Depression Strength

How do you address stigma about depression? Depression is an illness, and it’s an illness that’s not easy to cope with.  But in addition to the illness itself and how awful it makes you feel some days, you also have to deal with people – from the closest family to the most casual stranger – judging you for not being …

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 …

Stress, Pregnancy and the Infant

Women who are pregnant, especially if it is a first child, are usually extremely protective of the child, so much so that it can sometimes be hard to convince the mother-to-be that taking care of her need for emotional stability is as important as protecting the child from risk. This makes it hard to explain the potential value of continuing …

World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide is a growing phenomenon in the USA and around the world.  Especially in this difficult time of pandemics, natural disasters and divisive politics, suicide prevention is for everyone. World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10 each year, and it’s a time for all of us to stop and look around.  People in our own social networks are struggling in …

Is Depression Prevention Possible?

Heredity and childhood trauma are two known risk factors for depression, but these can’t be modified in adults.  Are there specific actions that could be taken by at-risk individuals that would make depression prevention possible?  Much of the research available so far does not search for a wide variety of possible factors, instead focusing on a hypothesized intervention, e.g. exercise …

Increasing joy in response to stress

Build in Joy

Time to build in more joy Anxiety, stress, loneliness, grief, and a welter of other emotions are becoming familiar to many of us during this pandemic.  Lockdowns and quarantines, being unable to visit or hug loved ones, worrying about employment, children’s schooling, and how to pay the bills – it’s no wonder it’s getting us down! The idea of increasing …

Medication Effect on Creativity

How does medication for bipolar affect creativity? The effect of medication on personal creativity and artistic productivity is often a concern for people beginning to manage their bipolar.  A widespread belief is that mania produces creative power that artists and writers can transform into works of art; and conversely, that the medication which dampens manic episodes also reduces the ability …

Dietary Interventions Control Mood Swings

Dietary interventions for bipolar and major depression A modified diet including high omega-3 and low omega-6 fatty acids has shown “exciting” findings in a small study looking at adjunct treatments to control mood swings in bipolar patients.  Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine randomized 41 patients, some to receive a high omega-3, low omega-6 diet, and some to receive …

How to Reduce Deaths of Despair?

After decades of increasing life expectancy, recent years have seen a higher death rate among some groups of Americans, attributed to increases in suicide and drug and alcohol abuse.  The causes of these so-called “deaths of despair” are still debated, but may include job loss, economic downgrading, and lack of safety net programs, such as job retraining. A recent study …

Mindfulness Goes Mainstream

Mindfulness practices are a staple of non-medication approaches to managing chronic illness and maintaining mental and physical health, but they have sometimes been considered unscientific, unproven, or just not “modern”.  However, more and more experience and research is backing up the claims of mindfulness practitioners.  A recent study looking a mood homeostasis, or balance, found that people who utilize strategies …

How Habits Work

Healthy lifestyle is a matter of establishing healthy habits and breaking unhealthy habits.  We can’t make a decision each and every day to have the oatmeal for breakfast instead of donuts.  The idea is to get in the habit of reaching for the oatmeal without having to think it through. Especially at this time of year, many people are thinking …

Join the Conversation!

MoodSurfing is dedicated to educating people about healthy ways to live with mental illness and to develop mental and physical wellness.  In addition to that, we’d like to foster dialogue among people who share these interests. What works in the battle against mental illness?  What helps folks with bipolar live better?  What keeps depression at bay and lets one live …

Resilience

How to develop resilience to face difficult times Resilience is a process that people can learn and activate to help recover from personal or community disaster, trauma or loss.  While it has sometimes been described as a trait that some people have and others don’t, it is better understood as a skill, or series of skills, that we can all …

Vital Signs Home Monitoring Kit

Since getting in to see a doctor these days can be very difficult (for example, we are not going to be seeing patients in person until 2021), now seems like a good time to get a home monitoring kit. For around 200$ you can purchase a set of devices that will measure your blood pressure, heart rate, weight, temperature and …

Mood Homeostasis and Depression

MoodSurfing advocates identifying strategies for managing moods without medications, not because we think medications are bad, but because they do have potential adverse effects. We think that some of these strategies are very helpful, but the psychiatric establishment has not always agreed. A recent study1 provides evidence that choosing activities to stabilize mood can have a big impact on mental …

Black Lives Matter

It seems appropriate today to notice the fact that the largest civil rights movement ever is responding to the shame of ongoing racism not only in the United States, but in communities around the world. On June 19, 1865 the Emancipation Proclamation was read out publicly in Texas, the last state to surrender in the American Civil War. The states …

A Lonely Disease: Stigma and Bipolar

Stigma about mental illness is found everywhere, so why not in the intensely macho world of college football?  Brent Guy, a college football coach for 30 years can tell you all about stigma.  He hid his bipolar diagnosis and regular medication from everyone but his wife and doctors.  I’ve written quite a few of these “famous people with bipolar” profiles …

Mindfulness Online

We’re all spending more time online these days, and learning to do things inside that we used to go out to do.  How can we use this time positively to increase health, coping skills, mindfulness, and general well-being? There are more and more online resources for improving mindfulness and mental health.  It seems like we just finish a list of …