Friends know how long you’ll live, study finds [University of Washington at St. Louis]
Peer estimates of your personality can predict longevity – January 20, 2015By Gerry Everding
Young lovers walking down the aisle may dream of long and healthy lives together, but close friends in the wedding party may have a better sense of whether those wishes will come true, suggests new research on personality and longevity from Washington University in St. Louis.“You expect your friends to be inclined to see you in a positive manner, but they also are keen observers of the personality traits that could send you to an early grave,” said Joshua Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences.
Published Jan. 12 in an advance online issue of the journal Psychological Science, the study demonstrates that your personality at an early age (20s) can predict how long you will live across 75 years and that close friends are usually better than you at recognizing these traits.Male participants seen by their friends as more open and conscientious ended up living longer. Female participants whose friends rated them as high on emotional stability and agreeableness also enjoyed longer lifespans, the study found.
“Our study shows that people are able to observe and rate a friend’s personality accurately enough to predict early mortality decades down the road,” Jackson said. “It suggests that people are able to see important characteristics related to health even when their friends were, for the most part, healthy and many years from death.”
It’s no secret that a person’s personality traits can have an impact on health. Traits such as depression and anger have been linked to an increased risk of various diseases and health concerns, including an early death.
Men who are conscientious are more likely to eat right, stick with an exercise routine and avoid risks, such as driving without a seat belt. Women who are emotionally stable may be better at fighting off anger, anxiety and depression, Jackson suggests.
While other studies have shown that a person’s view of his or her own personality can be helpful in gauging mortality risk, there has been little research on whether a close friend’s personality assessment might also predict the odds of a long life.
To explore this question, Jackson and colleagues analyzed data from a longitudinal study that in the 1930s began following a group of young people in their mid-20s, most of whom were engaged to be married.
The longitudinal study included extensive data on participant personality traits, both self-reported and as reported by close friends, including bridesmaids and groomsmen in the study participants’ wedding parties.
Using information from previous follow-up studies and searches of death certificates, Jackson and colleagues were able to document dates of death for all but a few study participants. Peer ratings of personality were stronger predictors of mortality risk than were self-ratings of personality.
“There are two potential reasons for the superiority of peer ratings over self ratings,” Jackson said.
“First, friends may see something that you miss; they may have some insight that you do not. Second, because people have multiple friends, we are able to average the idiosyncrasies of any one friend to obtain a more reliable assessment of personality. With self reports, people may be biased or miss certain aspects of themselves and we are not able to counteract that because there is only one you, only one self-report.”
The study also revealed some gender differences in self-assessment: Men’s self-ratings of personality traits were somewhat useful in predicting their lifespans, whereas the self-reports of women had little predictive value.
Jackson suggests this gender difference in self-reporting may be a function of the era in which the study began, since societal expectations were different then and fewer women worked outside the home.
Young women seen as highly agreeable and emotionally stable may have increased odds for a long and happy life since their personalities were well suited for the role of a supportive and easy-going wife, which would have been the norm in the 1930s. It is likely that fewer gender differences would arise in more modern samples if we were able to wait 75 years to replicate the study, he said.
“This is one of the longest studies in psychology,” Jackson said. “It shows how important personality is in influencing significant life outcomes like health and demonstrates that information from friends and other observers can play a critical role in understanding a person’s health issues. For example, it suggests that family members and even physician ratings could be used to personalize medical treatments or identify who is at risk for certain health ailments.”
The study is co-authored by James J. Connolly, PhD, and Madeleine M. Leveille, PhD, of Connolly Consulting, Waterford, Connecticut; S. Mason Garrison of the Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University; and Seamus L. Connolly of College of Medicine, Touro University, California.
UC Berkeley study finds self-worth key to diagnoses of psychopathologies
Donald Trump’s ego may be the size of his financial empire, but that doesn’t mean he’s the picture of mental health. The same can be said about the self-esteem of people who are living from paycheck to paycheck, or unemployed. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, underscores this mind-wallet connection.
UC Berkeley researchers have linked inflated or deflated feelings of self-worth to such afflictions as bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, anxiety and depression, providing yet more evidence that the widening gulf between rich and poor can be bad for your health.
The social self. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“We found that it is important to consider the motivation to pursue power, beliefs about how much power one has attained, pro-social and aggressive strategies for attaining power, and emotions related to attaining power,” said Sheri Johnson, a UC Berkeley psychologist and senior author of the study published in the journal Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice.
