Anger – Uses and Abuses

What do we mean by anger uses and abuses? Righteous anger is a powerful force for change in the world. But some folks seem to live in anger all the time, and for them, and those around them, anger can become a trap. As others pull away from them they feel more helpless, and more angry. How to break this …

Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress – Nancy

Holidays!  So much to juggle, so many moods to surf, so much holiday stress! Moodsurfing has looked at holiday stress from a number of angles over the years, and we have come up with a collection of reminders to help you keep on top of everything at this time of year when everything seems more volatile and emotional. While depression …

meaningful resolutions

Meaningful Resolutions for 2018

How can you make meaningful resolutions for 2018?  Maybe not something like “adopt more healthy habits”, which can be hard to do.  How about resolving to work on something that research shows is foundational to healthy habits and healthy motivations? Cultivating a sense of purpose in life has been shown to affect health and longevity through numerous avenues of study.  Those …

Noticing Your Power

The mind is naturally drawn to threats and often acts as though the world is filled with powerful dangers, this bias towards threat-seeking makes the practice of noticing your power essential. Without conscious effort we run the risk of acting in ways that are self-destructive. This is the powerful insight of psychologist Jim McCullough about people who have experienced repeated …

Cynical Hostility

Cynical Hostility

Cynical hostility is a personality style of cynicism and anger mismanagement in social relationships. Sometimes called chronic anger, it is associated with mistrust and weakened social support networks. In a recent study, researchers from France and University College London looked at data from a long-term study of 3,399 British civil servants. Those in the top 25% of cynical hostility levels were over four-and- a-half …

Language Predicts Stress Levels

The way that people use language predicts stress levels quite reliably, according to a 2017 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many different stressors (traumatic stress, poverty, loneliness, being told that you have a life threatening illness) all activate a single pattern of profound changes in the function of the immune system. The changes are known …

Hope

Find Hope Despite Adversity

Finding hope can feel miraculous when wrestling with the endless challenges of any chronic illness, including depression. At the end of a long week struggling to help others I ran across an article by a psychiatrist who has thought long and hard about the sources of hope, and felt the wonderful sense of renewal that hope brings to the beleaguered. …

Recovering from Disaster

Recovering from Disaster – Reclaim Your World

It seems appropriate to write about an aspect of recovering from disaster. We have been through an extraordinary period of natural and human caused disasters these past few months. And while every experience is different, one thing that successful recovery requires, is the capacity to reengage with the world as it is, and with a sense of the possibility of …

Decision Making

Better Decision Making – Nancy

Better decision making is important for many people dealing with how moods can influence our choices. How much self-control do you have?  Do you make the decisions you really want to make?  A new field of brain science is discovering how people make decisions, and how they utilize self-control to make better decisions.  A recent article in Medical Xpress included …

Feeling Trapped

Feeling trapped is one of the most painful emotional experiences. The need to escape from this place can sometimes lead us to do things that are irrational and self-destructive. A young woman who I’ve been working with for couple of years and he was struggled with depression on and off for many years, finally seem to be making some headway …

Contagious Moods

A well designed study of adolescents suggests that there are contagious moods. This study follows on earlier research suggesting that surrounding yourself with more “contented” or “discontented” people affects how likely you are to feel contented. The new research involved groups of junior-high and high-school students who took part in depression screenings and answered questions about their best friends, many of whom were …

Mood Spectrum

Author and psychiatrist James Phelps presented a thought provoking presentation about the notion of a mood spectrum (from very unipolar to very bipolar) and how that idea is changing the way that clinicians work with people with depression. The title of the presentation was “A More Nuanced View of Hypomania” but the talk itself is broader than that. The spectrum …

States of Mind and Task Planning

How can we think about the relationship between states of mind (moods, energy levels, focus, etcetera) and task planning? All of us are aware that there are times when we are able to be very effective with certain tasks, and other times when it is practically impossible to complete a certain kind of project. This is not entirely a random …

Motivating Healthy Behavior Changes

What is the most effective way of motivating healthy behavior changes? And how does medical practice best  take advantage of information about what motivates people to make positive changes? It should be obvious that just telling someone that a certain behavior is healthy is often not enough to motivate change. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal …

Impatience Warning

Sometimes I wish that my depressed patients had more impatience. Eagerness for change when you have been depressed for a long time can be a good thing. But if you have bipolar depression, impatience is not always a useful emotion. This past week, several people began expressing impatience with their progress. A couple of them expressed the view that I …

Higher Carbohydrate Meals Increase Punishment

A study in 2017 finds that the composition of food in one meal can significantly affect behavior in the following hours, higher carbohydrate meals increase punishment behavior. How does this work and what does it mean in terms of understanding how diet affects mood? In the study, a high carbohydrate breakfast boosted tryptophan and lowered tyrosine. Tryptophan is the key …

Sitting with Emotions – Gina

Sitting with Emotions I regularly work with clients who are trying to avoid and push away feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness — so-called “negative” emotions. On the one hand, I can entirely relate with this draw and have experienced it myself. However, the more I’ve learned to sit with these emotions, and witnessed others sit with them, the more important …