TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 4

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. We’re measuring family poverty wrong. We should measure access to opportunity to find out what’s really working.

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

2. Anxiety, depression and more: “Four to five times more” high school athletes struggle with mental health issues than concussions.

By Gary Mihoces in USA Today

3. They provide social order and an economic structure. What if prison gangs actually make life better behind bars?

By Shannon Mizzi in Wilson Quarterly

4. Scientists have released the genetic sequence of the 2014 Ebola virus to crowdsource solutions to future outbreaks.

By Fathom Information Design

5. If new technology really cut jobs, we’d all be out of work by now.

By Walter Isaacson in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

How Facebook Is Helping Suicidal People

Facebook will offer suicide prevention resources to users posting troubling messages

Facebook is going to give timelier help to users who post updates suggesting thoughts of suicide, the company announced on Wednesday.

According to a Facebook post written by Product Manager Rob Boyle and Safety Specialist Nicole Staubli, a trained team will review reports of posts that appear to be suicidal and if necessary send the poster notifications with suicide prevention resources, such as a connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline.

The Facebook support posts are expected to look something like this:

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They also will contact the person reporting the posts, providing them with options to call or message the potentially suicidal friend, or to also seek the advice of a trained professional.

The new approach is an update on a clunkier system, implemented in 2011, that required users to upload links and screenshots to the official Facebook suicide prevention page.

For the project, Facebook worked with suicide prevention organizations Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Save.org.

The company was clear that the update was not a replacement for local emergency services.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Exercise May Prevent Depression—Not Just Alleviate It

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Women who keep exercising into midlife can prevent depression, a new study suggests

Getting a decent amount of exercise may be one way to prevent depression symptoms, according to a new study.

Prior research has shown that exercise is a non-invasive way to curb depression, but fewer studies have looked at whether exercising can actually prevent the emergence of depressive symptoms. In a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers showed that physical activity may give women an extra edge in warding off depression that can sometimes come with aging and worsening health.

The researchers looked 10 years’ worth of data from 2,891 women between ages 42 and 52, who filled out questionnaires about their depressive symptoms and levels of physical activity. They found that the women who were meeting public health recommendations for physical activity—150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise—reported fewer depressive symptoms. The more physical activity the women said they did, the less likely they were to have signs of depression.

“Given the high prevalence of depression in the United States, particularly for women, exercise is still not considered a first-line treatment option, even though exercise can be of low cost and low risk, can be sustained indefinitely, and has additional benefits for multiple aspects of physical health and physical function,” the authors write in the study. “Our findings suggest that motivating midlife women to maintain at least some level of moderate-intensity physical activity may be protective against depressive symptoms, with some activity better than inactivity.”

TIME Research

13 Ways Inflammation Can Affect Your Health

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You can't live without inflammation, but it can also be hazardous to your health

You’ve heard of anti-inflammatory medications and anti-inflammatory diets, but do you really know what inflammation is? In short, it’s the body’s response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals. When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. “In a healthy situation, inflammation serves as a good friend to our body,” says Mansour Mohamadzadeh, PhD, director of the Center for Inflammation and Mucosal Immunology at the University of Florida.” “But if immune cells start to overreact, that inflammation can be totally directed against us.” This type of harmful, chronic inflammation can have a number of causes, including a virus or bacteria, an autoimmune disorder, sugary and fatty foods, or the way you handle stress. Here are a few ways it can affect your health, both short-term and long.

It fights infection

Inflammation is most visible (and most beneficial) when it’s helping to repair a wound or fight off an illness: “You’ve noticed your body’s inflammatory response if you’ve ever had a fever or a sore throat with swollen glands,” says Timothy Denning, PhD, associate professor and immunology researcher at Georgia State University, or an infected cut that’s become red and warm to the touch. The swelling, redness, and warmth are signs that your immune system is sending white blood cells, immune cell-stimulating growth factors, and nutrients to the affected areas. In this sense, inflammation is a healthy and necessary function for healing. But this type of helpful inflammation is only temporary: when the infection or illness is gone, inflammation should go away as well.

