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 …

Stress and the Coronavirus

Stop. Breathe. Think. How to deal with stress when you’re stuck at home and the TV keeps sending in more and more scary images?  Stop. Breathe. Think. Our brains are hardwired to deal with threats by the primitive fight or flight response.  Adrenaline flows, higher thinking goes offline, emotional and bodily responses take over, blood pressure goes up and you …

Wellness in a Time of Pandemic

Moodsurfing is a blog about creative and healthy ways of managing moods and mood shifts.  We’ve been talking about lifestyle change for a long time, so we are ready with lots of healthy actions you can take right now, in spite of social isolation, quarantine, or any other challenge the world can throw at us! Distance doesn’t have to mean …

Getting Back to Nature

Connections between mental health and the natural world Urbanization is a reality of modern life, and many people feel that their connection to nature – green growing things, animals, trees, the stars, the wind, the ocean and the mountains – has been disrupted, or has simply vanished.  Mental illness is another reality of modern life that shows some correlation to …

what happens when new information contradicts expectations and you are depressed?

Depression and Altered Learning

Depression, particularly recurrent depression, has pretty significant effects on how we perceive the world and how well we make plans for the future. In an article published in Biological Psychiatry in March 2020, Tobias Kube and co-authors develop a model of how depression affects critical cognitive processes that expands and extends the traditional model of cognitive changes associated with depression …

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 …

Mobile Apps for Tracking Moods Improve Care

Passive tracking of vocal and behavioral indicators of symptoms via a smartphone app can be an effective way to improve depression in a time-sensitive and accurate fashion.  A recent randomized clinical trial compared the use of an app to track indicators with “usual” care for depression, and, although the sample size is small, the results are very promising. For the …

How much sleep is enough

Sleep – How Much is Enough

How much sleep is enough? The question might seem simple. Most of us heard that we were supposed to get about 8 hours of sleep a night. But with the increasingly hectic pace of modern life, many of us don’t get that much sleep. What are the consequences of this? A recent study in a cardiology journal answers the question …

Blue Light Therapy

Blue light therapy is another interesting frontier of neurological studies.  A recent study looked at the use of blue light therapy for patients with mild traumatic brain injury.  In this randomized control trial, exposure to blue light helped study participants to improve their sleep patterns, and unexpectedly, showed actual improvements in brain structure, possibly because of better timing and quality …

How to Make a New Year’s Resolution Work

Are you contemplating a significant lifestyle change this year?  Quitting smoking for good, or really getting fit, not just losing a few pounds and gaining them back later? Research shows that making real changes in life is not just a matter of motivation, commitment, or not being “lazy”.  Change requires skills and knowledge that can be learned and applied for …

Effective Strategies for Insomnia: Stimulus Control Therapy

Disrupted sleep rhythms often increase mood instability.  And, sleep and insomnia are some of the most frequently cited problems of people seeking help for mood disorders. But what works to help you sleep better and more restfully?  Sleep Medicines Aren’t the Answer Generally, research has shown that most frequently prescribed medications are not very helpful – they may lengthen sleep …

Change Talk

Change Talk versus “Should” Talk or Loss Talk

For many years I thought that if I berated myself enough for not making some positive change in my life it would motivate me to make the change. A colleague with an interest in motivating people to make big changes got me thinking about this strategy… He would often ask people “how did that work for you?” and after years …

How to Survive the Holidays

Holidays.  Family.  Cheer.  Giving.  Stress.  Conflict.  All of the above…  Fasten your seatbelt, December is here again, and it’s time to plan for defusing holiday stress.  Over the years, we’ve developed a few pointers towards strategies that come up again and again.  Take a deep breath.  You can do this! Let it happen.  All human cultures from the dawn of …

Herbal Medicine

A recent study on the use of cannabis extracts to treat mental illness got us started thinking again about the whole field of herbal and “natural” medicine.  Cannabis is currently experiencing an explosion of interest and some robust research is being done.  However the interest is running far ahead of the available data about real uses and effects of various …

Can a Change in Diet Cure Psychological Illnesses?

Can a change in diet cure psychological illnesses?  What dietary changes or interventions may be effective in treatment or management of mental or mood disorders? Diet is more than weight loss, and has been invoked, modified and studied for a wide variety of physical and mental ills and conditions.  Yet there is surprisingly little hard data available to tell us …

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more than just the “blues”.  Affecting up to 5% of adults in the United States, it can last as much as 40 percent of the year.  SAD can cause significant impairment of normal daily activity, and can lead to deeper complications if left unaddressed. The symptoms of SAD overlap with those of major depression, but …

Is Daylight Savings Time Making You Crazy?

Daylight Savings Time (DST) is an item again, as we all try to remember “Spring forward, Fall back”.  Many people complain of difficulty sleeping, or getting enough sleep, and also of depressive episodes associated with “falling back” in November. In our clinical practice, the main thing we have observed year after year, is sleep disruption, which is especially problematic for …