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Exposure to Nature Reduces Anxiety and Depression, Improves Overall Mental Health

A new study shows that nature is good for mental health, and that visiting parks and other nature areas could reduce anxiety and depression. A research study performed by University of Queensland and ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions researchers found that people who spent at least 30 minutes a week in nature are also far less likely to suffer from poor mental health when compared to people who do not get back to nature for at least this small amount of time each week. This has led researchers to suggest that a minimum level of exposure to nature may be needed to improve mental health. The recent study was published and can be found in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Dr. Danielle Shanahan discussed the findings from the study on nature, mental health, and anxiety and depression. According to Dr. Shanahan there are many health benefits to visiting parks, and these include a lower risk of stress, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. “If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven percent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure. Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at $A12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense. Kids who grow up experiencing natural environments may benefit developmentally and have a heightened environmental awareness as adults than those who don’t.” This is just one more reason to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Study Links Air Pollution to Psychiatric Medications and Decreased Mental Health in Children

A recent Umeå University research study has concluded that there is a link between concentrations of air pollution and both decreased mental health and psychiatric medications in children under the age of 18. The researchers looked at air pollution exposure and psychiatric health in children and adolescents by studying register based medication data in a database which contains this information for all Swedes. The study also included air pollution concentration data from the Swedish National Register. The study looked at entire populations for a variety of Swedish countries with varying demographics, migration and socioeconomic characteristics, and other factors. The researchers determined that higher levels of air pollution also raised the risk that medication would be dispensed to address at least one psychiatric diagnosis for individuals under the age of 18.

The study on air pollution and mental health in children and adolescents should be a cause for concern. Researchers found that an increase of nitrogen dioxide concentration in the air by just 10 micrograms per cubic meter caused the risk of medication being dispensed to this age group for one or more psychiatric disorders by as much as 9%. This increase was calculated after the researchers took all possible factors including demographic and socioeconomic factors into account. Unit for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University researcher Anna Oudin, Ph.D., the lead researcher for the study, explained that “The results can mean that a decreased concentration of air pollution, first and foremost traffic-related air pollution, may reduce psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents.”

4 More Things You Can Expect When A Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder

1. Expect to struggle with the fact that you can not heal someone who has bipolar disorder no matter how much you love them. Many people think that if they try hard enough they can save someone that they love from mental illness but this is not the case. You did not cause this condition and you can not cure it no matter how much you want to or how hard you try.

2. This mental health disorder will cause chaos, especially when your loved one is first diagnosed, and you can expect to be surprised. While the condition has a set of parameters each individual is different and unique, and the disorder can take many different forms and include a wide range of symptoms. There is no lab test for this condition, it is diagnosed based on the symptoms displayed and the history given by the patient.

3. Treatment does not always mean the same thing to someone who has bipolar disorder, and yoru loved one may seem to resist the treatment that you think they would benefit from. A mental disorder changes the way an individual thinks and they may not always see treatment as something that is necessary until an effective treatment is started.

4. Expect to feel guilt when you feel good or you are having a positive moment when you love someone who has this mental health disorder because this is part of human nature. Let this guilt go and understand that avoiding happiness will not help your loved one recover, and that you should not be sentenced to a lifetime of sadness just because the person that you love is mentally ill.

4 Things You Can Expect When A Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder

1. Your loved one may not even realize that they have bipolar disorder. Often those with a mental illness do not even know that they are sick, This is a phenomenon known as anosognasia and the person who is ill will often not even seek treatment as a result of this condition.

2. This mental health disorder requires a considerable amount of time and effort to manage properly, even for those who do not have any mental or medical conditions. Expecting someone who is ill to manage this is impossible and an advocate and caregiver may be needed until the condition is under control and the individual can handle their own needs in these areas.

3. In many cases medications used to treat bipolar disorder is not always effective, and it can take some time to find the right medications in the right dosages. Very few people with this diagnosis get rapid relief as soon as they start the first medications and many find that it can take several attempts and various drugs and drug combos before they begin to see improvement. Don’t expect changes overnight.

4. Expect to feel overwhelmed and remember to take care of yourself. This type of mental health diagnosis is usually one that is life changing, especially for those who care about the person who is diagnosed. Schedule time for yourself on a regular basis and do not let the demands of caring for your loved one prevent you from caring for yourself properly at the same time. Enlist the help of others so that you do not end up exhausted and run down.

Is your Cellphone Causing Mental Health Problems?

New research on cellphones and mental health shows that when cellphone use is excessive this could lead to depression or anxiety. The study determined that for some college students a cellphone may be used like a security blanket, allowing the individual to avoid situations or experiences that they find uncomfortable or stressful. The latest study involved over 300 college students, and determined that heavier use of technology was linked to a higher risk for anxiety or depression. These findings were not true when cellphones were used to relieve boredom or to entertain though. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers also concluded that the devices themselves did not cause or contribute to mental health issues.

Tayana Panova, a co-author for the study on cellphones and mental health risks, noted that “Handheld devices, with their countless applications and entertainment options and their constant presence at our fingertips, make it easier than ever before to disconnect with the problems [and] stresses of reality, and avoid actively engaging with them. But over time turning to the device whenever an uncomfortable situation or feeling arises can become an escapist pattern of behavior, and may make people more vulnerable to stressors due to insufficient emotional ‘exercise.” The study was conducted as part of the undergraduate honors thesis by Panova, and she cautioned that “The causation of the effect is unknown. It may be that individuals with higher anxiety/depression use [phone] devices more intensively or that using devices more intensively can eventually lead to the development of anxiety/depression. Or it can mean that there is a cyclical relationship.”