Category Archive: Psychology

Dec 06

Awe Reduces Inflammation

Awe Reduces Inflammation

What if you knew that the experience of awe could measurably improve your health, would you approach the world differently today? At the most recent TEDMED, psychologist Jennifer Stellar presented evidence that the experience of a number of positive emotions (joy, pride, contentment and awe) was associated with reduced levels of interleukin – 6 (IL6) …

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Nov 26

Thankfulness – A Meditation

Gratitude and Thankfulness

On this Thanksgiving 2015 we received a link to the section of Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing course that talks about thankfulness and gratitude. Rick talks about how thankfulness and gratitude promote long term well-being, reduces anxiety, and improves mood. He introduces the notion that it is possible to grow this sense and change our …

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Nov 21

Poor Health Predicts Bipolar Outcomes

poor health predicts bipolar outcomes

John has not been doing well. He used to be optimistic about all challenges and, although he had ups and downs, he managed to overcome these shifts in mood and maintain a focus on achieving his life goals. For the last year and a half he seems to be having difficulty focusing on those goals. …

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Nov 15

Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of Yourself - TED Talks

Part of the key to self care is finding ways of being nice to yourself that don’t require a huge investment of time. Yes, it would be great to spend the day at one of those fancy spas. I can almost feel the sense of relaxation soothing all of the tension that I carry around …

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Oct 18

Sleep Deprivation in Western Society

Sleep Deprivation in Western Society

In February the National Sleep Foundation announced the publication of new guidelines for the amount of sleep that we should be getting based on a rigorous review of the literature. The guidelines suggested that adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep. The results were widely distributed and commented on. It was noted …

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Oct 08

Controlling Crazy Behavior

Controlling Crazy Behavior

A young man came in and wanted to talk about his friend with bipolar, who, when he gets manic, can become uncontrollable. I said that the idea of controlling dangerous behavior can be problematic. The need to control someone else’s recklessness can lead towards confrontation and anger, which often does not work out well. I thought …

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Aug 07

Distress Tolerance

Distress Tolerance

In A wonderful young woman we have been seeing for a few months asked for some recommendations for skills to help her deal with her experience of moments of overwhelming negative emotions that often seem to come out of nowhere. This post is a relatively quickly pulled together document derived from Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Think …

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Aug 02

DBT for Bipolar Group

DBT for Bipolar Jenifer Culver

We are very happy to pass this information on about a great group for people with bipolar being offered in the bay area by an expert in the psychosocial treatments for bipolar: Dr. Jenifer Culver. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Group for Individuals with Bipolar Disorder in Los Altos, CA. The Next group begins September 2015. …

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Jun 30

Prefrontal Cortex and Limbic System

Prefrontal Cortex and Limbic System

A very bright young man who has a great potential as the therapist but who is wrestled with chronic depression for years and has developed a pattern of avoiding doing things that he knows he has to do in order to move ahead with his life led me to talk again about the relationship between depression, …

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Jun 28

Sleep and Learning

sleep and learning

What is the point of sleep? We have a page on this blog devoted to the question but in the last couple of years there’s been an outpouring of research pointing to the critical importance of sleep in sorting out memories (getting rid of unuseful ones) and generally “tuning up” the brain. A fascinating article …

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Jun 21

Sense of Purpose and Health

sense of purpose and health

Might your sense of purpose and motivation in life decrease your visits to the hospital? – a blog post by Eric Baron Many of us share a consistent notion of what it is to be healthy. We might think of living a longer life, spending less of that time holed up at home and surrounded …

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Jun 18

Work to Home Transition

work life transitions

It has been a very busy time for me professionally, perhaps for you as well. Certainly it seems as though people in the Bay Area are moving faster and faster with less time to relax. After working with a number of tech professionals at companies which talk about the importance of a work life balance, …

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May 30

Herd Instinct in Humans

Herd Instinct in Humans: The Source of Anxiety and Depression? Jeffrey Kahn has written a fascinating book (Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression in Oxford Press) suggesting an evolutionary source for much of human psychopathology. He gave a Grand Rounds presentation at UCLA in February of 2015 that outlined some of his theories and that …

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May 26

Facebook Causes Depression

facebook causes depression

How Can Facebook Usage Cause Depression? Today, social technology is commonplace. It’s practically unavoidable, and we rarely think of it as something that is risky, but, rather, as useful or fun (…and maybe a little addictive). But social researchers at University of Houston and Palo Alto University have found evidence that social technologies, like Social …

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May 13

Hypomania and Success

Hypomania and Success

During the 1990s clinical psychologist John Gartner was planning on writing a book about religious movements started by manic profits, but he began to be distracted by the energy and excitement swirling around him as people became immersed in the Internet “bubble”. He decided instead to write a book about the relationship between hypomania and success …

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May 08

Our Relationship to Pain, Matters

Chronic pain can significantly affect our lives. It can result in not being able to engage in activities we loved to do. It impacts our relationships with loved ones. The limitations brought on by pain, can lead us to question our identity and certainly our quality of life. Years ago, I worked with a gentleman (we’ll …

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Apr 14

Western Medicine and Mental Health – Lyndsey

Western Medicine and Shaman

True Story:  A shaman visited a mental hospital and was appalled by the way patients were treated. It’s not that the conditions were shabby or the medical advice outdated.  To the contrary, the hospital was renowned and the staff more than competent.  What shocked the shaman was not the facilities but the viewpoint.  In his …

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Apr 09

Mentalize

Sometimes a word just seems to show up everywhere.  This past week the word “mentalize” has come up in conversation a number of times.   A colleague who is looking for a referral for therapy says that she needs someone who can “mentalize well.”  One of my patients who just completed a DBT-based treatment program says that …

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Apr 04

Romance and Depression

Romance and Depressin

Jack is a delightful older gentleman who loves sailing and beautiful women, but who has also been wrestling with depression for a year or more. We recently had a fascinating conversation about how romance and depression relate to each other in his life. He has a loving girlfriend who’s been very supportive to him during …

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Mar 03

Mindfulness Apps

Mindfulness Apps

Mindfulness apps have intrigued us for years. The New York Times recently two mindfulness apps. I was pleased to see that the ones they chose were the two apps that we find are the most popular these days: Headspace and Calm.com.  I’ve updated the webpage that lists a number of apps and links that you may …

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