It prepares you for battles

Another type of inflammation occurs in response to emotional stress. Instead of blood cells rushing to one part of the body, however, inflammatory markers called C-reactive proteins are released into the blood stream and travel throughout the body.

This is the body’s biological response to impending danger—a “flight or fight” response that floods you with adrenaline and could help you escape a life-threatening situation. But unrelenting stress over a long period of time—or dwelling on past stressful events—can cause C-reactive protein levels to be constantly elevated, which can be a factor in many chronic health conditions, like those on the following slides.

Read more: 14 Foods That Fight Inflammation

It can harm your gut

Many of the body’s immune cells cluster around the intestines, says Denning. Most of the time, those immune cells ignore the trillions of healthy bacteria that live in the gut. “But for some people, that tolerance seems to be broken,” says Denning, “and their immune cells begin to react to the bacteria, creating chronic inflammation.”

The immune cells can attack the digestive tract itself, an autoimmune condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, ulcers, and may even require surgical removal of the intestines. Doctors aren’t exactly sure why some people get IBD, but genetics, environment, antibiotics, diet, and stress management all seem to play a role.

It can harm your joints

When inflammation occurs in the joints, it’s can cause serious damage. One joint-damaging condition is rheumatoid arthritis(RA)—another example of an autoimmune disorder that appears to have a genetic component, but is also linked to smoking, a lack of vitamin D, and other risk factors. A 2013 Yale University study, for example, found that a salty diet may contribute to the development of RA.

People with RA experience pain and stiffness in their inflamed joints. But because the immune reaction isn’t limited to the joints, says Denning, they’re also at higher risk for problems with their eyes and other body parts.

Read more: 10 Ways to Protect Your Joints from Damage

It’s linked to heart disease

Any part of your body that’s been injured or damaged can trigger inflammation, even the insides of blood vessels. The formation of fatty plaque in the arteries can trigger chronic inflammation. The fatty plaques attract white blood cells, grow larger, and can form blood clots, which can cause a heart attack. One specific protein, called interleukin-6 (IL-6), may play a key role, according to a 2012 study published in The Lancet.

Obesity and unhealthy eating increases inflammation in the body, but even otherwise healthy people who experience chronic inflammation because of an autoimmune disorder—such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or celiac disease—appear to have a higher risk of heart disease, regardless of their weight or eating habits.

It’s linked to a higher risk of cancer

Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancers of the lung, esophagus, cervix, and digestive tract, among others. A 2014 Harvard University study found that obese teenagers with high levels of inflammation had a 63% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer during adulthood compared to their thinner peers. The inflammation may be due to obesity, a chronic infection, a chemical irritant, or chronic condition; all have been linked to a higher cancer risk.

“When immune cells begin to produce inflammation, immune regulation becomes deteriorated and it creates an optimal environment for cancer cells to grow,” says Mohamadzadeh.

It may sabotage your sleep

In a 2009 study from Case Western Reserve University, people who reported sleeping more or less than average had higher levels of inflammation-related proteins in their blood than those who said they slept about 7.6 hours a night. This research only established a correlation between the two (and not a cause-and-effect), so the study authors say they can’t be sure whether inflammation triggers long and short sleep duration or whether sleep duration triggers inflammation. It’s also possible that a different underlying issue, like chronic stress or disease, causes both. Shift work has also been found to increase inflammation in the body.

Read more: The Best Bedtime Routine for Better Sleep

It’s bad for your lungs

When inflammation occurs in the lungs, it can cause fluid accumulation and narrowing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Infections, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, are all characterized by inflammation in the lungs.

Smoking, exposure to air pollution or household chemicals, being overweight, and even consumption of cured meats have been linked to lung inflammation.

It damages gums

Inflammation can also wreak havoc on your mouth in the form of periodontitis, a chronic inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria accumulation. This disease causes gums to recede and the skeletal structure around the teeth become weakened or damaged. Brushing and flossing regularly can prevent periodontitis, and one 2010 Harvard University study found that eating anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish or fish oil) may also help.

Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect oral health, either. Studies show that inflammation of the gums is linked to heart disease and dementia as well, since bacteria in the mouth may also trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body.

