Getty ImagesBy Amanda Gardner
Women who have lower levels of the brain chemical oxytocin toward the end of their pregnancy may be more prone to develop postpartum depression than expecting moms with higher levels, a new study suggests.
Known as the "love hormone" or "cuddle hormone," oxytocin is released during human-to-human contact (such as breast-feeding) and is critical to mother-baby bonding. Previous studies have shown that women whose oxytocin levels rise during pregnancy are more attached to their babies, but this is the first study to suggest a link with postpartum depression, which affects roughly 1 in 5 women.
Researchers in Switzerland measured the amount of oxytocin in blood samples taken from pregnant women during their third trimester, and found that women with lower levels were more likely to report symptoms of depression within two weeks of giving birth.
Health.com: 10 celebrities who battled postpartum depression
The study was small, and more research will be needed to
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- Health.com | Work + Money – Wed, May 11, 2011 8:10 PM EDT
Getty ImagesBy Amanda GardnerRead More »from "Cuddle hormone" linked to postpartum depression risk
By Colleen RushRead More »from Is your salad making you fat?
"I'm having a salad." It's amazing how these four simple words can make you feel so virtuous. But whether you choose a vinaigrette that's loaded with oil or add an overly generous sprinkling of honey-toasted nuts, it's easy to pile on extra fat and calories without realizing it, says Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical assistant professor at Boston University and author of Nutrition and You.
In fact, a restaurant salad with dressing can have as many as 1,000 calories. With Blake's help, we've remade a few popular salads, which also happen to be favorites of three Health editors. Find out how to lighten up your greens too.
Health.com: 8 salads that satisfy
Colleen Sullivan, beauty and fashion editor, loves Cobb salad: mixed salad greens, chicken, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, blue-cheese crumbles, and blue-cheese dressing.
Colleen likes the contrasts in a classic Cobb-creamy, crunchy, tangy, and smoky-all in one meal. But it comes at a cost: The salad is superhigh in fat,
Getty ImagesOn its own, where you live isn't enough to make you depressed. Personal circumstances and genes also play an important role in mental health, so an area that feels like a downer to one person may be home sweet home to another.Read More »from The most depressing states in the U.S.
That said, mental distress is unusually and persistently common in some states, whether due to economic troubles, lack of access to health care, or other factors.
Health.com: 5 questions to ask your doctor about depression
Using data from federal health agencies, Health.com has identified the 10 states with the highest rates of depression, psychological distress, and other indicators of poor mental health. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
Like the many other rural southern states on this list, Arkansas consistently ranks among the worst in the nation on several measures of mental health, especially among young adults.
Young Arkansans have a dedicated advocate in their corner, however. The state's first lady, Ginger Beebe, has taken up mental
IstockphotoBy Jennifer GoldsteinRead More »from Is it a mole...or skin cancer?
To find out whether it is a mole or cancer, check your skin every few months, because most skin cancers start as irregular spots, says Ariel Ostad, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at New York University.
What it is: A mole is a harmless spot that develops in childhood or later in life and can be found anywhere.
Looks Like: Typically smaller than a pencil eraser, moles are round and symmetrical with smooth borders and an even color. According to Dr. Ostad, "They usually don't evolve or change shape."
Health.com: The new rules of sun safety
What it is: Actinic keratosis is a common precancerous growth often found on your scalp, face, hands, or forearms. "They should be removed because 5 to 10 percent of them become cancerous," Dr. Ostad explains.
Looks Like: You'll see a rough, flesh-toned pink or red patch that may be itchy or scaly.
Health.com: Sunproof your skin from A to Z
Basal cell carcinoma
What it is: Caused by sun
Massage isn't just a me-time indulgence. Studies show it reduces stress, boosts immunity, and relieves pain from everyday wear and tear. And in tough times, just 30 minutes on the table (or even 10 minutes in a chair) can go a long way toward working out your kinks.Read More »from Which massage is best for you?
Health.com: How to get the best massage
But which massage is best? Here's how to decide.
If you just ask for a massage, it's probably what you're getting. Expect long, gentle, soothing strokes-and general relaxation. Its hallmark is improved circulation. The therapist will use her hands and fingertips and not push too hard (unless you like a lot of pressure).
Health.com: Which stress-busting gadgets really work?
Deep Tissue (Sports Massage)
It's more intense than Swedish-and it's not just for athletes. The therapist targets the muscles and ten-dons just under the skin and the deeper ones by using more pressure from her fingertips. Stretches may be included.
