Mind & Mood Archive


A cure for the wintertime blues?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that begins in late fall and early winter, is caused by lack of sunlight exposure. Common symptoms of SAD include lack of sexual energy, overeating, problems sleeping, and social withdrawal. SAD is also associated with impaired cognitive function. Getting more sunlight from being outdoors or sitting in front of a sunlit window helps stimulate the brain's 24-hour sleep-wake clock. Taking antidepressants and using light therapy (which involves sitting in front of a light box) also can help manage SAD.

Beyond appetite suppression

Semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy), which mimics a natural hormone called GLP-1, has become a popular obesity drug because it promotes dramatic weight loss. New evidence suggests this drug and others like it may also curb compulsions for things other than food. The drugs may also dampen cravings for alcohol, smoking, gambling, and excessive shopping by hampering activation of the brain's reward pathways. If further research confirms preliminary findings, the demand for GLP-1 drugs is likely to increase.

Blasting through mental health misperceptions

An estimated 58 million American adults live with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. More women than men receive treatment such as medication or counseling. But despite its pervasiveness, mental illness remains stigmatized. Scientific advances are helping dismantle damaging public attitudes about mental illness. People with mental health challenges can help combat stigma by embracing treatment, not taking other people's offhand comments personally, and sharing their personal stories.

Sitting many hours per day linked to higher dementia risk

People who are sedentary more than 10 hours per day may have a higher risk of later developing dementia than those who spend less time being inactive, according to a 2023 study.

Older adults with vision problems face higher dementia risks

A 2023 study suggests older adults with vision problems, including up close or at a distance, face significantly higher risks of dementia than those with no vision problems.

Loneliness vs. isolation: Which one is worse?

Both loneliness and isolation were associated with poor health outcomes in a 2023 study. However, social isolation was a stronger predictor of physical decline and early death, while loneliness was more predictive of mental health issues such as depression.

Try this: Look, snap, and connect for better memory recall

Mnemonics are techniques for recalling information. One type of mnemonic is called "look, snap, connect," which uses visualization, word association, and storytelling to help solidify a memory so people can recall it later.

The book on erotica

Older couples who have fallen into a sexual rut can try to spice things up—and perhaps strengthen your relationship in the process—by reading erotica that caters specifically to older adults. Reading and listening to erotic stories as a couple lets both parties explore fantasies in a safe environment and create an exciting atmosphere by encouraging couples to venture outside their comfort zone. Besides reading aloud to each other, couples can read on their own and share the experience or listen to erotic audiobooks and podcasts together.

Hearing aids may reduce cognitive decline

A 2023 study suggests using hearing aids may reduce the risk of cognitive decline, especially in older adults with the highest risk of developing severe cognitive impairment.

Does poor sleep diminish the cognitive benefits of exercise?

In a 2023 study, among people age 50 or 60 who reported high rates of exercise, those who said they slept less than six hours per night had faster rates of cognitive decline over the next 10 years than those who said they got six to eight hours of sleep per night.

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