Sadness Benefits

Are there sadness benefits? It often seems as though the work I am supposed to do is to eliminate all negative emotion on behalf of the people who come to me for psychiatric help. But is that possible, and if it were possible would it be a good thing to do? Are there sadness benefits that would be lost if …

Shame and Guilt After Mania – Gina

Addressing Shame and Guilt After a Manic Episode I have witnessed the immense pain caused by the shame and guilt experienced by people with bipolar disorder following a manic episode.After a manic episode, most have engaged in behaviors that they regret. The resulting shame and guilt can contribute greatly to symptoms of depression that follow an episode. Understanding techniques and …

Impulsivity – Gina

Impulsivity is something everyone has experienced. We have all had moments when we have said something impulsively that we regret or have gotten carried away with an idea. Sometimes the consequences of an impulsive action are minimal.  But that is not always the case. Impulsive decision-making is more common in people with bipolar. And this increase is not just something seen …

Avoid Intimidation

Rick Hanson has written an elegant and timely newsletter article about how to avoid intimidation and fear from paper tigers and media demagogues. I love his weekly email newsletters and it is again time to encourage readers of this blog to sign up. Here is the link. One of Rick’s themes, elegantly outlined in this most recent article, is how …

Cognitive Recovery from Mania

Cognitive recovery from mania or depression seems to lack behind the improvement in mood symptoms. In our experience full cognitive recovery may take up to three months after the mood symptoms have remitted. One way of thinking about this is that an episode of mania, or depression, upsets the normal function of the brain and it takes a while for …

Pace Yourself for More Manageable Moods

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to pace yourself so that you can capture some of the energy and creativity associated with being mildly energized while not getting so involved that you burn out or edge into full-fledged mania. There’s nothing quite so exciting as entering a time of increased energy and ideas after a long …

Hope and Self Efficacy – Gina

Believing you can create change in your life is the foundation for successfully making the change. Self efficacy is the sense that you can make change and thus hope and self-efficacy are intimately connected. Often people with bipolar or depression are overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness. They feel stuck and unable to manage their moods. And yet a great deal of research shows …

Positive Emotions

We had a wonderful conversation (see the conversations tab on this site) with two smart young UC Berkeley graduate students in psychology (Janelle Capnegro and Erica Lee) who have developed an intervention designed to help people with bipolar regulate and develop positive emotions. It started us thinking about emotions in terms not only of how positive or negative the emotions …

Happy Acts by Gina

The Happy Acts Challenge Did you know that giving can activate the reward centers of the brain? We think regularly about techniques to support us in managing our mood including exercise, eating healthy, regular sleep routine, etc. Is giving back or volunteering also on your list? If not, you should consider it. Researchers are finding that areas of the brain …

Interpersonal Effectiveness and DEAR MAN

For many people with depression, it can be hard to find an assertive, but not hostile, way of dealing with conflict. Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) addresses many practical problems such as this with straightforward answers. This comes from the “Interpersonal Effectiveness” module of DBT. The acronym to remember is DEAR MAN: Describe Describe the situation in as objective …

Hamster Brain

A young woman who has been making good progress tackling the problem of severe depressive episodes suddenly is having trouble managing the opposite end of the mood spectrum.  She gets energized and is consumed with getting stuff done. She is unable to stop until she is exhausted and she crashes. I call this state of mind “hamster mind” because it is like the …

Coping with Political Uncertainty

Many of the people that I work with on a regular basis have been experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety related to the recent election results. Unfortunately, mental health professionals are no better as news analysts than the so-called professionals. I have been struggling a little bit trying to figure out what to say to these people. Coping with Political …

Friends and Purpose

Maff Potts spent his professional life working with charities for the homeless in England. But he was frustrated that all of his work did not seem to be changing outcomes for the people he was working with. The result of his reassessment is a program that focuses on addressing what Maff feels are the two psychological problems that bedevil the homeless… …

Blessings of a Bipolar Crisis

A mental health crisis, once it resolves, can leave people with a sense of overwhelming anxiety that co-workers, distant friends, family, and strangers might find out about what happened. Jayson Blair, however, never really had the opportunity to worry about that… His was an extraordinarily public mental health crisis. In an article in Bipolar Hope he talks about what happened… …

It Takes Two to Fight

“I just can’t believe what my mother told me on the phone, she said I was a bad mother, can you believe it? I wasn’t going to put up with that, believe me…” A delightful and pretty feisty mother came in the other day brimming with frustration. We spent the entire session talking about how she got derailed from a …

Mindfulness for Depression -Research Update

Mindfulness has received a lot of attention recently as an approach to improving mental health in a number of conditions. But is it really effective as part of a strategy for treating serious depression? And, if so, how can we best incorporate it into treatment, given the great difficulty that many people with depression have doing even a small amount …

Mindfulness Warnings

A recent visitor to this site sent us this link and some thoughts about mindfulness… This article about the dangers of mindfulness was posted by a friend of mine from smartrecovery.  I just thought I would pass it along, definitely going to store this in the back of my mind for later. The cases discussed were relatable to my experience …