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Social relationships, group memberships and health: what we can do

I recently wrote a blog post "Social relationships, group memberships and health: background", where I described some of the mental & physical health benefits of group membership.  I mentioned too the recent research study "Greater number of group identifications is associated with healthier behaviour" where the authors write:"What is already known on this subject? Researchers from a number of disciplines – especially social epidemiologists – have investigated the link between social ties and health behaviour in the past. These researchers have shown that, overall, greater ties predict healthier behaviour.

Social relationships, group memberships and health: background

We know that relationships are important for wellbeing, for protection against & treatment of psychological disorders, and for improving mortality - see, for example, blog posts on this website such as "Strong relationships improve survival as much as quitting smoking", "Be the change you want to see in the world" "Friendship: science, art & gratitude".

Learning about aging from a trip South visiting friends

Catero, my wife, and I are just back from four days in the South visiting friends.  We're blessed with some lovely friendships but, partly because most of us live pretty busy lives, it's easy not to see people who live quite far away for months or even years.  A while ago we decided to at least partly remedy this, so we booked four days off our work and contacted old friends who lived along the South Coast of England, from Dorset through Hampshire to Sussex, to set up reunions.  We got back last night.  Over the four days away we saw seven sets of friends.  It was lovely ... really heart-warming, poignant, fun, fascinating.  And that's what I'm writing about here ... the fascinating bit. We saw seven sets of friends aging and we shared how we ourselves are getting older.  We range from our mid-50's to late 70's (Catero & I are in the second half of our 60s).

Purpose in life: reduces dementia risk, increases life expectancy, treats depression and builds wellbeing

I was struck by a paper published this month in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry - "Effect of purpose in life on the relation between Alzheimer disease pathologic changes on cognitive function in advanced age".  The authors wrote "In recent years, systematic examination has shown that purpose in life is associated with a substantially reduced risk of incident AD (Alzheimer disease), mild cognitive impairment, disability, and death.

Recent research: six studies on mindfulness, values & meaning

Here are half a dozen recent research studies on mindfulness, values & meaning - fuller details, links and abstracts for all studies are listed further down this page.  Hofmann and colleagues' meta-analysis on "The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression" found encouraging effect sizes for mindfulness training and concluded "These results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations".  Meanwhile Barnhofer & Chittka underlined the toxicity of ruminative brooding with their demonstration that the well-demonstrated link between neurotic temperament and depression is mediated by "Tendencies to respond to mild low mood with ruminative thinking".  They conclude that "The results suggest that neuroticism predisposes individuals to depression by generally increasing the likelihood of ruminative responses to low mood&quo

Getting help for depression in Scotland – support groups, online & face-to-face courses, newsletter, telephone service, and more

The e-newsletter from Depression Alliance Scotland (DAS)  popped into my inbox last week.  What good work they do.  The new information that particularly caught my eye was access to an online facilitated self-help course.  The description runs: "We have a new service offering support for people to use Living Life to the Full Interactive, a computerised online self-help programme based on cognitive behaviour therapy.  You will work through a six session course and a DAS staff member will be there to offer 4 - 6 short telephone contacts on an individual basis over 6 weeks to help you get the most out of it.  Interested? Email info@dascot.org or call 0845 123 23 20"

Recent research: diet associated depression, weight & violence, vitamin D fall prevention, IBS & anxiety, yoga & mindfulness

Here are a mixed bag of six recent research papers on diet, vitamin D, IBS and yoga (all details & abstracts to these studies are listed further down this blog post).  The first three papers highlight the toxic effects on psychological health, physical health, and society of our processed, high sugar diets.  Sanchez-Villegas et al map a bit more clearly the potential link between diet and depression.  They conclude "Our results suggest a potential protective role of the MDP (Mediterranean dietary pattern) with regard to the prevention of depressive disorders; additional longitudinal studies and trials are needed to confirm these findings."  Fiorito et al show that intake of sweetened drinks in 5 year old girls predicts overweight over subsequent childhood and adolescence, and - rather scarily - Moore & colleagues show a link between confectionary consumption at age 10 and subsequent violence in adulthood.  They concluded "Children who ate confectio

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