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 relationships boost longevity and well-being?

A Harvard study that’s lasted for eight decades suggests that maintaining meaningful relationships plays an important role in health, happiness, and longevity. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has collected health and wellness information from a group of men since they were teenagers in 1938. By following the men, researchers have found that people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, healthier, and longer-lived than people who are less well connected. (Locked) More »

Looking for early signs of Alzheimer’s

For a long time, memory loss was seen as the telltale sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but this is not necessarily the best way to identify the disease in its earliest stages. In fact, it is now believed that Alzheimer’s-related changes begin in the brain at least a decade before common symptoms emerge. The goal now is to find multiple markers and use a consolidated effort in hopes of diagnosing the disease as early as possible. More »

Can you recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease?

Did you ever stride purposefully into a room, stand in one spot, and then wonder what you'd intended to do? Have you ever lost your house keys, or forgot where you parked the car? Relax. Occasional memory slips are natural. "Everyone has these experiences sometimes, but if they frequently happen to you or someone you love, they may be early signs of Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Scott M. McGinnis, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital and Medical Editor of the Harvard Special Health Report A Guide to Coping with Alzheimer's Disease. More »

How the placebo effect may help you

The placebo effect—a favorable response to a medical intervention that doesn’t have a direct physiological effect—is at work in most successful therapies. It can be helpful in cases where no proven treatments exist and enhanced by a good doctor-patient relationship. (Locked) More »

The power of the placebo effect

The idea that the brain can convince the body a fake treatment is the real thing—the so-called placebo effect—and thus stimulate healing has been around for millennia. But research has shown that under the right circumstances, a placebo can be just as effective as traditional treatments. (Locked) More »

How to achieve a positive attitude

Mounting evidence from medical studies has indicated that people who think positively have a lower risk of dying of all causes compared with others their own age who have a gloomier view of life. Over the last decade, researchers have identified practices that can help you achieve and sustain a positive attitude toward your future. Many of them are explained in the Harvard Special Health Report Positive Psychology. Here are a few suggestions: Savor pleasure. Feeling pleasure helps sustain a positive attitude. Focus your attention on something pleasing as it occurs, consciously enjoying the experience as it unfolds. Most people are primed to experience pleasure in special moments, such as a wedding day or a vacation. Everyday pleasures, on the other hand, can slip by without much notice unless they disappear or seem threatened. Slow down and focus. You will enjoy things more, whether a meal or a visit with a friend. More »

Mindfulness techniques can be more than quiet contemplation

Mindfulness—the practice of focusing on the here and now—seems to boost both your mood and overall well-being. You may think of mindfulness as something you do during meditation—that is, while you're sitting quietly with your eyes closed. If you can carve 20 minutes out of your day to meditate, that's great. But meditation is just one mindfulness technique. You can also practice informally, by simply being present in the moment during everyday activities. For example, instead of trying to multitask and do two or more things at the same time (such as eating while you're driving or watching television), try to practice "single-tasking." That means doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses. More »

Staying calm in turbulent times

Several self-help techniques may reduce anxiety. However, it’s important to distinguish everyday anxiety from an anxiety disorder and to get help from a mental health professional if anxiety interferes with daily life. (Locked) More »

Tired of being fatigued

Regular fatigue should not be accepted as a normal part of aging. If fatigue appears suddenly or becomes more frequent, it could be related to several common conditions or lifestyle changes that require medical attention, such as anemia, heart disease, an under active thyroid, or depression, sleep apnea, or medication side effects. More »