Maternal Depressive Symptoms – Nancy

Interventions to reduce maternal depressive symptoms, especially during infancy may have lasting effects on child neurological development.  A longitudinal study recently published in the Netherlands has found that children whose mothers exhibited depressive symptoms during their infancy have measurable reductions in brain size even by age 10.  These findings provide evidence for an observed link between maternal depression and ADHD …

Evolutionary Value of Depression – Nancy

People often ask if there is some evolutionary or adaptive advantage to depression, perhaps hoping that there is at least some reason behind the painful experience.  There are certainly some reasons to speculate about possible evolutionary advantages of depression, but it is difficult to structure research to give definitive answers to things that happened far in the past. First, we …

Creativity and Mental Illness – Nancy

A link between creativity and mental illness has been a long-standing area of conjecture, and there have been some recent attempts to research such a link, with varying results.  The first major problem is that there is no real agreed-upon definition of “creativity”, and therefore no way to pinpoint people in the general population who have it (or more of …

Media Consumption and Stress – Nancy

A well-documented link between media consumption and stress may be exacerbated by a “cycle of distress” in which individuals who feel greater stress and even trauma from watching televised coverage of violent events such as a mass shooting, are more likely to worry about such events re-occuring in the future, and therefore more likely to consume more media accounts of …

Impulsivity and Bipolar – Nancy

Several recent studies are looking at the interaction between bipolar and increased impulsiveness.  Impulsivity is often found as a component of bipolar, but researchers remain uncertain whether it is a core trait of the disorder or a separate characteristic.  Impulsiveness has different behavioral factors, including: “1) Non-planning Impulsiveness, which refers to a present orientation or failure to consider the future; …

Vulnerability – Nancy

Vulnerability!  If your first response is “Ummm, no, thanks”, you’re not alone.  Vulnerability sounds like something we want to get away from, not something to cultivate.  Yet researcher Dr. Brené Brown of the University of Houston has done considerable study of this topic and her findings are that being or becoming vulnerable to risk, to emotional upset, to shame and …

Learned helplessness – Nancy

“What’s the use”.  “It won’t work anyway”.  Do you find yourself thinking hopelessly and helplessly about your own situation, unable to find any constructive steps to take to move forward? Learned helplessness is what psychologists call it when a patient believes strongly that no action they can possibly take will make their situation better.  It’s the “dark side” – or …

Heroism – Nancy

Are you trying to be the hero of someone else’s life?  It’s surprising how often we fall into this trap.  We want to be seen as good and helpful people, and we see that someone we love seems to be struggling.  So we jump in and “help” them “solve” their problem.  Why doesn’t that make them happy? “Rescuing” people can …

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 …