It makes weight loss more difficult

Obesity is a major cause of inflammation in the body, and losing weight is one of the most effective ways to fight it. But that’s sometimes easier said than done, because elevated levels of inflammation-related proteins can also make weight loss more difficult than it should be. For starters, chronic inflammation can influence hunger signals and slow down metabolism, so you eat more and burn fewer calories. Inflammation can also increase insulin resistance (which raises your risk for diabetes) and has been linked with future weight gain.

Read more: 14 Lifestyle Changes That Make You Look Younger

It damages bones

Inflammation throughout the body can interfere with bone growth and even promote increased bone loss, according to a 2009 review study published in the Journal of Endocrinology. Researchers suspect that inflammatory markers in the blood interrupt “remodeling”—an ongoing process in which old, damaged pieces of bone are replaced with new ones.

Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (as with inflammatory bowel disease) can be especially detrimental to bone health, because it can prevent absorption of important bone-building nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Another inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, can also have implications because it limits people’s physical activity and can keep them from performing weight-bearing, bone-strengthening exercises.

It affects your skin

The effects of inflammation aren’t just internal: They can also be reflected on your skin. Psoriasis, for example, is an inflammatory condition that occurs when the immune system causes skin cells to grow too quickly. A 2013 study published in JAMA Dermatology suggested that losing weight could help psoriasis patients find relief, since obesity contributes to inflammation.

Chronic inflammation has also been shown to contribute to faster cell aging in animal studies, and some experts believe it also plays a role (along with UV exposure and other environmental effects) in the formation of wrinkles and visible signs of aging.

It’s linked with depression

Inflammation in the brain may be linked to depression, according to a 2015 study published in JAMA Psychiatry; specifically, it may be responsible for depressive symptoms such as low mood, lack of appetite, and poor sleep. Previous research has found that people with depression have higher levels of inflammation in their blood, as well.

“Depression is a complex illness and we know that it takes more than one biological change to tip someone into an episode,” said Jeffrey Meyer, MD, senior author of the 2015 study, in a press release. “But we now believe that inflammation in the brain is one of these changes and that’s an important step forward.” Treating depression with anti-inflammatory medication may be one area of future research, he added.

Read more: 12 Strange-But-True Health Tips

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

Lonely, Depressed People Are More Likely to Binge-Watch TV

The habit is a way to forget about negative feelings

Turns out that a Walking Dead marathon may not be a healthy way to bust stress at the end of a long week: a study from the University of Texas has found that people who struggle with loneliness and depression are more likely to binge-watch television than their peers. The activity provides an escape from their unpleasant feelings.

Unsurprisingly, they also found that people with low levels of self-control were more likely to binge-watch, letting the next episode auto-roll even when they knew they should be spending their time more productively.

The researchers said that binge-watching should no longer be seen as a “harmless addiction” and pointed out that the activity is related to obesity, fatigue and other health concerns.

[Deadline Hollywood]

TIME Aging

These Common Mood Changes Can Signal Early Alzheimer’s

The vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease will experience changes like depression and anxiety. But a new study published in the journal Neurology shows that behavioral changes like these start well before they begin to have memory loss.

The researchers looked at 2,416 people over age 50 without cognitive issues. After following them for seven years, researchers found that 1,218 people developed dementia.

Those with dementia had twice the risk of developing depression earlier—far before their dementia symptoms started—than people without the disease. They were also more than 12 times more likely to develop delusions. The symptoms appeared in consistent phases: first, irritability, depression, and nighttime behavior changes; followed by anxiety, appetite changes, agitation and apathy. The final phase was elation, motor disturbances, hallucinations, delusions and disinhibition.

Though the researchers were able to make the connection, they still cannot confirm for certain whether the changes in the brain that cause one shift in behavior are the same changes that cause memory loss. But understanding when symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease appear could one day lead to earlier interventions.

Read next: The Science Behind Why Dogs Might Just Be Man’s Best Friend

TIME mental health

The Link Between Mental Trauma and Diabetes

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Women with more PTSD symptoms appear to be at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, a new study says

Women with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a two-fold increased risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

“When we are under stress we are more likely to get sick, but women with PTSD are in this extreme stress response a lot of the time,” says study author Karestan Koenen, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, looked at 49,739 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II to assess the link between PTSD symptoms and type 2 diabetes over 22 years. They found that women with the most symptoms had double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and that the association increased based on the number of symptoms women experienced.

