Joy – The Drug

Here’s powerful study result showing that breast cancer patients who received psychological counseling had

15/365/year2  putting things into perspective.

Image by riot jane via Flickr

improved survival, decreased recurrences of their tumors, and, even for those who had a recurrence, longer times until relapse. That’s powerful stuff. Especially considering that these women were not chosen because of mental health problems – instead, they were just given the tools to cope with their disease, and strategies for decreasing stress. Specifically, as the report says, they were given “sessions that concentrate on mood improvement, effective coping, and altering health behaviors.” Numerous other studies have shown increased well-being, and improved health for those who receive counseling with a serious diagnosis. But survival differences are considered the gold standard for whether or not a strategy (or drug!) works – it’s a hard number to fudge, and the most important outcome for many people. And how big a difference are we talking about here? Was it one of those 20%-ers? or maybe even a third? Hold onto your hats, folks – study subject had an almost 60% decrease in death (less than 44% chance of death), compared to those who didn’t receive counseling. If this was a pill, you’d being seeing ads every ten minutes! So what if you don’t have (heaven forbid) breast cancer? Let’s all (men and women) keep this study result as a potent reminder of how important it is to take our stress levels seriously, and to reach for the joy whenever even tiny bits are floating past our lives. And if you or a loved one is newly diagnosed with breast cancer, print out this study and go to work, making sure your mental health benefits are available (and used!). If this was a pill, with these results and no side effects (or drug interactions), you’d make darned sure you had access to it, no questions asked. And, for all of us, going to counseling after a serious diagnosis isn’t just for the “weak” or those with problems – it’s part of your informed survival strategy.

Check in tomorrow for the next in our on-going series – Five Things To Do For Your Health This Month: December!

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