Mood Boosters: New Studies Show How to Beat the Blues

The latest medical research has unlocked some fascinating ways to fight depression.

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The same tool that lets pregnant women see their unborn babies may help your mind relax.

Jude Buffum for Reader's Digest

Ten minutes after researchers used an ultrasound for 15 seconds on the temples of chronic pain patients in a preliminary study, the volunteers reported feeling happier and calmer and, 30 minutes later, reported feeling less pain compared with a placebo. Ultrasound may activate tiny structures in brain cells and improve their ability to communicate. The researchers plan to test a portable ultrasound headset next.

Source: Stuart Hameroff, MD, departments of anesthesiology and psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center

Some people respond better to talk therapy; others respond better to drugs.

Jude Buffum for Reader's Digest

In a recent study, researchers took brain scans of depressed patients, then randomly assigned half to therapy and half to Lexapro. Three months later, they found that those with more activity in the insula—a part of the brain linked to emotion and decision making—improved after meds but not therapy. Those with lower insula activity fared better with therapy over meds. If other studies confirm the findings, brain scans might help tailor treatment.

Source: Helen Mayberg, MD, professor of psychiatry, neurology, and radiology, Emory University School of Medicine

Treat negative thoughts like old newspaper at the bottom of the birdcage.

Jude Buffum for Reader's Digest

When students were asked to write bad thoughts about their body and then toss the paper in a garbage can, they were later more positive about their body image than those who hadn’t discarded them. When they tucked positive thoughts about a healthy diet into their pocket, they were more likely to want to follow that diet later than those who threw such thoughts away. How you treat your thoughts affects behavior.

Source: Richard Petty, PhD, professor of psychology, Ohio State University

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