The Health Benefits of Psychotherapy
There is no question that mind and body are integral parts of one another. After all, the brain is part of the body and the mind, or consciousness and self awareness, are products of the brain. Therefore, it is impossible to talk about mental health without including physical health. As further evidence of the mind body connection was a recent article that describes how what people eat affects depression. For example, eating a container of ice cream in one sitting but that is a sugar binge and leads to a crash, emotionally speaking.
In a similar way, the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association met in 2013 and found that psychotherapy actually cuts the numbers of deaths of those who were hospitalized with heart attacks. The report said that "The nurses on their coronary care unit observed that patients were less likely to have another heart attack, die, or return to hospital when they talked to them about their treatment, played music for them or helped religious patients to say prayers." In other words, it appears that heart conditions and attacks are not fully physical but has a psychological component. The same result was found when those who experienced heart attacks two years ago were less likely to have a second attack if they received psychological support. As one cardiologist stated "The results of our study strengthen the evidence that psychological factors have a big role to play in heart disease. Not only do they impact on the risk of having a heart attack, but they also affect the future outlook of a patient who has had a cardiovascular event. This validates our view that cardiovascular disease is not just a physical disease but also has a substantial psychological component."
There have been other studies that show that the inability to control anger, acute and ongoing stress, are major contributors to people experiencing high blood pressure and the conditions necessary to provoke a deadly heart attack. It is entirely possible that psychotherapy might be able to head-off a heart attack in those who suffer from these types of temperaments along with ongoing stress.
One of the factors that is interesting about these studies is that the type of therapy seemed to make no difference. For example, it didn't matter whether or not people were using cognitive behavioral therapy, music, prayer or just plain talking. It was the sense of psychological support that mattered most.
There is a message in this for everyone. We live in difficult times. How react to these times makes a big difference. Too many of us experience strong feelings of stress as with what happened with the recent closing of the government or with the frustration of dealing with attempting to sign up for Obamacare on the Internet. In other words, one type of therapy or another is good for all of us, especially when it's with a specialist in the field.
Remember: Yoga, Meditation, Exercise, Diet, Anger Management and Nutrition all matter in prevent or reducing stress and depression.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD