Francine Shapiro: EMDR – A Crazy Idea that Works

As a young psychiatrist I was interested in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD – psychological reactions to severe traumatic events) and did a research fellowship on the subject with Charles Marmar at the San Francisco VA Hospital. One Thursday morning, during our regular clinical case conference, we had a woman come in to tell us about her recently discovered technique for …

Marijuana: Reefer Madness

Psychosis Risks with Marijuana Use This article is taken from Bipolar Network News. “At a recent conference Robin Murray, a researcher based in London, gave a talk about the potential adverse effects of tetrahydrocanabinol (THC). Considerable data indicate that chronic long-term smoking of marijuana is associated with the doubling of the risk of psychosis. Moreover, if a marijuana user has a …

Running a Bit Late

This has been a super busy week and for the first time since we started this website we missed a couple of days of posts. That, plus the experience of waiting for someone to show up for coaching, made me think back on when I used to always be late for events and appointments. I was an absolutely incurable late …

Breathing Techniques

One of the oldest “self help” practices is based on breathing, changing how we breathe in order to reduce stress and to achieve a sense of connection with the world around us: Pranayama Yoga. Prana is the Sanskrit word for “breath” and also means “life.” Therefore, prana can be translated as “the breath of life” or “life energy.” Yama means …

Stress, Distress and Eustress

We met this afternoon with a delightful young man who said he was having more anxiety and depression because of all of the stressful things that he had to deal with. He gave us a list, and, perhaps because we are natural skeptics, we started to wonder whether that list really explained what was going on. For one thing, as …

Loving Kindness or Metta

Love is something that if you give it away, give it away, you’ll end up having more… Last Sunday at church there was a children’s chorus singing, and this was one of the songs. It seemed very familiar… The cultivation of loving-kindness (mettā bhāvanā) is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. In some Buddhist traditions, the meditator begins cultivating loving-kindness …

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 …

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 …

Anxiety and Accepting the Unknown

Accept yourself for who you are. That’s been a long-held maxim that we try to live by, but what does it actually mean and how does it really help? For those who are anxious, lack of acceptance can often be at the root of the problem. Anxiety is often about wanting to feel secure and safe, therefore the opposite is …

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 …

The Best Relaxation Technique

OK, that may be an exaggeration. But it may not. In any event, Progressive Muscle Relaxation is the technique that we have had the most success with, and we have tried many of them. Many people we know use these techniques every night before lying down for sleep and find that it helps them to have a much more restful …

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 …

Acceptance: Helpful Readings

Acceptance. We have been influenced by many people in setting up this website. One of those great thinkers is a man whose vision of psychotherapy was founded in acceptance, Carl Rogers. In his book On Becoming a Person he wrote: “The curious paradox is when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” This phrase has resonated …

What is Biofeedback?

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 information about your body temperature, your blood pressure, your heart rate, etcetera. Studies show that if we receive “feedback” about these …

The Super Mood Stabilizer

From time to time we run across people who seem to do everything wrong, in terms of typical MoodSurfing strategies, but who nevertheless is living a very creative and successful life. Very often the reason they can get away with it is because they have the “Super Mood Stabilizer” – a sense of purpose, a clear sense of what they …

Smoking (Marijuana)

Lots of folks with depression and bipolar use marijuana to help feel more stable. We like to keep an open mind but we have to say we are not impressed with marijuana as a mood stabilizer. In fact, the closest thing that we can think of in terms of prescribed medications to marijuana (gabapentin or Neurontin) is a medication which …

Anxiety

Anxiety often goes hand in hand with mood cycles. In fact, for some people anxiety is a bigger problem than depression. But the types of treatment that can help with anxiety are often different than the types that help with extreme moods. For one thing, psychotherapy is generally more effective for anxiety than medications. And some medications that can help …