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Mind & Mood Archive
Treating obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which affects 2% to 3% of people worldwide, often causes suffering for years before it is treated correctly — both because of delays in diagnosis and because patients may be reluctant to seek help.
Although OCD tends to be a chronic condition, with symptoms that flare up and subside over a patient's lifetime, effective help is available. Only about 10% of patients recover completely, but 50% improve with treatment.
As the name implies, OCD is characterized by two hallmark symptoms. Obsessions are recurring and disturbing thoughts, impulses, or images that cause significant anxiety or distress. Compulsions are feelings of being driven to repeat behaviors, usually following rigid rules (such as washing hands multiple times after each meal). When these symptoms interfere with work, social activities, and personal relationships, it is time to consider treatment.
Alzheimer’s and driving ability
Alzheimer's and driving ability
As people grow older, their vision, hearing, reflexes, strength, flexibility, and coordination tend to deteriorate. These physical changes can undermine driving skills, such as being able to see and hear other vehicles, stop suddenly, navigate an intersection safely, or maintain control of a car. Alzheimer's disease only compounds age-related challenges by impairing memory, insight, and reasoning.
As Alzheimer's progresses, for instance, a patient may have trouble remembering how to get somewhere, or may become confused (such as stopping at a green light or stepping on the gas pedal instead of the brake).
It's time to accentuate the positive
Positive thoughts and feelings may help your heart thrive.
Depression, social isolation, anxiety, hostility, emotional stress. When it comes to heart disease, the negative aspects of psychological functioning have gotten most of the attention. They have been shown to increase the chances of developing various sorts of cardiovascular disease, and they can make existing diseases worse. What about the flip side? Can happiness or an upbeat approach to life protect the heart and blood vessels?
Optimism and your health
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Look for the silver lining...
Buddy DeSylva's upbeat lyrics to Jerome Kern's lovely tune provide an appealing call to a positive outlook on life, even in the face of adversity. Indeed, a cheerful disposition can help you get through the tough patches that cloud every life, but do people who see the glass half-full also enjoy better health than gloomy types who see it half-empty?
A SAD story: Seasonal affective disorder
Light therapy and antidepressants help people who get depressed during the winter.
The gloom of winter seems to get inside some people, the dark affecting their mood as well as their days. In the late 1990s, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognized these winter blues as seasonal affective disorder, a name that seems to have been coined with its acronym, SAD, very much in mind.
Alternative medicine for depression
According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, only about 40% of people with major depression receive adequate conventional treatment, so it's important to get a better understanding of the other measures depressed patients are taking. A survey of American women indicates that a high proportion of them use alternative and complementary medicines for depression.
Researchers analyzed a national telephone survey of more than 3,000 women, with Mexican Americans, Chinese Americans, and African Americans somewhat over-represented in order to get a picture of ethnic differences. Of these women, 220 said they had been medically diagnosed with depression in the previous year, and 54% of them had used alternative medicine to treat the symptoms. The authors point out that the percentage would have been even higher if they had been able to include depressed women who never received a medical diagnosis.
Anger: Heartbreaking at any age
Everyone gets angry from time to time. It's a normal human response to unfair treatment and other injustices, and it's a common reaction to frustration and criticism, whether justified or not. But normal anger is one thing, excessive hostility quite another. Some people get angry without provocation, others react excessively to minor adversity, and still others experience inappropriately intense or prolonged anger to legitimate triggers.
Outbursts of anger are never pretty, and they can damage relationships and careers. Anger can also bring on heart disease. But older men are most vulnerable to heart disease, while younger men are more likely to have short fuses. Does youthful anger affect the mature heart? Studies of anger and heart disease say the answer is yes: Excessive anger at any age can take a toll on men in midlife and beyond.
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