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 …

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 …

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, …

Raising Healthy Children

Raising Healthy Children

Raising healthy children is always challenging, a source of joy but also a source of anxiety. And having depression can add to the challenge. And yet many, many women that we have worked with have had successful pregnancies and raised wonderful, healthy, happy children. One key to success is paying attention to how mood can influence not only ourselves but …

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is the relaxation technique that I have had the most success with, (and I have tried many of them!) – by that we mean a technique to help in the moment with stress and anxiety, as opposed to something like mindfulness meditation or another meditation technique, which works best as a regular practice that over time reduces anxiety. …

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 …

Meditation

This is a quote from one of my patients which illustrates how profoundly a regular meditation practice can affect mood and anxiety. The woman who shared this experience with me is a genuine skeptic about all things “new age” and that made her words even more meaningful in my mind… “The most important thing to know is that for the …

Fear of Catastrophe

Fear of Catastrophe

How to respond to the fear of catastrophe? Many people are having trouble getting to sleep these days. Fear of catastrophe has reemerged as we contemplate the craziness of nuclear war. This seems like a good time to review what we know about situations where there is the potential for something really bad to happen but the magnitude and nature of that …

Nature and Wellbeing – Gina

Nature and Wellbeing Many patients I work with speak of the value that nature plays in their lives and I can say that I also strongly relate to the value it plays in my own. Through personal experience and repeated accounts from others, I have seen how nature can improve moods, increase feelings of connectedness, and impact thought patterns. More …

The Science of Slow Breathing

In an April 5, 2017 article in the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds reviews new research on the science of slow breathing and how this ancient technique may work to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and prevent panic attacks. The technique of controlled breathing or pranayama (प्राणायाम) is referred to in the Bhagavad Gita, and thus dates back at least to …

Mixed Depression and Anxiety or Bipolar ?

A young man who recently graduated from chiropractic school came in for a second opinion. He has had a many year history of depressive episodes with prominent anxiety symptoms. Is this mixed depression and anxiety? This past summer, he went to see a new psychiatrist to get help with another episode of depression. The psychiatrist started him on Lexapro (a serotonin …

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 …

Anxiety and Bipolar

For many people with bipolar anxiety is a bigger problem than mood swings. It is not that unusual for someone with bipolar to report that their first “symptom” of a psychiatric nature was the onset of anxiety early in childhood. Let’s take a look at this information again… 90% of people with bipolar have an anxiety disorder diagnosis. 2/3rds have had …

Potential Catastrophe

What to do when catastrophe seems to loom just around the corner? Many people are having trouble getting to sleep these days.  They’re worried about a possible catastrophe emerging after the US Presidential Election. This seems like a good time to review what we know about situations where there is the potential for something really bad to happen but the magnitude and …

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Part 1: Acceptance and Willingness

I recently attended the Anxiety and Depression Association of America conference in Philadelphia, where I offered a two-hour workshop on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and deepening experiential practices in ACT sessions (largely based on the book The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy*). This post is Part …