Stress Linked to Headache Frequency

German researchers have confirmed what headache sufferers have long suspected: The more stressed out you are, the more frequent your headaches.

For being so common, the exact mechanisms behind headaches can be somewhat mysterious. While the new data can only suggest an association with stress, “I would think that stress ‘triggers’ headache,” one of the researchers, Dr. Zaza Katsarava of University Hospital, University of Duisburg-Essen, told.

The study used data from the German Headache Consortium Study of 5,159 people age 21-71. These people answered questionnaires every three months from 2010 to 2012 about headache type and frequency and used a visual 100-point scale to state how much stress they experienced.

After adjusting for age, sex, drinking habits, smoking and so on, the data was clear. For those who reported “tension” headaches, each 10 point increase in stress was associated with a 6.3 percent increase in the number of days each month they suffered through a headache.

Migraine and mixed tension-migraine sufferers also showed increases with stress, 4.3 and 4 percent respectively, though Katsarava cautioned that because headache type was self-reported, some people who said they had migraines might have had tension headaches.

Those results jibe with other studies, like one from Ohio’s Xavier University released last spring in which researchers from the business school found that headache-related hospital admission increased significantly during the 2008-2009 recession.

Alleviating stress can be especially important for people who experience headaches, Katsarava said, because stress can create a vicious cycle. “Stress triggers headache, headache triggers stress. Because people are disabled, they can not manage their life and their duties.”

Headache treatment, she argued, should be include medical, psychological and behavioral approaches.

Source: nbc news

Loneliness ups older adult’s chances of premature death by 14%

A new study has revealed that feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent.

The study by John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, and his colleagues shows that the impact of loneliness on premature death is nearly as strong as the impact of disadvantaged socioeconomic status, which they found increases the chances of dying early by 19 percent.

A 2010 meta-analysis showed that loneliness has twice the impact on early death as does obesity, he said.

The researchers looked at dramatic differences in the rate of decline in physical and mental health as people age.
Cacioppo and colleagues have examined the role of satisfying relationships on older people to develop their resilience, the ability to bounce back after adversity and grow from stresses in life.

The consequences to health are dramatic, as feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, elevate blood pressure, increase morning rises in the stress hormone cortisol, alter gene expression in immune cells, and increase depression and lower overall subjective well-being.

Cacioppo, one of the nation’s leading experts on loneliness, said older people can avoid the consequences of loneliness by staying in touch with former co-workers, taking part in family traditions, and sharing good times with family and friends – all of which gives older adults a chance to connect others about whom they care and who care about them.

The study was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual meeting in Chicago.

Source: Yahoo news


Sharing your stress can reduce fears, study shows

A new study from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles suggests stress isn’t something you should keep to yourself.

Research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests sharing your stress with someone who is having a similar emotional reaction may reduce stress levels more than sharing with someone who is not experiencing similar stress levels.

In the study, researchers measured participants’ emotional states, levels of the stress hormone cortisol and perception of threat when faced with the task of preparing and giving a videotaped speech. The 52 female undergraduate participants were divided into pairs and encouraged to discuss how they felt about the situation before giving their speeches.

Researchers found that when the pairs were in a similar emotional state, it helped buffer each individual against high levels of stress.

Their findings could be useful for people experiencing stress at work.

“For instance, when you’re putting together an important presentation or working on a high-stakes project, these are situations that can be threatening and you may experience heightened stress,” study leader Sarah Townsend, assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business, told Medical News Today. “But talking with a colleague who shares your emotional state can help decrease this stress.”

Source; Fox news

10 Natural Ways to Ease Depression

If you are suffering from depression or seasonal depression, there are many natural options that can help. Of course, you should always see a doctor as well.

1. Supplement with Vitamin D

This vitamin, which is more accurately termed a hormone, has been recently found to play a role in the number of depressive symptoms experienced. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts studied a group of post-menopausal women for a possible correlation between vitamin D and the symptoms of depression. They found that the lower the levels of vitamin D the women had, the more likely they were to experience symptoms of depression.

2. Eat Complex Carbs

If you’re eating a high protein diet or if your diet lacks whole grains, you may be deficient in the building blocks to make important the important neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain—a natural chemical that helps regulate mood. Add fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains to your diet.

3. Skip the Caffeine

Research links caffeinated beverages with suppression of serotonin. By skipping the coffee or tea, you’ll give your brain a better chance to make sufficient serotonin to maintain balanced moods.

4. Boost Your Omega 3s

Finnish researchers found that people who ate fish less than once a week had a 31 percent increase in incidence of mild to moderate depression compared to those who ate fish more often than that. Wild salmon and sardines are good sources of Omega 3s. Excellent vegetarian options include: raw walnuts, walnut oil, ground flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil.

5. Eliminate Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant. If you’re suffering from depression or prone to this disorder, skip the alcoholic beverage.

6. Take St. John’s Wort

The powerful herb frequently gets a bad rap in the media, largely because pharmaceutical drugs interact with it. Whenever that happens the natural, more cost-effective, and lower-side-effect herb is blamed. But, this herb has been found in numerous studies to be effective against mild to moderate depression. Follow the instructions on the package. And, if you’re taking any pharmaceutical drugs, consult your pharmacist or nutritionist before taking St. John’s Wort. A typical dose for depression is 300 mg three times daily.

7. Add SAM-e

Pronounced “Sammy,” this supplement is widely prescribed for depression in Europe. SAM-e is a naturally-occurring substance found in all living cells. Low levels can play a role in depression. Dozens of animal studies found that SAM-e caused significant results in only a few weeks of supplementation, due to its ability to boost three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine—all of which are involved in mood regulation. A typical dose for depression is 1600 milligrams daily.