Health.com: 7 tricks for instant calm
Getty ImagesBy Tracey MinkinRead More »from 10 ways to make any hotel room healthier
Wherever you're staying, these easy moves will make your visit better for you, according to Athletic Minded Traveler co-founder Jim Kaese.
Ask for a nonsmoking floor when making your reservation.
Not an option? Request a nonsmoking room.
Just say no to the minibar key when checking in. You'll save cash-and calories.
Health.com: 5 ways to cut liquid calories
Toss the bed cover
Bedspreads are notorious havens for dust mites (and worse). Stash it in the corner of the room.
Wipe down the TV remote and telephone with an antibacterial wipe before first use.
Avoid the reusable glasses, even if they have a paper cover on top (plastic sealed cups are preferable).
Bring your own snacks
Keeping fruit (banana, apple), bottled water, and nuts or trail mix in your room helps ensure that you don't overdo it when eating out.
Health.com: Pick your perfect snack
Make white noise
Invest in a portable "soft-noise maker" if you're a
- Health.com | Healthy Living – Wed, May 4, 2011 9:18 PM EDT
Getty ImagesBy Amanda GardnerRead More »from Huh? Low-salt diet ups risk of fatal heart attack?
Doctors and public health officials have been telling us for years that eating too much sodium can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke by raising blood pressure to unsafe levels. So how to explain a new study that suggests low salt intake actually increases the risk of dying from those causes?
The study, which followed 3,681 healthy European men and women age 60 or younger for about eight years, also found that above-average sodium intake did not appear to up the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) or dying of a heart attack or stroke.
The findings, reported in the May 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, certainly seem counterintuitive, especially in light of the ongoing public-health campaign to lower sodium consumption across the U.S. by urging restaurants and food manufacturers to curtail their use of the ingredient.
Health.com: 25 foods with tons of hidden salt
In fact, says Jan A. Staessen, M.D., the senior
Getty ImagesBy Stephanie DolgoffRead More »from Your May to-don't list
Overwhelmed by all the new stuff you're supposed to be into? Here's what you don't need to bother with.
1. Meditating now!
Yes, it's good for you. Research suggests it can help with everything from heart disease to anxiety. But if you're just fretting about you can't! calm! down!-go for a run, or do whatever lets you truly get in the zone.
Health.com: 7 tricks for instant calm
2. A $7,000 diamond-and-ruby facial
Mila Kunis reportedly got one. If rubbing precious gems all over your face isn't your style, how about a nice cubic zirconia one? We won't tell.
3. Feeling inadequate if you're not allergic to anything
It's downright trendy to give up gluten, casein, lactose, or entire categories of food, even if you don't really need to. Those of us who scarf down everything on our plates are still special.
Health.com: The latest on food allergies
4. Change your outie into an innie
We're told "umbilicoplasty" is a growing trend in plastic surgery. Seriously?! Memo to
CorbisBy Annie Murphy PaulRead More »from What pregnancy does to your health
Expecting a baby can make you more prone to some diseases-but it can protect you from others.
Gestational diabetes affects about 5% of pregnancies.
Health.com: 7 tips for a healthy pregnancy with diabetes
Urinary tract infections
You're at greater risk of developing them from weeks 6 through 24.
These are more common during pregnancy, especially the second trimester, than at any other time in your life.
Health.com: Is my yeast infection related to what I'm eating?
Higher estrogen levels during those nine months appear to increase cholesterol levels in the digestive fluid known as bile, which can lead to gallstones.
The risk of developing a blood clot in a vein deep in the body is higher during pregnancy and for six weeks after delivery, because of the changes in blood and blood vessels that happen when you're pregnant.
Health.com: Pregnancy advice examined
- Health.com | Healthy Living – Fri, Apr 29, 2011 6:47 PM EDT
CorbisBy Leslie BarrieRead More »from Secret natural ingredient: Feel amazing with rosemary
From soothing your muscles to safeguarding your summer food, this remarkable herb can (almost!) do it all.
Move over, chamomile. Rosemary is the hot new herbal tea in town. Drinking it may help beat bloat by reducing water retention.
Health.com: 9 healthy iced-tea recipes
Got a dry, itchy scalp? Try relieving it with rosemary, suggests Ranella Hirsch, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Boston University School of Medicine. Its oils may increase circulation, which can ease dryness.
Whip up this moisturizing scalp (and hair) mask from the spa at the Lodge at Woodloch in the Poconos in Pennsylvania: Mix 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 3 drops of rosemary essential oil; warm on stove top using a double boiler (not too hot!). Massage into damp hair and scalp; wrap hair in towel, leave on for 30 minutes, then shampoo.
Health.com: Green guide to hair care
Using rosemary to prep your burgers and steaks could