Stress Eating

Weight gain may be not only a psychological (“I hate how I look, it makes me depressed”) but also a biological (overweight people have elevated levels of inflammation that may increase depression) factor worsening depression. Great, but what to do about this? Most of us already knew that we should lose weight, and more guilt doesn’t help. One very interesting …

Bipolar Brains

After years of trying, a group of researchers down at UCLA (led by Lori Altshuler) may have succeeded in identifying important changes in brain function that are associated with bipolar moods. They have found two specific areas of the brain that show pretty consistent changes associated with bipolar. One area (the orbitofrontal cortex) is generally less activated in bipolar, no …

How to Change Your Sleep Pattern

One of the  best studied and fastest treatments for depression is not a medication, it is waking up earlier and get bright light exposure… We will write at a another time about the evidence for this, and maybe even why it works. But for now let’s talk  about the practical question. How do I change when I get up? First I …

Buy or Make: Theories of Romantic Relationships

Every once in a while  we find ourselves reflecting on lessons learned in a lifetime of coaching and counseling people. How we might have lived our lives differently had we known then what we know now. This afternoon, talking to a young man about romantic relationships, we found ourselves thinking about our own relationships, and the relationships of the many …

Learned Helplessness

This is an animal model of the human experience of depression. In the learned helplessness model an animal is repeatedly placed in a situation where it has no ability to avoid a painful outcome After a while the animal begins to look depressed (listless, passive). At that point if you place the animal in a situation where it could escape …

Vulnerability

Recent research points to vulnerability as an important component of deep, meaningful connection to others and to life. But, for some, just hearing the word can conjure up strong feelings of fear. But what is vulnerability exactly? What is its relationship to mood? And, if it is such a good thing, what is the fear about? Vulnerability can be simply defined as taking an emotional …

Resilience

Why are some people able to move through difficult situations, and others seem to get stuck in them? A lot of what distinguishes people who lead successful lives from those who struggle has to do with how much we are affected by negative events. There isn’t really much we can do to avoid setbacks (even the fabulously successful people have …

Medications

Getting the right medicine, medication side effects, fear of being dependent on a medication, medications that stop working mysteriously… psychiatric medications evoke in us as many reactions as do psychiatric disorders… and psychiatrists. What we propose to do on this page is to try to collect and organize information that we have found helpful in thinking about psychiatric medications. As …

Self Compassion

I once worked with a lovely woman who had a personal assistant who yelled at her all day.  She hurled insult after insult, screaming loudly in her ear things like—You’ll never get that done! There you go again, you idiot! Give it up, you’re never going to amount to anything! This is pointless, you may as well throw in the towel! …

Doctors Part 2

Once you have found a good doctor (see Doctors Part 1 for thoughts on finding doctors), how can you make sure that you get the best help from that doctor (or doctors). Here are a few thoughts collected from our experiences working with many people over the years – 1. Plan ahead. It is almost always a good idea to …

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins, and along with other fat soluble vitamins, it is possible to take too little, but it is also possible to take too much. And taking too much can have negative health effects, just as taking too little can. For many of us we get enough vitamin D naturally from exposure to …

Supplements – Overview

Supplements are drugs that are found in nature (note: supplements don’t have to be any more “natural” in terms of how they are made than prescription drugs). Because they are found in nature they are not, in the United States, subject to review and approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Also, because they are found in nature, they tend …

Doctors Part 1

Managing your relationships with doctors can be a challenge. Here are a few tips that might help. It all begins with finding good doctors. In many parts of the country this can be hard. There may not be many choices. Start with a list of “candidates” – For a primary care doctor – look under “internal medicine”, “family practice” or …

Dealing with Perfectionism

Society puts a premium on perfection, for good reason. Perfection fascinates and inspires. I am particularly drawn to the symmetry and complexity of buildings, bridges, and visual art, often staring at such creations with awe and wonder at how such perfection was achieved. In addition to architecture and art, perfection is expected in vocations where the slightest mistake could be …

Staying Connected: How to Maintain Communication Even When You’re Not in the Mood

Let’s say you’re having one of those shabby old days when your mood’s in the gutter and you’re in the doldrums.If you’re feeling grim and can’t face the thought of a conversation of any kind? How can you possibly do the connecting thing at times like this? Here are five ideas: Opt for a more indirect channel of communication such as …

Watch the Mood Waves

One of the best ways of helping people MoodSurfing successfully is to look closely at the shape of their mood waves. Often when we talk to someone about this idea they are perplexed. Waves are waves right? If you have a depression wave then you should do one thing and if you have a manic wave you do something else. …