Mindfulness and Impermanency: The Practice of Acknowledging the Temporary – Arnrow

After reading this article by TV producer-turned-mindful meditation enthusiast, Mark Koberg, I have been reflecting on how my awareness of permanency, or rather, lack thereof, in my life affects my overall day-to-day experiences. In his account, Koberg shares how a medical diagnosis and a newfound indifference to the career he had been building all of his adulthood ensued a journey …

Be Mindful of Keeping Your Mind Full of Good – Arnrow

Experience-dependent neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to learn, adapt, and evolve to not only our experiences, but also, and perhaps more significantly, our reactions to those experiences. It is almost as if our brains can form habits, and the types of behaviors and patterns that it develops are dependent on how we choose to be. This suggests that the …

Wholeness: Overcoming the War Within – Arnrow

I feel like there is a war within us– an internal battle between the different parts of us, tugging and pulling for control and dominance. On one side is the brain— a soldier of logic and reason, commanded to evaluate all it comes in contact with, and to calculate corresponding plans of actions. It is enemy to, well, the other …

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 …

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 …

Hardwiring Happiness

Sometimes it is simple ideas that resonate the most powerfully with our psyches.  This week I have found myself, again and again, thinking about the fairly simple but quite elegantly described ideas in the book Hard Wiring Happiness. I should probably admit that I’ve only gotten about half way through the book, but even so, it has had quite an …

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 …

Cluelessness: Getting Stupid

Late on a Friday afternoon,  I found myself with two patients (back to back) who were yawning and seemingly drifting off during the course of our conversation. Now, that could have meant that I was being particularly boring. But, in this case, it was the manifestation in the office of something that had been going on at home and causing …

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. …

Chronic Depression: What You See Depends on Where You Look

It can be hard to sit with someone with depression, especially chronic depression. For me it is the fact that I am trained to try to enter a person’s world, and understand that world… but the visit to the world of someone who is depressed can be depressing. One of the reasons for this is that they describe lives where …

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 …

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 …