Ann MacDonald

Ann MacDonald was the editor of the Harvard Mental Health Letter from October 2007 to January 2012. She has also written several editions of the Harvard Medical School Annual prostate Report. Before working at HHP, Ann ran her own medical communications business. Previously, she served as eastern regional director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She became interested in mental health after her brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the late 1980s. Ann earned a B.A. in politics and women’s studies at Brandeis University.


Posts by Ann MacDonald

Ann MacDonald

Use your brain to avoid weight gain—by fighting portion inflation

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend portion control as a way to maintain or lose weight. The inflation of portion sizes makes that difficult. But you can use your brain to help you control portions and eat less.

Ann MacDonald

Feeling S.A.D.? Lighten up if it’s seasonal affective disorder

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

This picture shows the view from my office window in Boston: dull, dreary, and depressing — at least on overcast days like today. Lack of light is one of the reasons that people feel mentally foggy. One of the bloggers I follow, Rachel Zimmerman of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, recently wrote that she’s been drinking three […]

Ann MacDonald

Good investigative reporting may finally debunk the myth that vaccines cause autism

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

For years now, both individual researchers and respected scientific organizations such as the Institute of Medicine have tried to refute a persistent myth — that childhood vaccines cause autism. The myth began after a small study published in 1998 in the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues at Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine […]

Ann MacDonald

New insights into treatment-resistant depression

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

Only one-third of people with major depression achieve remission after trying one antidepressant. When the first medication doesn’t adequately relieve symptoms, next step options include taking a new drug along with the first, or switching to another drug. With time and persistence, nearly seven in 10 adults with major depression eventually find a treatment that […]

Ann MacDonald

Using the relaxation response to reduce stress

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

The American Psychological Association has just released the results of its 2010 Stress in America survey. Among the findings: Nearly 75% of Americans who responded to an online survey said that their stress levels are so high that they feel unhealthy. To put it mildly, we are living in stressful times. The economy is still […]

Ann MacDonald

Painkillers and drug addiction: An ongoing dilemma

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

On October 16, 1846, Dr. John Collins Warren, a renowned surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, removed a tumor from a printer named Gilbert Abbott. The operation was noteworthy for one reason: Abbott did not scream out in pain, as virtually every surgical patient did in those days. The age of anesthesia was born. A Boston […]

Ann MacDonald

Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

Many diet books advise people to chew slowly so they will feel full after eating less food than if they ate quickly. As we explain in the current issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, eating slowly doesn’t always work, but when it does, the reason has as much to do with the brain as […]

Ann MacDonald

Synthetic biology: Really cool science not yet ready for prime time

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

One of the joys of working at Harvard Medical School, at least for those of us who are nerds, is the chance to attend free lectures by scientists who are pushing the boundaries of how we understand the world. So while we usually cover practical health-related topics in this blog, I thought I’d take a […]

Ann MacDonald

Distinguishing depression from normal adolescent mood swings

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

Parents often wonder how to distinguish normal teenage mood swings and rebellions from actual symptoms of depression. I asked Dr. Nadja N. Reilly, a member of the editorial board of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, for some advice on this topic. Dr. Reilly has a particular interest in finding ways to identify and prevent youth […]

Ann MacDonald

Advice for dealing with school bullies

Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health

Although adults sometimes dismiss it as a childhood rite of passage, bullying in school is now recognized as a form of aggression that may have long-lasting psychological ramifications — for both victims and perpetrators. Most research on bullying has been done in Australia and Europe, where rates of frequent bullying range from 2% of youths […]