hostility

  1. Overtime linked to depression

    The only thing worse than a late night at the office catching up on paperwork is late night...after late night...after late night...at the office, stuck in a job where you're always catching up, but you never quite get there.

    If that's your story, you might want to consider a career change before it's too late: The latest research finds that people who work the longest hours have a higher risk of major depression.

    (And attention bosses who expect all those late nights: No, your employees don't do it because they love the work -- they do it because they fear losing their jobs.)

    In the new study, some 2,000 British office workers were tracked for nearly six years -- and those who clocked more than 11 hours a day were nearly two and a half times more likely to come down with major depression than those who stuck to the "normal" seven-hour or eight-hour shift.

    You might think some of these people were depressed to begin with -- which is perhaps why they were so willing to throw themselves on the mercy of their jobs.

    But, in this case, the researchers wrote in PLoS One that none of the workers showed any sign of mental problems at the start of the study. The link even held after all the usual risk factor adjustments.

    In other words, it's the work -- and, more specifically, far too many hours at work -- causing that increase in depression risk.

    And that's not the only danger that comes with too much overtime. Those long hours could actually kill you.

    One recent study found that people who work between three and four hours of overtime a day have a 60 percent higher risk of a heart attack than those who stick to regular office hours.

    That same study also confirmed what's already obvious to anyone regularly putting in 10 or 12 hours at a time: All that extra work can cause stress, aggression, hostility, and sleep disorders.

    And of course, overtime can sap your social life and alienate you from your family.

    It's never easy finding a balance between work and home -- but find that balance. It could literally save your life.

  2. Fats beat sadness

    Looks like the old maxim "fat and happy" isn't too far off -- but it's not fat in your body that'll lift your mood.

    It's fat in your diet.

    We've known for ages that the brain thrives on healthy fats, and now researchers say they can actually see the reaction unfold -- and that the right fatty acids can dramatically raise spirits in minutes.

    The researchers recruited 12 healthy, non-obese volunteers and randomly assigned them to get either a solution of fatty acids or saline during a series of mood-altering experiments.

    To make sure no one knew whether they were getting the fatty acids or the saline solution, the volunteers were fed via gastric tubes. (Aren't you glad you didn't volunteer for this study?)

    The volunteers also had to listen to depressing music and watch images of sad faces, all while connected to functional MRI machines so researchers could watch for changes in brain activity as the experiments unfolded.

    The researchers wrote in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that the music and pictures caused moods to dip by an average of 2.5 points on a 10-point scale before anyone was given either solution.

    Once those gastric tubes kicked in, however, the volunteers given fatty acids saw a quick rebound -- eventually losing just one point on that 10-point scale.

    The saline group, on the other hand, saw no changes.

    The MRIs backed up what the patients reported: The music and images altered brain activity by up to 4 percent, which may not sound like much, but actually represents a huge change.

    Once again, fatty acids reversed the negative activity, leading to changes in less than one percent of the brain.

    Compare that to antidepressant drugs, which can take weeks to work -- if they even work at all (and since most of them barely beat placebos in studies, don't bet your dinner on it).

    It's not the first link between fatty food and a good mood. A 1998 study found that a single month of low-fat dieting was enough to boost anger and hostility. Other studies have linked low cholesterol – both in the diet and in the blood -- to depression and even suicide.

    Yet the mainstream -- and even the U.S. government -- wants you to get less of those fats?

    I'd get angry... but I can't right now. I just had a steak.

  3. How not to quit smoking

    A long list of risks just got even longer: The feds now say the anti-smoking drug Chantix can boost the odds of a heart attack.

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