Psychology

Wearable sensor may help to assess stress in healthcare workers

A wearable biosensor may help monitor stress experienced by healthcare professionals, according to a study published in Physiological Reports. In the study of 12 healthy male volunteers, a wearable biosensor that is placed on the chest, called the VitalScout, provided an accurate assessment of physiological parameters — heart rate and respiration rate — that are used to calculate stress. Furthermore, the biosensor’s metrics correlated strongly to those obtained using breathing analyses, and they could discriminate changes…

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Expression of certain genes may affect vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder

Results from a new study suggest that whether certain genes are expressed — turned on or off — may play a role in susceptibility to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study, which was conducted by an international team led by investigators at McLean Hospital and appears in the journal Cell Reports, may provide insights for PTSD prevention and treatment. In the face of repeated, prolonged, or severe trauma, some individuals seem to be more susceptible…

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What We’ve Learned About Emotional Eating

The internet is full of memes about gaining weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no surprise: Being stuck at home without normal activities and constant access to food can easily lead to overeating. On top of boredom and proximity to food, the worries and stress that accompany a global pandemic can easily lead to emotional eating. In fact, there is an entire body of evidence on how our emotions influence our eating behaviors. Researchers have learned that emotional eating is…

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Can You Access the Joy and Benefits of Flow in Lockdown?

Flow: that’s the state of mind you may enter when you are fully engaged in some intrinsically rewarding activity. And that, for many people during a global pandemic, may not happen all that often. Consider lockdown, the absence of usual jobs and accustomed social interactions, homeschooling kids who are climbing your legs or the walls and interrupting your focus in their own efforts to combat boredom. Those are a lot of flow-breakers right there.  Yet…

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Is your job killing you? Stress, lack of autonomy, ability can lead to depression, death

As millions continue working from home during the pandemic or are required to report to jobs as essential employees, many have raised questions about how these work conditions impact our health — and not just as they relate to COVID-19. A new study from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business finds that our mental health and mortality have a strong correlation with the amount of autonomy we have at our job, our workload and…

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Why Some People Are Able to Stay Sharp Past Age 100

Neuroscientists in Australia recently investigated the brain characteristics of dementia-free centenarians (95–103 years old) using resting-state fMRI neuroimaging. Their research question: “Is there something special about [centenarians’] brain functional connectivity that helps them preserve cognitive function into the eleventh decade of life?”  The researchers found that people over age 95 without dementia tend to have stronger “left brain-right brain” functional connectivity and more robust bilateral synchronization between brain hemispheres. This study (Jiang et al., 2020) was…

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Two Financial Lessons We Should All Learn from the Pandemic

A major, prolonged disruptive event, whether it occurs in our personal lives, or to everyone in a broad-based way, does two things to personal finances. First, it creates extraordinary challenges and exposes our vulnerabilities. Second, on the positive side, it provides a rare opportunity to assess, reset, and change our spending and saving behaviors. Even as its effects continue to unfold, the Coronavirus pandemic has done both things. It has provided tangible evidence regarding just how financially vulnerable a significant fraction of…

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Why the World Will Stretch After the Pandemic

Every disruptive event causes a large-scale change that unfolds over many years or even decades afterward. When a disruption is as unexpected, prolonged, widespread, and severe as the COVID-19 pandemic is turning out to be, it has the potential to cause extraordinary change. Through our individual experiences, and the way we respond now and later on, psychological factors will play a big role. Additionally, existing social, technological, political, and economic variables all combine with psychology to produce change. In…

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From Combat to Counseling: Survivors guilt, shame and moral injury

“Moral injury” is a term that has emerged over the last thirty years that describes a particular reaction to events that occur in the course of a service member’s military experience. It is closely linked to, but also separate from, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Events that can cause a moral injury are also likely traumatic, catastrophic physical injuries, for example, or the loss of a fellow service member. However, moral injury can occur separately from…

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47 Louisiana long-term care sites seen as virus ‘clusters’

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — As coronavirus cases spike ever higher in Louisiana, the state’s nursing homes, assisted living sites and adult residential care facilities are showing more and more “clusters” of the virus, but the full scale of the outbreak at those sites remains uncertain. Louisiana’s Department of Health has identified 47 long-term care facilities that it considers a cluster, with at least two apparently related cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. That number has…

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