In the news

Why is toilet paper vanishing from supermarkets?

You might notice something unusual, not to mention unfortunate, next time you try to stock up on bathroom supplies at your local grocery store. Not just the bare shelves where hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes were plentiful only a few weeks ago, but the empty aisles where toilet paper usually abounds in quantities from single rolls to packages of more than a dozen. Some are even adorned with signs limiting the number of purchases per customer.…

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The Empowering Benefits of Beautification

In today’s world, more is expected of women than ever before. Women must be nurturing yet independent. They must be homemakers and breadwinners. They must be warm yet purposeful. They must be scientists, artists, teachers, and CEOs. Where does beautification fit into these competing demands? New research published in the journal PLoS ONE found that appearance adjustments — in the form of wearing desired clothing, makeup, and accessories — helped women approach the world with an increased sense of strength, vim, and assertiveness. “Some women report that beautification is…

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Persistent sleep difficulties in infancy linked to heightened risk of childhood anxieties

Persistent sleep difficulties during the first 12 months of life are linked to a heightened risk of developing childhood anxieties and emotional disorders, indicates research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Based on their findings, poor infant sleepers should be monitored for mental health issues in later childhood, advise the researchers. Around 19% of infants (0-12 months of age) have sleep difficulties, including frequent waking at night and/or trouble falling asleep without help…

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Choices in a Time of Viral Disease

The most recent coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is currently at the forefront of many people’s lives. The World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local health authorities have been sharing valuable information on how best to protect yourself, your family, and the broader population. This is a time of many important decisions at multiple levels, and we can help ourselves and others by keeping some general principles in mind. Seek relevant…

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Gratitude interventions don’t help with depression, anxiety

Go ahead and be grateful for the good things in your life. Just don’t think that a gratitude intervention will help you feel less depressed or anxious. In a new study, researchers at The Ohio State University analyzed results from 27 separate studies that examined the effectiveness of gratitude interventions on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. The results showed that such interventions had limited benefits at best. “For years now, we have heard in…

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Surviving a Coronavirus, Only to Be Socially Shunned

To understand how rapidly coronaviruses like COVID-19 can spread – and how to best control them — epidemiologists use data from past diseases. To understand and plan for the long term negative social consequences of epidemics, we can use the same approach. Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), an extremely deadly coronavirus, was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Like COV-19 it leads to respiratory failures, and is especially deadly for older and immunocompromised people.…

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Neural Signature Identifies People Likely to Respond to Antidepressant Medication

Researchers have discovered a neural signature that predicts whether individuals with depression are likely to benefit from sertraline, a commonly prescribed antidepressant medication. The findings, published in Nature Biotechnology, suggest that new machine learning techniques can identify complex patterns in a person’s brain activity that correlate with meaningful clinical outcomes. The research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. “There is a great need in psychiatry…

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The Coronavirus and Travel Procrastination

As my wife contemplates travel for work and holidays, she’s suffering from what she calls “Coronastination” (Coro-nas-tin-a-tion); defined as putting off making travel plans for fear of catching coronavirus, or being affected by measures to limit its spread. Is it procrastination or a wise delay? A key thing to keep in mind when thinking about procrastination is this simple distinction: Although all procrastination is delay, not all delay is procrastination. Delay is part of life, particularly for any rational…

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Loo Paper Mania

One of the relatively predictable outcomes from Coronavirus  – especially given likely impacts on global supply chains, travel plans and government finances –  has been the turbulence on financial markets. Few pundits, however, would have predicted that the Coronavirus epidemic would cause turbulence in the market for toilet rolls. Shelves at Sydney’s supermarkets were empty on Saturday (see photo).  My first thought was that diarrhea must be a symptom of Coronavirus? But no – fever, shortness of breath, coughs,…

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Does Happiness Decline With Age?

Are people happier at age 20 than they will be at age 70? This was the focus of a new study published in the journal Psychological Science. The research suggests the likely answer is “yes,” but with some important caveats. “A pervasive concern among many people across the world is that growing older and reaching senior status means leaving their best days behind,” state the researchers. “However, a fair bit of longitudinal and cross-sectional research has shown that levels of happiness remain relatively…

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