Psychological therapy may be much more effective at making people happy than getting a raise or winning a lottery prize, suggests an English study.

The Study

Researchers analyzed data on thousands of people who provided information about their mental well-being and found that the increase in happiness from a four-month course of therapy (at a cost of about $1,300) was so significant that it would take a pay raise of more than $41,542 to achieve an equal boost in well-being.

That suggests that therapy could be as much as 32 times more cost-effective at improving well-being than simply getting more money, the researchers said.

The study was published online in the journal Health Economics, Policy and Law.


"We have shown that psychological therapy could be much more cost effective than financial compensation at alleviating psychological distress," said study author Chris Boyce, PhD, of the University of Warwick. "This is not only important in courts of law, where huge financial rewards are the default way in which pain and suffering are compensated, but has wider implications for public health and well-being.

"Often the importance of money for improving our well-being and bringing greater happiness is vastly overvalued in our societies," Dr. Boyce explained. The benefits of having good mental health, on the other hand, are often not fully appreciated and people do not realize the powerful effect that psychological therapy can have on improving our well-being, he added.

Pumpkin Seeds Boost Mood

Like chocolate, pumpkin seeds are a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, which improves mood-but pumpkin seeds don't have the sugar that chocolate does, and one ounce of pumpkin seeds contains about half the daily requirement of magnesium, which strengthens bones. Sprinkle toasted seeds on soups and salads, or put raw, unsalted seeds on the tops of muffins before baking.

Watch for Warning Signs of Suicide

Dates of suicide are increasing among both men and women ages 40 to 64. The current economic malaise could be a contributing factor.

Warning signs: Acting highly pessimistic, hopeless or angry...increasing alcohol or drug use...making impulsive, out-of-character decisions ...getting rid of previously prized possessions... talking about wanting to die...withdrawing from friends, family and society...mood changes. If you notice any of these warning signs in someone you know, contact a mental health professional or call 800-273-TALK, a free 24-hour hotline sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

DHEA Helps You Cope with Stress

Soldiers who had higher levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were better able to cope with extreme stress than those who had less of the hormone, say researchers at Yale University and the Veterans Administration National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. DHEA is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Have a blood test to measure DHEA. If levels are low, both men and women can work with a holistic physician to supplement.

Breathing Trick Reduces Stress

Close your eyes, take in a deep breath while thinking the word calm, then exhale while thinking the word down. Repeat several times—giving yourself the message to calm down.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in