Connect with us

NewsMakers

Facial paralysis stigma takes emotional toll, especially when acquired later in life

People with facial paralysis are more likely to face depression and anxiety than the general population, especially if the paralysis occurs later in life rather than at birth, according to a recent study from Oregon State University.

Published

on

People with facial paralysis are more likely to face depression and anxiety than the general population, especially if the paralysis occurs later in life rather than at birth, according to a recent study from Oregon State University.

OSU College of Liberal Arts researcher Kathleen Bogart surveyed people around the world with different forms of facial paralysis, both congenital and acquired, to understand socioemotional issues affecting them. She looked at emotional clarity – the ability to identify and understand one’s own emotions – as well as stigma, attachment and psychological distress.

About 225,000 people per year develop facial paralysis in the U.S., whether from injury or illness like Bell’s palsy, or from congenital issues like Moebius syndrome or birth trauma. Bogart’s study focused on peripheral facial paralysis, which affects only the face and is caused by facial nerve problems, rather than paralysis from other cognitive conditions that affect multiple parts of the body.

The study tested two competing ideas: The “acquired advantage” hypothesis theorized that people who acquire paralysis later in life would fare better on emotional clarity, as they completed their early developmental stages with a full range of motion and expression. The “congenital advantage” hypothesis countered that people born with paralysis were able to adapt from a young age and thus developed their own alternative ways of expressing themselves, such as body language and tone of voice.

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s people who acquire paralysis later in life that struggle the most, study results showed.

“It seemed that people assumed that people who went through their initial development not having facial paralysis would be doing better; like ‘having a so-called normal early childhood would give you the emotional fundamentals,'” Bogart said. “But these findings are actually really neat, because lots of people have disabilities, and this suggests the ones who have them from birth actually seem to have an advantage. They’re learning how to function in the world for the first time, alongside that disability, at a time of great cognitive flexibility. People with congenital disabilities have a lot to teach us about adaptation.”

When people acquire paralysis later in life, she said, there’s a real sense of loss or a change in identity that those born with paralysis don’t experience.

Facial paralysis can affect people in a variety of ways, including difficulty with facial expressions, vision, speech, eating and drinking. It can also cause physical discomfort and pain.

And because people with facial paralysis have visibly different faces, regardless of when they acquired the paralysis, they also deal with a lot of stigma and discrimination, Bogart said.

The shock of suddenly experiencing stigma, or experiencing stigma in that way, also contributes to the challenges faced by people with acquired paralysis, she said.

People with acquired paralysis reported higher rates of depression and anxiety, as well as more problems with emotional clarity and attachment, likely stemming from the newfound difficulty in conveying emotions to other people.

But both groups still experienced greater stigma than the norm, even though the norms for this question were calculated from people with other stigmatized neurological conditions – just without visible facial paralysis.

Published in the journal Health Psychology, this was the largest psychological study of people with peripheral facial paralysis to date. After contacting participants through facial paralysis organizations and social media, Bogart surveyed 112 adults with congenital paralysis and 434 people with acquired paralysis, which is much more common. Participants were from 37 countries, with the majority in the U.S., and the vast majority were white women. The average age was about 45 years old.

To address these issues and alleviate psychological distress, Bogart says, there need to be greater protections against discrimination and bullying toward people with visibly different faces. People with facial paralysis often report being turned down for public-facing jobs or leadership roles, as well as being perceived as unfriendly or uninterested because of their facial appearance. Though the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits this type of discrimination, it is not well enforced, Bogart said.

“We found that stigma was the main predictor of anxiety and depression,” she said. “This is a socially created problem that can be acted upon.”

There are currently no specialized therapies to support people with facial paralysis experiencing psychological distress. Bogart calls for the development of these therapies, which could include support groups and communication skills training.

Three organizations assisted Bogart in finding survey participants: the Moebius Syndrome Foundation, the Facial Paralysis & Bell’s Palsy Foundation, and Facial Palsy UK.

Zest Magazine accepts contributions promoting everything about living the good life (and how to make this so). C'mon, give us a yell.

NewsMakers

Alsons Dev welcomes The Abba’s Orchard to Avia Estate

The country’s largest and most esteemed network of authentic Montessori schools, The Abba’s Orchard, breaks ground on June 14 for its 15th campus located in Avia Estate, a township project in Alabel, Sarangani by Alsons Development and Investment Corporation (Alsons Dev).

Published

on

The country’s largest and most esteemed network of authentic Montessori schools, The Abba’s Orchard, breaks ground on June 14 for its 15th campus located in Avia Estate, a township project in Alabel, Sarangani by Alsons Development and Investment Corporation (Alsons Dev).

The expansion reflects the school’s mission of “Discover True Montessori Philippines,” offering high-quality education in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region—a mission that aligns with Alsons Dev’s vision to offer vibrant live-work-play-learn communities where families and businesses can thrive. Recognizing this shared purpose, Alsons Dev partnered with The Abba’s Orchard, contributing a substantial two hectares of land within Avia Estate to make the school a reality.

“We at Alsons Dev are thrilled to partner with The Abba’s Orchard in bringing this exceptional learning environment to Alabel,” said Miguel Dominguez, Alsons Dev Director. “This collaboration aligns with our commitment to fostering growth and development within SOCCSKSARGEN.”

Discover how Avia Estate can let you live your best life. For more information about Avia Estate, visit facebook.com/AviaEstate.

Continue Reading

NewsMakers

Optimism wards off procrastination

While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame.

