Friday Roundup – Surviving the Holidays, E-Cigs May Help Smoking Cessation, Extroverted vs. Introverted Immune Systems, and Much More!


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Friday Roundup – The Latest in Mental Health News

(and other stuff)

Emotionally Surviving the Holidays

With the holidays comes stress, chaos, and lots of family. Remembering to stay centered and relying on healthy coping mechanisms to navigate the holiday rush is critical. CNN reports on three ways to survive emotionally during the holidays, particularly around family.

1. Manage Your Visit

“Take control of your visit from the very beginning. Time with family has an expiration date, anything from an hour to a couple of days. Decide beforehand how long you will be staying and clearly communicate your plans to the family you will be visiting.”

2. Let Go of Family Roles

“If we want to be seen as a person instead of some label we outgrew ages ago, then we need to lead by example and start extending that same courtesy to our family.”

3. Work on Gratitude

“The more you focus on what you are grateful for in your life and what you appreciate about your family, the more blessings you will find to count.”

Seniors with Dementia Not Visiting Doctors

A new study in Neurology finds that over half of seniors (55%) with cognitive issues did not have a history of evaluations. Researchers from the University of Michigan noted that if the findings were applied to the general population, almost 2 million people with dementia over the age of 70  do not have the opportunities for receiving intervention that might help slow down cognitive decline because they are not visiting a physician.

The research team analyzed several social and clinical factors that would predict the likelihood of an individual seeking help from a physician. Marital status was the only predictor that contributed to people seeking cognitive evaluations. Income, proximity of children, and race did not affect the odds of getting evaluated.

The study authors suggest the reasons behind their findings are  likely due to a number of factors, including patients, doctors, and the nature of the healthcare system.

E-Cigs May Help People Quit Smoking Cigarettes

BBC News Reports on a respected international review, the Cochrane review, that finds that electronic cigarettes may be helpful in decreasing or ceasing smoking tobacco cigarettes. The review considered two randomized trials evaluated just over 660 current smokers. The study authors noted the necessity of their findings being expanded upon by other studies while physicians maintain their concern over the possible negative effects of electronic cigarettes.

Trial researchers found that almost 9% of smokers using e-cigs were able to quit smoking up to a year, and in some cases, longer. In comparison, 4% of smokers using devices without nicotine who were able to quit.

In both of the trials reviewed, 36% of smokers using e-cigs were able to cut down the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoked by 50%, compared to almost 30% of smokers using placebo devices.

No serious negative effects of using e-cigs were noted.

The review authors do note, however, that results are limited and further

There was no evidence of serious adverse effects among people using e-cigarettes.

However, the Cochrane review authors cautioned that the results were limited by the small number of trials and the limited sample of participants.

Being an Extrovert May Help Your Immune System

The Huffington Post reports on a study, recently published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, that finds people who are extroverts may have a biological advantage when it comes to staving off infection.

The study linked personality traits, such as extroversion, to the strength of an immune system.

Researchers evaluated just over 120 men and women who were given personality tests to determine their level of introversion and extroversion. Researchers also took blood samples from the participants to analyze genes that regulate the immune system – those that are involved in a pro-inflammatory immune response, and those that are associated with antibodies and antiviral responses.

The researchers found that those “extroverted” participants were strongly linked to a higher expression of the genes that manage the body’s pro-inflammatory response, while “conscientiousness,” – linked to introverted people – was associated to a reduction in the same genes.

In a written statement, Dr. Kavita Vedhara, health psychologist at The University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine in England, says, “In other words, individuals who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (i.e., extroverts) appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal effectively with infection. While individuals who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well. We can’t, however, say which came first. Is this our biology determining our psychology or our psychology determining our biology?”

This week’s roundup  is dedicated to Brad Pitt, who turns 51 this week. Fifty. One.



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