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What’s the least stressful way to commute?

Sep 2nd, 2017 by

Pedalling to work came out top in a recent study. But how do the risks and benefits stack up when you allow for injuries and pollution?

According to recent research, cycling to work can reduce your risk of early death by 40%. But if avoiding an early demise isn’t enough to get you on a bike, there’s also a more immediate benefit – if you commute by bike, you will feel less stressed and be more productive at work. A study last week in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that, for the first 45 minutes of work, employees who cycled in had less stress than those who travelled by car. And how stressed you feel early in the morning is apparently a strong predictor for how you will feel throughout the day. The authors say it “can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon”.

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Does having sex when you are older help you stay mentally sharp?

Sep 2nd, 2017 by

Sex doesn’t stop when you hit 50, and it has been shown to have many health benefits for older people. But could it also stave off cognitive decline?

The over-50-year-olds who make up the Saga Populus panel are surveyed about everything from holidaying with grandchildren to their views on a tax on chewing-gum. In 2014, they were asked something more interesting: how often they had sex. Out of the sample of more than 9,000, 60% were sexually active, with just over 20% having sex once a week, and 26% having sex between once a fortnight and once a month.

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​Noise is annoying – but can it also make you infertile?

Sep 2nd, 2017 by

A new study has found a link between lengthy exposure to low traffic noise or its equivalent and male fertility problems. But how worried should we be?

You don’t have to live under a flight path or next to a nightclub to be bothered by noise. Surprisingly low levels of noise – above 55 decibels (the equivalent of light traffic or an air conditioner) – especially at night is not only annoying but detrimental to health. Noise pollution is, warns the World Health Organization, a growing hazard, second only to air pollution in its ill effects. It is obviously linked to sleep disturbance but also to heart attacks, tinnitus, strokes and even obesity.

Noise has also been associated with increases in premature births and miscarriages, and this week its ill effects were extended to reducing male fertility. A study, in the international journal Environmental Pollution, of 206,492 men in South Korea found that being exposed to noise levels of more than 55 decibels for four years, especially at night, was associated with an increase in fertility problems. When the authors of the study compared postcodes and the noise associated with them to fertility (as measured by the quality of semen samples) they found an increase in infertility for each 10 decibels of noise above 55 decibels. The researchers tried to factor in other things that affect fertility, such as age, exercise, smoking, drinking, blood sugar, weight and medical history. But the design of the study meant they couldn’t collect information on genetic factors or exposure to other things, such as chemicals that could also reduce fertility.

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‘Just go for a run’: testing everyday advice for my depression | Martha Mills

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

If you say you’re depressed, people are quick to dispense wisdom on how to deal with it. Martha Mills decided to take them literally, and try them out for herself

So, it turns out I’m getting better at depression. That isn’t to say I’ve stopped suffering it, or that it is any less debilitating when it sneaks up after a two-year hiatus and pile-drives me into a blistering agony of mental carpet burns topped with a patronising tousle of the bed-hair, like a nostalgic school bully. No, what’s “better” about me is spotting it and moving quicker through the self-blame method of diagnosis.

We all have down days, and that’s what you hope these are. Only they stopped being a day or two of feeling blue that can be whiled away with the distraction of a conspiratorial sofa and questionable DVD collection, and have merged into weeks since you were last able to feel anything but disappointment on waking up, and the choice between showering or just smelling like a tramp’s undercarriage has gone beyond struggle into pure resignation.

Related: How to actually talk to a woman wearing headphones | Martha Mills

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NHS prescribed record number of antidepressants last year

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Data prompts debate about whether rise shows drugs are handed out too freely or whether more people are getting help

The NHS prescribed a record number of antidepressants last year, fuelling an upward trend that has seen the number of pills given to patients more than double over the last decade.

The figures raised questions over whether the rise shows doctors are handing out the drugs out too freely or whether it means more people are getting help to tackle their anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

Related: How long should you stay on antidepressants?

Related: Young people and antidepressants: share your experiences

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‘Without this, I would have killed myself’: gardening helps heal refugees’ trauma

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

An NHS-run therapeutic gardening project in London is helping to alleviate symptoms of severe mental health problems

It was around a year after Fatu Mangeh* arrived in the UK that she considered taking her own life.

In 2002 she fled the civil war in Sierra Leone where she had been raped and tortured – scars are still visible on her hands 15 years later. Her parents were killed and the only family she had left was her two-year-old daughter. She was lured to the UK by a man who promised to marry her but abandoned her, leaving her destitute and with no support. Wandering the streets, she came across a woman from Sierra Leone who offered to help; she took her to the Home Office to claim asylum and registered her with a GP.

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Chasing social media shares harms public trust in science – so stop it

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Not all research is created equal. There needs to be more clarity in the media about where study findings have come from

Last month US TV channel CNBC published an online news story based on a study which it said showed that Instagram is “most likely to cause young people to feel depressed and lonely” out of the major social apps. But the “study” is actually a survey which fails to provide substantive evidence that Instagram is the worst for mental health, or that there is even a relationship between social media use and depression or loneliness. It was another enticing – but misleading – headline.

Over the next days the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), which published the report in conjunction with the Young Health Movement charity, retweeted and shared news stories like CNBC’s. The society’s report was featured by most national media outlets, and although some pointed out that it was based on a survey, others presented it in a way that could be construed as scientific research. In any case, most included a statement about Instagram being damaging to mental health in the title in a way that made the findings appear more conclusive than the report suggests.

Related: Why we can’t trust academic journals to tell the scientific truth

Related: It’s time for academics to take back control of research journals

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Ant McPartlin has no reason to apologise. His addiction is not his fault | Chris Owen

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

The TV star says he feels he’s let people down. But after spending time in rehab I know how important it is that addiction is seen as an illness, not as self-inflicted

The weekend brought the news that Ant McPartlin, one half of Ant and Dec – PJ of PJ and Duncan fame – has checked into rehab for addiction problems with alcohol and drugs. He’s to spend a couple of months in recovery, where – hopefully – he’ll come out armed with the knowledge of how he became unwell in the first place, and how he can keep himself safe and sober in the long term.

Related: Ant McPartlin speaks out about depression and addiction

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Number of under-18s on antidepressants in England rises by 12%

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Data shows over 166,000 were given such medication between April 2015 and June 2016, including 537 aged six or under

Tens of thousands of young people in England, including children as young as six, are being prescribed antidepressants by their doctors. The figures have prompted concern that medics may be overprescribing strong medication because of stretched and underfunded mental health services.

Data obtained by the Guardian shows that 166,510 under-18s, including 10,595 seven-to-12-year-olds and 537 aged six or younger, were given medication typically used to treat depression and anxiety between April 2015 and June 2016. The figures, released by NHS England under the Freedom of Information Act, show a 12% rise in the numbers taking the drugs over the same time period.

Related: Antidepressants prescribed far more in deprived English coastal towns

Related: Antidepressant prescriptions in England double in a decade

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Women can still have it all. Can’t they? | Victoria Coren Mitchell

Jul 2nd, 2017 by

Over tea and muffins, I was almost convinced of the case for tighter apron strings. Oh, crumbs!

Last week was a significant one for me because I nearly changed my mind about something. And who ever does that? I didn’t change my mind (nobody ever does, about anything) but I did have – I think – a small insight. I won’t say “epiphany”. Not least because I find it hard to pronounce. But I will say insight.

It came about over a cup of tea with a friend, whom I won’t name for fear that people will find her on Twitter and shout at her. Let’s just call her @elspeth157. I’m joking. We’ll call her Janet.

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