Health Tips: Reclaiming your best life after depression and addiction


Drew Barrymore -- an effervescent mom of two and popular talk-show host -- was a huge star by age 7 and in rehab at age 13. Zac Efron faced much the same struggles, going to rehab for cocaine addiction twice before overcoming the habit. They’re both great examples of how people can rebound from mental illness and substance-abuse disorders and go on to have a successful and emotionally rewarding life.

For a study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, researchers surveyed 25,000 participants ages 15 to 80-plus. They wanted to see how many people who once contended with depression, anxiety and substance abuse were currently free of a diagnosed mental illness; scored in the top 25% of folks in terms of social, emotional and psychological well-being, and had a robust ability to manage day-to-day duties.

That’s a demanding level of “thriving” that only 24% of people who have never been diagnosed with mental illness or an addiction can achieve. Well, 67% of people with any mental disorder said they were now free from that illness and 10% were thriving -- a great sign, say the researchers, that with increased emotional and medical help, more folks can attain optimal well-being after contending with such challenges.

So if you’re one of the 53 million Americans with a mental illness or the 32 million who are illegal drug users, check out the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at for info and help. The rewards of recovery are enormous -- and you may thrive.

Smarter, happier kids are more physically fit

The stereotype of a dumb jock pops up in movies like “Revenge of the Nerds” where the Alpha Beta fraternity boys don’t seem to know their ABCs. But studies show that it’s not true that athletes are dimwitted -- like former Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli with an IQ of 175, which is higher than Einstein’s and Stephen Hawking’s.

Now a study in Journal of Clinical Medicine has found that not only do smart folks become great athletes, but becoming an athlete improves brain power and quality of life in kids from elementary through high school. 

Researchers looked at 3,285 girls and 3,248 boys to assess the relationship between physical fitness, their ability to concentrate and health-related quality of life. They found that the better the kids’ cardiopulmonary fitness (that’s heart and lungs), the better their ability to concentrate, the stronger their memory and greater their sense of well-being. The researchers also saw that kids with high levels of physical fitness were more likely to qualify to attend academically rigorous schools as they became older.

Most U.S. kids don’t get the minimum amount of physical activity recommended (an hour a day that includes vigorous effort). Mom and Dad, it’s time to help your children become more active, so they can achieve their potential academically, physically and emotionally. Start a “Morning Moves” routine with yoga stretches before breakfast or take a longer walking route to the bus stop. Plan for after-school intermural games/sports and playtime. Check out “Move Your Way” at for more tips.


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