I’m pleased to introduce our newest blog, Boomers on the …
I’m pleased to introduce our newest blog, Boomers on the …
I once had an abscessed tooth, and in the absence of a dentist, I considered pulling it myself to end the intense pain. Secrets are like abscesses. They hurt when we touch them but we can’t stop touching them. When a secret is at the center of our integrity it produces excruciating pain. We long for the momentary intense pain that comes with releasing the pressure.
Each of us seeks to maintain a sense of internal integrity, while still making a positive impression on others. We are driven by a fear of being discredited. Sometimes that means keeping secrets, especially when the concealed information is sensitive. Concealment of sexual orientation requires considerable effort, constant vigilance, and behavioral self-editing. Although there is a wish to disclose the secret, the need to make a favorable impression on others often overpowers the need to disclose.
Coming out is a process of initiating forgiveness for what we or others may see as a serious mistake. Initiating forgiveness is associated with higher stress at all ages, but it is particularly complex for the mature man who has been living a heterosexual life. In the research for my book Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, I found that for mature men who have sex with men (MSM), initiating forgiveness creates one of the biggest barriers to their coming out. MSM have intense stress that may worsen their physical health and lead to depression, substance abuse and suicide. MSM may or may not feel guilty about their sexual behaviors, but most are tormented by the potential consequences of revealing their lies and deception.
It’s the million-dollar question (of course not when you’re depressed): what do we need to do to live longer? Two professors decided to bring together their 20 years of work on a landmark eight decade study. Howard S. Friedman is Distinguished Professor at the University of California in Riverside. Leslie R. Martin is Professor of Psychology at La Sierra University, and Research Psychologist at UC Riverside. Together they wrote The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study. Their scientific research on health and longevity has been published in over 150 influential and often-cited scientific articles in leading books and scientific journals.
1. I know that it’s hard to pinpoint one predictor of longevity. But I’m going to ask that anyway. Given all the research you present in this book, can you name the top three factors that contribute most?
Dr. Friedman: We looked very carefully at who thrived and survived from childhood through old age. So naturally, people ask, “What is the single most important tip to live longer and happier?” Is it telling jokes and laughing a lot? Maybe it is that hour in the gym every morning at 6 am? Or, is it vowing to lose that extra 10 pounds? Could the essential trick be keeping a positive outlook and whistling while you work? No.
The single most important bit of advice we can offer tip-seekers and list-makers is: Throw Away Your Lists!
Antioxidants are good for your health.
Or at least that is a popular claim.
An antioxidant is any molecule that slows down or prevents oxidation reactions. Originally, oxidation reactions were defined as chemical reactions with oxygen. More recently, oxidation reactions have been described as reactions in which an atom or molecule loses an electron.
Oxidation is a natural part of life. Excessively high antioxidant levels are detrimental to health. Some people have suggested that oxidation reactions contribute to heart disease, declines in cognitive abilities, and cancer.
“Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene have been shown to be antioxidants in a test tube, and it is often claimed that they and many other substances are able to function as antioxidants in the body. However, whether any molecule can act as an antioxidant depends on its environment, and it is not clear which of these can be counted on to work in your body. Further, even if they act as antioxidants in the body, it is not clear that they will have any effect on heart disease or cancer,” says Gerda Endemann, biochemist and author of Fat is Not the Enemy (Endemann, 2002).
Inspired from all the comments she received from my interview with her on chronic illness, Dr. Elvira Aletta compiled some suggestions for finding a good-enough doctor.
In her previous Psych Central post called Tips to Find a Good-Enough Doctor, she throws out three basic qualities she looks for in a doctor:
Then she follows up with a few more points to keep in mind while shopping for a doctor…
Here’s a news flash for you — people like sex. Even older people. Wow, what an astounding insight into human behavior.
I think some people have this conception that older people are somehow, like, not normal. Like they don’t have all the same needs, wants and desires as a younger person does. Like aging itself is some sort of disorder or disease that needs separate studying and understanding.
I’ll let you in on a little secret — most older folks don’t feel their age. Most middle-age folks don’t feel their age. Once you hit 25 or so, many people (most?) seem “stuck in time” in terms of their own self-image and what they imagine others see them as. Most people simply don’t seem to feel their chronological age.
