Horticulture Therapy

Gardening improves mood Spring has sprung and people are looking to the outdoors, plants and gardening for a mood lift, a lifestyle change and a tried and true path to happiness and fulfillment. For those who think such attitudes are maybe a tad over-optimistic, we can show a surprising amount of research on the mental and physical health benefits of …

Dating and Depression: Yes or No?

People without a partner are often anxious about getting “hooked up” ASAP before the biological clock runs out (this attitude affects men and women both).  But people living with depression often find the dating pool to be a taxing and often futile place to be.  How do you handle feeling pulled in two directions at once?  On the one hand, …

Bedtime Procrastination

Bipolar and sleep disruption People with bipolar can have as much sleep disruption in a week that those without mood disorders will experience in a much longer time frame.  Mood swings can cause major changes in sleep patterns and disrupted sleep makes it much more difficult to maintain mood stability.  That’s why MoodSurfing offers so many resources about sleep and …

Oxytocin: Hormone of Love… and of Mistrust?

Oxytocin is a neurohormone that is produced in the human brain and helps us form loving connections: mother-child bonds as well as the connections between romantic partners.  When we are with a person who stimulates our oxytocin-producing neurological system, we feel warmed, supported, in a word: loved.  However, making us feel loved doesn’t seem to be exactly the function of …

Spring Mania

Seasonal Mood Changes Spring is coming, a season that some call “mania season”.  Even those without mood disorders often feel a rush of energy and hopefulness as the days finally start to get longer, and the temperatures go up.  Many of our bipolar patients find that their mood swings follow a predictable pattern: for the majority, “up” in the spring …

Deaths of Despair

Deaths of despair increasing, but only in the USA Mortality rates are rising in the United States, especially among poor, rural populations, and specifically among whites.  Life expectancy in other groups continues its historic rise, and this rising pattern is also found in 16 other countries with comparable economic levels.  This phenomenon has been dubbed “deaths of despair” because the …

Melatonin and Sleep Disruption

Sleep and melatonin Sleep-disruption and circadian rhythm-disruption problems are quite common in people with mood disorders, and insomnia is one of the most common symptoms we help patients deal with.  Far and away the best treatment for any kind of insomnia is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which we use in a wide variety of situations.  In the case of sleep …

Exercise Reduces Anxiety

Aerobic exercise has long been recognized as an important adjunct to prevention and management of mental illness, especially mood disorders, depression and anxiety.  A new study from Sweden looks at almost 200,000 people who participated in cross-country ski racing there, and found that participants (whom researchers considered a “proxy” for physically active people generally) show a much reduced incidence of …

Daytime Anxiety Impacts Insomnia

Insomnia has often been related to anxiety and worry at bedtime, but recent research has linked daytime worry and rumination to nighttime insomnia.  People often realize that their thinking patterns at night are keeping them awake, but may not consider the impact of worrying that they did earlier in the day to their sleep patterns at night. Anxious, repetitive thinking …

Family Support

How can I give helpful support to my mentally ill daughter, brother, spouse, best friend? In our practice, we frequently hear from family members of patients desperately hoping for some suggestions or guidelines to tell them what to do in cases of self-harm, addiction, lying, running away, or just plain apathy.  It can be a heart-wrenching dilemma: to give support …

Better Mental Health in the New Year

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) conducts regular surveys of a representative sample of American adults, and this month the poll asked people how they feel about their mental health and whether they are resolving to do something to improve it next year. The survey findings show that mental health is on many people’s minds and taking steps to improve their …

Sleep and Temperature

Sleep patterns in pre-industrial communities highlight the importance of temperature changes What is the connection between insomnia and the modern lifestyle?  It has been hypothesized that we sleep less well now than our ancestors did, either because of electric lighting, electronic devices, or increased entertainment options.  However, a group of scientists studying sleep patterns among members of hunter-gatherer tribes in …

Self-Care: Take Time for it!

“I don’t know how people do it.  I just can’t juggle work and family and everything I have to do and take time for self-care on top of it all.” Sound familiar?  A lot of people think self-care, whether taking time for meditation, exercise, or even just lunch, is a kind of reward, that you get when all the other …

Attachment Styles

Four basic attachment styles determine the role you play in romance Do you cling to your partner, and take responsibility for their every happy or sad moment?  Do you keep your partner at arm’s length, knowing that they may be gone forever any time now?  Do you look at friends’ relationships and feel envious of how confident they are in …

Mood Swings and the Holidays

Holiday stress is a reality of life for many people, but for those struggling to manage chronic illnesses like bipolar, the holidays can be a real trial.  Each year, MoodSurfing encourages readers to spend some time before the holidays reflecting on how they want to face up to, and hopefully get some fun out of, the winter holidays.  Here are …