In a study of more than 600 young men and women conducted at UC Berkeley, researchers concluded that one’s perceived social status – or lack thereof – is at the heart of a wide range of mental illnesses. The findings make a strong case for assessing such traits as “ruthless ambition,” “discomfort with leadership” and “hubristic pride” to understand psychopathologies.
“People prone to depression or anxiety reported feeling little sense of pride in their accomplishments and little sense of power,” Johnson said. “In contrast, people at risk for mania tended to report high levels of pride and an emphasis on the pursuit of power despite interpersonal costs.”
Specifically, Johnson and fellow researchers Eliot Tang-Smith of the University of Miami and Stephen Chen of Wellesley College looked at how study participants fit into the “dominance behavioral system,” a construct in which humans and other mammals assess their place in the social hierarchy and respond accordingly to promote cooperation and avoid conflict and aggression. The concept is rooted in the evolutionary principle that dominant mammals gain easier access to resources for the sake of reproductive success and the survival of the species.
Studies have long established that feelings of powerlessness and helplessness weaken the immune system, making one more vulnerable to physical and mental ailments. Conversely, an inflated sense of power is among the behaviors associated with bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, which can be both personally and socially corrosive.
From the 6 November 2014 EurekAlert!
Study shows integrative medicine relieves pain and anxiety for cancer inpatients
Pain is a common symptom of cancer and side effect of cancer treatment, and treating cancer-related pain is often a challenge for health care providers.
The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing researchers found that integrative medicine therapies can substantially decrease pain and anxiety for hospitalized cancer patients. Their findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs.
“Following Integrative medicine interventions, such as medical massage, acupuncture, guided imagery or relaxation response intervention, cancer patients experienced a reduction in pain by an average of 47 percent and anxiety by 56 percent,” said Jill Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author and Senior Scientific Advisor at the Penny George Institute.
“The size of these reductions is clinically important, because theoretically, these therapies can be as effective as medications, which is the next step of our research,” said Jeffery Dusek, Ph.D., senior author and Research Director for the Penny George Institute.
The Penny George Institute receives funding from the National Center of Alternative and Complementary Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of integrative therapies on pain over many hours as well as over the course of a patient’s entire hospital stay.
“The overall goal of this research is to determine how integrative services can be used with or instead of narcotic medications to control pain,” Johnson said.
Researchers looked at electronic medical records from admissions at Abbott Northwestern Hospital between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012. From more than ten thousand admissions, researchers identified 1,833 in which cancer patients received integrative medicine services.
Patients were asked to report their pain and anxiety before and just after the integrative medicine intervention, which averaged 30 minutes in duration.
Patients being treated for lung, bronchus, and trachea cancers showed the largest percentage decrease in pain (51 percent). Patients with prostate cancer reported the largest percentage decrease in anxiety (64 percent).
Early life pain alters neural circuits in the brain that regulate stress, suggesting pain experienced by infants who often do not receive analgesics while undergoing tests and treatment in neonatal intensive care may permanently alter future responses to anxiety, stress and pain in adulthood, a research team led by Dr. Anne Murphy, associate director of the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University, has discovered.
n estimated 12 percent of live births in the U.S. are considered premature, researchers said. These infants often spend an average of 25 days in neonatal intensive care, where they endure 10-to-18 painful and inflammatory procedures each day, including insertion of feeding tubes and intravenous lines, intubation and repeated heel lance. Despite evidence that pain and stress circuitry in the brain are established and functional in preterm infants, about 65 percent of these procedures are performed without benefit of analgesia. Some clinical studies suggest early life pain has an immediate and long-term impact on responses to stress- and anxiety-provoking events.
The Georgia State study examined whether a single painful inflammatory procedure performed on male and female rat pups on the day of birth alters specific brain receptors that affect behavioral sensitivity to stress, anxiety and pain in adulthood. The findings demonstrated that such an experience is associated with site-specific changes in the brain that regulate how the pups responded to stressful situations. Alterations in how these receptors function have also been associated with mood disorders.
The study findings mirror what is now being reported clinically. Children who experienced unresolved pain following birth show reduced responsiveness to pain and stress.
- Research finds pain in infancy alters response to stress, anxiety later in life (eurekalert.org)
- Research finds pain in infancy alters response to stress, anxiety later in life (medicalxpress.com)
“Give sorrow words.” – Malcolm in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”
Can simply describing your feelings at stressful times make you less afraid and less anxious?
A new UCLA psychology study suggests that labeling your emotions at the precise moment you are confronting what you fear can indeed have that effect.
