Sunday, March 30, 2008

But Is It Therapy?

On a recent trip to the local bookstore, I found myself drawn to the headlines of several popular women's magazines. After leafing through their glossy pages, I learned about all sorts of new "therapies" that are vying to take the place of psychotherapy. The first was the "fortune-telling facial" which aims to combine psychic healing, aura reading, and pore cleansing -- what a concept! The columnist, who wrote about her first-hand experience, reported that by the end of the first session her optimism and skin were both gleaming. Meanwhile, the new "Done & Divorced" course at London's Jemma-Kidd Make-up School offers a new spin on the support group. Apparently, a divorcee's make-up can be used to analyze her psyche. Do you hold onto a lipstick even when the color is obviously no longer flattering? Are the brushes and compacts clanging around in your purse a symptom of bad self-care? While the four-hour course costs about as much as four individual sessions with a psychotherapist ($400), my suspicion is that the latter option offers a far less superficial fix. So what does the popularity of these new (dare I call them) modalities say about the state of self-exploration? Are today's women less interested in delving into their issues than in covering them up?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Exercise to Fight Fatigue

It may seem counter-intuitive but anyone who has tried it knows it's true. When we're feeling lethargic and sapped, the best thing we can do is exercise. Now scientists agree. A new study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics shows that regular, low-intensity exercise may help boost energy levels in people suffering from fatigue.

One of the most common health symptoms and a sign of a many medical problems, fatigue is a common condition that causes concern. Yet about 25% of individuals seeking medical care for this condition experience general fatigue not associated with a serious medical condition.

University of Georgia researchers decided to study whether exercise can be used to treat fatigue. One group was prescribed 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks. The second group engaged in low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time period, while a third control group did not exercise at all. In the end, both of the exercise groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels by the end of the study, compared to the control group. However, the researchers found that more intense exercise wasn't necessarily the best way to reduce fatigue. The low-intensity group reported a 65 percent drop in feelings of fatigue, compared to a 49 percent drop in the group doing more intense exercise. While scientists can't quite explain why this phenomenon works any of us who've tried it simply know it does.