APA Blog

Category : Schizophrenia

Sense of Smell, Memories and Emotions

Many people have had the experience of a familiar smell bringing up a memory or a feeling. That is just one of several ways our sense of smell is associated with mental health and emotions. Memories associated with a specific odor may be particularly strong. In writing about the relation of these odor-evoked memories to our mental health, psychologist Rachel Herz, Ph.D., concludes that “from numerous perspectives it is evident that the autobiographical memories and emotional associations that are triggered by odors are essential to our psychological and physiological health.”

Men, Women, and Differing Responses to Stress

Stress affects people in several ways—it activates adrenaline and other hormones, the nervous system and immune system. While not all stress is harmful, and some can even be beneficial, chronic or toxic stress can contribute to health problems. “Men and women react differently to toxic stress because their brains are wired differently,” notes Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., of The Rockefeller University, * “and therefore they may be at risk for different stress-related illnesses.” For example, as a result of chronic stress, women may be more likely to experience symptoms of depression while men may be more likely to develop problems with substance use. 

Are there Mental Health Benefits to Being a Morning Person?

Many of us identify ourselves as either a morning person or a night owl, and these preferences are at least partly the result of our genes. New research finds associations between the timing of your sleep/wake preferences and your mental health.The study from researchers at the University of Exeter and Massachusetts General Hospital suggests that being genetically programmed to rise early may lead to greater well-being and a lower risk of depression and schizophrenia.

Genetic Testing to Improve Psychiatric Medication Choice

Genetic testing is being marketed and used for a variety of different purposes, such as confirming or ruling out a suspected genetic condition or helping determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. It is also being marketed to improve the selection of medication for mental illness, such as depression. However, several recent expert reviews caution that while it holds much potential, the evidence does not yet show genetic testing is effective in improving psychiatric medication choices.

Bandersnatch: You Can Choose Your Ending, but Proceed with Caution

When I was a kid, I used to love the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. It always seemed like endless enjoyment going back and forth between the alternate endings and seeing what changed for the character as a result. Enter Netflix’s newest episode of “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” This show is a first-of-its kind TV episode that lets you choose the plot and what the main character, Stefan Butler (played by Fionn Whitehead), should do next—from what breakfast cereal he eats, to what music he should listen to, to whether he or his co-worker, Colin, should take their own lives