Relationships and Chronic Depression

Many people with depression, particularly if they have been depressed for a long time, develop a pattern of interacting with others that is designed to protect them from disappointment. Avoiding disappointment is obviously a good thing, but it can lead to relationships that are not satisfying.  Addressing relationship issues is important. Almost everybody who is unsatisfied with their relationships can …

Mood and Food

Many people have an intuitive sense that a good diet is a foundation stone of good mental health. We don’t disagree, although the evidence for dietary manipulation’s effectiveness is not overwhelming. There are a couple of things that we have noticed over the years about food and its effect on mood that might be useful tips. For one thing, simple …

Anxiety or Excitement?

Many folks not only have to figure out how to live creatively with moods, but also have to wrestle with anxiety. I have found that it is sometimes useful to compare two states of mind which are very, very similar in terms of how the body is reacting, but are very different from an emotional standpoint. Imagine that you are …

Self-Consciousness: You Can’t Fool Yourself

Many years ago we read a book by renowned social psychologist George Herbert Meade entitled Mind, Self and Society. In it Meade wrote about the origins of self-consciousness in childhood experiences. If you follow the development of children you notice that at first they act as though they and the world are one, with no apparent sense of others (especially …

The Antidepressant without Side Effects

Medications for depression can be life saving, but for many people they have disturbing side effects. But there is one antidepressant that doesn’t have side effects – behavioral activation (BA). Behavioral activation is a treatment that has been shown to work for people with moderate and even severe depression and, in some studies, it works about as well as antidepressants. …

Riding the Waves

MoodSurfing is about the idea that the ups and downs of mood are normal (we aren’t trying to achieve some elusive “stability”).  But dealing with moods requires focus, discipline and some common sense. You can’t go to Maverick on your first day surfing and not get hurt (see photo to the right). The first step for many people is to …

Negotiation: How to Deal With Conflict

Some of the best ways of dealing with conflicts in relationships, whether business or personal, are contained in the books about negotiation written by Roger Fisher and William Ury. In our own lives and in the lives of people we have counseled we have often seen a situation that seemed to be incredibly scary and full of potential catastrophe turn …

Mood Charting Part 2: Monitoring Mood

What is monitoring and mood monitoring? Monitoring is way of becoming aware of what is happening in a certain circumstances. For example, a parent may monitor how much milk the child is drinking, a person who is dieting may monitor what they are eating or a person exercising may monitor how much they exercise a day. All these people have …

Mood and Cognitive Functioning

Mood can have a profound impact on cognitive functioning. In fact, over the years, we have found that the most likely diagnosis when someone comes in complaining of “suddenly becoming demented” is a mood disorder (people with dementias tends to have a more gradual onset of symptoms and often don’t notice the impairments). There seem to be three types of …

Getting Where You Want to Go: Remembering Priorities and Problem-Solving

Successful time management is in large measure all about starting with the big things. This is how you go about almost any design and building process. With a kitchen remodel you begin with the major appliances, with a life remodel you build around your life goals. Some people find it helpful to think of the problem of how to fit …

What is Hypomania?

What is hypomania (“a little mania”) and what changes when you are hypomanic? Depending on where you sit it can be the most desirable state conceivable or a mood that is terribly destructive to relationships. We often say that hypomania is a symptom that rarely motivates people for treatment, but often motivates a spouse or partner to insist on treatment. …

Changing Bad Habits: Helpful Resources

If you talk to anyone who has worked to help people with serious bad habits (smoking, sex addiction, gambling, drug use) they will probably end up mentioning the “Stages of Change” model of Prochaska. The notion that people don’t just “flip a switch” and change was pretty revolutionary at the time, and the useful notion of stages of change: from …