Health & Medicine

Depression is probably not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain – new study

TanyaJoy/Shutterstock Joanna Moncrieff, UCL and Mark Horowitz, UCL For three decades, people have been deluged with information suggesting that depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance” in the brain – namely an imbalance of a brain chemical called serotonin. However, our latest research review shows that the evidence does not support it. Although first proposed in the 1960s, the serotonin …

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I have COVID symptoms. Should I do a test?

Rapid tests are no longer free in the UK for most people. Photoroyalty/Shutterstock Simon Nicholas Williams, Swansea University You’ve got a sore throat and feel like you might be coming down with something. A year ago, you would likely have taken a rapid test from your stash, and tested for COVID. But what about now? In many countries you are …

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Should I still go on holiday if I have COVID?

CandyRetriever/Shutterstock Simon Kolstoe, University of Portsmouth Your flights are booked, your bags are packed, and in your mind you’re already sunning yourself by the beach with a cocktail. With summer in full swing in the northern hemisphere, and most COVID-related restrictions behind us, travel is back on the agenda for many people. But at the same time, COVID cases in …

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COVID vaccines work well for people of all body weights – but underweight and obesity remain risk factors for severe disease

Wulandari Wulandari/Shutterstock Nerys M Astbury, University of Oxford and Carmen Piernas, University of Oxford Since the pandemic began, more than 6 million people have died from COVID around the world. The good news is that we now have a wide range of treatments as well as highly effective vaccines which have helped reduce the number of severe COVID cases. Still, …

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COVID vaccines: why second boosters are being offered to vulnerable people in the UK – but not young and healthy people yet

nednapa/Shutterstock Rebecca Aicheler, Cardiff Metropolitan University Until recently, the UK government limited a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine to people with severely weakened immune systems over the age of 16. But, following a resurgence of COVID cases in the UK, the government has followed some other countries such as Israel, Germany and Sweden, and expanded the eligibility for a …

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Do I or my child need a Japanese encephalitis vaccine?

Shutterstock Lara Herrero, Griffith University and Penny Rudd, Griffith University This week we heard two Australians have died from the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus. The virus has now been detected in four states. Authorities are concerned we’ll see more cases around the country and have earmarked extra funding to roll out vaccines to those at risk. Who is recommended to …

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Girls’ mental health has been affected more than boys’ during the pandemic – new research

Mental health issues in children are linked to poorer educational outcomes. Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock Agne Suziedelyte, City, University of London; Anna Zhu, RMIT University, and Silvia Mendolia, University of Wollongong Evidence has shown that the COVID pandemic has impacted women’s mental health more significantly than men’s mental health. For example, lockdowns and the stress of home schooling have been found to …

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Hybrid immunity: a combination of vaccination and prior infection probably offers the best protection against COVID

Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock Grace C Roberts, University of Leeds and Lena Glaser, Queen’s University Belfast When we’re exposed to a pathogen such as a virus, our immune system identifies it as a foreign invader and mounts an attack. This ultimately results in the formation of antibodies which can neutralise the invading pathogen next time we encounter it. It’s a complex process. …

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COVID vaccines for children under five: what parents need to know

Kamil Macniak/Shutterstock Tara Hurst, Birmingham City University Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine became available for children aged five to 11 in the UK in April 2022. Those aged 12 and up had already been eligible since 2021. But if you have a child aged under five, you might be wondering, when will they be able to be vaccinated against COVID-19? Children under …

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Five tips for young people dealing with long COVID – from a GP

Basicdog/Shutterstock Dipesh Gopal, Queen Mary University of London While we might not be hearing the daily COVID numbers anymore, the virus hasn’t gone away. In the UK alone, thousands of new cases continue to be recorded every day. Meanwhile, there’s a very large group of people for whom the virus hasn’t gone away in a different sense – those suffering …

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