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  • Keith Armstrong
    Altruistic Actions May Result In Better Mental Health People who offer love, listening and help to others may be rewarded with better mental health themselves,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2003
      Altruistic Actions May Result In Better Mental Health

      People who offer love, listening and help to others may be rewarded
      with better mental health themselves, according to a new study of
      churchgoers in the September/October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

      The study is one of the first to track the positive health benefits
      of altruistic behavior, say Carolyn Schwartz, Sc.D., of the
      University of Massachusetts Medical School and colleagues.

      "The findings really emphasize how helping others can help oneself,"
      Schwartz says.

      Schwartz and colleagues analyzed data collected by the Presbyterian
      Church for 2,016 congregation members. The members were asked about
      how often they "made others feel loved and cared for" and "listened
      to others" in the congregation, and how often they received this
      attention in return.

      The members also answered survey questions about their mental and
      physical health. Most of the congregation members were in good
      physical and mental health to begin with, experiencing only normal
      levels of anxiety and depression.

      While the researchers did not find any significant differences in
      physical health specifically related to giving and receiving help,
      they concluded that giving help was a better predictor of good mental
      health than receiving help.

      But feeling overwhelmed by others' demands -- giving until it hurts --
      can have negative psychological effects, according to the
      researchers.

      "Although our findings suggest that people who help others experience
      better mental health, our findings also suggest that giving beyond
      one's own resources is associated with worse reported mental health,"
      Schwartz says.

      Church leaders, older individuals, women and those who took
      satisfaction from prayer were more likely to be helpers rather than
      receivers, according to Schwartz and colleagues.

      People who give help to others may be less likely to focus inward on
      their own anxieties and depression or more apt to see their own
      troubles in perspective, leading to better mental health, say the
      researchers.

      More GOTO :
      <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031020054121.htm>

      Date: 2003-10-20
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