“It’s so important that people understand PTSD isn’t just in veterans. Most PTSD is just in regular people in the community,” says Koenen. One of the most surprising findings in the study was that using antidepressants and having a higher body mass index (BMI) accounted for about half of the increased risk for type 2 diabetes in women with PTSD. Past research has linked PTSD to having a higher BMI, with some research suggesting that elevated stress response could result in cravings for highly caloric food and lead to weight gain.

The antidepressant link is the most unexpected. An obvious explanation for the link is that some antidepressants cause weight gain, but the researchers argue weight gain isn’t caused by all antidepressants and therefore cannot account for all of the effect. “It’s probably one of the most interesting findings and I don’t have a good explanation for it,” says Koenen.

The researchers say it’s possible that extreme stress can cause changes in the regulation of the body’s immune system, inflammation markers and hormones, which could contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Ultimately, Koenen believes the study is important because it provides further evidence that medicine can benefit from a more holistic look at patients that includes not just disease but also mental health and psychology. “Our health care system acts like the brain and the body are two separate things. This is just one of hundreds of studies that have now shown that mental health affects physical health and mental health,” she says. “We need a more integrated medical system where the mind and body are worked on together.”

Koenen, who used to work in veterans affairs, says veterans have been asking for such care for a long time, with studies and surveys showing patients often ask for alternative services like yoga. “Patients understand this but the medical system hasn’t caught up,” she says.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: January 5

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

Cops Protest Mayor at Funeral

Dozens of New York City police officers turned their backs toward Mayor Bill de Blasio during services to honor and remember a police officer who was killed Dec. 20—denying a request from NYPD chief Bill Bratton not to use the funeral as a protest

Most Cancer Beyond Your Control

Researchers have found that bad luck plays a major role in determining most types of cancer, rather than genetics or risky lifestyle choices like smoking

Boston Bombing Trial Begins

Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, nearly two years after the attack

Weather Hampers AirAsia Search

The AirAsia salvage operation shifted Monday to focus on recovering the aircraft’s flight-data recorders, otherwise known as black boxes, but blustery weather continues to undermine search efforts in the Java Sea

Palace Denies Prince Andrew Had Sex With Teen

Buckingham Palace has issued a second, strong denial of claims by a Florida woman who says she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was a teenager. The woman claims she was loaned out to wealthy and powerful men, including the Duke of York

Bitter Cold Temperatures Blast U.S.

Dangerously cold arctic air masses and snow were moving across the U.S. on Sunday night, bringing the most bitterly cold temperatures so far this winter. Parts of 14 states from Washington to Ohio were under weather advisories thanks to the fast-moving storm

Cowboys Beat Lions After Controversial Call in 4th Quarter

The Detroit Lions were leading 20-17 in the fourth quarter but a bizarre piece of officiating turned into a huge benefit for the Dallas Cowboys, who will now head on to Green Bay for a divisional-round matchup with the Packers

U.K. PM Says Obama Calls Him ‘Bro’

David Cameron is so chummy with Barack Obama that the U.S. President calls him “bro,” the U.K. PM says, adding that the relationship between 10 Downing Street and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is “stronger than it has ever been”

Depression Could Be More a Physical Than Mental Condition

A growing number of scientists are coming to the conclusion that depression is a physical condition as much as it has to do with the mind. The starting point for the theory is that everyone feels down when they are ill

New U.S. Sanctions on North Korea

Here are three things to know about new U.S. sanctions against North Korea over a cyberattack on Sony Pictures, whose movie depicting the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader has infuriated Pyongyang, which denies responsibility for the attack

ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott Dead at 49

The SportsCenter host, one of ESPN’s most recognized personalities who helped the network build its brand, died on Sunday after battling cancer. “He leaves a void that can never be replaced,” said ESPN president John Skipper

Meth Seizures at U.S.-Mexico Border Set New Records

Methamphetamine seizures along the California-Mexico border accelerated to unseen levels in the fiscal year 2014, as drug trafficking organizations sought to benefit from the cost advantages of producing the drug south of the U.S. border

TIME mental health

Depression Could Be More a Physical Than Mental Condition, Say Scientists

The starting point for the theory is that everyone feels down when they are ill

A growing number of scientists are coming to the conclusion that depression is at least as much a physical condition as it has to do with the mind.

