logo

dr-james-hawkins

  • icon-cloud
  • icon-facebook
  • icon-feed
  • icon-feed
  • icon-feed

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

Recent research: six studies on eating habits, obesity, vitamin D, lifestyle & dementia

Here are half a dozen studies on weight, bite size, vitamin D, dietary supplements, and ways of avoiding dementia.  Andrew et al report on the "Incident cancer burden attributable to excess body mass index in 30 European countries" estimating that about 6% of cancers could be avoided if we could maintain healthier weights (abstracts & links for all six articles mentioned appear further down this page).  Zijlstra and colleagues suggest a possible response!  They randomized subjects to eating with different bite (mouthful) sizes and different chewing times.  They found that " ... greater oral sensory exposure to a product, by eating with small bite sizes rather than with large bite sizes and increasing OPT (oral processing time), significantly decreases food intake."  As Mum might put it "Don't wolf your food!"

Recent research: mind-body & body-mind effects for cancer, allergy, dementia, & mental health

Here are five studies on the loose theme of how the mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind ... and that the distinction between mind and body is pretty arbitrary anyway.  Using meta-analysis, Chida & colleagues highlight considerable evidence suggesting that stress-related psychosocial factors have an adverse effect on cancer incidence and survival.  Andersen & colleagues report a randomized controlled trial to respond to this in women diagnosed with breast cancer.  Women in the stress management arm of the study received an initial one-year, 26 session intervention in groups of 8 to 12 people.  The aim was to reduce distress and improve quality of life, improve health behaviors (diet, exercise, smoking cessation), and facilitate cancer treatment compliance and medical follow-up.

Recent research: seven studies on diet, supplements & smoking

Here are a couple of studies on smoking, a couple on B vitamins, a couple on vitamin D, and an intriguing study on iron.  The smoking papers underline the varieties of damage this habit produces.  So the Pasco et al study shows that, for women, being a smoker is associated with double the risk of developing subsequent major depression.  The Strandberg research challenges any notion of "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die".  This study of 1658 men reports that "During the 26-year follow-up of this socioeconomically homogeneous male cohort, HRQoL (quality of life) deteriorated with an increase in daily cigarettes smoked in a dose-dependent manner.

Recent research: fish and n-3 fatty acids

Fish, fish oils, and n-3 fatty acids are often in the health news.  Here are seven recent papers illustrating the breadth of fish oil relevance.  The papers look at treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the potential of flax as a dietary source of n-3 fatty acids, effects on indicators of cardiovascular disease, potential protection against dementia, reduction in mortality, and importance in pregnancy.  The papers also illustrate the patchwork, three steps forward/one step back, meandering, spreading, accretion of scientific knowledge.  As the proverb goes "One swallow doesn't make a summer".  Similarly, a single research study is usually simply one brick in the gradual building of our knowledge.  For more on fish and n-3 fatty acids, see other relevant blog posts I've written, articles in the linked Connotea database, and some recommended websites.     

Diagnosis of psychological disorders

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

- Einstein

Making a formal psychological diagnosis can be a mixed blessing. It has several potential advantages. If many of my symptoms can be accurately grouped under a specific psychological diagnosis, it may well help to understand what is happening, to clarify the likely time course of my symptoms, and to choose treatments that have the best chance of being effective. It's worth noting that often people suffer from more than one psychological disorder at the same time - this is called comorbidity and it is common.

Syndicate content