The psychologists asked 88 people with a fear of spiders to approach a large, live tarantula in an open container outdoors. The participants were told to walk closer and closer to the spider and eventually touch it if they could.
The subjects were then divided into four groups and sat in front of another tarantula in a container in an indoor setting. In the first group, the subjects were asked to describe the emotions they were experiencing and to label their reactions to the tarantula – saying, for example, “I’m anxious and frightened by the ugly, terrifying spider.”
“This is unique because it differs from typical procedures in which the goal is to have people think differently about the experience – to change their emotional experience or change the way they think about it so that it doesn’t make them anxious,” said Michelle Craske, a professor of psychology at UCLA and the senior author of the study. “Here, there was no attempt to change their experience, just to state what they were experiencing.” …
- That giant tarantula is terrifying, but I’ll touch it: Expressing your emotions can reduce fear (sciencedaily.com)
- That Giant Tarantula Is Terrifying, but I’ll Touch It (zen-haven.dk)
- Expressing Your Emotions Can Reduce Fear (sott.net)
- ‘That Giant Tarantula Is Terrifying, but I’ll Touch It’ – Expressing Your Emotions Can Reduce Fear (psychologicalscience.org)
- That giant tarantula is terrifying, but I’ll touch it (universityofcalifornia.edu)
- That giant tarantula is terrifying, but I’ll touch it (eurekalert.org)
- Speaking Out Your Fears Helps You Face Them (techie-buzz.com)
- How To Live Fearlessly (psychologicalscience.org)
- Fear, Spiders and the Perception of Threat (psmag.com)
And if so, is the workplace still drug free??? And if an employee would prefer not to follow advice on using a drug??
A top executive I know recently decided to takeInderal before making high-pressure/high-anxiety presentations. The impact was immediate. She felt more relaxed, confident and effective. Her people agreed.
Would she encourage a comparably anxious subordinate to take the drug? No. But if that employee’s anxiety really undermined his or her effectiveness, she’d share her story and make them aware of the Inderal option. She certainly wouldn’t disapprove of an employee seeking prescription help to become more productive.
No one in America thinks twice anymore if a colleague takes Prozac. (Roughly 10% of workers in Europe and the U.K. use antidepressants, as well). Caffeine has clearly become the (legal) stimulant of business choice and Starbucks its most profitable global pusher (two shots of espresso, please).
Increasingly, prescription ADHD drugs like Adderall, dedicated to improving attention deficits, are finding their way into gray market use by students looking for a cognitive edge. When one looks at existing and in-the-pipeline drugs for Alzheimer’s and other neurophysiological therapies for aging OECD populations with retirements delayed, the odds are that far more employees are going to be taking more drugs to get more work done better….
- Should Your Boss Encourage You to Take Drugs? (thehealthcareblog.com)
- Should Your Boss Encourage You to Take Drugs? (blogs.hbr.org)
- FDA Warns of Counterfeit Adderall Sales (whnt.com)
- FDA Warns of Fake Version of ADHD Drug Adderall (news.health.com)
- FDA Warns Over Fake Adderall Drugs (myfoxphilly.com)
From a 17 May 2011 Medical News Today article
For the first time, researchers at McMaster University have conclusive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behaviour.
The findings are important because several common types of gastrointestinal disease, including irritable bowel syndrome, are frequently associated withanxiety or depression. In addition there has been speculation that some psychiatric disorders, such as late onset autism, may be associated with an abnormal bacterial content in the gut.
“The exciting results provide stimulus for further investigating a microbial component to the causation of behavioural illnesses,” said Stephen Collins, professor of medicine and associate dean research, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Collins and Premysl Bercik, assistant professor of medicine, undertook the research in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.
The research appears in the online edition of the journal Gastroenterology. ….
- When a Loved One Has PTSD (everydayhealth.com)
- How Trauma Leads to Depression (everydayhealth.com)
- Depression and Anxiety After a Natural Disaster (everydayhealth.com)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnostic Criteria (brighthub.com)
- Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (everydayhealth.com)
- Child soldier trauma in Uganda shares similarities with Northern Ireland (eurekalert.org)
- Psychological Scarring to Palestinian and Israeli Children when Exposed to War (hellerbrittani.wordpress.com)
- Teachers-based intervention provides stress resistance in war-exposed children (eurekalert.org)
- How to Help Children Cope With a Dangerous World (health.usnews.com)
University Park, Pa. — Just as the constant pressure soldiers face on the battlefield can follow them home in the form of debilitating stress, African-Americans who face chronic exposure to racial discrimination may have an increased likelihood of suffering a race-based battle fatigue, according to Penn State researchers.
