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Health Psychology and Its Impact on Physicians

Health psychology is a field that studies the psychology of health. This includes an analysis of people's thoughts and feelings as they interact with health care, their bodies, and their environments. It is highly concerned with learning how social, psychological, and environmental factors affect illness and health. Psychological factors can influence health indirectly through physiological processes. Health psychology attempts to combine these various aspects of psychology in order to understand how to intervene in order to promote health.

The field of health psychology has many sub-specialties, including social factors, cognitive therapy, neuropsychology, neuropsychology, interpersonal therapy, counseling, families, health education, clinical studies, research, and public health. There is even a sub-field called healthcare psychology. Many health psychologists specialize in one or a few of these areas. Different areas of health psychology each have different degrees of specialization, as well as different methodologies.

Social factors are among the most important influences on health. Most health psychologists work with social scientists and sociologists in studying social factors. They look at why people get sick, develop habits, how they behave, and how they deal with emotions. Social psychologists learn about the relationships between people and how they can be affected by major life events, such as death, divorce, job loss, school graduation, or moving to a new neighborhood. They study how people adapt to the new environment and how they interact with one another.

Cognitive therapy deals with the minds and bodies of patients. Studies show that cognitive therapists have a greater impact on patients than do psychiatrists. In cognitive therapy, health psychologists attempt to figure out what makes a person feel good and how they can change their behavior patterns to avoid getting sick again. Successful practitioners of cognitive therapy have been shown to treat anxiety, depression, alcohol addiction, eating disorders, substance abuse, physical illness, workplace injuries, stress-related disorders.

Stress management is part and parcel of health psychology. Psychologists recognize that one of the major causes of poor health is excessive stress. Studies have shown that health professionals, including physicians, dentists, nurses, and therapists, can benefit from learning stress management techniques. These techniques can help people better cope with work-related or medical, emotional, or personal stresses. In turn, healthier and happier patients are able to better take care of themselves, allowing them to participate better in society.

According to the Society of American Psychologists, health psychology can also be applied in the workplace. Workers may learn how to reduce workplace stress, how to deal with angry and hostile co-workers, how to handle peer relationships, how to relax during the workday, how to properly schedule and use technology, how to modify interpersonal behaviors, how to select and use work-related aids and resources, how to properly dress for work, and other techniques. It can even help workers develop healthier social skills and interpersonal relationships. Such benefits extend beyond the workplace, as well.

Individuals who suffer from mental health disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, can benefit from regular appointments with a qualified health psychologist. In-house visits can help them gain perspective, improve self-esteem, learn new coping strategies, and prepare for possible tests and treatments. Counseling can help those struggling with eating disorders, substance abuse, alcoholism, or gambling. It can also help those with disabilities that require specialized equipment or assistance. It can also help those who are injured or physically impaired regain their independence.

As you can see, health psychology has a number of benefits to its practitioners. It doesn't matter whether you are a doctor-nurse or therapist. Health psychology has the potential to benefit all of those involved. Although it was only in the last decade that this type of psychology became recognized as an actual field of study, its benefits to those who suffer from mental disorders cannot be denied. If you or someone you know needs help, contact your local health psychology center. They'll be able to give you the help you need.

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