Commit to Values-Based Action – Nancy

We’ve discussed the mental health strategy called “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” several times in Moodsurfing (see below for links), and it’s an important feature of our Bipolar Disorder Workbook.  It’s a multifaceted approach, and there’s a lot to unpack. This post explores the “commitment” part of it all. Once you’ve trained yourself to look squarely at your reality, without focusing …

Acceptance Self Talk for Depression – Nancy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches users a technique called “Acceptance Self-Talk”.  This is a series of exercises that trains people to substitute new thoughts for old ones and encourages them to evaluate their thoughts and accept only what seems true and helpful. Depression is often characterized by recurrent negative thoughts that drag one down and become barriers to taking …

Happy Acts by Gina

The Happy Acts Challenge Did you know that giving can activate the reward centers of the brain? We think regularly about techniques to support us in managing our mood including exercise, eating healthy, regular sleep routine, etc. Is giving back or volunteering also on your list? If not, you should consider it. Researchers are finding that areas of the brain …

World Bipolar Day 2020

World Bipolar Day, celebrated every March 30, is a day to reach out, connect and come together in solidarity around the concerns of people living with bipolar.  Sponsored by the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) in conjunction with the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), it is a time for us all to …

The Bipolar Workbook

The Bipolar Workbook, written by Peter Forster and Gina Gregory, has a useful way of dividing topics relevant to those with bipolar moods. On this page we use that structure to organize a list of blog posts that were inspired by the book. Definitions and Treatment Understanding Bipolar Treatments Finding Your Baseline How are you now? Managing Mania, Hypomania and …

Smartphone Apps for Depression

Are smartphone apps for depression effective? Two articles published in 2017 by a group of Australian and American researchers examined the question of whether smart phone apps for depression and anxiety are effective. In both articles the authors comprehensively analyzed the world medical literature for research articles that evaluated the effectiveness of smart phone delivered interventions for either depressive symptoms …

Books! Books! Books!

The advent of the internet and online information technology has made reading and writing more popular and widespread than ever before. And while some lament the short attention span and failed fact checking that it seems to have brought, the fact is, more books are being published now than at any time in history. So whether you prefer to read …

Delayed Gratification and Mental Illness

Will you take $75 now or $100 three days from now?  In the fields of economics and psychology, (and the new field of economic psychology) the choice is called “delay discounting” although many people may be more familiar with the term “delayed gratification”.  The two terms are opposites; delayed gratification means you will wait for the larger reward even if …

Men and Depression

Dr. Jed Diamond has a website called Men Alive that looks at men’s health in new ways.  Depression, stress management, anger and love are all life experiences that play out very differently for men and for women.  Yet depression, in particular is often viewed as a “women’s” problem, and notably more than twice as many women as men are diagnosed …

Sweet Moods

Sweet Moods? Sugar and mood, a constant dietary struggle.  The body learns that reaching for a sweet treat brings energy, alertness and low anxiety.  Somehow it doesn’t learn that the crash will inevitably follow. There is now a small literature that supports the common sense observation that simple carbohydrates, like sugar and white flour, have effects that are somewhat akin …

Can Smiling Make You Happier?

Can smiling make you happier?  A long held folk belief holds that if you smile even when you don’t feel happy, the act of smiling itself will lift your spirits, and conversely, frowning makes you feel worse.  A 1998 study asked volunteers to hold a pencil between their teeth in such a way that their mouths were forced into a …

Disclosure or “Coming Out” about a Mental Illness

Privacy is a big issue nowadays, with everything we post online being available to the whole world forever, and stigma about mental illness is a painful reality for everyone.  Even so, many people think carefully about disclosing some information about their diagnosis to others, both on- and off-line. Should you “come out” about a mental illness diagnosis?  What will happen?  …

Reward Processing Impairment

How do you make decisions? Major depression can have profound effects on decision making, causing apparently irrational decisions, for example, not choosing to change behavior in ways that will likely lead to rewards, and choosing instead a course of action that is likely to be unrewarding. Traditional psychological theories of depression have focused on the notion that the problem is …

Support Groups – Nancy

Having a group of friends to talk things over with can mean the difference between success and failure in almost all areas of life, and it can be especially important in dealing with mental illness.  Even just a few people who “get it” can be a tremendous support.  But how to find them? Support groups come in all types and …

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; …

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 …