Since I frequently write about studies, this week I want to share late information from two new reports. First, let’s revisit mounting evidence about the mind-body connection—one reason I created Mind Your Body.
The results are in: Even mild depression or anxiety can raise your risk of cardiovascular disease or other conditions. We’ve seen from previous research that severe depression has health ramifications, but I find it startling that “mild” or “sub-clinical” mental disorders can hurt us, too. Obviously, the more we’re upset, the greater the potential damage. In the journal BMJ, scientists report that even mild upset raises our risk of “all-cause death” 20 percent, while serious distress puts that risk at 94 percent.
Don’t mess with stress
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one way we can learn to temper our response to stress, which in turn increases our bodily inflammation and raises our cortisol hormone—both bad company for our health. We know about the benefits of physical activity, too.
Discussions around the use of antidepressant therapy are mixed, for previous research links them to greater risk of heart disease, while other studies indicate they may actually protect our brains from stress. It’s all about risk-benefit, risk-benefit.
Boomers have more conditions
A second, unrelated study reports that over the past decade, the number of us boomers with two or more chronic conditions has increased—diabetes and high blood pressure are singled out. The report notes that cost was a factor in obtaining both medical care and medications, and suggests that the increased burden on the health care system will be a major challenge.
The benefits of eating a healthy, non-processed diet that’s rich in plant foods, combined with a plan of regular physical activity, can’t be discounted as we ponder the messages from these two studies.
(Photo courtesy: © Cristina Bernhardsen | Dreamstime.com)