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

Alzheimer’s wake-up call

Research has shown an association between poor sleep and a higher risk of accumulating beta-amyloid protein plaque in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain sweeps out excess amyloid proteins during slow-wave sleep, which is the deep sleep phase where memories are consolidated. It is still not clear if improving poor sleep or practicing good sleeping habits can protect against Alzheimer’s. Until more is known, experts suggest paying attention to sleep problems, like insomnia, sleep apnea, and nocturia (which causes people to wake up to use the bathroom). More »

Putting off retirement may benefit your brain, health, and longevity

A later retirement may not only benefit your bank account but can pay dividends when it comes to your health. Research increasingly shows that a later retirement may actually improve your brain health and could extend your life. But it’s important to mention that not all research shows this benefit and some jobs, including those that are stressful or too physically demanding, may actually have the reverse effect. More »

Antidepressant side effects: Feeling better, but not quite right?

Antidepressant medications can be a godsend for people struggling with the dark mantle of depression. Yet like all drugs, they can cause side effects, which is why it's important to be aware of any changes in your body when you begin any new medication. If you have any uncomfortable or worrisome antidepressant side effects, tell your doctor immediately. But for many of the mildly distressing side effects, a few simple steps may help. Here are some suggestions for managing side effects of antidepressants. More »

Could changes in thinking skills be reversible dementia?

We use the term "dementia" to describe a number of conditions that cause permanent thinking skills changes, such as memory loss and confusion. The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which is characterized by clumping proteins that get tangled in and around brain cells, eventually causing them to die. The second most common type of dementia is vascular dementia, caused by decreased blood flow to the brain from atherosclerosis—the accumulation of fatty deposits on artery walls. Once dementia strikes, the damage is permanent, and we don't have many treatment options. So, before a diagnosis is made, it's crucial to rule out whether the causes for dementia are actually reversible conditions. More »

Practical advice for helping people with dementia with their daily routines

Caring for someone with Alzheimer's is one of the toughest jobs 
in the world. "It is stressful, physically and emotionally draining, and very expensive, as almost 15 million unpaid caregivers for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias can attest," says Dr. Scott McGinnis, medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report A Guide to Coping with Alzheimer's Disease. Learning how to take care of a person with dementia can be a trial-and-error process. Every person with dementia and every caregiver is unique, and so is their relationship. However, the following general tips may be useful in helping people with dementia remain physically healthy and connected to the world. More »

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 »

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 »