One explanation is inflammation, which is caused by a part of the immune system that gets called into action when the body suffers a wound, the Guardian reports.

A set of proteins called cytokines sets off this inflammation in the body. This process is why people tend to feel down when they fall ill.

And so scientists think the brain may be tricked into feeling depressed through a process akin to an allergic reaction.

Read more at the Guardian

Read next: Most Cancer Is Beyond Your Control, Breakthrough Study Finds

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TIME

7 Mental Health Resolutions for 2015

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Here's how to take care of your mind this new year

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, our self-improvement efforts often focus on getting a better body. And we ignore that other, equally important part of our wellbeing: our mental health.

Certain health hazards come with warnings, like cigarettes or alcohol, but less obvious ones, like loneliness and rejection, can take just as great toll, says psychologist Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts. Research shows social isolation is linked to shorter lifespans, yet we often ignore our emotional hygiene. “If our dental hygiene were as poor as our emotional hygiene, we’d be all gums and no teeth,” says Winch.

This year, prioritize your mind as well as your body, and make a resolution for better mental health. Here are some of Winch’s tips for prioritizing your emotional hygiene in the new year (and all year long).

1. Pay attention to emotional pain. Psychological pain is much like physical pain—if something hurts for more than a few days, you need to do something about it. If you experience rejection, failure, or have a bad mood that lingers too long, don’t ignore it.

2. Take action when you feel lonely. Chronic loneliness is devastating to your emotional and physical health because it increases your chances of an early death by 14%. Therefore, when you feel lonely, actions like reaching out to family members, connecting with friends or joining a dating website can help. Make a list of people who you’ve been close to in the past (use your phone book, social media friends, and email contacts) and reach out to one of them each day to chat or to make plans. It will feel scary and risky to take those kinds of steps, but that’s what you need to do to break the cycle of disconnection and end your emotional isolation.

3. Stop your emotional bleeding. Psychological wounds tend to create vicious cycles that get worse with time. Failure can lead to feelings of helplessness that in turn can make you more likely to fail again in the future. To break the negative cycle of failure, find ways to gain control of the situation. Our minds are not as reliable as we tend to think, so ignore misleading feelings from your gut that tell you to give up, and focus on the aspects within your control, such as your preparation, planning, effort and execution.

4. Protect your self-esteem. Your self-esteem is like an emotional immune system—it can increase your resilience and protect you from stress and anxiety. Good emotional hygiene involves monitoring your self-esteem and boosting it when it’s low. How? Avoid negative self-talk that damages it further—despite how tempting it might be to indulge these kinds of thoughts at times.

5. Revive your self-worth after a rejection. It’s very common to be self-critical after you get rejected. It’s an unfortunate reaction, since that’s when your self-esteem is already hurting. You’re most likely to call yourself names, list all your faults and shortcomings and generally kick yourself when you’re already down. The most important thing you can do after getting rejected is to treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat a good friend. Make sure your inner voice is kind, understanding and supportive.

6. Battle negative thinking. When something upsetting happens, it’s natural to brood over it. But replaying the scene over and over in your mind will not give you much insight or closure. The best way to break a brooding cycle is to distract yourself with a task that requires concentration, like a game on your cell phone, a quick run or a crossword puzzle.

7. Be informed on the impact of common psychological wounds and how to treat them. You know how to treat a cut or a cold, so you should also know how to treat rejection, failure, loneliness, guilt and other common emotional wounds. By becoming mindful about your psychological health and adopting habits of good emotional hygiene, you will not only heal your psychological injuries when you sustain them, but you will elevate your entire quality of life.

For more tips, watch Winch’s Tedx Talk on how to practice emotional hygiene.

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