An estimated 14 percent of Americans will experience a serious bout of depressionduring their lifetime, and 20 percent will experience an anxiety disorder. The ubiquitous advertisements forantidepressant drugs suggest that pills are the only answer—and that they work for everyone. Neither is really true, but you don’t have to take our word for it: We surveyed more than 1,500 respondents toConsumer Reports‘ 2009 Annual Questionnaire who had sought professional help for depression, anxiety, or both.
Our results provide a window onto mental-health treatment as it’s practiced in the real world, as opposed to the carefully controlled environment of clinical trials of psychiatric drugs.
Among our key findings:Read the entire article on Consumer Reports
It runs counter to our instincts as parents, but a new book suggests that making your kids your top priority may be doing them more harm than good.
An Episcopal minister and family coach, David Code suggests that parents who focus first on maintaining a strong marriage end up having happier, better-adjusted children than those who make their kids their top priority.
“The truth is, we often find it easier to be with our kids than our partners,” Code said in an interivew. “This seems child-friendly, but we don’t realize we’re using our kids as an escape from our spouses.”Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
College students who want to boost their grades can start by boosting their level of exercise, new research suggests.
A report presented on Thursday at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 57th annual meeting in Baltimore finds that college students who regularly engage in vigorous exercise get better grades. Although a link between physical activity and higher academic achievement has been shown in middle-school students, it hasn’t been clear whether exercise is associated with better grades among older students.
To find out, researchers at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan tracked the grades and exercise habits of 266 undergraduates. They found that students who regularly participated in vigorous physical activity had higher G.P.A.’s.Read the entire article on The New York Times
NEW YORK — It is inevitable. The muscles weaken. Hearing and vision fade. We get wrinkled and stooped. We can’t run, or even walk, as fast as we used to. We have aches and pains in parts of our bodies we never even noticed before. We get old.
Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
One day several years ago, I was reaching the end of my first visit with a patient, J.J., who had come to see me for anxiety andinsomnia. He was a salesman for a struggling telecommunications company, and he was having trouble managing the strain on his finances and his family. He was sleeping poorly, and as soon as he opened his eyes in the early morning, the worries began. “I wake up with a list of things to worry about,” he said. “I just go through the list, and it seems to get longer every day.”
Read the entire article on The New York Times
In 1858, a British epidemiologist named William Farr set out to study what he called the “conjugal condition” of the people of France. He divided the adult population into three distinct categories: the “married,” consisting of husbands and wives; the “celibate,” defined as the bachelors and spinsters who had never married; and finally the “widowed,” those who had experienced the death of a spouse. Using birth, death and marriage records, Farr analyzed the relative mortality rates of the three groups at various ages. The work, a groundbreaking study that helped establish the field of medical statistics, showed that the unmarried died from disease “in undue proportion” to their married counterparts. And the widowed, Farr found, fared worst of all.Read the entire article on The New York Times
In 1978, a trio of psychologists curious about happiness assembled two groups of subjects. In the first were winners of the Illinois state lottery. These men and women had received jackpots of between fifty thousand and a million dollars. In the second group were victims of devastating accidents. Some had been left paralyzed from the waist down. For the others, paralysis started at the neck.
The researchers asked the members of both groups a battery of questions about their lives. On a scale of “the best and worst things that could happen,” how did the members of the first group rank becoming rich and the second wheelchair-bound? How happy had they been before these events? How about now? How happy did they expect to be in a couple of years? How much pleasure did they take in daily experiences such as talking with a friend, hearing a joke, or reading a magazine? (The lottery winners were also asked how much they enjoyed buying clothes, a question that was omitted in the case of the quadriplegics.) For a control, the psychologists assembled a third group, made up of Illinois residents selected at random from the phone book.
When the psychologists tabulated the answers, they found that the lottery group rated winning as a highly positive experience and the accident group ranked victimhood as a negative one. Clearly, the winners realized that they’d been fortunate. But this only made the subsequent results more puzzling. The winners considered themselves no happier at the time of the interviews than the members of the control group did. In the future, the winners expected to become slightly happier, but, once again, no more so than the control-group members. (Even the accident victims expected to be happier than the lottery winners within a few years.) Meanwhile, the winners took significantly less pleasure in daily activities—including clothes-buying—than the members of the other two groups.Read the entire article on The New Yorker
Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life — and less time talking about the weather?
It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject.
“We found this so interesting, because it could have gone the other way — it could have been, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ — as long as you surf on the shallow level of life you’re happy, and if you go into the existential depths you’ll be unhappy,” Dr. Mehl said.Read the entire article on The New York Times
Nearly 10 percent of Massachusetts workers are out of a job, and the other 90 percent may be counting their lucky stars. But a recently released University of Puget Sound study, which followed thousands of workers at Boeing over a decade, suggests that people who get laid off may fare better over time — be healthier, less depressed, and less prone to substance abuse — than those people still at their posts. After all, while unemployed job seekers face a difficult path, layoff “survivors” sometimes find themselves on an impossible road: a doubling or a tripling of their workload. “People left behind are forced into overwork,” says Cambridge career counselor Phyllis R. Stein. “Some of my clients are trying to absorb three different jobs.”Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
The Victorians had many names for depression, and Charles Darwin used them all. There were his “fits” brought on by “excitements,” “flurries” leading to an “uncomfortable palpitation of the heart” and “air fatigues” that triggered his “head symptoms.” In one particularly pitiful letter, written to a specialist in “psychological medicine,” he confessed to “extreme spasmodic daily and nightly flatulence” and “hysterical crying” whenever Emma, his devoted wife, left him alone.
Read the entire article on The New York Times
Studies suggest that the popular drugs are no more effective than a placebo. In fact, they may be worse.
Read the entire article on Newsweek
In a bad mood? Don’t worry – according to research, it’s good for you.
An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly.Read the entire article on BBC
The empty nest may not be such an unhappy place after all.
Since the 1970s, relationship experts have popularized the notion of “empty nest syndrome,” a time of depression and loss of purpose that plagues parents, especially mothers, when their children leave home. Dozens of Web sites and books have been created to help parents weather the transition. Simon & Schuster has even introduced a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” dedicated to empty nesters.
But a growing body of research suggests that the phenomenon has been misunderstood. While most parents clearly miss children who have left home for college, jobs or marriage, they also enjoy the greater freedom and relaxed responsibility.Read the entire article on The New York Times