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How much screen time should I let my teenager have?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

A new study says that up to six hours a day is perfectly normal, and unlikely to do any harm – as long as your child is doing fine at school and getting enough exercise

What parent hasn’t tried to wrestle their teenager’s phone away from them? For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended a maximum of two hours’ screen time a day. Any more, it warned, and your child could get obese, sleep deprived and depressed. Research has also linked screen time to increases in risky behaviour, poor GCSE results and aggression. No wonder that screens, particularly iPads and smartphones that can be held under the bedcovers, have become a family battleground.

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Is the gym the best place to exercise?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

A new study says gym-goers are indeed fitter and healthier than non-members. But there are other ways to stay fit, and some of them may be even more beneficial

The most popular New Year resolution in almost every survey is “exercise more” – which often translates into joining a gym. According to the 2016 State of the UK Fitness Industry report, one in seven people in the UK are members. But are they more likely to be fit?

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What I’m really thinking: the depressed new dad

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

I’d never want to hurt you, son, but I was terrified by the thoughts I had

You are supposed to be our future, a new chapter in the story of our lives, but I can’t help resenting you. Only a few weeks old, you’re demanding and unreasoning and I’m struggling to see the good that you bring.

To start with, we got on with it, settling into a routine as we stumbled through nappies and nights when you wouldn’t settle, but it started to wear me down. You hear about mothers with postnatal depression, but no one talks about the challenges a father has to face: working to put food on the table and a roof over our heads is tough when you’ve had only a couple of hours sleep, and we’re not supposed to need a break. Men are supposed to never cry, and provide for those we care about. I hope that I can teach you a better way, my son; that you’re allowed to be vulnerable, and not keep everything locked up until it bursts.

Related: What I’m really thinking: the night receptionist

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Ebola, war … but just two psychiatrists to deal with a nation’s trauma

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Overwhelmed counsellors and medical staff in Sierra Leone must contend with suspicion and a collapse in funding

The history of Africa’s oldest psychiatric hospital is written on the walls of its isolation units, desperate messages chiselled into the woodwork like scars. “I came here for I don’t have any money,” reads one note in a corner of the room. “People want me to run from my father’s house,” reads another. “You go nowhere,” announces a third. “Stay out.”

Since the hospital opened in the early 19th century, most Sierra Leoneans have aspired to do exactly that, avoiding this imposing building perched high on a hill above the capital, Freetown.

We do counselling, though it’s not the type of counselling they do in America or Europe

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Why don’t I enjoy life? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Anouchka Grose

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

I’d like to begin by shelving the obvious, contemporary answer to the question “Why don’t I enjoy life?”: “Because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, which can be fixed with medication.” I wouldn’t want to put anyone off doing anything that might help their suffering, but this answer needs to stop being so pushy and get to the back of the queue: there are plenty of perfectly valid reasons for not enjoying life.

Related: How would the Stoics cope today? | Ryan Holiday

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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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Tom Fletcher: ‘Dad wanted to be in a band. I’m living his dream’

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

The singer and children’s author on his many family creative influences, fatherhood and depression

I had a really happy childhood. My dad worked 12-hour shifts in the Kodak factory – I remember creeping about when he was on nights – but he was also lead singer in a band playing in British Legion and working men’s clubs. My earliest memories are of being sat at the back of a pub, falling asleep on the bench while my dad played. He used to get me up on stage to sing with him from when I was only three or four. I get my music from my dad.

I wanted to play the guitar like him. Now my son, Buzz, is doing the same with me. He is only two but he’s obsessed with guitars, especially mine. He sits there with it upside down and sings McFly songs. It’s really sweet and he’s got amazing rhythm. I did a McFly tour recently and he came to a sound check. We gave him a ukulele so he could join in and he didn’t want to leave the stage. I can see now how it naturally passes from father to son.

Related: Carrie Hope Fletcher: ‘I’m human and I screw up but I’m willing to be told I’m wrong’

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No new antidepressants likely in next decade, say scientists

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Reluctance of healthcare providers such as NHS to pay for expensive drugs is behind lack of research, says Oxford professor

No new drugs for depression are likely in the next decade, even though those such as Prozac work for little more than half of those treated and there have been concerns over their side-effects, say scientists.

Leading psychiatrists, some of whom have been involved in drug development, say criticism of the antidepressants of the Prozac class, called the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), is partly responsible for the pharmaceutical industry’s reluctance to invest in new drugs – even though demand is steadily rising.

Related: Why ‘big pharma’ stopped searching for the next Prozac

Related: Why have antidepressant prescriptions doubled in the last decade?

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How dropping acid saved my life

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

When writer Ayelet Waldman fell into depression she started microdosing with LSD. She tells Rachel Cooke about her extraordinary experiment with acid

Some time ago – for reasons that will become apparent I am not allowed to say when, exactly – the American writer Ayelet Waldman scored some LSD. She did this, not on a street corner or via the dark web, but middle-class style, through an acquaintance of an acquaintance, for which reason the drug arrived at her home in Berkeley, California, in a stamp-encrusted brown paper package whose sender (an elderly professor, she believed) identified himself only as Lewis Carroll, a “fellow resident” of her town. Mr Carroll had, however, troubled to write her a brief note. “Our lives may be no more than dewdrops on a summer morning,” it said. “But surely, it is better that we sparkle while we are here.” The bottle he enclosed contained 50 drops of “vintage quality” LSD, of which he advised her to take two at a time. Waldman was delighted. Not to put too fine a point on it, she believed this drug might save her life.

‘I was in a dangerous place, doing everything to ruin my own life’

‘Within a couple of doses the computer of my brain restarted’

‘My husband encouraged me to embark on LSD experiment because he was desperate, too’

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Pumped on protein: can a shake ever be as good as a plate of food?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Sales of power bars and powders and supplements are surging – but does anyone really need them?

Protein is big business: as pumped-up as any ripped bodybuilder. The drinks, powders and bars that were once the preserve of top athletes have found their way into suburban kitchens and spawned an industry worth $96bn worldwide. In the UK we spend more than £66m a year on sports nutrition products: recent research found nearly a quarter of us, and 42% of men aged 16-24, had consumed one in the past three months. High street chains sell protein drinks and pots, and last year saw a rise in popularity among women.

But are they worth the hype? Protein supplements are pricey, usually heavily processed and, new research suggests, potentially unnecessary. And is a protein shake any better than a handful of nuts or a chicken breast?

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