Mental Health

Coping with the loss of smell and taste

A majority of people with mild or moderate COVID-19 have reported problems with their sense of smell, and a similar percentage reported changes in taste perception. The loss of these senses may be temporary, but it can take as long as a year for them to return, and some people will not regain them at all.

Cultivating joy as a family

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but particularly for families. Everyone is feeling so much uncertainty and stress, but one thing we can do is look for ways to create small moments of joy every day. Games, activities, creativity, being outdoors — there are simple, fun ways to be together and make memories.

Why is music good for the brain?

A study conducted by AARP found correlation between a person’s engagement with music and their opinion of their brain health and cognitive ability. While the study did not involve any objective measure of brain health, music has been shown to activate multiple areas of the brain, and keeping brain pathways active helps keep the brain strong in older age.

As family well-being declines, so does children’s behavior

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the mental health of people who have not been sick, and parents are being hit particularly hard. A survey of US parents found that these worsening circumstances also affect children’s behavior.

How to cope when a loved one is depressed, suicidal, or manic

The pandemic has caused a surge in depression. If someone you care about is struggling with depression or bipolar disorder, or you have reason to think the person may be suicidal, there are ways you can help — and caring for yourself is important, too.

Staying positive during difficult times

The trials and challenges of this year are weighing heavily on many people, but attempting to employ positive psychology to put personal struggles in context, and accepting the ups and downs life brings, can ultimately increase positive feelings and provide perspective.

Managing the new normal: Actively help your family weather the pandemic

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

More than six months into the pandemic, it’s clear that we are going to be living with it for some time, and that expectations of life soon returning to normal are not realistic. This is a good time to assess the adjustments we’ve made and see how we can make different choices to get ourselves and our families through the challenge.

Limiting COVID chaos during the school year

As the school year begins, plans for how learning will happen are in flux, and may change rapidly. With so much uncertainty, parents will want to limit confusion and create as much structure as they can for their children in this difficult situation.

How can you help a loved one suffering from loneliness?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more people are dealing with extended periods of isolation from family and friends. Increasing feelings of loneliness are a serious health issue that can increase the risk of death. If you or someone you know is in this situation, there are things you can do to mitigate the circumstances.

Children, teens, and the safety of psychotropic medicines

While many children and teens are prescribed psychotropic medicines to treat conditions like depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a comprehensive look at safety data has been lacking. A recent review of multiple studies synthesizes evidence on the side effect profiles of many widely used medicines.