How playing in a brass band could give your health a boost

New research from the United Kingdom suggests that people who play in a brass band experience a wide array of mental and physical health benefits — partly from playing an instrument, and, in part, thanks to the feeling of inclusion in a group.

A large number of recent studies have shown that listening to music can help improve a person’s cognitive and physical health, as well as increase their resilience to stress.

According to research Medical News Today has covered of late, this passive endeavor may protect cardiovascular health from daily stressors and reduce anxiety before a surgical procedure. It may also boost the effectiveness of pain medication and even help people with Alzheimer’s manage their symptoms.

Full story at Medical News Today

Firefighters can ease one another’s job stress, but loving spouses may increase it

Strong same-sex friendships among male firefighters can help cut down on their stress — but loving relationships with their wives may increase anxiety for those who constantly face danger, according to a Baylor University study.

For firefighters — 90% percent of whom are males — the desire to protect wives from awareness of the risks and emotional trauma of their jobs can add apprehension to their already considerable burden, said lead author Mark T. Morman, Ph.D., professor of communication studies at Baylor University.

“The well-known firefighter mandate is to ‘leave it at the firehouse,'” Morman said.

The study — “Firefighters’ Job Stress and the (Un)Intended Consequences of Relational Quality with Spouses and Firefighter Friends” — is published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Full story at Science Daily

How is stress linked with constipation?

High levels of stress can cause or aggravate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, stomach pain, and changes in bowel movements, which can include constipation.

Researchers have identified various connections between the brain and stomach that may lead to constipation symptoms. A range of treatments and remedies can help relieve stress-related constipation.

In this article, we cover some of the possible links between stress and constipation, along with potential treatments.

Full story at Medical News Today

Health care, mass shootings, 2020 election causing Americans significant stress

A year before the 2020 presidential election, Americans report various issues in the news as significant sources of stress, including health care, mass shootings and the upcoming election, according to this year’s Stress in America™ survey by the American Psychological Association (APA). More than half of U.S. adults (56%) identify the 2020 presidential election as a significant stressor, an increase from the 52% of adults who reported the presidential election as a significant source of stress when asked in the months leading up to the 2016 contest.

The Stress in America™ survey was conducted between Aug. 1 and Sept. 3, 2019, by The Harris Poll among 3,617 adults living in the U.S.

According to this year’s survey, around 7 in 10 adults (69%) say that health care is a significant source of stress — nearly equal to the 71% who say mass shootings are a significant source of stress. Among adults who experience stress about health care at least sometimes (47%), the cost of health care is the most commonly cited source of that stress (64%). Adults with private insurance (71%) are more likely than those with public insurance (53%) to say the cost of health care causes them stress. More than half of adults overall (55%) worry that they will not be able to pay for health care services they may need in the future.

Full story at Science Daily

What is trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania, or pathological hair pulling, is a common but underdiagnosed psychological disorder. People with trichotillomania experience an overwhelming urge to pull out their hair.

Many people who have trichotillomania may not know that they have a diagnosable condition. They may simply view their hair pulling as a bad habit. Others may experience severe physical and psychological symptoms.

This article outlines the symptoms and causes of trichotillomania, as well as the different treatment options available.

Full story at Medical News Today

Social activity in your 60s may lower dementia risk by 12%

New research over a 28-year follow-up period finds significant evidence that frequent social contact at the age of 60 can lower the risk of developing dementia later on.

The link between having a rich social life and brain health has received much attention in the scientific community.

Some studies have suggested that levels of social interaction can predict cognitive decline and even dementia, while others have shown that group socializing can prevent the harmful effects of aging on memory.

New research examines the link between social contact and dementia in more depth. Andrew Sommerlad, Ph.D., from the Division of Psychiatry at University College London (UCL), in the United Kingdom, is the first and corresponding author of the new study.

Full story at Medical News Today

Stressed at school? Art therapy reduces teenage girls’ headaches

Teenagers report higher levels of stress than adults, and cite school as the highest contributing factor, according to the American Psychological Association’s annual report. A summary from 2013 concluded that while stress among Americans was not new, “what’s troubling is the stress outlook for teens in the United States.”

In response, recently some schools have turned to mindfulness-based programs as a way to alleviate stress among their students. These programs could benefit from more research into what activities students find most useful.

In a pilot study led by the University of Washington, researchers explored art-based mindfulness activities that schools could use to reduce headaches, a common side effect of stress in adolescent girls. The test group of eight teenage girls gave feedback on which activities they preferred.

Full story at Science Daily

What is learned helplessness?

Learned helplessness is a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They come to believe that they are unable to control or change the situation, so they do not try — even when opportunities for change become available.

Psychologists first described learned helplessness in 1967 after a series of experiments in animals, and they suggested that their findings could apply to humans.

Learned helplessness leads to increased feelings of stress and depression. For some people, it is linked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Full story at Medical News Today

Simple test can tell if you’re stressed out

Stress is often called “the silent killer” because of its stealthy and mysterious effects on everything from heart disease to mental health.

Now researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed a new test that can easily and simply measure common stress hormones using sweat, blood, urine or saliva. Eventually, they hope to turn their ideas into a simple device that patients can use at home to monitor their health.

The results were published this month in the journal American Chemical Society Sensors.

“I wanted something that’s simple and easy to interpret,” said Andrew Steckl, an Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of electrical engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Full story at Science Daily

Stress-related disorders linked to heightened risk of cardiovascular disease

Stress related disorders — conditions triggered by a significant life event or trauma — may be linked to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), finds a large Swedish study published in The BMJtoday.

The risk of severe and acute CVD events, such as cardiac arrest and heart attack, was particularly high in the first six months after diagnosis of a stress related disorder, and within the first year for other types of CVD.

Most people are, at some point during their life, exposed to psychological trauma or stressful life events such as the death of a loved one, a diagnosis of a life threatening illness, natural disasters, or violence, write the authors.

Full story at Science Daily