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Quitting Smoking Improves Mental Health

Depression and anxiety improves with smoking cessation.

A widely held belief among smokers is that the habit relieves psychological symptoms. However, a new meta-analysis of 26 prospective international studies challenges this assumption. After a median follow-up of 6-12 months, smoking cessation significantly decreased anxiety, depression, and stress while increasing psychological quality of life, compared with continued smoking. Cessation of smoking resulted in an effect similar to drug therapy for depression in the general population.

PositiveTip: Quitting smoking improves anxiety and depression--as well as physical health!

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Why A Peaceful Life May Be a Longer Life

Chronic anxiety is linked to increased risk of stroke

Anxiety is the most common mental illness and is now linked to a common cause of death. American Heart Association research reviewed 22 years of data from 6000 people aged 25-74. They found the most anxious people were 33% more likely to have a stroke later in life. Anxiety induced inactivity, smoking, higher stress hormone levels, heart rate or blood pressure are all possible causes.

Positive Tip: If you have anxiety, seek professional support and learn the truth found in Phil 4:6,7

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Overweight Children With School Issues May Have Sleep Disordered Breathing

Overweight children who snore may suffer from learning difficulties.

Overweight children aged 10-16 years old with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) often have difficulties with attention span, and suffer increased depression and anxiety. This study found that 30% of students with moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) received a grade “C” or below, while only 15% of students without obstructive sleep apnea received a C or lower. Conversely, 15% of students without obstructive sleep apnea received an “A”, while none of the students with obstructive sleep apnea received an “A”.

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Self-medicating for Anxiety Is A Fast Track To Alcohol/Drug Abuse

Self-medicating for anxiety with alcohol and drugs can quickly lead to abuse.

Alcohol and drug abuse is often associated with anxiety disorders, but which came first?  A study of 34,653 adults followed for 3 years may help answer this question. Participants having anxiety disorder at the beginning of the study and self-medicated with alcohol and/or drugs, were 2.5 times as likely to develop alcohol abuse, and had a five fold risk of drug abuse problems within three years.  These substances tend to weaken the ability to deal with life issues by making sound, reasonable choices--thus compounding stressful life situations.

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Alcohol Prolongs Psychological Anxiety of Stress

Alcohol consumption to relieve stress only prolongs the agony.

People often use alcohol as a way of coping with life's stress. New research indicates this may actually just bring more unpleasantness. Although alcohol reduces the cortisol secretion of the stress response, it also prolongs the negative psychological anxiety of stress and takes away the pleasurable effects of alcohol. So stress and alcohol feed the worst in each other, leading to an increased risk of developing stress-related diseases and alcohol addiction.

PositiveTip: Try positive ways of dealing with stress, such as going for walks, doing deep breathing exercises, or talking to a friend. An often overlooked but powerful tool is prayer.

Sleeping Pills and Nerve Pills Increase the Risk of Dying

Pills, pills, pills!There are many mental, physical, and spiritual reasons why people get prescriptions for pills to help them sleep or to cope with anxiety. It isn't surprising that those who feel they need sleeping pills have higher death rates than healthy people.

But the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry published a recent study finding that pills for sleep and anxiety impart their own independent risk of dying.

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Exercise Important for Reducing Anxiety in Illness

Exercise of 30 minutes or more has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Physical activity is well known to improve depression symptoms. However, there has been concern that its effects might worsen anxiety. A review of 40 studies of sedentary adults with a variety of chronic illnesses concludes exercise training significantly reduces anxiety symptoms as well. The largest anxiety improvements were seen in those who exercised at least 30 minutes per session.

PositiveTip: Physical activity of at least 30 minutes will reduce depression and anxiety levels in chronic illness. 

What is the Balance in Your Stress Bank Account?

Many years ago I attended a lecture on how to manage stress. The speaker (I don't remember his name!) said we each have a finite supply of energy to deal with our stresses and can be compared with a bank account. When we respond to various stresses in life we make a withdrawal of this energy. When the bank account is empty we reach exhaustion and breakdown.

Most of us long for a stress free life! There is actually one place on this earth where the residents have no stress --the cemetery! Yet few people want to move there, or more correctly be moved there.

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Anxiety May Predict Later Dementia

Staying calm may protect against dementia!

How can one predict the development of dementia in later life? A new prospective study may shed some light on this question. Using a standardized anxiety inventory and later cognitive status in almost 1200 men followed for 17 years, researchers found that those with high anxiety levels at baseline were significantly more likely to develop dementia. While this report does not establish a causal link, it strongly suggests that managing stress and anxiety positively may influence quality of life the later years.

PositiveTip: A wise man once said: "A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones." Proverbs 17:22