Loneliness – A Little Attention Makes a Big Difference

Empathetic listening reduces loneliness Loneliness can be a serious problem, and is a risk factor for several illnesses.  Loneliness is implicated in higher rates of depression and anxiety, and with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, reduced human contact has raised red flags as a potential source of health concerns.  Especially among poorer and more vulnerable populations, loneliness is emerging …

irregular sleep pattern

Irregular Sleep Patterns and Depression

The link between insomnia and depression is well-established, but a new study shows that even an irregular sleeping pattern, with a normal number of hours of sleep, can affect mood and depression risk. The study, conducted at the University of Michigan, looked at the sleep patterns of medical interns, first year doctors, who complete a year of work under supervision, …

Cognitive Issues and Bipolar Disorder

Does bipolar disorder cause problems with memory, attention focus, speed of thinking and cognition?  Does depression cause dementia, or does it just feel like it?  Are memory problems and cognition issues caused by the medications that control mood episodes?  Is there anything one can do about troubles in thinking and memory related to mood issues? “Suddenly becoming demented” is a …

Gut Brain Connection

Do the trillions of microbes living in the human digestive system affect our mental health and affect – for better or worse – brain or mood disorders? As recently as seven years ago, the idea that gut bacteria played a role in mental health was considered “crazy”, but in the past few years, more and more research has shown possible …

Insomnia Treatment Recommendations

New Research on Insomnia Insomnia remains one of the most troubling problems our clients have to deal with and insomnia treatment is always an important issue for us.  Recent updates to insomnia treatment guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine do not change our current practice radically, but they underline and strengthen the basic recommendation that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy …

Shame, Guilt and Bipolar

A manic or hypomanic episode (mild or severe) can lead a person to taking actions that may be unhealthy, unwise, or even harmful to self or others.  This can lead, afterwards, to feelings of guilt and shame.  We feel bad about what we have done, but we don’t always know how to move on and make amends.  These feelings can …

Celebrate the Little Things

About now, we all start admitting that, for another year, we aren’t really going to stick to our New Year’s Resolutions and become better people this year. Now is the time to change focus from resolutions for the future to celebration of the past and present.  Celebrate your achievements of the past year.  Things you never considered making a resolution …

Tripolar Disorder

Mixed mania is a type of depression, but it’s very hard to explain it to people I work with.  In the view of mental health professionals, it makes a lot of sense to talk about a “mixed” state, which is a state of depression that generates lots of energy and agitation. The lethargy and slow speech of “typical” depression looks …

Serenity Courage Wisdom

“Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”  This “Serenity Prayer” attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, and often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, is known to many, and found hanging in cross-stich patterns, wood carvings and photographs on walls across the country.  It seems to offer …

New Year and New Hopes, Beginning with Self Care

Happy New Year to Moodsurfing readers. Nothing needs to be said about 2020 that hasn’t already been said. While acknowledging how hard things are for many people right now, Moodsurfing is looking ahead with confidence to the future. 2021 has to be a better year. Regular readers will probably remember that we like Rick Hanson and his educational programs, newsletters …

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Winter Mindset

What’s your seasonal mindset? Does Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) increase as latitude increases up into the far polar regions where winter nights are longest?  A recent study from Norway found the opposite: people who live at higher latitudes have stronger coping skills and there is less change in subjective well-being over the course of a year. Kari Leibowitz, a researcher …

Subjective Well Being and Coronavirus

How good is your life?  Psychologists look at factors like “subjective well-being”, “overall life satisfaction” and “positive affect” (good feelings) to measure the effects of particular events and situations on how well or badly people feel like they are functioning in the world. The coronavirus pandemic has had a notable and obvious effect on people’s sense of well-being, bringing about …

Alexi Pappas

How do you recognize the symptoms of depression?  Isn’t that something everyone should know?  We’ve all learned how to recognize the symptoms of Covid 19, right?  And other diseases have organizations that do public education about them, like cancer, heart disease, etc. Alexi Pappas, writing in the New York Times, says that everyone should be taught to recognize the symptoms …

How to Increase Motivation

How can I make myself do better?  How can I get motivated to fulfill my resolutions and good intentions?  Motivation is something we all hope to get more of, but motivation to get out there and do the work is often elusive.  It’s easy to find people to give good advice, even MoodSurfing is full of good advice, but when …

Holiday Celebrations

Holiday stress is a big topic every year, but 2020 is the champion year of stressfulness!  And now the holiday season on top of it all.  Take a few minutes to reflect on what’s ahead for the next few weeks. First of all, like everyone else, we implore you to stay safe and stay home.  Sure, nobody wants to stay …

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a way of learning to live with chronic illness that teaches the patient to be present in the moment and get in touch with reality, instead of the scripts that may be running in their brain.  Learning to live in the present moment can take a lifetime, but it also allows one to step …

Books! Books! Books!

The advent of the internet and online information technology has made reading and writing more popular and widespread than ever before. And while some lament the short attention span and failed fact checking that it seems to have brought, the fact is, more books are being published now than at any time in history. So whether you prefer to read …

active activity winter

Staying Active in a Covid Winter

I was reminded this past week about the importance of staying active during the winter, as well as some of the challenges people face during this COVID-19 winter Why is this Hard? Our brains are somewhat poorly adapted to modern life. Our distant ancestors would go into hibernation mode during the winter. Food was not as plentiful, and going outdoors …

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Pandemic

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. For many of us, 2020 has been a year of “affective …

Starry Starry Night

International Bipolar Foundation hosts virtual event The IBPF, a worldwide alliance of people with bipolar and those who love them will be hosting their annual Starry, Starry Night event virtually this year.  IBPF also has an extensive website and blog roll, see our “outside blogs” column to the right of the screen. They write: Please join us on November 8th …