Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination may be related to impulsive decision making. This somewhat surprising finding is based on a large study of twins. Most modern explanations of procrastination have focused on avoidance and aversion. You put off things because you are afraid of some negative consequence (doing badly, not meeting your standards, etcetera), in other words, you are avoiding a bad outcome. More recent studies have suggested that …

Internet Therapies Generate Interest

There is increasing interest in “apps” that can support mental health (one of our most enthusiastic readers recently posted a query on this topic on the forum). Apps are rarely intended to deliver “therapy” – they are usually not written by mental health professionals (although mental health professionals may be consulted along the way). Their goal is to be appealing …

Reduce Your Social Stress

Regular readers of this blog know that I really like the writings of Rick Hanson (he has a wonderful email list called “Just One Thing” and a new book that is an excellent resource for personal transformation called Hardwiring Happiness). For the last couple of months, however, his posts have seemed a bit repetitive. Just in time for the New …

Reinvigorate Your New Year’s Resolutions: Connect Change with Your Values

The celebration of a new year is frequently accompanied by hopes, wishes, and goals for the coming year, which take shape in the form of New Year’s resolutions. I will start exercising. I will spend more time with family or friends. I will get a hold of my finances. I will start volunteering. New Year’s resolutions are wonderful for providing …

Bipolar Treatment: The “Quick Fix”

A young woman came in to see me today. She was in a hurry. She wanted to make a change in her medication, and she wanted to make that change now. She told me that medication she was taking for bipolar was making her sedated and sluggish. She said she thought the medication was a “trap.” The medication was why …

Dual Treatment: Medications and Therapy Work Together to Treat Depression

A review in the prestigious journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that there may be a clear biological explanation of how medications and psychotherapy work together to treat depression. The authors note that recent, unexpected, research findings suggest that antidepressant medications reactivate the brain’s ability to relearn old lessons. The medications allow the brain to modify old neuron connections in a way …

Recovery from Disability

Sometimes we are privileged to help someone who is disabled due to bipolar or depression to recover and resume a full and happy life. In the beginning we face many questions about the process. Family members may have become very skeptical about the value of treatment. Or they may wonder if the disabled person is exaggerating his or her symptoms …

A Spoonful of Courage

In a previous post, I shared Linda Graham’s views on resilience from an excerpt from her article Bouncing Back :Rewiring the Brian for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. After further reading, Graham also discusses the importance of having courage when creating a more positive outlook on life. We have the ability to experience great personal growth when engaging in new things. …

Check Your Wallet

Recently, we were writing about the bias that practitioners have that the technique that they they have mastered is the most effective treatment for any condition. We were reminded of this issue very vividly this morning when we met up with one of our favorite people, an older man who has been seeing us for a couple of years. He …

Parallel Universes: The Duality of Hopelessness and Optimism

It’s hard to explain how it is possible to go from a state of complete hopelessness and a sense that the universe is profoundly hostile, to a state of optimism and and the experience of receiving support from the world and others within a single day. The fact of the matter is that it often seems as though there are …

The Facts are Friendly

We have found ourselves wrestling with a couple of situations where patients seem to be trying to help us come to the “right” conclusion about their problems.  For example, one young woman is very adamant about the fact that she does not have bipolar disorder.  She has a family history of bipolar moods (her mother was bipolar) and the idea …

The Gift of Hope

I have never been able to find the short article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that talked about a miraculous treatment for many ailments of the human mind and body… The article was about “hope.” When we have it there is hardly any problem we can’t tackle, and when we lack it every challenge seems insurmountable. This …

Trojan Horse Medications

From time to time we are asked to review the care that people with cycling moods have received, trying to figure out, from a complicated story of medication changes and mood cycles, what to do to get someone out of a period of deep pain and dysfunction. A few years ago I did such a review on a young man …

Small Rewards

A young woman who was scheduled to go on a big trek in the Himalayas was not doing the training she needed to in order to have a good experience. She had been depressed for the last few months and this was probably a manifestation of that mood. She told me that she felt she “should be doing much more.” …

A Protest

So many of us have to deal with things that are not fair – depression, unsupporting spouses, financial reversals, weight gain, etcetera, it can be tempting to launch a protest of some kind against the unfairness. These protest actions don’t have to be obvious at all, but they can have powerful effects, nonetheless. A few women recently told me, “I …

Mood and Food

Today’s post was inspired by Disorderly Chickadee’s blog. She has been in an unstable (irritable) mood but her post is about how proud she is of the fact that she has been losing weight. For some reason, several people we have been working with have also been feeling irritable and agitated, and using some of that energy to lose weight…It …