Writing Your Way to Well-Being, and Other News

Hands write in a journalThe healing power of the pen is increasingly playing a role in therapy, support groups, and psychiatric hospitals. A number of studies, for instance, have found that writing can help improve symptoms of depression. The New York Times recently highlighted a number of studies suggesting that the healing powers of writing cannot be overestimated. In one study, for instance, African-American students who had trouble adjusting to college life were asked to write an essay or create a video for other students planning to go to college. Students who had an opportunity to tell their stories in this positive light had better grades in subsequent months.

Writing doesn’t just benefit individuals, though. Another study found that couples who wrote about their disagreements from the perspective of a neutral observer reported improvements in marriage satisfaction.

GoodTherapy.org has long recognized the value of writing and story-sharing through its Share Your Story feature. Interested in writing your own story? Learn more, submit your own story, or read the stories of others here.

Life Satisfaction Linked to Bone Health in Older Women

About half of all women over 50 develop osteoporosis, which reduces bone density and increases the risk of a bone fracture. According to a study of 1,100 Finnish women between the ages of 60 and 70, bone density may also be linked to happiness. Among those who said their quality of life deteriorated during the study, bone density weakened by about 85%. 

Couples Who Set Health Goals Together Have More Success, Study Suggests

If you’ve resolved to quit smoking, start exercising, or start a new hobby, you might want to get your partner on board. According to a study of 3,700 middle-aged or older couples in the United Kingdom, you’re more likely to succeed if you and your partner pursue goals together. 

Therapy Dogs Help Cancer Patients Cope With Tough Treatments

As any dog owner can attest, a few moments with a dog can be relaxing, soothing even symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to a study of 42 patients facing head and neck cancers, therapy dogs—who are increasingly common in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes—may actually make the challenges of cancer treatment more manageable. Questionnaire responses revealed that, while patients’ physical well-being deteriorated during treatments, those who worked with therapy dogs actually saw an increase in emotional and social well-being during treatments.

More Serotonin, More Patience

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked with mood, has long played a role in depression. Many antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and Paxil, increase the amount of serotonin accessible to your brain. According to a study that forced rats to wait for a reward, more serotonin could be linked to more patience in rats—and potentially in humans. Researchers stimulated serotonin neurons in some rats, and found that those rats were better able to wait for the reward. 

Bisexual Women Have Worse Mental Health Than Lesbians

According to a British study of 5,706 lesbian and bisexual women, bisexual women face more mental health problems than lesbian women. Though bisexual women were less likely to encounter discrimination at work, they experienced more discrimination from loved ones. The study’s authors believe that negative attitudes toward bisexuals could contribute to mental health problems. They found that bisexual women were 64% more likely to have eating issues, 37% more likely to have harmed themselves, and 26% more likely to experience depression or anxiety in the past year.

Poor Sleep ‘Early Warning Sign’ for Drink and Drug Issues

According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly half of all Americans struggle with occasional insomnia, with 22% reporting insomnia almost every night. Among teens, though, insomnia could signal a problem with alcohol or drugs. Relying on data from 6,500 teens, researchers gathered data about drug and alcohol use and sleep patterns from 1994-2002. They found that teens who had trouble sleeping were more likely to use drugs and alcohol. But sleeping problems weren’t just a side effect of drug use; instead, sleeping issues actually seemed to trigger drug and alcohol use, with teens who reported worse sleep being significantly more likely to also report substance use.

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  • Artie


    January 23rd, 2015 at 11:01 AM

    Writing is for me a way of letting out my feelings in a way that is non threatening yet therapeutic for me. You don’t have anyone that you can hurt with your private musings, and at the same time you can get everything off your chest that may have been bugging you. I highly recommend it for anyone who feels like they have a lot of things that they won’t to say but are not necessarily certain that they want to voice it all out loud.

  • Hayes


    January 23rd, 2015 at 1:15 PM

    It’s official… therapy dogs are just awesome.

  • Melinda


    January 25th, 2015 at 5:59 AM

    Well, I am not depressed but I sure could use some of that serotonin in any form because I think that I am probably the least patient person ever. Just ask my family- I think that they would all confirm that!

  • Ria


    January 25th, 2015 at 1:11 PM

    Everyone is unique in each on our way. What’s work for me it doesn’t mean work for anyone else. Something you might find that is inspiring, peaceful, or bring happiness, go for it. It can be outdoor, indoor, writing, as simple as even humming.

  • KK


    January 25th, 2015 at 4:17 PM

    No wonder so many people with sleeping problems develop drinking problems because I hear about people all the time talking about how wine is the only thing that helps them get a good nights sleep. Not exactly a habit that you want to pick up.

  • Julia


    January 26th, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    That is amazing that bone health has such a high correlation with happiness later in life for women. Maybe this indicates that our overall health and well being can be determined or at least analyzed by what our bones are saying about us? I am always amazed when these little parallels between mental and physical health are better understood and examined.

  • derek


    January 26th, 2015 at 3:24 PM

    My thoughts are that many of us wonder why bisexual people just can’t make up their minds about who they want to be with, one sex or the other. I think that this is confusing to a lot of us and even thought it really isn’t any of our business, quite frankly, I think that bisexuality makes us even more curious than someone being strictly homosexual would. It is just very different from anything that I was raised around and I am trying to broaden my mind but this one I confess is till hard for me to understand.

  • Billy D.

    Billy D.

    January 27th, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    I never could have lost the weight that I have without the help and encouragement from my wife that she has given me. Together we have both turned our lives around and lost weight and gotten much healthier, and for that I cannot thank her enough. She encourages me to exercise, we cook healthy meals, and our lives no longer revolve about where are going to eat.
    We made the commitment to do this together and I am sure that doing that together has helped keep both of us focused on what is important.

  • francis


    January 27th, 2015 at 2:47 PM

    I love to write, not to produce anything great but simply as a way of letting out feelings that I might not feel good talking about out loud

  • Gladys


    January 28th, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    Does this mean that I need to schedule my bone density test today?

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