Tag Archive: stress

Feb 03

Media Makes PTSD Much Worse

  It was a sunny October day in 1989. Game 3 of the Battle of the Bay baseball World Series between Oakland and San Francisco. Then the largest earthquake in almost a hundred years hit the bay area. I was, as it happens, in my therapist’s office, my wife was at work. I rushed home …

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Jan 26

Reduce Your Social Stress

Regular readers of this blog know that I really like the writings of Rick Hanson (he has a wonderful email list called “Just One Thing” and a new book that is an excellent resource for personal transformation called Hardwiring Happiness). For the last couple of months, however, his posts have seemed a bit repetitive. Just …

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Jan 26

Exercise or Inactivity Changes Your Brain’s Structure and Its Resilience to Stress

This past year has been a remarkable year in terms of new studies examining the effects of exercise on your brain. Everyone knows, of course, that exercise is good for you. But these studies together provide compelling evidence that exercise (and inactivity) profoundly change the structure and function of your brain. One set of studies …

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Dec 31

The Trap of Stress Disability

The other day I was asked to evaluate a fellow physician by his disability insurance company.  When I do disability assessments I take particular care, because what I say has big implications for the person I am evaluating, and I try very hard to do an extremely careful and thorough job of assessing the person’s …

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Dec 20

Was James Bond a Lush?

Always in search of the latest cutting edge medical knowledge, we happened across a fascinating research article in the December 2013 British Medical Journal that asks the question – “Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor?” Before going any further and looking at the research methods and conclusions, we have to warn …

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Nov 16

Food, Mood and Cognition

We recently got a useful update on this topic from one of the clinicians who works with us at Gateway Psychiatric. She had attended a seminary of the same title from the Institute for Natural Resources. Inflammation can be associated with poor diet for example, high consumption of sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup and …

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Oct 04

Experience a Sense of Plenty

Nothing can seem more urgent, important, and real than the sense that there is not enough for us. Not enough love. Not enough food. The sense of scarcity may not even connect to any clear sense of what is missing. But that doesn’t take away its power. Regular readers of this blog know that we …

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Sep 21

Depression and Inflammation

Recently there has been increasing interest in the relationship between depression and chronic overactivity of the body’s biological defense system – inflammation. When we have an infection, or an injury, or almost any other kind of illness, the body activates a series of processes designed to respond to the threat. Unfortunately, the inflammation system, especially …

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Sep 15

Child Abuse Update

Twenty years ago the National Research Council (NRC) issued a comprehensive report on child abuse. That report noted that child abuse was much more common than previously thought and called for urgent action. This past week the NRC and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released an update: New Directions in Child Abuse Research. The good …

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Sep 13

Hormones and Food

In an earlier post we talked about some of the research on appetite. We reviewed some of the peptide hormones that regulate appetite and how the entire system that controls appetite is really designed to cope better with a time of scarcity than a time of plenty. Here I want to talk more specifically about …

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Aug 30

Childhood Trauma – Brain Effects

Experiencing trauma in childhood is associated with changes in the brain during teenage years, according to a study of 117 adolescents using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The researchers compared MRI’s from age 12 with MRI’s from age 16. They asked the teenagers about childhood trauma and also did psychiatric diagnostic interviews. There were significant differences in …

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Aug 29

Hunger Regulation

Recently several folks have asked us questions about diet, hunger, weight gain, and nutrition. Certainly for many people with depression, gaining weight is an important issue, both as a cause and consequence of depression. Let’s begin by trying to make some sense of hunger. In other posts we will be talking about how stress and …

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Aug 23

Cluelessness: Getting Stupid

Late on a Friday afternoon,  I found myself with two patients (back to back) who were yawning and seemingly drifting off during the course of our conversation. Now, that could have meant that I was being particularly boring. But, in this case, it was the manifestation in the office of something that had been going …

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Aug 20

Ginseng

If you are a ginseng believer, then ginseng is the one supplement that all of us should be taking. Russian scientist Israel Brekhman coined the term “adoptegens” to refer to agents that helped individuals deal with stress. The prime example of this, in his view, was ginseng. [If you are interested in an example of …

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Aug 20

Memory, Stress and Aging

Many older people are concerned about impaired memory, and the relationship between memory, stress, and aging can be difficult to untangle. Obviously worry about memory problems can be a source of anxiety and stress. But can stress and anxiety be a cause of memory problems? And if so what can be done about it? Elsewhere …

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Aug 15

Proactivity

Proactive behavior refers to actions taken that are forward thinking, that anticipate future problems, and are aimed at avoiding those problems. They are focused on changing the environment for the better. Proactivity contrasts with reactivity as an approach to challenges. Reactive behavior is about dealing with the crisis that is present right now. Reactivity also often …

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Aug 13

Life Energy

Freud came up with the term libido to describe the sum of all the human instincts related to love. In his view, there was a limited amount of this libidinal energy and it was important to use it wisely. Invest it in the wrong activities and you could end up with nothing to show for …

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Jul 16

Leaving War Behind

I spent many sessions working with a successful entrepreneur to try to help him cope better with stress and depression. His problems seem to be neatly encapsulated in Joseph Campbell’s notion of the Hero. Like all of the heroes in the past, he set out as a young man to make fame and fortune and …

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Jul 08

Stress Free and Happy

It can be extremely difficult to lead a balanced lifestyle. When we are driven to reach a goal, it is easy to become stressed and obsessed with reaching a particular outcome.  At what point does all the stress start to have a negative impact on our personal happiness? It is great to have ambitions and …

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Jun 14

Sleep Strategies

One of the most frequent causes of insomnia is anxiety. Insomnia of this kind is caused by increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system at night. The body releases norepinephrine (the flight or fight hormone) at night when that system should be inactive. You wake up and you feel “wide awake.” A current patient of Dr. …

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