important as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.”

    If this sounds like you, you may benefit from my 7-week How to Beat Stress and Depression email course. You will learn how to spot the early warning signs of stress and identify thoughts, feeling and behaviours and understand the links. You will also learn techniques for making changes to your behaviour patterns, how to ‘diffuse’ your negative thoughts and use imagery techniques to de-stress.

    Remember, negative emotions are bad for your health — the sooner you learn how to deal with them the better…

    Five Quick Ways to Ease Anxiety and Feel Calmer

    Ease Anxiety and Feel CalmerWe all feel angry, stressed or like we want to give up sometimes. It’s perfectly normal. But these emotions can make you feel like you’re about to lose control. So, when you find yourself caught up in a stressful situation, try concentrating on one simple thing: breathing. Whether you have three minutes or an whole day to find stillness, the yoga techniques will give you five quick ways to ease anxiety and feel calmer:

    1. Create Calm for Yourself

    Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Keep your eyes closed or gaze a few feet in front of you, and then inhale deeply through the nose as you let the belly expand outward, like an inflated balloon. Let your breath spiral down through your chest and into your ribs, filling up the lungs fully and lowering the diaphragm. As your mind starts to wander, keep returning to the sound of your breath. Take a long exhale out through the mouth, guiding the navel back toward the spine, and release.

    2. Build Energy

    Practice the Breath of Fire, where air is pulled in and pumped out very rhythmically. Start with long, deep breathing with your mouth closed, then as soon as the lungs are completely expanded, start pumping the navel point in and out while breathing rapidly through the nose. With each breath, expand a bit faster and contract a bit faster until you find a good, steady rhythm, and then let that rhythm take over. When you have security issues, see here – SecurityInfo.

    3. Find Your Focus

    Balance your left and right brain through alternate nostril breathing (called Nadi Shodhan Pranayama). Place your left hand on the left knee, palm open to the sky. Place the tip of your index finger and middle finger of your right hand in between your eyebrows, the ring finger and/or little finger on your left nostril, and the thumb on your right nostril. Press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril. Now breathe in through your left nostril and then press your left nostril gently closed with the ring finger and little finger. Remove your right thumb from your right nostril and breathe out from your right. Reverse your breathing back and forth between nostrils.

    4. Develop Mindfulness

    Softly close your eyes and take a few deep breaths — naturally, without trying to influence it. Ideally your breath will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary. Begin counting “one” to yourself as you exhale. The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.” Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation. Never count higher than “five,” and only count on the exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “eight,” “10,” even “20.”

    5. Connect Inward

    Find a comfortable breathing rhythm in and out through the nose. Focus your attention on how your breathing feels in other parts of the body. Start by focusing on the area just below your navel. Breathe in and out, and notice how that area feels — is there any tension or tightness? If there’s tension, think of relaxing it. If your breathing feels jagged or uneven, think of smoothing it out. Now move your focus to the area just above your navel and repeat the same process. Continue your way up through the chest and into your throat, pausing for a few moments on each spot. When we learn to explore with curiosity and let go of attachment, we begin to understand the natural rhythm of our journey.

    But most of all, enjoy the calmness and stillness of it all!

     

    The Benefits of Monotasking

    Multitasking verses Monotasking

    Multitasking verses Monotasking

    It’s official! Multitasking is out and Monotasking is in! And it’s about time too…

    Personally, multitasking has never been my thing. I’ve simply never been able to do more than one thing at time and I’ve never particularly wanted to. But, I know many of you out there will gleefully claim to be able to juggle the washing, watch the kids, answer your emails and walk, talk and eat all at the same… but why, oh why would you want to? I blame the 90s. I really do. But times change, and us monotaskers may have had it right all along…

    It turns out that what our brains are actually best at is concentrating on one job at a time. What they’re in fact doing when we ask them to double or triple task is jumping at super high speed and inefficiently from one thing to another. Literally scatter brained.

    Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of thinking research and learning organization Herrmann International, said: “The brain is not a parallel processor. There’s at least a 50 percent increase in error rate and it takes you 50 percent longer to do something while multitasking.” A simple examination of how many car accidents happen because of people eating, texting, talking or otherwise not devoting all their attention to the road proves this theory. “We feel like we can do many things at the same time, but really we’re just switching between the different parts of the brain handling each task.”

    What happens to your brain when you Multitask

    Multitasking brain

    Multitasking brain

    Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT, explains. “Our brains are not wired to multitask. Though we think they’re handling multiple activities at the same time, what they’re really doing is constantly switching between them. “The problem is, there’s a cognitive price to pay each time we put them through that process.”

    By which he means we become less productive and more anxious, because multitasking pushes up our levels of the stress hormone cortisol. We even become measurably less ‘intelligent’, because the noise in our head from all those activities clouds our concentration, resulting in a drop in IQ scores.

    Dr Daniel Levitin, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Montreal’s McGill University and author of The Organized Mind, Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, says brain scans prove this.

    “The message is very clear: we don’t multitask. We think we’re juggling a lot of different things but really we’re like amateur plate spinners. We get one thing going, move on to something new and then have to run back to the first thing to check on how it’s going.”

    And each time we go through that process, we waste energy and time. And besides, think how much nicer it would be to have your partner all to yourself, instead of having a ménage-a-trois — you, your partner and a mobile phone…