Mind & Mood

Your mood and your mental health affect every aspect of your life, from how you feel about yourself to your relationships with others and your physical health. There's a strong link between good mental health and good physical health, and vice versa. In the other direction, depression and other mental health issues can contribute to digestive disorders, trouble sleeping, lack of energy, heart disease, and other health issues.

There are many ways to keep your mind and mood in optimal shape. Exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction techniques like meditation or mindfulness can keep your brain — and your body — in tip-top shape.

When mood and mental health slip, doing something about it as early as possible can keep the change from getting worse or becoming permanent. Treating conditions like depression and anxiety improve quality of life. Learning to manage stress makes for more satisfying and productive days.

Mind & Mood Articles

Can you grow new brain cells?

The science of neurogenesis suggests it’s possible to create new neurons in the hippocampus, which can improve a person’s memory and thinking skills. Research has found that certain types of aerobic activities, stress relievers, and brain exercises can stimulate neurogenesis. (Locked) More »

Ease your pain by controlling your mind

Dependency on pain medication is on the rise, and studies have found that many older adults are at a high risk for addiction, hospitalization, and even death because of the habit of managing pain with drugs. A safer approach may be for people to change their mental perception of pain. Doing this enables them to increase their tolerance levels and not be so quick to reach for the pill bottle.  (Locked) More »

Meditation may ease anxiety from active surveillance

A mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) can help control anxiety among men who follow active surveillance for prostate cancer. The wait-and-see approach can make men feel so uneasy about their condition that they opt for treatment with radiation therapy or surgery when it is unnecessary. MBSR not only eases anxiety levels, but also inspires men to be more proactive about their health and adopt lifestyle changes like a proper diet and exercise. More »

Treating pain with your brain

Mindfulness—concentrating on a sensation and analyzing it objectively—can help relieve pain by changing the way we experience it. The technique has been demonstrated to relieve headache, fibromyalgia, and low back pain. (Locked) More »

Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress

We all face stressful situations throughout our lives, ranging from minor annoyances like traffic jams to more serious worries, such as a loved one's grave illness. No matter what the cause, stress floods your body with hormones. Your heart pounds, your breathing speeds up, and your muscles tense. This so-called "stress response" is a normal reaction to threatening situations, honed in our prehistory to help us survive threats like an animal attack or a flood. Today, we rarely face these physical dangers, but challenging situations in daily life can set off the stress response. We can't avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them. One way is to invoke the "relaxation response," through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress. The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. It's a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways. With regular practice, you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises. More »

A workout for your brain

Some hospitals, research centers, and private practices offer brain fitness programs. They typically include a combination of physical exercise, cognitive training, good nutrition, better sleep, and meditation. Look for programs that offer a multidisciplinary approach with a neurologist, psychologist, social worker, physical therapist, and dietitian. Beware of promises of cures, and don’t assume that doing well on a computer game means there is improvement in cognition. Look for programs that measure the biological effect of the training and experts who can explain the results and how they plan to use that information. More »

Do we lose memories forever?

Scientists used to assume that memories lost to dementia were permanently lost. Now, some research suggests that memories aren’t lost but are buried deeper in the brain. (Locked) More »

Unveiling post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious and potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced a natural disaster, war, terrorism, serious accident, sudden death of a loved one, violent personal assault, or other life-threatening events. In fact, research suggests that 70% of men ages 65 and older have been exposed to at least one potentially traumatic event during their lifetime. PTSD is often difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms overlap with depression. But most people recover when treated early. (Locked) More »