Published

on

People with an optimistic outlook on the future are less likely to be severe procrastinators, according to new research at the University of Tokyo. While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame. Through a survey of nearly 300 young people, researchers found that those who had a positive view about their stress levels decreasing in the future, compared to the past or present, were less likely to experience severe procrastination. Views on personal well-being didn’t appear to have an effect. Improving people’s outlook and readiness for the future could help them overcome procrastination and achieve a less stressful lifestyle. 

How many times have you made a “to do” list, and although the most important task is at the top, you seem to be working your way up from the bottom or distracted by something else entirely? While we might chide ourselves for procrastinating, sometimes the more we try to overcome it, the more stressed we feel and the cycle continues. That is how it was for graduate student Saya Kashiwakura from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, so she decided to investigate why.

“I have struggled with procrastination since childhood. I would clean my room when I needed to study for a test and prioritize aikido practice over my postgraduate research. This habit of putting off important tasks has been a constant challenge,” said Kashiwakura. “I wanted to change my behavior, as I realized that I was not confronting the future impact of my actions.”

This inspired Kashiwakura to examine the relationship between procrastination and the procrastinator’s perspective on time, particularly their view of the future. When she began researching procrastination, she was surprised to discover that many more people suffer from it than she had imagined and found it reassuring her problems were not unique.

Previous research has shown that a feature of procrastination is disregard for the future or difficulty linking present actions with future outcomes. However, the reasons for this have been unclear. Kashiwakura and co-author Professor Kazuo Hiraki, also from UTokyo, proposed that it might be because severe procrastinators have a more pessimistic outlook. 

The researchers surveyed 296 participants in Japan in their 20s for their views on stress and well-being, and importantly how these changed over time. This included asking about their experiences from 10 years in the past through to the present, and their expectations for 10 years in the future. From the results, participants were clustered into one of four groups (for example, if they thought their situation would improve or would stay the same), and then each group was divided into severe, middle and low procrastinators. 

“Our research showed that optimistic people — those who believe that stress does not increase as we move into the future — are less likely to have severe procrastination habits,” explained Kashiwakura. “This finding helped me adopt a more light-hearted perspective on the future, leading to a more direct view and reduced procrastination.” 

It was not only the level of stress people experienced, but how their perception of it changed over the 20-year time period discussed, which influenced their procrastination habits. Surprisingly, a relationship wasn’t found between procrastination and negative views on well-being, such as one’s attitude towards oneself, or not yet finding purpose and goals in life.

Using these results, the team wants to develop ways to help people nurture a more optimistic mindset and overcome procrastination. “We hope our findings will be particularly useful in the education sector. We believe that students will achieve better outcomes and experience greater well-being when they can comprehend their procrastination tendencies scientifically, and actively work on improving them, rather than blaming themselves,” said Kashiwakura. 

“Thoughts can change with just a few minutes of watching a video or be shaped by years of accumulation. Our next step is to investigate which approach is appropriate this time, and how we can develop the ‘right’ mindset to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.”

Continue Reading

NewsMakers

Study shows how night shift work can raise risk of diabetes, obesity

“When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Published

on

Just a few days on a night shift schedule throws off protein rhythms related to blood glucose regulation, energy metabolism and inflammation, processes that can influence the development of chronic metabolic conditions.

The finding, from a study led by scientists at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, provides new clues as to why night shift workers are more prone to diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.

“There are processes tied to the master biological clock in our brain that are saying that day is day and night is night and other processes that follow rhythms set elsewhere in the body that say night is day and day is night,” said senior study author Hans Van Dongen, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Though more research is needed, Van Dongen said the study shows that these disrupted rhythms can be seen in as little as three days, which suggests early intervention to prevent diabetes and obesity is possible. Such intervention could also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, which is elevated in night shift workers as well.

Published in the Journal of Proteome Research, the study involved a controlled laboratory experiment with volunteers who were put on simulated night or day shift schedules for three days. Following their last shift, participants were kept awake for 24 hours under constant conditions—lighting, temperature, posture and food intake—to measure their internal biological rhythms without interference from outside influences. 

Blood samples drawn at regular intervals throughout the 24-hour period were analyzed to identify proteins present in blood-based immune system cells. Some proteins had rhythms closely tied to the master biological clock, which keeps the body on a 24-hour rhythm. The master clock is resilient to altered shift schedules, so these protein rhythms didn’t change much in response to the night shift schedule.

However, most other proteins had rhythms that changed substantially in night shift participants compared to the day shift participants.

Looking more closely at proteins involved in glucose regulation, the researchers observed a nearly complete reversal of glucose rhythms in night shift participants. They also found that processes involved in insulin production and sensitivity, which normally work together to keep glucose levels within a healthy range, were no longer synchronized in night shift participants.

The researchers said this effect could be caused by the regulation of insulin trying to undo the glucose changes triggered by the night shift schedule. They said this may be a healthy response in the moment, as altered glucose levels may damage cells and organs, but could be problematic in the long run.

“What we showed is that we can really see a difference in molecular patterns between volunteers with normal schedules and those with schedules that are misaligned with their biological clock,” said Jason McDermott, a computational scientist with PNNL’s Biological Sciences Division. “The effects of this misalignment had not yet been characterized at this molecular level and in this controlled manner before.”

The researchers’ next step will be to study real-world workers to determine whether night shifts cause similar protein changes in long-term shift workers.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Like Us On Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Most Popular

Copyright ©FRINGE PUBLISHING. All rights reserved.