Brain and cognitive health

5 research-backed lessons on what makes a happy life

Robert John Waldinger, MD

A lifelong study of several hundred men is providing valuable information about how childhood circumstances and life choices influence happiness throughout a person’s life. For example, the sting of a difficult childhood need not derail a rewarding adult life.

Opioid addiction: Long-term treatment for a chronic condition

Glen Buchberger, MD
Glen Buchberger, MD, Contributor

Studies suggest that extended medication-assisted treatment is more effective in treating opioid addiction than short term use. This strategy may prove an important part of addressing the opioid crisis.

Secret to brain success: Intelligent cognitive rest

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

The ability to train one’s mind to activate the “unfocus” part of the brain, also called the default mode network, can help improve creativity and unlock access to the unconscious mind.

Misophonia: When sounds really do make you “crazy”

James Cartreine, PhD
James Cartreine, PhD, Contributing Editor

The little-studied condition misophonia causes people to experience a strong, unpleasant reaction to ordinary sounds (common trigger sounds include eating and breathing) . Research is beginning to explore what causes it, and has found a connection to a specific part of the brain. There are treatments that show promise for managing this condition.

A strengths-based approach to autism

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Because children on the autism spectrum experience the world differently, some developmental experts advocate an approach to therapy that is based in an individual child’s interests, instead of trying to force a child to conform to established learning patterns.

When a loved one is addicted to opiates

Peter Grinspoon, MD
Peter Grinspoon, MD, Contributing Editor

Considering the death toll from opioid overdoses, responding to loved one’s opioid addiction love and empathy might be the safer and more effective method for friends and families to take. At the same time, It is essential to pay attention to the wellbeing of the family members themselves, as having a loved one with a substance use disorder can be profoundly stressful and disruptive, even traumatic.

Binge drinking continues to rise — particularly among women and seniors

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Data from several surveys indicate that the percentage of women who drink has been increasing for decades. The numerous health effects associated with alcohol consumption mean that women should be especially attentive to how much they drink.

When are self-help programs “helpful”?

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

There is an explosion of books, tapes, podcasts, programs, and apps that claim to provide self-help. If you are considering any sort of self-help program, making the effort to evaluate its merits (underlying research, if any; reputation and qualifications of its source; whether or not the program is a good match for your needs) will increase the odds you find something appropriate and effective.

Let the sun shine: Mind your mental health this winter

Dominic Wu, MD
Dominic Wu, MD, Contributing Editor

There are several ways to tackle the changes in mood and energy levels that can arise as the days get the shorter and the weather more dreary. A form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people during the winter months. It’s also important to take steps to mind your mental health during the winter months and to know when to seek the help of a medical professional.

What the 21st Century Cures Act means for behavioral health

Richard Frank, PhD
Richard Frank, PhD, Contributor

The 21st Century Cures Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December, provides or extends funding for a variety of health initiatives, including support for people with mental health and substance use issues. It builds on important innovations introduced in the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act.