GIVING SOCIAL SUPPORT TO OTHERS MAY IMPROVE YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH

 GIVING SOCIAL SUPPORT TO OTHERS MAY IMPROVE YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH

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The study used data from 1,054 participants in the National Survey of Midlife Development in the U.S. These were all healthy adults between 34 and 84 years old.

Participants completed a questionnaire that measured their “social integration,” asking if they were married or living with a partner, how often they contacted family and friends, and how often they attended social groups or activities.

Social support refers to the psychological and material resources provided by a social network to help individuals cope with stress.

Psychologists and other mental health professionals often talk about the importance of having a strong social support network. When trying to reach our goals or deal with a crisis, experts frequently implore people to lean on their friends and family for support.

Research has also demonstrated the link between social relationships and many different aspects of health and wellness. Poor social support has been linked to depression and loneliness and has been shown to alter brain function and increase the risk of the alcohol use, cardiovascular disease, depression and suicide.

The findings showing the importance of being available to help others held true even after taking into account a broad range of other factors that may affect inflammation, from age, income and education to health behaviors, medication use and diagnosed medical conditions.

An exploratory analysis suggested that the connection between offering social support and health may be mostly found in women, Jiang said.

“Positive relationships may be associated with lower inflammation only for those who believe they can give more support in those relationships,” said Tao Jiang, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at Ohio State.

Karabelo Moncho

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