mental health

  1. Smoking cigarettes damages mental health

    Quit smoking cigarettes, boost your mood

    When I ask patients who smoke why they continue with a habit they know is so bad for them, there's one answer I hear more than any other.

    "It makes me feel good," they say.

    Many smokers believe smoking cigarettes helps them to relax, fight stress and enjoy a better mood, but it's just not true.

    Smoking actually does just the opposite. And if you feel a little lift when you light up, it's not because the cigarette is relaxing you or enhancing your mood.

    It's because it's calming the nicotine craving the habit caused in the first place.

    Now, a new review of 26 studies confirms that once you manage to break free of that addiction, you'll enjoy less stress, lower levels of anxiety, a sunnier mood and even a better overall quality of life.

    It's as if a cloud has been lifted -- and I guess in a way it has. You've finally cut through the haze of tobacco smoke and can get back to enjoying life naturally and without the struggles and cravings caused by your addiction.

    Of course, a mood boost isn't the only reason to quit. It's not even the best reason -- because smoking cigarettes can cause heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and oral cancers. It's also responsible for gum damage, rotting teeth, chronic bad breath and no shortage of social problems (especially if you smell like cigarette smoke all the time).

    Quit, and quit now. Once you give up, your body starts to undo the damage of smoking cigarettes, reversing even years of damage and helping to restore your vital organs, even your heart and lungs.

    You can learn more about your body's amazing capacity to heal itself in this free report from my House Calls archives.

  2. Light exercise can improve stroke & heart attack recovery

    Fighting back after heart attack and stroke

    If you're recovering from a heart attack or stroke, don't take it lying down. Get up and get moving as soon as you can. It's critical for your physical recovery, of course, but it's also positively essential to your mental health -- especially if you're fighting your way back from a heart attack.

    Many heart patients face depression after an attack, and it's often so bad that doctors prescribe antidepressants such as SSRIs to fight it off.

    But those meds are a bad idea in the best of times, and after a heart attack -- when patients are already taking more pills than they can count -- those drugs can make a bad situation worse.

    Exercise, on the other hand, is a proven mood-booster that studies have shown can be as effective as SSRIs at fighting off depression. And now, a new study shows that's even true among heart attack patients.

    Researchers assigned 2,322 heart failure patients to either regular aerobic exercise or "usual care," which included advice to get exercise but no actual structured exercise program.

    You know how that works, right? Most people hear the advice but never actually engage in the exercise (this isn't just true for heart patients, by the way).

    Over the course of a year, the exercisers did consistently better on a 63-point depression test than those who didn't exercise. With an average difference of one point, it wasn't a huge improvement -- but it held throughout the study.

    In addition, many of these patients weren't all that depressed to begin with. Among those who were more seriously depressed, however, the benefit was even bigger. All told, the researchers say exercise worked about as well as antidepressant drugs -- minus the actual drugs and their side effects.

    And for the icing on the cake, those who did the exercise program were 15 percent less likely to die or return to the hospital for heart failure during the study period.

    Exercise doesn't have to be intense and you certainly don't need to work yourself to the brink of another heart attack. In this case, they used a treadmill or bike for 30 minutes three times a week.

    Other, even gentler, forms of exercise can also have a benefit. Yoga, for example, can help ease depression and boost heart health.

    And if you or someone you love is recovering from a stroke, you might want to work on your "lotus" pose, because another new study finds the gentle stretches of yoga can help restore balance.

    I don't mean the esoteric concept of balance that yoga lovers often talk about, but actual balance -- the physical coordination that many people lose after a stroke.

    In the new study, stroke survivors who tried eight weeks of yoga had better balance, were less afraid of falling, were more independent and even reported better quality of life and improved mindset over those who didn't get stretched out.

    Some of those changes might sound minor, but they led to major real-world improvements -- like stroke survivors in the yoga group who would want to walk through a store instead of ride in a scooter, or get out and visit friends instead of stay at home.

    You don't have to be a heart patient or stroke survivor to benefit from exercise. Regular movement -- even simple, gentle stretches and not necessarily yoga -- can help lower blood pressure, ease pain, boost the mood, reduce anxiety, and more.

    Exercise can even help prevent that heart attack or stroke from happening in the first place -- and that's the biggest benefit of all.

  3. Mediterranean diet benefits are physical & mental

    People who stick to the Mediterranean diet have better overall physical and mental health, a new study confirms. Here's what you need to know.
  4. Having a purpose in life can fight the effects of dementia

    A purpose in life can help keep cognitive decline at bay even when the brain is already showing the damage linked to dementia.
  5. Yoga can bring fibro relief

    Researchers say light stretching can do what a pharmacy full of drugs often cannot: Bring real relief to women suffering from fibromyalgia, the mystifying and often debilitating pain condition.

5 Item(s)