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 …

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 …

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 …

Parenting and Mental Health – Nancy

Parenting is a tough job, and there’s no lack of critics telling you you’re doing it wrong.  However, common sense, backed up by research can give some dependable sign posts along the way.  A recent study1  of parents of children with anxiety discovered that the mothers of children with social anxiety  disorder helped them with tasks more frequently than mothers …

The Mediterranean Diet Is Better than You Thought!

Moodsurfing has been promoting the value of the Mediterranean diet for quite a while.  It is linked with better weight control, anti-aging, and reduction of depression. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and fish is known to help people lose weight and is associated with longer life expectancies.  Eating a lot of refined grains (white …

Brain Networks Implicated in Anxiety

The human brain is still a mystery in many ways, with much of our brain function difficult or impossible to study under most conditions.  What causes worsening moods and why do some people struggle with anxiety and depression while others do not? A recent study at UC San Francisco took advantage of work being done for patients with epilepsy who …

Smartphones and Depression – the Story Continues

Moodsurfing has reported on several studies and programs in the past that attempt to use smartphone data to improve mental health.  Now, an AP report from early January updates some of this research. Smartphone users generate a huge amount of data, which, if correctly analyzed, could provide life saving information about early onset of depression, warning signs for a manic …

Too Much Healthy Eating Can Be Bad for You

Medical practitioners have begun to recognize an eating disorder associated with a concern for healthy eating, “orthorexia nervosa”, in which a zealous concern for healthy food leads to clinical concerns for possible malnutrition, micronutrient and macronutrient deficiencies, inadvertent weight loss and social impairments. Avoidance or refusal of foods due to fear of impurities, processed foods, additives and imagined contaminants, while …

80 Pleasurable Things – Nancy

Here’s a list of 80 fun or pleasurable things to do.  Some of them are simple to arrange and quick to accomplish, and some require some planning and preparation, or even money.  But all of them can be enjoyable experiences.  Remember that motivation is less important than just doing it.  Even if you don’t feel like it, or don’t think …

Exercise Improves Sleep Quality – Nancy

Insomnia is a significant problem in the United States, and for individuals grappling with mood and/or anxiety disorders, sleep loss can contribute to ill health, including immune function, cognitive functioning, and even cardiovascular problems. However, use of medication for insomnia does not have a good track record.  These medications have significant risks and adverse side effects, and often lose effectiveness …

children behavior problem

A Magic Solution for Children’s Behavior Problems

For readers who have children a common concern is what to do with children’s behavior problems. Of course, there’s no one size fits all solution to the problem but over the years we’ve been repeatedly impressed with the effectiveness of the solutions to be found in a series of books by psychologist Kevin Leman entitled Have a New Kid by …

A Social Media Resource – Reader Contribution

Moodsurfing continues to monitor developments in the field of online help for mood disorders and mental health generally, we have looked at several newly available resources here and here.  Of course, there are negatives as well, but overall, we are observing a trend of more and more useful and useable online programs and communities.  Here, we share a reader’s recommendation …

Books for Anyone Who’s Had a Rough Year – Nancy

Here’s a fun –looking list from Buzzfeed of “Books for anyone who’s had a tough year” – and who hasn’t? We are familiar with a couple of these, but this is not a list reviewed by Moodsurfing staff, it’s just a post we ran across that has some intriguiging reader reviews for each suggested book. I know in my own …

Survival Strategies for the Holidays – Nancy

It sounds funny, right?  Why should you need survival strategies for something that’s supposed to be fun?  But as people living with chronic health conditions all know, holidays can be disruptive.  For people with bipolar, holidays provide some particular challenges: the temptation to give into impulse (buying, eating, partying…), the potential for activities and events that may trigger a manic …

Bipolar Advantage

Another online resource that folks may appreciate is Bipolar Advantage, a program dedicated to helping people function at their highest potential during all mood states and levels.  Their trademark is changing the discussion from “Bipolar Disorder” to “Bipolar IN Order”, where the student learns to thrive during manic and depressive episodes, and to consider the advantages of their states of …

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 …

Family and Bipolar – Nancy

Family members can be your best support, and they can also be a drag on your recovery.  How to help them understand your needs better so that they can make positive impacts and let you get what you need? Having a family member diagnosed with an illness like Bipolar can be a significant shock.  If it’s a child, parents may …

Cognitive Behavior Therapy – Is It for You? – Nancy

One of the popular and well-researched non-medication alternatives for bipolar and unipolar depression is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), a method of helping people identify and change unhealthy patterns of thought and/or behavior.  CBT looks at the interaction between feelings, thoughts and behavior, and helps participants learn to analyze the connections between them and how they influence each other. For example, …