Research suggests that antidepressants can help stroke sufferers recover by reducing depression and anxiety during the aftermath of a stroke. The medicine may also aid in the reduction of physical disability and dependence. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh examined 52 studies that show antidepressants can stimulate nerve cell growth in the brain and protect cells that have been damaged by stroke. More here
Partners of heart attack victims are more likely to suffer from depression than husbands and wives of people with other major health issues. New research from Denmark’s Gentofte University Hospital found that, among people whose partner died of a heart attack, three times as many were taking antidepressants in the year after compared to the year before the heart attack. Even among spouses of people who survived a heart attack, prescriptions for antidepressants rose by 17 percent. The researchers suspect that the suddenness of a heart attack may be a factor in the elevated risk of depression. Previous research revealed that heart attack survivors also commonly suffer from depression following the event. More here.
A new study from the University of Copenhagen found that, in addition to an expected rise in mortality rates among people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood, individuals with elevated levels of the vitamin were also shown to have higher death rates. The research was the largest of its kind and looked at the blood of nearly 250,000 people. The surprising results suggest there are limits to the amount of vitamin D a person should be consuming, despite its many health benefits. Vitamin D is said to help prevent depression, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and is also essential in helping calcium reach our bones. More here.
Despite conventional wisdom, sleep may not become more difficult with age. A new study found that people in their 80s had fewer complaints about sleep than younger participants and middle-aged respondents reported the most trouble with sleeping and feeling fatigued during the day. Researcher Michael Grandner, PhD, said specific sleep problems can worsen with age but most older adults do not report deterioration of the quality or quantity of their sleep as they get older. The study, which asked 155,877 men and women about their sleep habits, found that people with health problems and depression were more likely to report trouble sleeping and more women than men complained about poor sleep. More here.
The number of doctors prescribing exercise and physical activity to their patients has increased over the past 10 years, according to a new report from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. In 2000, less than 25 percent of adults who went to see a doctor were advised to get more exercise compared with one in three adults in 2010. Patients between the ages of 45 and 74 were most likely to be told to get more exercise, though 30 percent of adults over the age of 85 received similar advice. Though exercise is known to lower the risk of everything from heart disease to depression, few Americans get the recommended amount per week. The report says over the past 10 years the medical community is increasing its efforts to recommend patients exercise due to the substantial health benefits. More here.
Studies have linked happiness to better health and longer life. But though many measure happiness in terms of achievement, recent research shows being grateful for what you already have increases happiness more than a concentration on achieving goals or acquiring possessions. In a controlled study, participants who were instructed to focus on a time in their life when they were at their best were less likely to report increased happiness than those who were instructed to express gratitude to someone who they’d never properly thanked. The same study found participants who were asked to write down three things that went well each day for a week reported less depression at one-month, three-month, and six-month follow-ups. More here.
Happier people live longer, according to a new study from researchers at University College in London. The study followed 4,000 participants between the ages of 52 and 79 for five years and asked them to rate their feelings on a sliding scale from happiness to anxiety. After taking into account age, gender, depression, disease and lifestyle factors, the researchers found that participants who rated themselves the happiest reduced their risk of premature death by 35 percent. Andrew Steptoe, lead author of the study, said he was surprised that the happiness effect was so strong, even among people with chronic diseases. More here.
Adults suffering from depression often hide their symptoms from their doctors because they fear their doctor will recommend antidepressants, because they feel it isn’t their primary care physician’s job to deal with emotional issues, or because they worry their medical records could be seen by an employer or third party. According to a recent study, 43 percent of surveyed adults said they wouldn’t discuss their depression with their doctor during appointments. Richard Kravitz, M.D., co-author of the study, said the results highlight the need to educate patients, doctors, and nurses about the importance of discussing mental-health issues during routine checkups and appointments. Kravitz suggests doctors put pamphlets and questionnaires in their waiting rooms to indicate to patients that depression is within the scope of their practice. More here.