Evolutionary Value of Depression  - Nancy
People often ask if there is some evolutionary or adaptive advantage to depression, perhaps hoping that there is at least some reason behind the painful experience. There are certainly some reasons to speculate about possible evolutionary advantages of depression, but it is difficult to structure research to give definitive answers to things that happened far in the past. First, we must keep in mind that the conditions experienced by primitive humans were quite different from those of today. Our ancestors lived in small bands of foragers and had few choices about how to spend their time. On the other hand, like us, they had to care for their infants for a matter of years before the children could live on ... Read More
Creativity and Mental Illness - Nancy
A link between creativity and mental illness has been a long-standing area of conjecture, and there have been some recent attempts to research such a link, with varying results. The first major problem is that there is no real agreed-upon definition of “creativity”, and therefore no way to pinpoint people in the general population who have it (or more of it than others do). Most studies take some proxy, such as active artists and writers, but have no way of knowing if “creativity” is only present in these people, or if there is some other feature that makes them active and successful. A recent study went a step further, and, defining “creativity” as a characteristic of members of academic professions, ... Read More
Media Consumption and Stress  - Nancy
A well-documented link between media consumption and stress may be exacerbated by a “cycle of distress” in which individuals who feel greater stress and even trauma from watching televised coverage of violent events such as a mass shooting, are more likely to worry about such events re-occuring in the future, and therefore more likely to consume more media accounts of violent events. A recent article detailing the conclusion of a longitudinal study into media use and trauma followed the experiences of people who felt traumatized by watching the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, and the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre in 2016. Participants were followed up 6, 12, and 24 months later. Bombing related media exposure predicted post-traumatic stress symptoms at ... Read More
Impulsivity and Bipolar  -  Nancy
Several recent studies are looking at the interaction between bipolar and increased impulsiveness. Impulsivity is often found as a component of bipolar, but researchers remain uncertain whether it is a core trait of the disorder or a separate characteristic. Impulsiveness has different behavioral factors, including: “1) Non-planning Impulsiveness, which refers to a present orientation or failure to consider the future; 2) Motor Impulsiveness, i.e., acting without thinking; and 3) Attentional Impulsiveness, which is a tendency to shift attention quickly, causing inappropriately rapid decisions.”1 Surfing, Bouncing or Rollercoaster? What’s your favorite metaphor for mood instability? We at Moodsurfing have found the “surfing” metaphor to be helpful because it emphasizes that one is not just a helpless victim of the waves, but ... Read More
Vulnerability  - Nancy
Vulnerability!  If your first response is “Ummm, no, thanks”, you’re not alone.  Vulnerability sounds like something we want to get away from, not something to cultivate.  Yet researcher Dr. Brené Brown of the University of Houston has done considerable study of this topic and her findings are that being or becoming vulnerable to risk, to emotional upset, to shame and disclosure is the first step towards living what she calls “wholehearted living”. So what is vulnerability, exactly?  What is its relationship to mood?  How can something so scary be an important component of meaningful connections in life? Vulnerability can be simply defined as taking an emotional risk. When you act vulnerably, you are exposing the truth of your feelings with the ... Read More
Learned helplessness  - Nancy
“What’s the use”. “It won’t work anyway”. Do you find yourself thinking hopelessly and helplessly about your own situation, unable to find any constructive steps to take to move forward? Learned helplessness is what psychologists call it when a patient believes strongly that no action they can possibly take will make their situation better. It’s the “dark side” – or maybe just another facet – of neuroplasticity, which we discussed last month. Our brains go on learning, throughout life, both positive and negative lessons. Often found together with major depression, learned helplessness comes about when being depressed is painful, and trying to get help for depression is also painful, to the point where it seems easier to just accept the ... Read More

About MoodSurfing

Welcome to, the site that highlights strategies for living creatively with moods and coping with depression. This site is for people with bipolar, depression, cyclothymia, and others who experience powerful moods and want to figure out how to integrate these experiences into successful lives.

Although most of us are mental health clinicians of one kind or another, this site is not about providing people with medical or clinical advice (see below). We hope that we can help you cope with depression, maybe even allow you to live well with moods. 

If you like what you see here, be sure to sign up to get updated with new posts. 

We have done a series of interviews with people who have interesting things to say about different aspects of living creatively with moods. You can find those under the heading “Conversations.


This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and linkages to other sites, Moodsurfing provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Moodsurfing is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.

IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN. If you believe you have any other health problem, or if you have any questions regarding your health or a medical condition, you should promptly consult your physician or other healthcare provider. Never disregard medical or professional advice, or delay seeking it, because of something you read on this site or a linked website. Never rely on information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice. You should also ask your physician or other healthcare provider to assist you in interpreting any information in this site or in the linked websites, or in applying the information to your individual case.

Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information on this site or on the linked websites should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided on this site or any linked websites is solely at your own risk.

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