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The psychology of nursing

Nicola Davies looks at how nurses can better understand the mind, in order to heal the body

Psychological issues such as depression and other mental stressors have been found to trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, decreased immunity, and dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Stressful life events (SLEs) such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse may cause organic diseases such as cardiac and metabolic complications, higher serum triglyceride, and lower HDL-cholesterol concentrations. On the other hand, chronic medical conditions can disrupt an individual’s psychological well-being. Cardio-metabolic diseases, for example, are associated with major depressive disorder (MDD).1

The question is: Which one is causing the other? How is the suffering of the mind and body related? There are no simple answers since more and more research is finding a complex two-way relationship between the two. However, nurses can still benefit from an understanding of psychology and the mind-body link.

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