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Why is sex painful for some women – and what can they do?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Up to one third of women may experience pain during sex, but most never seek the treatment they need

Sex is painful for nearly one in 13 women, according to a study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Researchers vary in their estimates of how common painful sex is – some studies say it affects up to one in three women – but all agree it’s a neglected problem. Most women never seek help. Some carry on having penetrative sex through gritted teeth.

The medical name for painful sex – dyspareunia – covers a multitude of reasons why intercourse hurts, such as sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia or herpes), thrush and endometriosis (which causes pelvic inflammation). Then there is anxiety, lack of sexual arousal and/or a previous traumatic experience of sex.

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Can acupuncture relieve your baby’s colic?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

A new study suggests so – but don’t start sticking needles into your child. A detailed look at the results shows things aren’t so clear cut

Your baby is crying inconsolably, suffering from colic. Do you: a) cuddle it, b) give Infacol drops or c) stick needles into it? According to a paper in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, the answer may be c. Since colic affects up to at least 20% of babies, that could mean a lot of work for acupuncturists.

Colic starts in the first weeks of life and is usually over by three to four months. Babies are otherwise perfectly fine but cry in the early evening, and can yell for hours. No wonder parents feel desperate. The cause is unknown, with possible culprits including the mother’s diet during breastfeeding, cigarette smoke, the baby gulping too much air during feeding, inadequate burping and parental stress. Overstimulating babies has also been blamed. Super-sensitive pain signals and abnormal muscle contraction in the wall of the baby’s gut are the possible mechanisms that trigger the pain and bawling.

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How can I cope better with stress?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Some people can bounce back from life’s pressures, but others do not seem to have the capacity. Can anything help them to strengthen their emotional armour?

How do you feel when bad things happen? Do you bounce back from adversity or sob indefinitely? Emotional resilience, the ability that some people have to withstand stress, was once thought to be a genetic gift. You were either lucky and had it, or you didn’t and struggled. Studies show that teenagers who fail exams have an increased risk of depression as adults, while athletes who lose can feel long-term guilt and humiliation. But recent psychological research suggests that emotional resilience can be developed. A systematic review of what makes people able to deal with failure looked at results from 46 studies.

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Is too much protein bad for you?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The market for protein supplements is now mainstream – but many of us already eat twice as much protein as the World Health Organisation recommends

Carbohydrates are causing an obesity epidemic and fats silt up your arteries. But protein? It provides the building blocks for essential stuff such as cells, muscles, bone, nails, hormones and enzymes. The word “protein” comes from the Greek and means first, as in most important. We can’t get enough of it. Bodybuilders take protein supplements in the form of milkshakes, energy drinks or bars to build up their muscle bulk. But even ordinary folk see protein as their new best dietary friend. The world market for protein supplements is now firmly mainstream and estimated to reach £8bn a year by 2017.

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Can insomnia be cured by online therapy?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Up to half of us have problems sleeping – and some experts say online treatment may soon become the norm. But which tool should you use?

Can’t get to sleep? Try online therapy. While a glowing screen is a counter-intuitive cure for insomnia, there is evidence that online cognitive behavourial therapy (CBT) can restore normal sleep patterns. In a study published in this month’s Jama Psychiatry, an online CBT programme cured 57% of those who used it, compared with 27% who had standard education about insomnia.

Insomnia affects up to half of all people – with up to 20% having a serious problem with getting off to sleep (or falling asleep again if they wake up). Chronic insomnia can last for years – making people feel sleepy during the day and anxious at night. Standard advice includes promoting “sleep hygiene”: a cool, dark bedroom; going to bed and getting up at the same time every day; and not napping. After that, it’s face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy – but there aren’t enough therapists to go round. This may be why people are still prescribed sleeping tablets that make them feel pleasantly dissociated and are very addictive.

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Women suffer much more work stress than men, says psychiatrist

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Sexism in the workplace and family responsibilities add to pressure as they face unequal pay and lack of support

Women suffer considerably higher levels of work-related stress, anxiety and depression than men, with workplace sexism and familial responsibilities providing additional career pressures, a leading psychiatrist has said.

It comes as official figures show that women aged 25-54 are more stressed than their male colleagues, with this pressure peaking for those aged 35-44, when many women are juggling family responsibilities, such as caring for children and elderly parents.

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Bruce Springsteen: black dog of depression ‘still jumps up and bites me’

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Award-winning US singer describes how he handles illness during interview for BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs

Bruce Springsteen’s struggle with depression has taken him to the brink of despair, the singer will tell Kirsty Young before she leaves him to fend for himself with only eight records for company on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

“It is something that has been a part of my life,” Springsteen told Young for the show to be broadcast on Sunday. “It is usually OK, but like Churchill’s ‘black dog’, it still jumps up and bites you in the arse sometimes.”

Related: Bruce Springsteen: ‘You can change a life in three minutes with the right song’

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Individual athletes more prone to depression, researchers find

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Study by German sports psychologists finds individual athletes score higher on depression scale than those in team sports

Athletes in individual sports are more prone to depression than those in team games, according to German research to be presented at a conference in Cardiff.

The research by the Technical University of Munich confirms not just the loneliness of the long distance runner but a range of other depressive symptoms among solo sportsmen and women more generally.

Related: Ian Thorpe: ‘I was surrounded by people but had this intense loneliness’

The hardest thing about running is that you are on own before a race. When things are great that’s what’s good about it. I’m not dependent on 10 other guys being on the top of their game in order for me to be successful. But there is also nothing to fall back on. The nature of athletics is that one guy gets to win each race, and so there’s 11 or more in my event who don’t. And its that unpredictability that’s the hard bit.

It got to a point with my coach when I couldn’t express how low I was. There are not many people I get to talk to about these things. I’m not surrounded by a team. I don’t have to turn up to a training ground.

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Happiness depends on health and friends, not money, says new study

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

Landmark research says tackling mental health issues more effective than reducing poverty for increasing happiness rates

Most human misery can be blamed on failed relationships and physical and mental illness rather than money problems and poverty, according to a landmark study by a team of researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Eliminating depression and anxiety would reduce misery by 20% compared to just 5% if policymakers focused on eliminating poverty, the report found.

Related: So child mental health services are failing. Why’s that then, Jeremy? | Hannah Jane Parkinson

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My son is depressed but won’t seek help

Jan 2nd, 2017 by

I can’t help him because he is 21 and has to self-refer, but he insists he is fine even though he has lost interest in most things

My 21-year-old son has been depressed since October, but refuses to get therapy. I saw his GP, but was told that, as he is 21, he should seek self-referral. At that time, he had just had a breakdown and was crying uncontrollably. He has since been a shadow of himself, has no appetite and in the evenings feels restless and tired. He is not on any medication. He has cut out his friends and feels uneasy when we go to any function other than church. He has lost interest in most things in life. There are just the two of us and it is beginning to take its toll on me. I have tried to talk him into therapy or counselling, but he insists he is fine. He is due back at university in January and I do not want him to lose his place.

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