Category Archive: Self Help

May 24

Radical Acceptance and Coping with Bipolar Disorder – Gina

What is radical acceptance? Radical acceptance is an approach named by Marsha Linehan, PhD who created Dialectical Behavior Therapy that is about completely and totally accepting something, stopping the fight against reality, and ultimately, suffering less. Things will regularly happen in our lives that are outside of our control, such as having a diagnosis of …

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May 21

12 Steps

There are a few people in my experience who are as impressive in maturity and integrity as those people we have worked with who have been the most involved in 12 Step Programs. I didn’t come to this observation from any pre-conceived bias in favor of 12 Step Program. If anything, my involvement with 12 Step early …

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May 10

Shame and Guilt After Mania – Gina

Addressing Shame and Guilt After a Manic Episode I have witnessed the immense pain caused by the shame and guilt experienced by people with bipolar disorder following a manic episode.After a manic episode, most have engaged in behaviors that they regret. The resulting shame and guilt can contribute greatly to symptoms of depression that follow …

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May 01

Boost Creativity by Walking

Walking Increases Creativity

  “How can I get my creativity back?” One of my patients, who has been wrestling with depression for quite a while, asked me if I could think of anything that might help give her creativity a boost. My quick, off the cuff, reply was “go running again” (she was an avid runner before she …

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Apr 25

Mood Trends

  Mood trends are useful to track in order to prevent a full blown episode of depression, hypomania or mania. I think of them as equivalent to the idea of a falling or rising barometer. Before satellites and modern weather forecasting, whether the barometer was rising or falling was the best predictor of the weather. …

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Apr 19

Sleep Apps and Wearable Devices

Many of the people I see complain of poor quality sleep, and a number of them have tired using various sleep apps and wearable devices to try to get figure out why they are sleeping poorly and what they can do about it. One of my techie colleagues says she thinks that this is a …

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Apr 14

Early Intervention Can Prevent Episodes

Early intervention can prevent episodes of depression or hypomania or mania. This is not always the case but most of the people that we work with find that it is helpful to go through a process of systematically identifying possible early warning signs of an episode and working with a friend or partner to come …

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Apr 05

Mania Warning Signs in the Eyes – Gina

Recognizing Mania Warning Signs, Even in the Eyes Knowing and understanding warning signs of depression, hypomania and mania can be crucial in accessing the resources and supports needed at different times in your life. Warning signs can vary across individuals but there are also many warning signs that are thought to be more universal such …

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Apr 03

Pace Yourself for More Manageable Moods

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to pace yourself so that you can capture some of the energy and creativity associated with being mildly energized while not getting so involved that you burn out or edge into full-fledged mania. There’s nothing quite so exciting as entering a time of increased energy …

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Mar 25

Hope and Self Efficacy – Gina

Believing you can create change in your life is the foundation for successfully making the change. Self efficacy is the sense that you can make change and thus hope and self-efficacy are intimately connected. Often people with bipolar or depression are overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness. They feel stuck and unable to manage their moods. And yet a …

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Mar 23

Support for Depression – How to Get More

Many of the people I see feel that it’s very hard to get support for their depression. They may find it hard to talk about the subject altogether or they may have had some experiences that suggests that “people just don’t want to know.” This morning I saw several people with depression and bipolar and …

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Mar 19

Positive Emotions

We had a wonderful conversation (see the conversations tab on this site) with two smart young UC Berkeley graduate students in psychology (Janelle Capnegro and Erica Lee) who have developed an intervention designed to help people with bipolar regulate and develop positive emotions. It started us thinking about emotions in terms not only of how …

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Mar 02

Recovery from Bipolar

Recovery from Bipolar

Planning for Recovery from Bipolar I recently came across a great account from a man living with Bipolar Disorder, Steven Propst. In an insightful and direct way, he describes what recovery has looked like for him and helpful steps in finding it for yourself. By examining the importance of accepting his diagnosis, gathering information to …

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Feb 18

Bipolar 101 – The Basics and Beyond

Bipolar 101, an online course hosted by Gateway Psychiatric begins March 17, 2017: Bipolar 101 – The Basics and Beyond. The class is based on the acclaimed Barcelona Bipolar Disorders Program. Bipolar 101 – An online course will cover topics such as: “What is Bipolar?” – What do we know about the causes and what are …

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Feb 02

Harm Reduction

Reducing the Harm of Substances in Your Life: A Harm Reduction Approach Have you noticed that your substance use is impacting your mood, relationships, or work? Are you looking to reduce the negative impact substances are playing in your life? Harm Reduction methods can be useful in exploring ways to prevent harm and reduce risks …

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Jan 28

Interpersonal Effectiveness and DEAR MAN

For many people with depression, it can be hard to find an assertive, but not hostile, way of dealing with conflict. Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) addresses many practical problems such as this with straightforward answers. This comes from the “Interpersonal Effectiveness” module of DBT. The acronym to remember is DEAR MAN: Describe Describe …

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Jan 21

Facebook Friends May Save Your Life

Facebook friends may help you live longer. This is the surprising result of a recent study that received a lot of attention, and which some of you may have thought was a marketing ploy. However, the study was published in the prestigious journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here is a summary of …

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Jan 18

Chronotherapy and Getting Up Early

Getting up early is one of the best ways of counteracting depression. And having a strong circadian rhythm is especially important for people with bipolar depression because their internal “clock” may be less powerful. But it can be a challenge making a change in your sleep cycle, especially if you have always been a late riser. …

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Dec 27

Starting the New Year Right

Starting Off the New Year Right: 5 Areas of Your Life to Implement Self-Care As we start off the new year it’s important to remember the value of taking care of ourselves and engaging in regular self-care. Our mood, anxiety, substance use and relationships can be greatly impacted by stress levels and self-care is an …

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Dec 12

Coping with the Holidays – Gina

Coping with the Holidays: Having a Plan The holiday season can be a time of increased stress. It is often said to be the “happiest time of year” when in fact, for many of us, it can be one of the most challenging times of year. Know, you are not alone if this is the case …

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