Thursday, February 28, 2019

Trying To Quit Smoking?

Stress is related to cessation success for pregnant women

Many people are aware of the adverse health consequences associated with smoking and are trying to quit. The consequences of smoking get worse when a woman becomes pregnant. She is not only putting herself in danger but also her unborn child. Consequently, it is especially important to understand what influences the chances of cessation success for pregnant women. Researchers at the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, the University of Washington, and the University of Minnesota recently took on the challenge.

What was the research about?
Eight hundred and nineteen pregnant smokers in two large cities participated in a smoking cessation study. They were randomly assigned to one of three types of programs designed to help them quit smoking, and they were surveyed at multiple times before, during, and after pregnancy. Among other things, information was gathered on smoking behavior and stress.
The findings showed that smoking cessation was related to low levels of stress in early but not late pregnancy. In other words, less stress only was related to being able to quit smoking early on during pregnancy, not later on during pregnancy. Thus, it is possible that reducing stress early in pregnancy may make it easier to quit smoking. It is also possible, however, that quitting smoking early in pregnancy serves as a stress reducer.

Why should it matter to me?
Women who smoke and who have not been pregnant for too long may find that stress reduction can help them quit smoking. Alternatively, quitting smoking early on during pregnancy may help women reduce the stress in their lives.
Source: Ludman, E. J., McBride, C. M., Nelson, J. C., Curry, S. J., Grothaus, L. C., Lando, H. A., & Pirie, P. L. (2000). Stress, depressive symptoms, and smoking cessation among pregnant women. Health Psychology, 19,21-27.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Cancer-Related Stress
Why unsupportive spouses promote stress in cancer patients
The relationships between cancer patients and their spouses are important. They play an important role in determining how well cancer patients adjust to the disease. When the spouse of a cancer patient engages in unsupportive behaviors, the patient experiences increased stress. Researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center and Research Analysis and Consultation recently reported the findings from a study aimed at finding out why.
What was the research about?
The participants in the study were 191 married cancer patients. They responded to questionnaires measuring the extent to which they perceived negative spousal behaviors, felt in control over their emotions and the course of the disease, used an avoidant style of coping (i.e., trying not to think about it and trying to avoid reminders of it), felt able to cope, and experienced stress.
The results showed that the using an avoidant style of coping and feeling unable to cope were two reasons why unsupportive spouses promoted stress in cancer patients.
Why should it matter to me?
First, people who are married to someone with cancer should try to be supportive. Second, cancer patients with unsupportive spouses should not use avoidant coping styles and should try to be more confident in their ability to cope. One option, for example, would be to learn more effective coping styles that they can be more confident in, such as finding social support from other sources like other family members, close friends, and support groups.
Source: Manne, S., & Glassman, M. (2000). Perceived control, coping efficacy, and avoidance coping as mediators between spouses' unsupportive behaviors and cancer patients' psychological distress. Health Psychology, 29, 155-164.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Exercise and Meditation Influences on the Immune System

Both meditation and exercise are useful ways to get stress under control. They also seem to have an effect on the immune system. In a recent attempt to tie these issues together, researchers in Norway investigated the effects of long-term meditation on the immune system before, during, and after exercise.
What was the research about?
Twenty runners in a half-marathon race participated in the study. One group in the study consisted of 10 runners who had practiced mediation for a long time. The other group in the study consisted of 10 runners who did not practice meditation. Blood samples were taken from the participants before, immediately after, and 2 hours after the race to determine the number of immune cells in the blood stream.
The results showed that certain types of immune cells were much higher after the race, regardless of whether participants practiced long-term mediation.
Why should it matter to me?
Exercise can help people avoid getting sick by boosting the immune system. Moreover, using relaxation techniques like meditation do not interfere with this exercise-related benefit.
Source: Solberg, E. E., Halvorsen, R., & Holen, A. (2000). Effect of mediation on immune cells. Stress Medicine, 16, 185-190.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Marijuana Use and Depression
Although marijuana is illegal in the US, some people still use it. Among those who do, some use it to try to cope with stress and others just use it for the "high." Besides the legal consequences of being caught with the drug, some studies have found evidence suggesting that marijuana use may be associated with depression. Other studies have contradicted these findings, suggesting that marijuana is not related to depression. So, is marijuana use related to depressions, and if so, does it matter why a person uses the drug? A recent study by researchers from The Ohio State University and Kent State University provided some answers to these questions.
What was the research about?
The data for the study came from the 1985 portion of the Young Men and Drugs Survey, which involved face-to-face interviews with thousands of men over several years. The men who participated in the survey were a good representation of 30- to 40-year-old men in the general US population during 1985. The participants were asked questions about marijuana use, educational attainment, employment and marital status, other drug use, and depression.
The results showed that marijuana use, stress, and depression were related in a complex way. In general, men who had used marijuana at some point in their lives, spent fewer years in school, were less likely to be married or have jobs, and used other drugs (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, other illegal drugs) more, which accounted for why they became more depressed than did those who had not ever used marijuana. The frequency of current marijuana use, however, was not related to depression for everyone. Increased frequency of current marijuana use was associated with more depression only for those who used it as a way to try to cope with stress. For those who did not use marijuana as a way to try to cope with stress, increased frequency of current marijuana use was actually associated with less depression. Due to the nature of the study, however, it is unclear whether marijuana can actually cause depression for some people or whether the two just tend to seem related for other reasons.
Why should it matter to me?
People who are depressed probably should not try to use marijuana to cope with their problems because it might actually make things worse. Even though marijuana use may actually lead to less depression for those who do not try to use it as a way of coping, the negative legal consequences of being caught with the drug and the stress that most likely would follow are probably not worth risk.
Source: Green, B. E., & Ritter, C. (2000). Marijuana use and depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 41, 40-49.

Friday, February 1, 2019

ChunDoSunBup Qi-Training
The reactions that people have to stressful events are not entirely out of their control. Stress management techniques can help people control how they respond to stressful events. Examples of stress management techniques include meditation, biofeedback, and Tai Chi. One technique that is less well-known is ChunDoSunBup (CDSB) Qi-training.
CDSB Qi-training is a traditional Korean practice that teaches people control over their mind and body. It involves three kinds of activities: sound exercise, motion, and meditation. Sound exercise teaches people to become serene, relax, and concentrate better. Motion enhances the immune system. Meditation assists with self-exploration and increases awareness of mental processes and bodily sensations.
Researchers at Wonkwang University in Korea recently reported the findings from a study assessing whether CDSB Qi-training is related to stress coping ability.
What was the research about?
Over 200 participants were recruited from the ChunDoSunBup Qi-training Centers in Korea. The participants were divided into four groups depending on whether they had 0, 1 to 4, 5 to 12, or over 13 months of training. Participants responded to a questionnaire measuring symptoms of stress, the extent to which they experienced stress responses like anxiety, depression, anger, and muscle tension.
The results showed that people who had more CDSB Qi-training had fewer symptoms of stress. They were better able to cope with stressful events.
Why should it matter to me?
CDSB Qi-training has less research to support its effectiveness than the more common stress management techniques do, but it may be a worth a try. In particular, people who have not had much luck with some of the more common stress management techniques may want to consider trying CDSB Qi-training.
Source: Lee, M. S, Ryu, H., & Chung, H.-T. (2000). Stress management by psychosomatic training: Effects of ChunDoSunBup Qi-training on symptoms of stress: A cross-sectional study. Stress Medicine, 16, 161-166.