Positive Psychiatry: A New Era

Saturday, September 29, 2012 Stef dela Cruz 0 Comments

This is a continuation of the article on positive psychiatry. Read the first part for a better understanding of the continuation below.

Positivity has always been encouraged, but do scientific studies support the value of positive thinking in better health? Does optimism, for instance, give you a longer lease in life?

  • According to Erik Giltay and associates in a 2004 article published at the Archives of General Psychiatry, an optimistic disposition decreases death in the elderly population. Much of this benefit is attributed to improved cardiovascular health.
Optimism prolongs life
  • In about nine years, about 400 participants passed away, with optimistic groups having approximately 50 percent less risk for death than their pessimistic peers. Almost 1,000 elderly men and women were evaluated for optimism, morale, health, and self-respect.
  • An optimism outlook protected against mortality in later life, independent of other factors. This means that being an optimist is, on its own, a great protective factor against death!
  • The evidence supporting the value of positive thinking has sparked a special interest in psychiatry. Including positivistic teachings in psychiatric intervention is therefore sound advice.

Positive Psychiatry: Eliminating The Stigma

Mental illness comes with a stigma. Despite having biochemical, genetic, environmental, and even infectious risk factors just like any other illness, a psychiatric diagnosis brings shame to many. This mindset is both misguided and unnecessary, causing many patients to delay seeking psychiatric help.

The field of psychiatry aspires to enlighten the masses to get rid of the stigma associated with mental illness. However, even doctors are not exempt from this mindset.

  • Of all the 100 slots for Geriatric Psychiatry fellowship, only about half are filled. Aside from the perceived low earnings of this specialization, one reason why doctors shy away from Geriatric Psychiatry is the obvious association between aging and death.
  • Geriatric neuropsychiatry deals with the mental and emotional problems of the elderly population – but this field is far from being a pessimistic one. Psychologically speaking, optimism improves health outcomes in the elderly. Physiologically speaking, the nervous system has been proven to continue growing in old age, showing adaptability that can only be interpreted as optimistic.
  • Positive psychosocial phenomena, such as increased interaction with affirmative people, increase the number of connections between different nerves of the brain. This is a relatively novel discovery, with older teachings insisting that further regeneration in the nervous system is limited to nonexistent. Speaking of positive and negative vibes, learn how to react to negative comments, whether it be from loved ones or haters.

Resilience in old age has previously been underestimated. As the body’s own nerves prove that healing is a reality even in later life, psychiatry now aims to do the same. Hope continues even after every single strand of hair has turned white.

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Let this article on positive psychiatry inspire you to think positive, even when everything seems to fall apart around you. Even quantum physics supports the idea that everything is interrelated, and that people influence the objects they observe simply by observing them! How you influence the objects around you will depend, of course, on how you think… and you better be thinking about something positive! Winking smile

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!