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 …

Yoga Practice Five Reasons

5 Reasons to Start a Yoga Practice – Gina

Yoga can be an incredible tool in well-being and recovery, why not check out the five reasons to start a yoga practice below! 1. Stress Management Stress management is a huge factor in managing mood and well-being. Increases in stress can lead to disrupted sleep, weakened immune systems, and mood episodes. Yoga has shown to help people manage stress on …

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 …

Factors Linked to Bipolar Cycle Acceleration – Arnrow

Factors Linked to Bipolar Cycle Acceleration– Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim conducted a study consisting of 210 participants (53.3% women) with bipolar I (68.1%) and bipolar II (31.9%)  to identify factors linked to bipolar cycle acceleration (rapid cycling). They found the following factors (listed in order of importance): Severity of episodes – there was a higher chance …

Contemplative Practice Options

Contemplative Practice Options Explored in New Research Mindfulness has been much in the news. Skeptical readers have commented that it seems to be “good for what ails you,” no matter what the challenge. Others have noticed that mindfulness seems to now encompass some practices (focused meditation) that were historically seen to be an alternative to mindfulness practice. “Contemplative practice” is …

Depression and Inflammation Interactions

There has been a lot of interest in the last year in the idea that information or activation of the body’s immune system, might be a cause and/or consequence of depression.  One theory argues that depression might be an inflammatory disorder, more than a disorder of altered neurotransmitter levels. Certainly there’s a fair amount of information that some people with …

I Can’t Stand It! (ACT)

This week began with me spending three or four hours writing up a summary of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for one of the people I saw two days ago.  For those of you who haven’t heard the term, ACT is the “hot” new approach to therapy (although much of it dates back thousands of years to Buddhist practice). I enjoyed the …

Risk Factors for Depression are Different for Men and Women

Risk Factors for Development of Major Depression Differ Among Genders, Study Reports   Kenneth Kendler, M.D., a professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Human and Molecular Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, led a study identifying factors that distinguish the onset of major depression between men and women. The study, “Sex Differences in the Pathways to Major …

Breathing Practices for Stress Relief

Breathing Techniques One of the oldest “self help” movements is based on breathing, helping us to use our breath, and how we breathe in order to reduce stress and to achieve a sense of connection with the world around us: Prana Yoga. Prana is the Sanskrit word for “breath” and also means “life.” Therefore, prana can be translated as “the …

Mindfulness and Impermanency: The Practice of Acknowledging the Temporary – Arnrow

After reading this article by TV producer-turned-mindful meditation enthusiast, Mark Koberg, I have been reflecting on how my awareness of permanency, or rather, lack thereof, in my life affects my overall day-to-day experiences. In his account, Koberg shares how a medical diagnosis and a newfound indifference to the career he had been building all of his adulthood ensued a journey …

Stress and Trauma as Risk Factors for Bipolar

I have long been interested in the relationship between traumatic experiences and bipolar disorder. A couple of years ago I gave a presentation at the University of California, San Francisco, Bipolar Disorder Clinic on the topic. I got interested in the issue because I noticed how many of the women in my clinic with bipolar disorder also had childhood PTSD. …

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 has shown that exercise profoundly …

Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) May Prevent Alzheimer’s

Higher blood levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) appear to protect against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other types of dementia, that is the result of a study is published in JAMA Neurology this past month by Sudha Seshadri, M.D., a professor of neurology at Boston University and his colleagues. BDNF is “growth hormone” for the brain. It enhances the creation of connections between …

PTSD Psychotherapy Affects Gene Activity

  Mind-body dualism seems alive and well in the land of mental health. I am still surprised how often someone will say, “well that’s not a biological depression.” Meaning that it is the kind of depression that can be understood as a result of events in that person’s life, or that it can be treated effectively with therapy, or that …

Take Action… Why Do I Have to Pick Up My Room?

Sometimes wrestling with depression can seem an awful lot like having to deal with a truculent eight year old. It is 7:00 in the morning, and the alarm goes off. When you aren’t feeling depressed, that means that you get up without thinking about it too much, and take a shower or make some coffee to start the morning. But when you …

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 is associated with a wish …

The Facts are Friendly

We have found ourselves wrestling with a couple of situations where patients seem to be trying to help us come to the “right” conclusion about their problems.  For example, one young woman is very adamant about the fact that she does not have bipolar disorder.  She has a family history of bipolar moods (her mother was bipolar) and the idea …