Mental Health

Stress can lead to excessive drinking in women


A new study has found that stress alone can drive women to excessive drinking. Men who experienced the same stress only drank to excess when they had already started consuming alcohol. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Psychology of Addictive Behaviors’. Though rates of alcohol misuse are higher in men than women, women are catching up. Women also have a greater risk than men of developing alcohol-related problems. Participants consumed alcoholic beverages in a simulated bar while experiencing stressful and non-stressful situations. Stress led women, but not men, to drink more than intended, a finding that demonstrates the importance of studying sex differences in alcohol consumption. “Some people can intend to have one or two alcoholic beverages and stop drinking, but other people just keep going. This impaired control over drinking is one of the earliest …

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Parents’ depression affects their children


According to a new study, children who live with a parent who has depression are more likely to develop depression and do not achieve educational milestones. The findings of the study were published in the open-access journal ‘PLOS ONE’. Maternal depression is a known risk factor for depression in children and is associated with a range of adverse child health and educational outcomes including poorer academic attainment. To date, however, risk factors associated with paternal depression have been less well examined. Understanding the effects of timing of both maternal and paternal depression of offspring outcomes has implications for prevention and early intervention. In the new study, Brophy and colleagues used data from the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) databank assembled as part of the Born in Wales Study funded by the Welsh Government. Information on children born in Wales from …

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The way people laugh can reveal their culture – lol 😂

Pravin Gordhan

Can we infer someone’s cultural group from their laugher? A new study by researchers from the University of Amsterdam with international colleagues shows that our laughter gives us away. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Philosophical Transactions B’. The study included Dutch and Japanese producers of laughter and listeners. Listeners could detect whether a laughing person is from their own or another cultural group by only hearing a brief laughter segment. Spontaneous laughter was rated as most positive by both groups. Laughter is a strong nonverbal vocalisation, which is frequently used to signal affiliation, reward, or cooperative intent, and often helps to maintain and strengthen social bonds. An important distinction is between spontaneous and voluntary laughter. Spontaneous laughter is typically an uncontrolled reaction, for instance to hilarious jokes, and includes hard-to-fake acoustic features. Voluntary laughter is …

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Study finds best way to avoid procrastination


New research from the University of Otago has found that no deadline or shorter deadlines work better to avoid procrastinating a task. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Economic Inquiry’. Professor Stephen Knowles, from the Otago Business School, Department of Economics, and his co-authors tested the effect of deadline length on task completion. Participants were invited to complete an online survey in which a donation goes to charity. They were given either one week, one month, or no deadline to respond. Professor Knowles said the research began because he and his team — Dr Murat Genc, from Otago’s Department of Economics, Dr Trudy Sullivan, from Otago’s Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, and Professor Maros Servatka, from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management — were interested in helping charities raise more money. However, the results are …

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One in three kids with food allergies are bullied

Cocaine use by child

A new study has determined the size and scope of bullying kids with food allergies experience by offering them a multi-question assessment. The findings of the study were published in the ‘Journal of Pediatric Psychology’. Living with a food allergy can greatly impact a child’s everyday life — from limiting participation in social activities to being treated differently by peers. When asked a simple “yes” or “no” question about food allergy-related bullying, 17 per cent of kids said they’d been bullied, teased or harassed about their food allergy. But when asked to reply to a multi-item list of victimisation behaviours, that number jumped to 31 per cent.Furthermore, Children’s National Hospital researchers found that only 12 per cent of parents reported being aware of it. The reported bullying ranged from verbal teasing or criticism to more overt acts such as an …

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People are more forgiving when their loved ones misbehave

loved ones

When people behave badly or unethically, their loved ones may judge them less harshly than they would judge a stranger who committed the same transgressions, but that leniency may come at the cost of the judger’s own sense of self-worth, according to a new study. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “How do we react when our romantic partners, friends or family members behave unethically? Past research tells us a lot about how we respond to a stranger’s unethical behaviour, but very little about how we respond when the perpetrator is someone we care deeply about,” said lead author Rachel Forbes, MA, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. “When someone close to us behaves unethically, we face a conflict between upholding our moral values and maintaining our relationship. We …

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Proven: Stress turns hair gray

gray hair

A new study by researchers at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons found the first quantitative evidence linking psychological stress to graying hair in people. The findings were published in the journal eLife. While it may seem intuitive that stress can accelerate graying, the researchers were surprised to discover that hair colon can be restored when stress is eliminated, a finding that contrasts with a recent study in mice that suggested that stressed-induced gray hairs are permanent. The study has broader significance than confirming age-old speculation about the effects of stress on hair color, said the study’s senior author Martin Picard, PhD, associate professor of behavioural medicine (in psychiatry and neurology) at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Understanding the mechanisms that allow ‘old’ gray hairs to return to their ‘young’ pigmented states could yield …

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Mothers’ depression will affect the relationship with their babies

mothers depression

A new study has found that women with depression during pregnancy, or with a history of depression, have a reduced quality of mother-infant relationship. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘BJPsych Open’. The study was funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). In the study, researchers examined whether depression, either before or during pregnancy, affects the mother-infant relationship.Researchers looked at the quality of mother-infant interactions eight weeks and 12 months after birth in three groups of women; healthy women, women with clinically significant depression in pregnancy, and women with a lifetime history of depression but healthy pregnancies. The study used a sample of 131 women: 51 healthy mothers with no current or past depression, 52 mothers with depression referred to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Perinatal Psychiatry …

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Ballies who zol: Parents who smoke it up determine teens usage of dagga


Teens dagga use: During a recent study, a team of UBC Okanagan researchers found that kids who grow up in homes where parents consume dagga will more than likely use it themselves. The study was published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Parental influence on the use of dagga is important to study as it can help with the development of effective prevention programs, explains Maya Pilin, a doctoral psychology student in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. “Adolescence is a critical period in which drug and alcohol experimentation takes place and when cannabis (dagga) use is often initiated,” said Pilin. “Parents are perhaps the most influential socializing agent for children and early adolescents.” Pilin said it has long been assumed that parental use of dagga contributes to higher levels of adolescent use. However, while there has …

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Pets with benefits: petting dogs is a stress-buster and improves thinking

Pet your stress away! For college students under pressure, spending time petting a therapy dog can work as the best stress-buster.The study was published in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association. According to the new Washington State University research, programs exclusively focused on petting therapy dogs improved stressed-out students’ thinking and planning skills more effectively than programs that included traditional stress-management information. The study demonstrated that stressed students still exhibited these cognitive skills improvements up to six weeks after completion of the four-week-long program. “It’s a really powerful finding,” said Patricia Pendry, associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development. “Universities are doing a lot of great work trying to help students succeed academically, especially those who may be at risk due to a history of mental health issues or academic and learning issues. This …

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