African-Americans who reported in a survey that they experienced more instances of racial discrimination had significantly higher odds of suffering generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) some time during their lives, according to Jose Soto, assistant professor, psychology.
Generalized anxiety disorder has both psychological and physical symptoms that are so severe that they can significantly affect everyday tasks and job performance. People with the disorder may have chronic worrying, intrusive thoughts and difficulty concentrating. Physically, the disorder may manifest such symptoms as tension headaches, extreme fatigue and ulcers. Some of these symptoms are associated with “racial battle fatigue,” a term coined by William A. Smith, associate professor, University of Utah….
Broader psychological impact of 2010 BP oil spill
Spill caused significant psychological impact even to nearby communities not directly touched by oil
Baltimore, MD – Feb. 17, 2011. The explosion and fire on a BP-licensed oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 had huge environmental and economic effects, with millions of gallons of oil leaking into the water for more than five months. It also had significant psychological impact on people living in coastal communities, even in those areas that did not have direct oil exposure, according to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who worked in collaboration with the University of Florida, Gainesville. Study results will be published in the February 17 online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institutes of Health.
“We found that people living in communities with and without direct oil exposure had similar levels of psychological distress. People in both groups showed clinically significant levels of depression and anxiety. Also, where compared to people whose income was unaffected by the disaster, people with spill-related income loss in both groups had higher rates of depression, were less resilient and were more likely to cope using ‘behavioral disengagement,’ which involves just ‘giving up’ trying to deal the problem,” explains Lynn Grattan, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The Maryland investigators, who traveled to the region soon after the spill, worked with Gulf Coast community leaders to get “real-time” assessments of the acute impacts of the spill. Their goal was to measure the acute psychological distress, coping resilience and perceived risk (concerns about the environmental impact and potential health consequences) of people living along the Gulf Coast. By doing this, they could help identify the potential mental health needs of the Northwest Gulf Coast communities. They examined the psychological impact in two fishing communities: Baldwin County, Alabama, and Franklin County, Florida. Baldwin County had direct oil exposure; Franklin County did not. The researchers defined indirect impact as a place where oil did not physically reach the coastline, but where anticipation of the oil spread significantly affected the community’s recreation, tourism and fishing industries.
“The findings of these University of Maryland researchers may have important implications for planning public health response in similar situations, suggesting that a broader approach may needed,” adds E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The people in Florida, where oil had not reached shore, showed similar elevated levels of anxiety and depression as those living in Alabama who had direct oil exposure. Both groups had similar high levels of worry about the impact of the spill on the environment, health and seafood safety.
However, the levels of psychological distress were higher in both communities among people who had suffered income loss because of the spill. They had significantly more tension, anger, fatigue and overall mood disturbance than those whose income was not adversely affected. These people also had lower scores on resilience and may have fewer psychological resources to bounce back from adversity.
“From a public health standpoint, we need to understand that when there is a significant environmental crisis, we need to extend public health outreach and education, psychological monitoring and mental health services beyond the immediately affected areas, paying particular attention to people at risk for income loss. There are things that can be done to help people manage their stress and anxiety, and cope in these situations, so these interventions need to be available immediately in the communities where the impacted individuals live,” adds Dr. Grattan, who is also a neuropsychologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The study on psychological impact built on a research program by University of Florida investigators who were already in the area to study the acute environmental and health impact of the spill. Through contacts with local community and religious leaders, trade associations, the University of Florida extension office and other agencies, the Maryland researchers recruited 71 residents in Florida and 23 from Alabama for the psychological assessment.
The team evaluated the participants through interviews and standardized assessments of psychological distress, resilience and coping. The team also looked at whether the participants had cognitive symptoms of neurotoxicity as a result of exposure to oil and chemical dispersants. These included assessments of attention, memory, and dexterity and speed (through a pegboard puzzle task). The researchers also asked the participants about what they were doing to cope with the situation, which could range from prayer and meditation to increased use of alcohol and other drugs.