8. Get Adequate Magnesium

Magnesium is critical for the production and function of mood-regulating serotonin, yet experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the population is deficient. Leafy greens and raw, unsalted almonds are good sources of magnesium. Supplementing with 800 mg daily is common for depression.

9. To B or Not to B

When it comes to depression, consider adding a B-complex supplement to your daily diet. Make sure you choose a natural supplement free of artificial colors, flavors, or fillers. A 100 milligram supplement is a commonly prescribed dose for depression sufferers (with 100 MICROgrams of folate and B12).

10. Walk it Off

Research links insufficient exercise with depressive symptoms. While it can be difficult to get motivated to get outdoors during the winter months, it is a valuable mood booster. Try to go for a brisk walk at least three or four times a week.

Source: care2

10 Ways to Relieve Stress Naturally

Your misplaced wallet. A dead car battery. Stress is a thug we encounter almost hourly. The question is, do you have what it takes to stand up to the bully? If you’re like most people surveyed last year by the American Psychological Association, you may be losing the good fight: Sixty percent said stressful situations left them irritable, 53 percent felt fatigued, and 52 percent were unable to sleep at night.

Stress takes a toll on more than just your mood. All that tension puts a whammy on your waistline, thanks to the stress-related hormone cortisol, which rises during anxiety-inducing events and makes you crave fatty, sugar-packed foods. Those excess calories are more likely to be stored in the gut as visceral fat, the type that’s been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal cancers. Visceral fat also increases the production of cortisol, perpetuating the cycle (as if you need any further assistance).

Moreover, “chronic stress releases cytokines and C-reactive protein in your body — dangerous molecules that cause inflammation and put you at greater risk for developing arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and other chronic diseases,” says Evangeline Lausier, MD, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

You’re probably thinking, So, what do I do now? First of all, don’t wig out. Arm yourself with these natural approaches to de-stressing your mind, body, and spirit.

How to De-Stress Your Mind

1. Change Your Attitude
“Some people find riding a roller coaster to be extremely stressful; others find it thrilling. It all depends on your perspective,” explains Paul J. Rosch, MD, clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College. Say you’re about to run your first half-marathon and your stomach is in knots. The goal is to switch your “Oh, no!” thinking to “Bring it on!” bravado. Easier said than done, for sure, but know this: Short stints of stress are actually good for you because they maximize performance. Blood pressure rises and digestion of food slows, allowing your body to summon the energy to combat the anxiety-inducing situation. If changing your mind-set isn’t working, try this: Decide it’s okay to feel anxious as you hover at the starting line. One recent study found that people who learned to identify and acknowledge stressful thoughts and think them through showed notable improvements in their inner calm.

2. Find Your Zen Zone
Have a big presentation to make? Scared you’ll flub your number? Try this before venturing into the conference room: “Close your eyes. In a quiet area, settle into a comfortable position. Relax every muscle, starting with your toes and moving upward,” Dr. Lausier says. “Focus on your breathing. With every inhale, sink deeper into your body. As you exhale, imagine tension leaving your muscles.” Feel better? Congratulations, you’ve just performed a body scan, a meditative exercise that helps you be hyperaware of where your body is holding stress, so you can physically let go of your worries. Additional mindfulness-based stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing and gentle yoga, have been shown to ease anxiety as well. Our fave yoga move: child’s pose.

How to De-Stress Your Body
3. Get a Rubdown
It’s four months into the new year, and you’re still carrying the 20 pounds you resolved to lose. Negative self-talk will get you nowhere. Instead, head to the nearest spa for a massage. When stressed-out ER nurses received twice-weekly chair massages, their tension levels dropped significantly, according to researchers at Griffith University in Australia. Go to to find a practitioner in your area.

4. Move It!
The endorphins released during workouts make you feel great! The proof: Volunteers who signed up for a three-month stress-management course that included hourlong workouts of walking, jogging, and dancing not only lowered their cardiovascular-disease risk but also eased their anxiety and depression. Dodge your next stress attack by taking the dog for a run. Or crank up your Beyonce CD and shake your hips like a backup dancer.

5. Make Time for Tea
Brits appear composed for a reason. It turns out that people who drink black tea have lower cortisol levels compared with those drinking a tea substitute. Our advice: Brew, steep, and sip up, but skip the scone.

6. Canoodle with a Labradoodle
Researchers at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York found that pet owners have higher heart-rate variability (the greater the variability, the better the heart is able to respond to varying demands) compared with that of non-pet owners. Moreover, recent studies have found that people with pets have lower blood pressure than the rest of the population. One explanation: Pets provide constant companionship and unconditional affection.

How to De-Stress Your Spirit
7. Confide in Your Journal
Why is it that every time you feel stressed someone tells you to jot down your feelings? Well — because it works! Writing about a traumatic event, and what you plan to do about it, reduces levels of anxiety, according to researchers at the University of Amsterdam.

8. Hang with Happy People 

Like your friend with an infectious laugh or your buddy who can belch the entire “Star-Spangled Banner.” Our happiness is contingent on how connected we feel to a network of positive-thinking friends, finds a new study. “If someone you have direct contact with is happy, it increases the likelihood that you’ll be happy by about 15 percent,” says James H. Fowler, PhD, an associate professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego and principal investigator for the study.

9. Draw, Paint, Dance
No one is saying you have to be Basquiat by day and Alvin Ailey by night — just do your own thing. “Artistic activities may reduce stress because you’re able to access the creative part of your brain to express your thoughts and feelings rather than relying on words, which most of us usually do,” Dr. Lausier says.

10. Listen to Music
Ever notice how your dentist cranks up Chopin before jackhammering your gums? Rest assured, he’s only trying to help. Studies show that playing music can reduce perceived psychological stress. Now that’s reason for an encore!

Source: Yahoo shine