Psychological Self-Help

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and will likely be at the cutting edge of mind-body research for a
Perhaps the most important area of study is "Psychologically what
can be done to prevent or reduce heart disease?" These findings have
not become clear-cut yet. But, several interventions have been
repeatedly shown to be helpful: relaxation training, self-monitoring of
Type A behavior, stress management, hostility management, cognitive
restructuring, supportive counseling by nurses and counselors,
reduction in risky behaviors (smoking, poor diet, over-weight),
meditation, exercise, and others. In fact, several researchers have
concluded that psychosocial treatments were more effective than the
usual medical and surgical interventions, including beta-adrenergic
blocking medications, anticoagulants, stents, etc. However, standard
medical treatment has recently improved with better beta-blockers,
lipid lowering meds, better stents, etc. More research of the
psychological treatment is needed but the promise is there. 
I will not try to link you to all the heart relevant self-help methods
in this book but there are many self-change techniques that can help
you prevent and cope with heart disease. Remember, just stopping
smoking reduces the heart patient's mortality risk by 40%. What if you
never smoked? Starting an exercise program and losing weight also
have known benefits. We know a lot about how to reduce anxiety,
depression, anger, loneliness, conflicts, and so on. You have a pretty
good idea of what you need to get to it. 
In light of all this data strongly connecting emotions with heart
disease, it may surprise you to learn that many cardiologists pay little
attention to the role of emotions in causing or in treating lethal heart
disease. Even when the heart patient's wife says to the doctor that her
husband got enraged and put his fist through the door the other day,
the doctor may just shrug his shoulder. Many, perhaps most,
cardiologists do not refer their patients to psychologists if they need to
gain better emotional control. However, even if referrals were made,
many patients wouldn't go because of the stigma of seeing a shrink.
Much better prevention and treatment could be provided than it is
now, but the professions will have to cooperate and use all the
knowledge available to us. 
There are apparently myths in all areas. That includes notions of
how to avoid heart trouble. Have you been told that you should
express your feelings..."get it out of your system"...that anger will
consume you if you don't "let it out?" A lot of people, including
counselors, give this advice... sometimes it may be good advice,
sometimes bad. Several studies report that having intense anger and
venting it is unhealthy. . 
Have you heard over and over that drinking red wine moderately is
heart-healthy? A recent study questions whether wine is healthy for
you or if healthier people drink wine (July, 2002, American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition). These new findings illustrate the fallacy of the single
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