Tag Archive: circadian

Feb 06

Mary Poppins: Overcoming the Winter Months

What I most want to have available to me in the long winter months, to help me with my patients with bipolar and depression, is access to someone a lot like Mary Poppins. You may remember that Mary, played by Julie Andrews, was the incredibly cheerful nanny who transformed the unhappy and dysfunctional lives of …

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Dec 22

Happy Winter Solstice

For those of us in the northern hemisphere this is a day well worth celebrating. Today marks the shortest day of the year. Or, to put it another way, from here until summer every day will be a little bit longer, there will be a little bit more light, and eventually the days will get …

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Dec 04

How Could Light Help?


There has been considerable skepticism about the value of light therapy for people with seasonal depression, despite a very compelling research literature. Perhaps this might, in part, be because the way that light might affect mood has not been clear. In a recently published animal study, change in light exposure increases stress hormones, depresses mood, and …

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Nov 27


Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be very stressful. It is particularly important for people living with moods to do prepare for travel before they leave. A surprisingly high percentage of serious mood catastrophes, in our experience, happen during trips. And they are almost always preventable. First, if your traveling to some place without …

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Oct 31

Time Change: Fall Back

The time change in the United States is the classic “time of challenge and time of opportunity.” First, the challenge – If you wanted to do something to make America more depressed you would be hard pressed to come up with a better intervention. Shift everyone’s schedule so that they wake up an hour later …

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Oct 13

Bay Area Blues

If you live in the bay area you probably noticed that this past week you felt a little less energetic. It was the first cold and rainy week of the season, and the days have been getting noticeably shorter (maybe you used to wake up after dawn and now it is dark). We are naturally seasonal …

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Sep 19

Insomnia: Counting Sheep

Maybe Grandma was right. After all of the years of research and development trying to find medications to help with insomnia, we ran across a recently published paper which suggested that a single session devoted to teaching people with chronic insomnia to focus their attention on some idea, image, song, memory, that was not associated …

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Sep 08

Night Shift

A young ER doctor came in to see us because he works the night shift, and found that he was having trouble getting enough good quality sleep, and also being alert enough during his shifts. He worked four or five night shifts in a row and then he had several days off. And his goal …

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Sep 03

Starbucks Therapy

We aren’t sure how we feel about the spread of Starbucks into every corner of America. But it does allow us to suggest a kind of intervention that may help you if you are depressed. It is based on Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy – which is one of the best validated psychotherapies for people with …

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Aug 22

The End of Summer

Every year we notice two weeks that seem to affect a number of folks who have had seasonal depressions. The first period is the “End of Summer” – a foreshadowing of the coming fall that happens in late August or early September (depending on the weather, we guess). The second period is the “Beginning of …

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Aug 11

How to Change Your Sleep Pattern

One of the  best studied and fastest treatments for depression is not a medication, it is waking up earlier and get bright light exposure…e We will write at a another time about the evidence for this, and maybe even why it works. But for now let’s talk  about the practical question. How do I change when …

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Aug 11

The Importance of Sleep: Why We Need to Rest

One of the joys of being a parent is that you are given frequent opportunities to explore things that you think you understand. When I first put together this discussion my son was three years old and he spent weeks asking me over and over again: “why do I need to go to sleep?” For …

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Jul 04

Riding the Waves

MoodSurfing is about the idea that the ups and downs of mood are normal (we aren’t trying to achieve some elusive “stability”).  But dealing with moods requires focus, discipline and some common sense. You can’t go to Maverick on your first day surfing and not get hurt (see photo to the right). The first step …

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Jun 29

The Morning Ritual – Daily Routines Part 1

For people learning to live with moods, it is often very important how the day starts. The morning sets the stage for the rest of the day and, for instance, we know that one of the best ways of getting depressed, is lying in bed after you wake up for the first time thinking about …

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Jun 04

The Morning Ritual: Starting Your Day Off Right

The Morning Ritual– For people who are trying to live creatively with moods, it is often extremely important how the day starts. The time of getting out of bed in the morning needs to be roughly the same every morning, and it needs to include enough time so that on weekdays, there is at least …

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