Social groups can help ease depression

Researchers have suggested that building a strong connection to a social group helps clinically depressed patients recover and helps prevent relapse.

For the paper, (CIFAR) Senior Fellow Alexander Haslam, lead author Tegan Cruwys and their colleagues at the University of Queensland conducted two studies of patients diagnosed with depression or anxiety. The patients either joined a community group with activities such as sewing, yoga, sports and art, or partook in group therapy at a psychiatric hospital.

In both cases, patients responding to survey questions who did not identify strongly with the social group had about a 50% likelihood of continued depression a month later.

But of those who developed a stronger connection to the group and who came to see its members as 'us' rather than 'them,' less than a third still met the criteria for clinical depression after that time. Many patients said the group made them feel supported because everyone was "in it together."

While past research has looked at the importance of social connections for preventing and treating depression, Haslam, a member of CIFAR's Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being (SIIWB) program, says it has tended to emphasize interpersonal relationships rather than the importance of a sense of group identity.

This paper is in press at the Journal of Affective Disorders. 
Source..dna india

Happiness not valued equally across cultures

The research is the first to review the concept of aversion to happiness, and looks at why various cultures react differently to feelings of well-being and satisfaction."One of these cultural phenomena is that, for some individuals, happiness is not a supreme value," said Mohsen Joshanloo and Dan Weijers from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. The researchers believe that being raised in a culture that does not value happiness could encourage a person to back away from it.

However, an aversion to happiness exists in both Western and non-Western cultures, although happiness is more valued in the West, researchers said.

In American culture, it is almost taken for granted that happiness is one of the most important values guiding people's lives. Western cultures are more driven by an urge to maximize happiness and minimise sadness, they said. Failing to appear happiness is often a cause for concern. Its value is echoed through Western positive psychology and research on subjective well-being. In non-Western cultures, in contrast, it is a less valued emotion. The ideals of harmony and conformity are often at odds with the pursuit of personal happiness and the endorsement of individualistic values, researchers said. For instance, studies have shown that East Asians are more inclined than Westerners to think that it is inappropriate to express happiness in many social situations. Similarly, Japanese are less inclined to savour positive emotions than Americans, said researchers.

The review points out that many cultures shy away from happiness as they hold the belief that especially extreme happiness leads to unhappiness and other negative consequences that outweigh the benefits of such positive feelings. In both Western and non-Western cultures, some people side-step happiness because they believe that being happy makes them a worse person and that others may see them as selfish, boring or shallow. "Many individuals and cultures do tend to be averse to some forms of happiness, especially when taken to the extreme, for many different reasons," researchers said. The study was published in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.


Shorter stroke treatment delays tied to more healthy days

Shaving even a minute off the time between the onset of a stroke and initial treatment may add to the amount of "healthy" days people have afterward, suggests a new study.

Researchers found that stroke patients gained about two days of healthy life for every minute spared between the onset of their stroke and when they first received treatment, on average.

"Every 15 minutes you wait, you lose a month of life," Dr. Atte Meretoja told Reuters Health.

Meretoja is the study's lead author from the Melbourne Brain Centre at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville, Australia.

The exact ratio of saved treatment time to healthy days varied by patient, he and his team found.

Although it's well known that early treatment for strokes is best, the new study helps highlight how significant even small delays can be, researchers said.

"We developed that measure so it's easy to remember and that the general public will understand it," Meretoja said.

He and his colleagues summarized their findings in the journal Stroke as, "Save a Minute, Save a Day."

There is currently only one treatment approved by U.S. regulators for ischemic strokes, which are caused by blockages in blood vessels going to the brain. Usually, the blockage is a result of clotted blood or fatty deposits known as plaque.

Thrombolysis is the use of a drug known as tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, to break up the blockage and allow blood to flow to the brain. Restoring blood flow prevents the death of brain cells and improves people's recovery.

The treatment is time sensitive, however. The 60 minutes from the onset of a stroke is often referred to as the "golden hour" for treatment, because people treated during that time have much better odds of completely recovering.

Approximately 800,000 people in the U.S. have strokes every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 87 percent of those are ischemic strokes.

For the new report, the researchers compiled data from two studies to find how time to treatment is related to how patients fare after a stroke.
Source-financial express

The studies, from Finland and Australia, included 2,258 stroke patients.

On average, the researchers found that

Those with big waists might die young

A new study has found that a healthy body mass index is not enough to save people with large waist circumferences from untimely death resulting from various diseases including heartdisease, respiratory problems, and cancer. 

The researchers pooled data from 11 different cohort studies, including more than 600,000 people from around the world. They found that men with waists 43 inches or greater in circumference had a 50 percent higher mortality risk than men with waists less than 35 inches, and this translated to about a three-year lower life expectancy after age 40. Women with a waist circumference of 37 inches or greater had about an 80 percent higher mortality risk than women with a waist circumference of 27 inches or less, and this translated to about a five-year lower life expectancy after age 40.

Importantly, risk increased in a linear fashion such that for every 2 inches of greater circumference, mortality risk went up about 7 percent in men and about 9 percent in women. Thus, there was not one natural 'cutpoint' for waist circumference that could be used in the clinic, as risk increased across the spectrum of circumferences. Another key finding was that elevated mortality risk with increasing waist circumference was observed at all levels of BMI, even among people who had normal BMI levels.

Because of the large size of this pooled study, researchers were able to clearly show the independent contribution of waist circumference after accounting for BMI,James Cerhan, a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist and lead author of the study said. Cerhan added that BMI is not a perfect measure, and it doesn't discriminate lean mass from fat mass, and it also doesn't say anything about where your weight is located. The study is published in the Marchedition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Source-Times Of India


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