Get Ready for Fall

As August winds itself up, it is time to start thinking about the fall and then winter coming up. A little bit like the squirrels, who are already putting away food for the winter, it may make sense to make sure that you have what you need to have a happy and energetic fall and winter. The first thing is …

MoodRhythm: Beta Users Needed

One of our readers forwarded to us a story about a new application called MoodRhythm that was developed at Cornell University and won  the prestigious $100,000 Heritage Open mHealth Challenge. The full story is available here. The application, which is available as a beta, is available for both iPhones and Android smartphones (although how to download it may be a bit …

WorkSurfing

The New York Times recently published an intriguing article entitled “Relax, You Will Be More Effective.” It arrived at just the right time. Preparing for an upcoming vacation had made me particularly hectic. And then, while I was on vacation and writing this post, I got a blog post from MoodScope which was devoted to the importance of taking regular …

Mary Poppins: Overcoming the Winter Months

What I most want to have available to me in the long winter months, to help me with my patients with bipolar and depression, is access to someone a lot like Mary Poppins. You may remember that Mary, played by Julie Andrews, was the incredibly cheerful nanny who transformed the unhappy and dysfunctional lives of the family she joined. What …

Happy Winter Solstice

For those of us in the northern hemisphere this is a day well worth celebrating. Today marks the shortest day of the year. Or, to put it another way, from here until summer every day will be a little bit longer, there will be a little bit more light, and eventually the days will get warmer and we will have …

How Could Light Help?

There has been considerable skepticism about the value of light therapy for people with seasonal depression, despite a very compelling research literature. Perhaps this might, in part, be because the way that light might affect mood has not been clear. In a recently published animal study, change in light exposure increases stress hormones, depresses mood, and impairs learning through changes light …

Traveling

Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be very stressful. It is particularly important for people living with moods to do prepare for travel before they leave. A surprisingly high percentage of serious mood catastrophes, in our experience, happen during trips. And they are almost always preventable. First, if your traveling to some place without good medical care, it’s a …

Bay Area Blues

If you live in the bay area you probably noticed that this past week you felt a little less energetic. It was the first cold and rainy week of the season, and the days have been getting noticeably shorter (maybe you used to wake up after dawn and now it is dark). We are naturally seasonal animals trying to live in …

Insomnia: Counting Sheep

Maybe Grandma was right. After all of the years of research and development trying to find medications to help with insomnia, we ran across a recently published paper which suggested that a single session devoted to teaching people with chronic insomnia to focus their attention on some idea, image, song, memory, that was not associated with strong emotions (especially negative …

Night Shift

A young ER doctor came in to see us because he works the night shift, and found that he was having trouble getting enough good quality sleep, and also being alert enough during his shifts. He worked four or five night shifts in a row and then he had several days off. And his goal was to work 9 pm …

Starbucks Therapy

We aren’t sure how we feel about the spread of Starbucks into every corner of America. But it does allow us to suggest a kind of intervention that may help you if you are depressed. It is based on Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy – which is one of the best validated psychotherapies for people with bipolar moods. Every morning, at …

The End of Summer

Every year we notice two weeks that seem to affect a number of folks who have had seasonal depressions. The first period is the “End of Summer” – a foreshadowing of the coming fall that happens in late August or early September (depending on the weather, we guess). The second period is the “Beginning of Winter” – which usually takes …

How to Change Your Sleep Pattern

One of the  best studied and fastest treatments for depression is not a medication, it is waking up earlier and get bright light exposure… We will write at a another time about the evidence for this, and maybe even why it works. But for now let’s talk  about the practical question. How do I change when I get up? First I …

Riding the Waves

MoodSurfing is about the idea that the ups and downs of mood are normal (we aren’t trying to achieve some elusive “stability”).  But dealing with moods requires focus, discipline and some common sense. You can’t go to Maverick on your first day surfing and not get hurt (see photo to the right). The first step for many people is to …