Susan Lennon MSW, LCSW Content Strategist
Communications Consultant
Specializing in Thought Leadership and B2B/B2C Marketing Communications

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Triple Tips Redux
USA Weekend Magazine, May 6, 2007
by Susan T. Lennon

Hug your sweetie daily

Pets and massage also trigger hormone that reduces stress and blood pressure.

Hugging, sitting close to or holding hands with your loved one can make you feel good. Ditto for snuggling with your baby. Ever wonder why?

Hugging a loved one reduces blood pressure.

Physical affection and social bonding stimulate oxytocin, a hormone that turns on dopamine, a natural brain chemical that makes us feel rewarded. When oxytocin is flowing, stress is reduced, blood pressure goes down, mood improves, and pain is more manageable.

And couples who have affectionate contact several times a day have higher oxytocin levels than those who don't, reports a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"The oxytocin system can be a trickle, or it can be a rushing stream," says researcher Kathleen Light, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry. "The more you use it, the more likely it will turn into a rushing stream."

No partner? No baby? No problem.

Use these other oxytocin boosters:

Pets. Published research shows that stroking a loved animal increases oxytocin levels for both the human and the pet.

Massage. A good rubdown can release oxytocin. The more frequently you do it, the more groomed the system becomes to release oxytocin, Light says.

Help for student drivers with ADHD

Driving is especially challenging for teens with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). In contrast with their non-ADHD peers, they crash nearly four times more often and rack up three times as many speeding tickets in their first few years behind the wheel.

A few tips for parents, from Marlene Snyder, author of "AD/HD & Driving":

If medicine helps your teen, require that it be taken. A recent University of Virginia study finds that ADHD kids drive better when taking a controlled-release stimulant rather than extended-release amphetamine salts.

Let your teen practice driving with you as often as possible, even if he is enrolled in a driver's ed class.

Allow a learner's permit only when you're satisfied that your teen can handle the responsibility. If your state does not have graduated licensing, in which new drivers earn privileges in stages (see information at, then apply similar rules yourself.

What to know about binge eating

It has no official medical diagnosis, but binge eating disorder is more widespread than anorexia and bulimia combined. Probably genetic, binge eating is linked to severe obesity and serious health problems, but shame prevents people from getting help. "People have been suffering for years in silence," says James Hudson, M.D., director of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard's McLean Hospital. His tips:

It's not just overeating
You could have binge eating disorder if, at least twice a week for at least six months, you:
Feel out of control when you eat
Eat large amounts when not hungry or get uncomfortably full but don't "purge" via vomiting, laxatives or diuretics (purging often is involved in bulimia)
Feel disgusted, guilty or depressed after overeating
Eat alone because you feel embarrassed or ashamed

It brings on disease
Because of its link with severe obesity, binge eating disorder carries many complications, including:
Certain types of cancer
Gallbladder disease
Heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
Joint problems
Anxiety and depression
Type 2 diabetes

It needs multi-prong treatment
Because people don't necessarily lose weight when they stop binging, Hudson recommends treating obesity and the mind:
Counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help change binge-eating behavior.
Medications. There are several medications that may help, although none are FDA-approved to treat binge eating disorder. Topiramate shows promise, and some antidepressants may help with underlying emotional issues.
Surgery. Gastric bypass surgery can intervene in dangerous obesity.

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