Studies show that college students are America’s loneliest people—even more so than the elderly—even though they’re surrounded by people and activities. The role of technology is discussed in isolating students, and the role of changing culture toward children and adolescents having a constantly structured schedule with few breaks for downtime or spontaneity. Experts also discuss how parents, schools and students themselves can overcome social isolation.
Rachel Simmons, Leadership Development Specialist, Smith College
Dr. Victor Schwartz, Chief Medical Officer, JED Foundation
Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Brigham Young University
A silent epidemic is at work in doctors around the world: depression. An estimated 400 physicians are lost each year to suicide, often because of unacknowledged and untreated mental illnesses. Dr. Pamela Wible, founder of the Ideal Medical Care movement and author of Physician Suicide Letters, Answered, and Dr. Louise Andrew, founder of MD Mentor, explain why doctors are committing suicide at a higher rate than the general population and why others are covering it up.
Starting from medical school, through residency, and then in their professional practices, doctors face a harsh and often unhealthy school and work environment that leaves many of them frustrated and disappointed. In turn, the suicide rate for doctors is two to five times higher than that of the general population, Dr. Wible says. Furthermore, doctors have a greater knowledge of drugs and the human body, which leads their suicide attempts to result in death more often.
The root of these high suicide rates is often left undiscovered or covered up. Many doctors will not be able to diagnose themselves or will not be approached by concerned colleagues or family members. If the mental illness is discovered, doctors often avoid acknowledging it for fear of losing their medical license or insurance. Finally, if doctors do try to get treatment, they are faced with an additional challenge; many doctors feel uncomfortable treating other doctors.
With the odds stacked against them, Dr. Wible and Dr. Andrew say that the responsibility falls to all of us to bring this issue to light and to acknowledge that our physicians are people too.
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Dr. Pamela Wible, founder of the Ideal Medical Care movement and author of Physician Suicide Letters, Answered
How safe is vaping? A new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives says it’s not. Researchers say people using e-cigarettes are likely to inhale significant amounts of lead, chromium, manganese and other toxic metals. The problem apparently isn’t in the e-liquids the devices use. It’s the heating coils that leak heavy metals. Scientists say that nearly half of the aerosol vapers tested had lead concentrations higher than health limits defined by the epa.
A lot of people, including doctors, mistakenly judge a person’s health by their weight. But a new study in the journal BMC Obesity finds that it’s very possible to be healthy and fit even if you’re obese. Scientists tested more than 800 people and found that more than 40 percent of those with mild obesity still had high fitness levels. Twenty-five percent of those with moderate obesity had high fitness and 11 percent of those with severe obesity still had high fitness. Researchers say it takes a lot less physical activity to improve health than to lose weight.
And finally, scientists have determined that money can, indeed, buy happiness but it takes the right amount of cash. Too much can be as bad as too little. A global study in the journal Nature Human Behavior finds that 60-to-95 thousand dollars per year is the ideal income for a single person. Researchers say income greater than that is likely to prompt the pursuit of more material gains and social comparisons, which make people less happy.
We all want to be happy yet the American culture appears to be experiencing a joy-deficit. While it is well known that some individuals suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects their ability to be happy, many people are not aware of the fact that they can change the happiness that they feel by creating it on their own.
Seeking joy is an important aspect of human life. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Riverside and author of The How of Happiness and Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy But Does explains that Americans have the opportunity to experience joy everyday, but many are overlooking the small ways to feel it. She believes that people spend too much time waiting for big moments, rather than taking advantage of the little moments to experience joy.
So, what can a person do to feel more joy? Dr. Alex Korb, neuroscientist at University of California, Los Angeles and author, The Upward Spiral: Using Neural Science to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change At a Time states that it is possible for people to increase their serotonin levels on their own and provides a few ways, such as sitting in the sunlight, remembering positive memories, and partaking in simple exercises. Just by partaking in some of these activities, people have the possibility to experience a little more joy in their daily lives.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at University of California-Riverside and author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want and Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, But Does
Dr. Alex Korb, researcher at University of California, Los Angeles and author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neural Science to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change At a Time
For the last several decades, doctors have believed many mental illnesses were the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. However, a journalist’s investigation shows that lost human connection, dissatisfaction, and loneliness are behind many cases of depression and anxiety. He explains.
Johann Hari, author, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions
Mega-storms such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria disrupt uncounted lives and leave psychological scars that can last for decades and recur every hurricane season. Experts who have tracked survivors of Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago explain what survivors of new storms can expect in their lives.
Dr. Howard Osofsky, Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Dr. Thomas Hauth, Medical Director, Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority
Some people who seek repeated plastic surgery are afflicted with a mental illness, body dysmorphic disorder, which distorts their view of their own appearance. Experts discuss symptoms and how the disorder may be treated, though few with the disorder agree to psychological treatment.
Dr. Elliot Hirsch, Los Angeles plastic surgeon
Dr. Angela Fang, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School and psychologist, Massachusetts General Hospital