A Harvard study the longest-ever on happiness followed people for over 85 years. The following is a summary of the conclusions from a 2023 book written about this study called the “The Good Life” by Dr. Waldinger.  

Invest in “Social Fitness” Think of your social circle like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets. This is what the study calls “social fitness.” Just like physical exercise, nurturing your relationships leads to a happier, healthier you.

Lonely? You’re Not Alone (and It’s Bad for You) Feeling disconnected? You’re not alone. But loneliness is more than just a bummer, it can actually damage your physical health. The good news? By strengthening your social bonds, you can combat loneliness and boost your well-being.

Beyond Family and Friends: Every Connection Counts Happiness isn’t just about close friends and family. Even casual interactions, like chatting with your mail carrier, can contribute to your overall sense of well-being.


A brief update and timely warning on long-term use of “traditional” pharmacological treatments for depression.

I have been taking medical histories now on new clients of Be Well San Miguel and am increasingly surprised to find many people who have been on psychopharmacological agents for depression for more than 3 decades with little sign that they are finding these medications useful and little knowledge about their long term effects, especially in people over 55. There are many new research studies looking (at long last) at the long-term data on very large populations who have been on “traditional” psychotherapeutic medications.The long term risks for those over even 55 are sobering.

A new study published by British Journal of Psychiatry based on data on over 200,000 people claims that “long-term antidepressant use may double the risk of heart disease.”

The researchers found that, once pre-existing risk factors had been taken into account, long-term antidepressant use was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and from any cause. The risks were greater for non-SSRI antidepressants (mirtazapine, venlafaxine, duloxetine, trazodone), with the use of such drugs associated with a two-fold increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality at ten years.

To add fuel to the igniting concern, many studies suggest that these drugs can cease being effective and can be very difficult to get off of psychologically as well as physiologically. There are widespread withdrawal symptoms that vary by drug and by a person’s own physiology.

Many people with long term depression are justifiably reluctant to stop a medication they believe may have been very effective at one time. However, new data is revealing that not only can drugs cease to be effective, but they can begin to cause the same symptoms people originally began taking them for.

Depression and suicidal tendencies can rise in those on treatment long term in comparison to those never treated. This is of course compounded by the fact that we are looking at an aging population that may be experiencing greater stressors leading to increases in depression and anxiety in particular.

In our next newsletter for both Be Well San Miguel and Discover Deep Wellness, we will look at alternatives to these drugs, including lifestyle changes, types of therapy, strategies for deepening connections with others as well as other psychopharmacologic agents that are far safer and available right here in San Miguel de Allende at a fraction of the cost in the north or even major metropolitan areas in Mexico.

Reporting from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico,
Deborah Bickel