Exercise, Diet and Sleep – Nancy

Exercise, diet and sleep: three important ingredients for health, and also for mood stability.  Keeping our bodies healthy is a vital strategy for mental health as well.  All body systems work together, so it makes sense that a healthy balance in one area will contribute to a healthy balance in others. Try this experiment: make a chart or note of …

Daylight Saving Time – Gina

It’s that time of year again – in the United States Daylight Savings Time begins tomorrow morning! The time shifts this coming Sunday and it’s important to remember that this change can impact your mood. Research has shown that shifting your sleep cycle to getting up later can increase your risk for depression. This time change already comes during a …

Bipolar Marriage – Nancy

Americans with bipolar are more likely than Europeans to marry someone with a similar diagnosis, according to a study by Robert M. Post, MD, of the Bipolar Collaborative Network, Bethesda, Maryland, and the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, George Washington University.  Post and colleagues recruited volunteers with bipolar I from four cities in the USA and three cities in …

Commit to Values-Based Action – Nancy

We’ve discussed the mental health strategy called “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” several times in Moodsurfing (see below for links), and it’s an important feature of our Bipolar Disorder Workbook.  It’s a multifaceted approach, and there’s a lot to unpack. This post explores the “commitment” part of it all. Once you’ve trained yourself to look squarely at your reality, without focusing …

Communication, Disclosure and Getting Support – Nancy

Sharing information about a diagnosis, disclosure, can be a constant tension for people with bipolar.  On the one hand, you need a support network that includes family, friends, co-workers and even employers.  On the other hand, any or all of these people may create more difficulties, or even be a part of the problem from the beginning. Dr. Cannon Thomas …

The Bipolar Disorder Workbook

Gateway Psychiatric Services is delighted to announce the release of our latest book, The Bipolar Disorder Workbook from Callisto Media. The Workbook is intended to be of use to those who are just beginning to think bipolar may be an issue for them as well as those who have been journeying with bipolar for a longer time. It is also …

What is Biofeedback? – Nancy

Biofeedback is a stress management technique that uses devices that give you information about your body’s physiologic response to stress. The idea is to provide you with information that would ordinarily be outside of your conscious awareness, such as your body temperature, blood pressure, or heart rate.  Generally, there are three stages of biofeedback: Developing increased awareness of the body …

At the Crossroads of Anxiety and Bipolar – Nancy

Anxiety and panic attacks are some of the “comorbidities” (concurrently occurring disorders) that folks with bipolar have to contend with.  Another concern is the complicated relationship between bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder. Social anxiety is often found in conjunction with bipolar.  Although many people think bipolar is characterized by the extraverted and friendly attitude often experienced during hypomanic episodes, the …

recognizing depression

Recognizing Depression – Nancy

Seems like recognizing depression ought to be easy, and that it’s so widespread that it can hardly be hidden, but the reality is that many people with major clinical depression are not diagnosed, or are given insufficient treatment to address the realities of their situation. Major depression is defined as an episode in which for at least two weeks one …

risk calculator for youth

Risk Calculator for Youth – Nancy

New research may lead to a risk calculator that can help predict which young people at risk of bipolar go on to develop either bipolar 1 or bipolar 2. Young people with a history of depression and some features of bipolar (a brief period of being energized, for example, that doesn’t meet criteria for hypomania) are at risk for developing …

Building Healthy Habits – Gina

Building healthy habits can be very important in managing mood. Regular sleep, exercise and diet can play a key role in reinforcing a stable mood. As a result, I regularly work with clients to identify healthy habits they would like to form and steps they can take in doing so. Most of the the time they are core habits such …

Mania and Nitrated Meats – Nancy

A recent study has found some evidence of a link between mania and nitrated meats (meat sticks, beef jerky, turkey jerky, and possibly other foods such as hot dogs).  Research in bipolar has focused on genetic links, but diet is also thought to have significant impacts on mood disorders.  The new study is quite small and used survey data followed …

Making A Daily Plan

Making A Daily Plan

Consider the value of “boring”. Steve Jobs reportedly once said “I’m a big believer in boredom” –meaning maybe that if life is quiet and predictable enough you may have time to think, time to daydream, and time to make new decisions and choices. For people living with bipolar, boring can be a tough goal.  But structure is everything when it …

circadian rhythm

Circadian Rhythms – Nancy

A new study from the UK has shown that disruption in the daily rhythms (circadian rhythms) of work and rest is clearly linked to mood disorders and major depression, as well as other concerns: lower subjective happiness, feelings of loneliness, and mood instability. Circadian rhythms are the natural paths our lives take, with patterns of work during daylight hours and …

Famous People

Famous Bipolar People – Nancy

Why are there so many famous bipolar people? Will a diagnosis of bipolar make you famous?  Probably not, at least not immediately.  Nonetheless, it is a reality that a surprising number of famous people, contemporary and historical have a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of bipolar. Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, and other household names are included in this inventory.  …

what is a manic episode

What is a manic episode? – Nancy

What is a manic episode?  Recognizing a true manic episode is critical to the diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder.  It is not merely feeling energetic, or high-spirited.  During a manic episode, one may not be able to work, may avoid or seem fearful of family members and other close associates, and may require hospitalization.  Similar, but at a milder level, …

stigma in mental illness

Stigma in Mental Illness – Nancy

An interesting opinion piece in the New York Times this past week highlights unintended consequences of the ways in which we talk about mental illness and the strategies we use to reduce stigma around it. Dr. Lisa Pryor, a mental health care practitioner in Australia comments that increasing discussion, publicity and stigma reduction around “moderate” mental illnesses like anxiety and …

Breastfeeding and Mood – Nancy

A young mother noticed a relationship between breastfeeding and mood. as she begins to wean her son from breast-feeding she is experiencing a return of occasional irritability which disappeared towards the end of her pregnancy. We know that there is a strong effect of breast-feeding on many hormone levels and thought we would check into the literature. What does the …

Checking Up Versus Building Intimacy

Moodsurfing has often focused on improving the quality of intimate relationships, in a therapy session today I explored with a young woman the difference between checking up on her partner and building a more intimate and connected relationship. Early in a relationship it is pretty common to have anxiety about the other person. Are they really committed to the relationship, …