Facebook Emotions Are Contagious, and Other Mental Health News

teen girl using laptopWhether it’s the stress of a hard day at work or the exhilaration of a new baby or engagement, people regularly turn to Facebook to share emotional news. A new study of 689,003 randomly selected Facebook users suggests that emotions can spread from one Facebook user to another.

Previous research has shown that others’ emotions are contagious in person; you’re more likely to be in a bad mood after spending time with a person in a bad mood. But this study is the first to demonstrate the same effect online.

Without reading the actual content of the posts, researchers analyzed language in more than 3 million Facebook posts, then labeled the post as either positive or negative. They found that people’s emotional state on Facebook was a good way to predict their friends’ emotions on Facebook, even several days after an emotional post.

Brain Imaging Shows Enhanced Executive Functioning In People With Musical Training

Executive functions enable you to plan your day, analyze complex information, and adjust your behavior to account for changing psychological states. According to a brain imaging study, people who receive early musical training may have better executive functioning than people who don’t.

Researchers compared the brains of 15 musically trained children to 12 children who had not experienced musical training. The musically trained children did better on tests of executive functioning. On functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, children with musical training showed more activation in areas of the prefrontal cortex thought to be associated with executive functioning.

Weighing Effects of Lots of Structure vs. ‘Free Range’ Parenting

The debate between so-called helicopter and free-range parents often grows contentious, and a new study suggests that parents who offer less structure may be doing their children a favor. Researchers looked at parents’ reports on the activities of 70 6-year-olds, and then evaluated the children on skills associated with self-directed executive functioning. The children who had fewer structured activities were better at setting their own goals and managing their time without adult supervision or nagging.

ADHD Meds Shown to Not Increase Suicide Risk—And May Protect Against It

People with attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) who worry about the effects of taking ADHD medications may be able to breathe a sigh of relief. A review of 37,936 patients through a Swedish national patient registry found a reduction in suicidal behaviors among people taking ADHD medications.

Docs Uncomfortable Judging Patients’ Competency to Carry Guns

In response to numerous mass shootings, many pundits have argued in favor of limiting gun rights for people who might become violent. Such a measure would require doctors or therapists to report potentially dangerous patients and clients. But new research suggests such a measure might not work.

A survey of 222 North Carolina physicians found that more than 20% had been asked to sign competency forms to help patients obtain guns in the past year. The doctors overwhelmingly reported that such measures make them uncomfortable and that there’s no objective way to measure whether a person is competent to carry a weapon.

Parents of a Child With Autism Often Forego Further Childbearing: Study

A study that looked at 20,000 families with at least one child with autism has found that having a child with an autism spectrum issue may lead parents to forego future childbearing. The children were born between 1990 and 2003, and families were compared to 36,000 families who did not have a child with autism. The study found that parents who had a child with autism were about a third less likely to have another child than parents who did not have a child with autism.

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  • bryan


    June 20th, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Really? Because I read fb status updates so that I can actually feel pretty good about my own life. I think that all of my fb friends are bummers most of the time.

  • Sadie


    June 20th, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    I can see the benefits of the more free range style parenting, but at the same time this is hard for me to give to my kids because of my own innate desire for order and structure. I like to know what I will be doing and when and this kind of carries over to things that I plan out for the family too. It just feels right to me, and a little safer to always have a plan, to know where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. I have not been able to give some of that control up just because the kids came along. And really I thought that I have always read that kids need that structure in their lives to be successful. It has always worked for me, and I don’t see any negative effects of it on them yet either. I think that this is probably just like anything else- there are going to be certain kids who thrive in one setting while there will be others who do better with another. You just have to know your children and what their individual needs are.

  • kyle


    June 21st, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    If doctors don’t feel comfortabel with making the judgement about competency then who on earth will do that? The law? Judges? I clearly think that if there has to be any sort of question about who should be allowed to be a gun owner then a therapist and maybe the court system working together should be the ones making the final decision. We have enough guns, TOO MANY, going into the hands of those who do not need to have them. Maybe if this kind of system was in place some of this senseless violence would end.

  • Loretta


    June 23rd, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    There are so many studies that reinforce the benefits of music education in our children- so why does it always seem that when money is tight this is the budget that goes first?
    It teaches the kids to think, to reason, to do something beautifully, to be involved in something bigger than they are and increases their self esteem as well as their view of the world, so why is it not deemed just as important as any other subject?

  • blakely


    June 23rd, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Can you really blame parents with an autistic child for not wanting to have another?
    Not because they don’t love thsi child, of course they do, but I would be scared to death that this could happen again and knowing how hard the circumstances could be I don’t know of many families who would want to take that risk over and over again.
    My cousin has an autistic daughter but she was their last one and I don’t think that they would have had another one after her even if she hadn’t been on the spectrum but seeing how hard they work with her and how much of a toll that can take on the whole family, I find it evry doubtful that she would have wanted to take that chance of having another with autism.

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