Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) – hospital admission rates in England concerning stress increased by 7% in 12 months. Majority of people who had been hospitalised were ages 18 to 60 and most of them belong to the working group.
Stress is among the conditions that can be addressed and treated without the patient being hospitalised. When given immediate medical attention, one can get through stress and anxiety disorders easily. In the HSCIC report, it was found that stress-related cases were up across England. The South West had the lowest rate of hospital admissions while the North West had the highest. Despite the fact that depression symptoms are much prevalent in women, the report showed that there were higher admission rates among men than women, accounting to 54%.
According to Dr Andrew McCulloch, Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, the findings were alarming but not surprising because of the current economic crisis. Admitting people to hospitals for stress is an expensive solution. Patients should resort to less costly yet more effective intervention services that will prevent consequences instead of waiting for the symptoms to necessitate hospital admissions.
Stress and Coronary Heart Disease
A study by the University College London which involved nearly 200,000 people, investigated the link between coronary heart disease and stress. The researchers analysed 13 European studies conducted in Belgium, France, UK, Sweden and Netherlands. All participants were asked to assess the demands of their job such as excessive workload and freedom to make decisions. They found that job strain, has a small yet consistent increase in the risk of coronary heart disease such as heart attack.
The study suggests that preventing work-related stress reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease although the impact is much lower than taking away smoking and alcohol intake.
Smiling to Reduce Stress
Smiling is a sign of joy. But even if you feel stressed, you can still smile, not to conceal your feelings but to take it away. In a new research, scientists found that smiling helps promote physiological recovery from stress. The study, which was led by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman, looked into the effects of smiling on alleviating stress. 169 college students were recruited to undergo a stress test which they thought was a multi-tasking activity.
The subjects participated in a very difficult activity which involved tracing a star-shaped period using their non-dominant hand for two minutes without going off from the pattern. Not only that, they are allowed to see what they are doing only through a mirror. That means they must trace the pattern properly amidst the reverse image. Another activity followed. This time, they had to dip their hands in ice cold water and bear with it for as long as they can. In between the highly-stressful tasks, some of the participants were asked to hold the ends of chopsticks in their mouth while relaxing their face, producing a full smile.
The students were divided into two groups. The first one was the standard smiling group who smiled just by raising their muscles. The second group smiled using chopsticks.
Researchers found that the second group had more genuine smiles which were linked to marital satisfaction and longevity. The smiling participants also recovered faster from the stressful activities than those who had neutral expressions and those who did standard smiles.
Although no biological tests were made to determine how it alleviates stress, the researchers believed that smiling promotes blood flow which in turn, reduces stress. The effects may not be experienced immediately but it can speed up the recovery, the authors noted.
Sources of this article:
HSCIC press release, The Lancet, Study: Job strain as a risk factor for coronary heart disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of individual participant data
Abel, E. L., & Kruger, M. L. (2010). Smile intensity in photographs predicts longevity. Psychological Science, 21 , 542–544.