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 …

Insurance Coverage of TMS for Bipolar Depression

A patient represented by an attorney obtained AETNA health insurance coverage for rTMS treatment of bipolar depression.  The patient satisfied the insurer’s policy guidelines for rTMS treatment of major depression by demonstrating failed trials of 4 different medications.  Reimbursement was based on the plan’s allowed percentage of the “covered amount”.  The AETNA Appeals Decision stated: “TMS treatment is being authorized for …

Mental Health Apps and Tech

Mental health care and technology As electronic devices and communications technologies take over our lives, it’s no surprise that the field of health care should also be turned inside out by the rapid changes in technology applicable to mental and physical health and health care. The American Psychiatric Association comments that the explosion of mobile apps and wearable devices for …

Can Smiling Make You Happier?

Can smiling make you happier?  A long held folk belief holds that if you smile even when you don’t feel happy, the act of smiling itself will lift your spirits, and conversely, frowning makes you feel worse.  A 1998 study asked volunteers to hold a pencil between their teeth in such a way that their mouths were forced into a …

Stress and the Red Zone

How much stress are you undergoing?  And how much effect does it have on your life? Stress is a multidimensional feature of chronic illness.  It can affect mood swings, blood sugar levels, weight gain or loss, inflammation and other problems.  And stress can sneak up on you without warning. We all live with stressors in the modern world, and we …

Disclosure or “Coming Out” about a Mental Illness

Privacy is a big issue nowadays, with everything we post online being available to the whole world forever, and stigma about mental illness is a painful reality for everyone.  Even so, many people think carefully about disclosing some information about their diagnosis to others, both on- and off-line. Should you “come out” about a mental illness diagnosis?  What will happen?  …

CBT is Better for Insomnia than Drugs

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) shows better results than medication for overcoming insomnia in a meta-analysis of 13 studies conducted over the past 30 years.  Generally, after 4 to 6 sessions of CBT training patients reported medium-to-large positive effects on their sleep, and the improvements were maintained for three to twelve months post treatment. In the U.K., where this study was …

Delayed Gratification and Mental Illness

Will you take $75 now or $100 three days from now?  In the fields of economics and psychology, (and the new field of economic psychology) the choice is called “delay discounting” although many people may be more familiar with the term “delayed gratification”.  The two terms are opposites; delayed gratification means you will wait for the larger reward even if …

What Does Hypomania Feel Like?

What does hypomania feel like?  A Moodsurfing reader recommends this You Tube presentation because, he said: “I found this video refreshing due to her very detailed description of what it feels like going through the various episodes.” Imogene Walters, working in London, has made several videos about bipolar, including one about suicidal feelings, and she speaks directly and meaningfully to …

Psychological Effects of Global Warming

Global Warming.  Climate change. Hurricanes and wildfires. More and more people are showing evidence of deteriorated or threatened mental health because of the terrifying threats posed by our changing environment. In a recent TED Talk, science writer Britt Wray noted that she is encountering more and more people who are losing psychological health because of fears of climate change.  Those …

Famous Women with Bipolar

Our friends at BPHope have done it again!  A new post showing “Five Famous Females who are crushing stigma” gives us thumbnails of five interesting celebrities with bipolar, and only one of them has already been profiled on Moodsurfing: Demi Lovato. The others are three actors and a news anchor, all of whom are talking publicly about their diagnoses and …