Top Mental Health Headlines (That Aren’t Trumpian)

The following headlines about mental health topics were among the most interesting published in June, 2017:

I. For Some Traumatized Veterans, the Best Therapy Can Be Stroking a Velvety Nose, Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post

A velvety nose? Guess no further. An excerpt:

‘The veterans feel that the horses are mirroring what they feel,’ said Yuval Neria, a medical psychology professor at Columbia and the study’s other director. At the outset, ‘Both the horses and the vets kind of exhibit or even suffer from the same fear circuit-based behavior. They are both fearful, initially, they are both apprehensive, initially, they avoid being together initially, and over time they develop the ability to be together’…

The study is being funded by The Man O’ War Project, a non-profit set up by army veteran and lifelong horseman Earle Mack, who had a hunch that stressed soldiers and horses would be a good match and approached Columbia with the idea.

II. Cute Puppies Can Make Your Relationship Happier, Theresa E. DiDonato, PhD, Psychology Today

The basic concept:

If your relationship’s in a rough spot or just a bit mundane…maybe look at some photos of your partner cuddling a cute puppy?

Sounds like strange advice, but new research published in Psychological Science suggests couples can benefit from creating mental links between things that inherently make them happy and their partners.

III. Prozac Nation Is Now the United States of Xanax, Alex Williams, New York Times

In the following excerpt Williams offers concerning statistics:

According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, some 38 percent of girls ages 13 through 17, and 26 percent of boys, have an anxiety disorder. On college campuses, anxiety is running well ahead of depression as the most common mental health concern, according to a 2016 national study of more than 150,000 students by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. Meanwhile, the number of web searches involving the term has nearly doubled over the last five years, according to Google Trends. (The trendline for ‘depression’ was relatively flat.)

IV. Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid? Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today

An introductory quote: “Cognitive capacity and overall brainpower are significantly reduced when your smartphone is within glancing distance—even if it’s turned off and face down—according to a recent study.”

V. A Colorado Dad Wants to Make It Illegal to Sell Smartphones to Preteens, Lisa Ryan, Science of Us

Because it’s not only adults who suffer the consequences:

Despite how much teens and tweens love their smartphones (and Musical.ly apps), scientists believe being tethered to these technological devices may potentially have negative health effects on kids. Now, a nonprofit in Colorado has drafted a ballot initiative that, if passed, would make it the first state to establish legal limits on the sale of smartphones to children, the Washington Post reports.

Parents Against Underaged Smartphones (PAUS) was formed in February by anesthesiologist Tim Farnum, a father of five in Denver who told the Post he noticed ‘some real problems’ after purchasing smartphones last year for his two youngest children, aged 11 and 13…

VI. Forget Freud: Dreams Replay Our Everyday Lives, Jon Hamilton, NPR

“Thanks to Sigmund Freud, we all know what it means to dream about swords, sticks and umbrellas. Or maybe we don’t.”

VII. Dying is a ‘happier’ experience than most people imagine, say scientists, Katie Forster, Independent

Subtitle: “Final accounts of terminally ill ‘filled with love, social connection, and meaning’.”

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