Schoolteachers who underwent a short but intensive program of meditation were less depressed, anxious or stressed - and more compassionate and aware of others' feelings, according to a UCSF-led study that blended ancient meditation practices with the most current scientific methods for regulating emotions. A core feature of many religions, meditation is practiced by tens of millions around the world as part of their spiritual beliefs as well as to alleviate psychological problems, improve self-awareness and to clear the mind. Previous research has linked meditation to positive changes in blood pressure, metabolism and pain, but less is known about the specific emotional changes that result from the practice. The new study was designed to create new techniques to reduce destructive emotions while improving social and emotional behavior.
Greater lifetime exposure to the stress of traumatic events was linked to higher levels of inflammation in a study of almost 1, 000 patients with cardiovascular disease led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco. In the first study to examine the relationship between cumulative traumatic stress exposure and inflammation, the scientists found that the more traumatic stress a patient was exposed to over the course of a lifetime, the greater the chances the patient would have elevated levels of inflammatory markers in his or her bloodstream. "This may be significant for people with cardiovascular disease, because we know that heart disease patients with higher levels of inflammation tend to have worse outcomes, " said lead author Aoife O'Donovan, PhD, a Society in Science: Branco Weiss Fellow in psychiatry at SFVAMC and UCSF.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have a significantly greater prevalence of early adverse life events, including general trauma as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse, according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. "Various types of early adverse events are associated with the development of irritable bowel syndrome, particularly among women, " said Lin Chang, MD, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles and lead author of this study. "Addressing early adverse events and associated psychological symptoms in these patients is important and may help guide management approaches that reduce symptoms and improve overall well-being." Although associations between an abuse history and IBS have been reported before, in the current study, researchers aimed to assess simultaneously the association of a range of traumatic events - not limited to abuse - with IBS and the impact of differences in gender and psychological factors on these associations.
Dispatchers who answer 911 and 999 emergency calls suffer emotional distress which can lead to symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a new study reports. The research, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, reveals that direct exposure to traumatic events is not necessary to lead to post-trauma disorders. The research was conducted by Dr Michelle Lilly from Northern Illinois University and researcher Heather Pierce, a former 911 dispatcher. "Post-Traumatic psychological disorders are usually associated with front line emergency workers, such as police officers, fire fighters or combat veterans, " said Dr Lilly. "Usually research considers links between disorders and how much emotional distress is experienced on the scene of a traumatic event. However, this is the first study on emergency dispatchers, who experience the trauma indirectly.
A small study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers found that online virtual communities may be an effective way to train patients in meditation and other mind/body techniques. The ability to learn and practice approaches that elicit the relaxation response - a state of deep rest that has been shown to alleviate stress-related symptoms - in a virtual environment could help surmount several barriers that can restrict participation. "Our finding that a medical intervention - in this case teaching a mind/body approach that includes the relaxation response - can be delivered via a virtual environment is important because these environments are are richer and more rewarding than simply using interactive web sites, " says Daniel Hoch, MD, PhD, of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at MGH http://www.