Optimism reduces risk of heart problems

As Depression Awareness week is now underway, this study seems to be appropriate to highlight the positive impact optimism has on health rather than focusing on the dark side of depression.

According to a review of over 200 studies examining personality traits and depression at Harvard School of Public Health, optimistic people have significantly smaller chances of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

Published in the Psychological Bulletin, the review builds on previous understandings that stress and depression are linked to heart disease and diabetes. This research reports that, people who are generally happy and content have a greater sense of overall wellbeing and have fewer risk factors for poor heart health like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. What’s more, the positive impact of happiness and life satisfaction on health comes irrespective of age, socio-economic status, smoking status or weight.

Previous research has examined the link between stress and anxiety on wellbeing and health rather than the emotional state of happiness. The field of research into psychosomatic health is growing, it is beginning to accept that the mind’s thoughts and emotional states can have a greater impact on the physical body that has previously been believed.

As a result of this traditional therapies for depression, anxiety and stress are being gradually replaced by treatments that are grounded in this mind-body understanding such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, art therapy, body-psychotherapy and hypnosis.

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