Related news item
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (Reuters Health) – Uncertainty about a diagnosis causes more anxiety and can be more stressful than actually knowing that you have a serious illness, researchers reported here at the 2010 annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
“Once people have the diagnosis, they gain some understanding and control, but without it, all they have is anxiety, and they do not know how to handle it,” Dr. Elvira V. Lang, from Harvard Medical School, Boston, told Reuters Health. “It is important for physicians and others who work in the health care field to realize this and find ways to alleviate this anxiety and stress. Not only will they help patients, they will also be helping their institutions to provide more cost effective care.”…
We were very surprised to see that the women having breast biopsy were significantly more anxious than the women who came for treatment for malignant cancer and those who came for fibroids,” Lang said in an interview.
Health care professionals tend not to be aware that diagnostic tests can be stressful, she added.
The researchers recognize that for a woman awaiting breast biopsy, the fear of being diagnosed with cancer and uncertainty about what the outcome will be can create higher anxiety levels than even those experienced by patients undergoing a “much riskier and invasive treatment of a known cancer.”
“People in health care and also family members may judge what is minor or major by how much risk is involved. But that is not what the patient is experiencing. That is why we want to alert them,” Lang said.
There are simple ways to diffuse this anxiety prior to procedures, she added. “People want to make patients feel better but they use language that is not helpful. For instance, they will say ‘oh, it’s not going to be that bad’, or ‘it’s just going to be a little sting’, but using such vocabulary only increases anxiety and pain.”
Training health care providers to use the right language with patients about to undergo diagnostic procedures will not only reduce their anxiety levels, it will also save the health care system money, Lang added.
“Sometimes patients are so anxious they can’t complete a test….
Study found they needed more doctor visits to handle issues from parent‘s absence
From a November 8, 2010 Health Day news item
MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) — Mental and behavioral problems cause children of U.S. soldiers deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other war zones to need considerably more outpatient medical visits than those with non-deployed parents, a new study suggests.
Researchers examined the medical records of more than 640,000 military children between the ages of 3 and 8, and found that those separated from deployed parents sought treatment 11 percent more often for cases of mood, anxiety and adjustment disorders. Visits for conditions such as autism and attention-deficit disorder, whose causes are not linked to deployment, also increased.
The study, reported online Nov. 8 and in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics [article is free through this link], also revealed larger increases in mental and behavioral visits among older children, children with military fathers and children of married military parents.
“It’s statistically significant, but I also think it’s clinically significant,” said lead researcher Dr. Gregory Gorman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. “These are also probably the worst cases.”
Gorman said he was surprised to find that while these types of medical visits went up, the rates of visits for all other medical conditions dropped.
“I have no direct evidence, but we hypothesize that when a parent is deployed . . . and the other parent has to do all of the duties, they may want to handle other problems at home,” Gorman said. “These parents who remain at home need to multi-task even more.”…
…In Gorman’s study, the most frequent primary diagnosis during mental and behavioral health visits was attention-deficit disorder (ADD). Adjustment and autistic disorders came next, while farther down the list were mood and anxiety disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, developmental delays, post-traumatic stress disorder, bedwetting and separation anxiety.
SOURCES: Gregory Gorman, M.D., assistant professor, pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; Rick Olson, retired Army general, director, strategic communications, Child, Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Proponency, Fort Lewis, Wash.; December 2010 Pediatrics
Anxiety disorders are generally treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy such as “talk therapy,” or both. Treatment depends on the problem and the person’s preference. Before any treatment, a doctor must do a careful evaluation to see whether a person’s symptoms are from an anxiety disorder or a physical problem. The doctor must also check for coexisting conditions, such as depression or substance abuse. Sometimes, treatment for the anxiety disorder must wait until after treatment for the other conditions.
How Medications Can Help
Doctors may prescribe medication, along with talk therapy, to help relieve anxiety disorders. Some medicines may take a few weeks to work. Your family doctor or psychiatrist may prescribe:
- Antidepressants. These medications take up to four to six weeks to begin relieving anxiety. The most widely prescribed antidepressants for anxiety are the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Commonly prescribed: Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa.
- Anti-anxiety medicines (or “tranquilizers”). These medications produce feelings of calm and relaxation. Side effects may include feeling sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated. The higher the dose, the greater the chance of side effects. Benzodiazepines are the most common class of anti-anxiety drugs.Commonly prescribed: Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan.
- Beta blockers. These drugs block norepinephrine, the body’s “fight-or-flight” stress hormone. This helps control the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate, a trembling voice, sweating, dizziness, and shaky hands. Because beta blockers don’t affect the emotional symptoms of anxiety, such as worry, they’re most helpful for phobias, particularly social phobia and performance anxiety. Commonly prescribed: Tenormin and Inderal.
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