Dan Fields, freelance health writer and former editor in chief of Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self-Healing newsletter, recently sent me a link to his piece for a cool new online publication called “The Good Men Project Magazine.” I was especially intrigued by his exploration of midlife suicide and why the rate is highest among any age group. You can get to his fascinating piece by following this link. I have excerpted a few paragraphs below:
In 2007 (the latest year for which statistics are available), people aged forty-five to fifty-four had the highest suicide rate of any age group: 17.7 per 100,000. (The national average was 11.5 per 100,000.) And the rate for fifty-five to sixty-four-year-olds showed the greatest increase from the previous year.
Researchers don’t yet know why midlifers are becoming more vulnerable to suicide, especially since studies have found that middle age is generally the happiest time of life for most Americans. As a forty-five-year-old white guy, I was curious to know what makes my demographic group so self-destructive. After talking with experts, here’s what I learned…
“I donated my brain, so when the time comes, they can make a study of it. The fact that I have not had any of this Alzheimer’s disease, or even an inclination so far is something they would naturally want to study.”
– Sister M. Celine Koktan, 97 years old in March 2009
“We’ve received over 500 brains.”
– Dr. Karen Santa Cruz, neuropathologist.
Can you imagine being asked to be part of a study where the researcher asks if you not only would be willing to take part, but would mind terribly donating your brain to be dissected after you’re gone?
That is exactly what was asked of the nuns participating. Of the 678 sisters in the original study about four dozen are still living. But researchers already have begun analyzing the more than 500 brains saved to dissect and study.
The nun study is one of the most dynamic and powerful studies on the impact of positive emotions and thoughts in the history of positive psychology. Researchers Danner, Snowdon, and Friesen (2001) from the University of Kentucky sampled the nuns, perfect subjects for a study because of the profound similarities around their physical health. They have similar, regularized diets, live together in similar surroundings, do not have children, and do not smoke or drink to excess. In other words, their physical backgrounds and conditions are about as controlled for as any group of human beings might be.
Improving your memory is easier than it sounds. Most of think of our memory as something static and unchanging. But it’s not — you can improve your memory just as you can improve your math or foreign language skills, simply by practicing a few tried and true memory building exercises.
There are two kinds of memory — short-term and long-term. Short-term memory is the kind of memory our brain uses to store small pieces of information needed right away, like someone’s name when you meet for the first time. Research has demonstrated that short-term memory’s capacity is about seven pieces of information. After that, something has to go.
Long-term memory is for things you don’t need to remember this instant. When you study for a test or exam, that’s long-term memory at work. A memorably moment in your life, events with family or friends, and other similar kinds of situations also get stored in long-term memory.
So how do you go about improving your memory? Read on to find out.
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jody Smith, creator of the website www.ncubator.ca, who spent 15 years losing the battle against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Three years ago, she found treatment that worked for her and is making a comeback. In the process, she’s helping a lot of people. (You can check out her blog, “ncubator” by clicking here.)
You tried many treatments and finally you got there. What worked?
Jody: My naturopath believed that my liver needed relief from its toxic load, and my immune system needed building up.
She put me on a tincture with natural antivirals and adaptogens and vitamins in it, and put me on omega3 oil.
I’d gone low carb some years before which had made quite a difference.
I did dry skin brushing with a loofah, to help lymph move better (removing toxins) and sinus lavage (water up the nose to cleanse sinuses) and juicing (for nutrients to absorb better in a weakened gastrointestinal tract).
Vitamin D helped with orthostatic intolerance and vertigo in noticeable ways. Most of us are deficient of Vitamin D.
Awhile back my friend Michelle said to the congregation at her husband’s funeral service: “He never spoke an unkind word to me.”
Another girlfriend and I looked at each other, jaws dropped. And then she whispered, “They didn’t have kids.” We nodded and felt better about ourselves.
But a growing body of research confirms our suspicions. Says Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times: “One of the more uncomfortable findings of the scientific study of marriage is the negative effect children can have on previously happy relationships. Despite the popular notion that children bring couples closer, several studies have shown that marital satisfaction and happiness typically plummet with the arrival of the first baby.”
Why the shift?
It’s not been a good news week for SSRIs, a popular and common class of antidepressants that are widely prescribed by family physicians, interns and psychiatrists alike.
A study released in the journal Ophthalmology showed that in seniors, SSRIs can increase the risk of developing cataracts in your eye by 15 percent in general. But researchers found it was even worse for some specific kinds of antidepressants — Fluvoxamine (Luvox) increases the risk by 39 percent, venlafaxine (Effexor) increases the risk by 33 percent and paroxetine (Paxil) increases the risk by 23 percent.
A separate study also published this week found that taking SSRI antidepressant medications (and the SNRI Effexor) significantly increased — by 68 percent — the risk of miscarriage.
Read on for the details…