Empathy Heals:
Patients whose doctors show concern recover from colds faster

It feels good when someone pays attention to our concerns and our feelings—and it turns out such empathy is good for our health, too. Researchers at the University Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health report in Family Medicine that patients of doctors who expressed such concern had a cold for one day fewer than patients whose physicians focused on just the facts. In randomized controlled trials the colds of patients assigned to empathetic doctors lasted an average of seven days; those with low empathy docs endured an extra day of cold misery. The doctors’ empathy also boosted the patients’ immune systems. There was a direct relation between a physician’s empathy level and his or her patient’s level of IL-8, a chemical that summons immune system cells to fight microbial bad guys.

Related Disorders
Insomnia and depression may arise from common genes

Sleepless nights may be genetically linked to depression, according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania and Virginia Commonwealth University. In a study of twins, researchers found that genetically identical twins who suffered from insomnia were significantly more likely than nonidentical twins to also suffer from depression. The two disorders have been linked before, but the role of genetics has not been clear. The new study indicates that insomnia and depression have overlapping genes, and the next step is to pinpoint those genes through DNA analysis. Possible contenders are the genes related to the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, which are involved in both the sleep-wake cycle and mood regulation.

Why the #$%! Do We Swear?
Expletives may not only be an expression of agony but also a means to alleviate it

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