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
Heroism  - Nancy
Are you trying to be the hero of someone else’s life? It’s surprising how often we fall into this trap. We want to be seen as good and helpful people, and we see that someone we love seems to be struggling. So we jump in and “help” them “solve” their problem. Why doesn’t that make them happy? “Rescuing” people can be problematic in a lot of ways. If someone is drowning in a river and you pull them out and save their life, they will probably be grateful. But if they are drowning in life, they may not be grateful for your efforts. Either they aren’t ready to make a change, or they don’t see your proposed solution as the ... Read More
Spring Forward?
Those of us in the United States tried to remember what happens to the clock with daylight savings time using the phrase "spring forward and fall back." In California daylight savings time has been accompanied by a week of the sunniest weather in a couple of months. For whatever reason, in our practice at Gateway Psychiatric there has been a sudden uptick in the number of bipolar patients reporting hypomanic symptoms. Circadian rhythm dysregulation is a common reason for mood disruption in people with bipolar and a change in the clock, even though it is only an hour, may be the cause for disrupted daily routines. Several of our patients report that they have been having trouble getting to bed at the usual ... Read More
Neuroplasticity - Nancy
Can you change your brain?  Recent research in the field of “neuroplasticity” suggests that the human brain continues to change and adapt throughout life.  Furthermore, there is  clear evidence that an individual can affect the changes to their own brain structure by how they pay attention to stimuli around them. The implication of this research is that, for example, a person who regularly reminds herself to be grateful for the gifts of life will find that attitude becoming easier over time as her brain “learns” that her attention is constantly going there.  Another, who worries about threats in the immediate environment is training her brain to find threat, even when no threat is present. Such anxious thoughts and “scanning” of ... Read More
Religious Faith and Mental Health - Nancy
More and more studies are finding a link between religious and spiritual practices and improvements in mental health, including significant reductions in anxiety and reduced risk of depressive illness. While it is somewhat difficult to study this field, due to the wide variety of definitions and practices in the field of religion and spirituality, researchers are beginning to find ways to gain clear data about the influence of religion on health. Both traditional practices, such as attendance at a church or synagogue, as well as more outside-the-box spiritual practices, such as meditation, yoga or visualization, have been shown to affect people in positive ways. Belonging to a group and participating in communal fellowship activities has positive effects in multiple areas, ... 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. 

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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.

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