Together, the studies offer a strong argument that seasonal mood changes, which affect about 1 in 5 people, have a biological cause.
This is great new if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because biological causes can be treated, and hopefully in the future, cured. The research supports light therapy as the treatment of choice–a treatment where you are exposed to light from a lamp, which over time improves mood. Now researchers know why: there’s a biological circuit triggered by photoreceptor cells in the eye. Evidently, there are at least three types of cells in the retina: rods, cones, and photoreceptor cells not found in rods and cones. It’s the third type of cell that holds the key to mood because it triggers the brain. So, if you get moody in the winter, there’s a biological cause that can be treated by more light. This is just one more excuse to go on vacation to somewhere tropical; it’s good for your health!
Source: Specialized Cells In Eye Linked To Mood Regions In Brain : Shots – Health News : NPR
Source: [1806.02404] Dissolving the Fermi Paradox
Is there intelligent life in the universe besides our own? Famous scientists such as the late Steven Hawking conclude that intelligent life probably exists.
From a statistical perspective, the sheer number of galaxies, solar systems, and habitable planets in existence means that in all likelihood we are not alone. And we’re fascinated by the possibility.
We watch extraterrestrials of all kinds on television and at the movies: ET, Alien, Predator, Alien versus Predator, Star Wars, the Fifth Element, [insert favorite movie here]. There’s a ton of them and we love these kinds of movies. But the big question remains: where’s the evidence of ET? If there are so many planets that can harbor life, why don’t we have any evidence?
That’s the Fermi Paradox. The authors of the linked article (Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler, Toby Ord) examine the Fermi Paradox and “dissolve” it, concluding that the paradox isn’t real and there is in fact no life in the universe apart from our own because there’s no evidence for it. It’s not as fun as a movie, but if you’re wondering if aliens exist or not, this paper actually delves into the “guts” of this paradox and the ultimate question of whether or not we’re alone in the universe.
Whether or not we’re alone in the universe, we can find meaning in our relationships within our communities. If you’re feeling alone, know that isolation isn’t the answer. Take that step, get out there, and connect with friends and people in your community. If it just isn’t working, try something different and go see a counselor or a trusted provider. You might discover a new you.
Source: Dads Pass On More Than Genetics in Their Sperm | Science | Smithsonian
This is a very interesting article on how a man’s lifestyle can affect his kids. The way a man lives today actually changes the expression of his child’s DNA. It’s yet another reminder to care for ourselves, our minds and bodies, and not just for ourselves but for our kids. How we live today will directly affect them.
Source: Even a 10-Minute Walk May Be Good for the Brain – The New York Times
Lightly working out can give your brain a boost. Scientists studied the memory recall of college students in this study and found that after ligh exercise, their memory was better after exercise than not. Even light exercise improves brain function, especially as we age.
Source: What to Do When a Loved One Is Severely Depressed – The New York Times
With the passing Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, suicide prevention is back in the spotlight. For the average person, it can be tough to talk with someone who is having suicidal thoughts, perhaps because we feel like we don’t want to make mistakes. Or it can just be scary to feel our own feelings. Here is a great article about what you can do when someone is severely depressed.
Source: Anthony Bourdain, Chef, Travel Host and Author, Is Dead at 61 – The New York Times
I’m very sad today to read about the passing of Anthony Bourdain, a talented chef (a food artist) who I resonated with because of my own love of art, food, and cooking. More than ever we need to:
- Reduce stigma against mental health issues such as depression.
- Get educated on the warning signs and get involved as soon as you can.
- Increase federal funding for mental health research and intervention.
I’ve added some additional hotlines to my own Suicide Prevention Hotlines page. And I am praying for his family and others who are suffering.
Source: Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy
The American Psychology Association has put together a great summary of the current research into gun violence and mental illness, how to predict who will commit acts of gun violence, current ways to prevent gun violence, and suggestions for public policy.
Predicting who will commit gun violence is not an easy task. Currently, it seems that more research must be done and that the task of prediction may need to fall to trained clinicians, teachers, law enforcement and others.
Overall, this paper is packed with information and strategy for moving forward in our society where gun violence (violence that takes place in many forums and contexts) seems to occur with striking regularity.
Source: What happens to your brain on sex? – Vox
This is an interesting article that discusses the differences between “love” and “sex” and the different parts of the brain that are involved. One of the big ideas behind this research is that casual sex isn’t so casual. In fact, one third of people who have friends “with benefits” end up falling in love, precisely because of the brain systems with their chemicals and attachment systems that are activated. Love and sex can in many ways appear and perhaps feel the same as an addiction. In fact, the same chemicals and brain systems are at work in both. Interesting stuff!
Source: For longevity, have no more than one drink a day, study says – CBS Newsj
A new study appears to show that 7 drinks per week, or one drink per day, should be the most a person drinks if they want to live the longest. The old standard used to be 14 drinks per week for men per week and 7 drinks per week for women but the new study changes the understanding of the effects of higher alcohol use on how long people live. More alcohol appears to equal a shorter lifespan.
Source: How to build muscle as age tears it down – CNN.
I thought this was a great article about how to avoid and even grow your muscles by lifting weights and eating protein and other healthy foods. According to the age related muscle loss (Sarcophenia) can be avoided or lessened the older we get. According to this article, muscle loss occurs more rapidly past age 50 and more rapidly through age 70. To counteract this loss, the author recommends workouts, specifically lifting weights that would be difficult to lift more than 10 to 15 times and making sure to rest in between individual sets and workouts to give muscles time to rest and grow. I enjoy working out for the mental health benefits, but this article gives one more reason to get to the gym and exercise–you’ll save or even grow your muscles as you age!