Heads up, parents: New study with important information about the online life of teens

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

If you’re the parent of a teenager, how much do you know about the online life of your child? Probably not as much as you think you do. A recent study examined the social media lives of eighth graders from across the country. Results revealed unexpected habits, for example, kids spent more time watching and reading what others did online rather than engaging in social media. What’s more, many parents underestimate the negative emotions and problematic behavior teenagers experience as a result of social media and life online.

Harmful effects of supplements can send you to the emergency department

Susan Farrell, MD
Susan Farrell, MD, Contributing Editor

Many people take vitamins, supplements, and complementary nutritional products in an attempt to optimize health or help prevent disease. Like prescription drugs, these products can have adverse effects, some of which prompt people to seek emergency care. It is important to be a wise consumer if you choose to use these products. An important part of that is making sure your doctors knows exactly what vitamins, supplements, and nutritional products you take.

Can depression worsen RA symptoms or make treatment less effective?

Bonnie Bermas, MD
Bonnie Bermas, MD, Contributing Editor

Depression is fairly common among people suffering with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recent research suggests that depression may worsen RA symptoms and even make medications less effective. To date, the studies that indicate a connection between the severity of RA symptoms and depression have not been conclusive, so more research is needed. In the meantime, if you have RA and notice signs of depression, be sure to talk with your doctor.

First, do no harm

Robert Shmerling, M.D.
Robert Shmerling, M.D., Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

It’s a common belief that all physicians swear to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and its critical dictum, “first, do no harm.” In fact, the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t include this promise — and many fledgling doctors do not take this oath (or any oath). What’s more, “do no harm” isn’t always a realistic goal in the day-to-day practice of medicine. However, it is an important reminder that we need to learn more about the risks and benefits of any treatment, and to use this information wisely.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: When it’s more than just PMS

Hope Ricciotti, MD
Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) share physical symptoms, but the psychological and emotional symptoms of PMDD are much more severe. No woman should struggle with debilitating symptoms associated with her menstrual cycle. Carefully tracking symptoms and having a discussion with your doctor, as well as trying one of several medications available to treat these conditions, can pave the way to relief.

Kids and flu shots: Two common myths

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

“Last time I got the flu shot, it actually made me sick!” “My kids are perfectly healthy. They’ll be fine.” You’ve probably heard a version of these two before. These flu shot myths are so persistent that they prevent countless numbers of people from getting vaccinated each year. We’ve debunked these claims here to help you make your flu shot decision based on facts — not myths.

If you think you’re depressed, don’t wait — find out

Michael Craig Miller, M.D.
Michael Craig Miller, M.D., Senior Editor, Mental Health Publishing, Harvard Health Publications

October 8, 2015 is National Depression Screening Day, which is the embodiment of Dr. Douglas Jacobs’s belief that screening for mental disorders should be no different than screening for other physical illnesses. If you think that you may be suffering from depression, take the first step and find out. Treatment can improve your mood, help you feel more connected, and feel more like yourself again.

Healthy, convenient meals on the go: Yes, you can

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Today’s world runs at a hectic pace. To keep up, more and more people are turning to convenience foods — but many of these are high in calories, sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats. The good news is that healthy convenience foods are out there, and you can find them if you’re willing to spend a few minutes reading ingredient labels. Other ideas for enjoying home-cooked meals in short order include using canned or frozen fruits, vegetables, or seafood in your next recipe, as well as planning meals ahead and cooking in batches.

Too little sleep and too much weight: a dangerous duo

Stuart Quan, MD
Stuart Quan, MD, Contributing Editor

Americans are sleeping less and weighing more. Science tells us this is no coincidence. Inadequate sleep can contribute to weight gain in several ways, including altering levels of the hormones that control appetite and fullness and setting off a chain reaction of poor habits that can increase the risk of weight gain and obesity. Sleep is proving to be as important to health as good nutrition and regular exercise.

A mindful worker is a happier worker

Ronald Siegel, PsyD
Ronald Siegel, PsyD, Contributing Editor

The mental health benefits of mindfulness meditation include greater engagement in your daily activities and a more positive outlook — which can in turn improve your concentration and sense of well-being. But can mindfulness practice really help employees’ mental health? A recent study says yes. Workers participating in mindfulness training found they experienced less stress, anxiety, and depression; improved sleep; fewer aches and pains; and fewer problems getting along with others.