Fatigue and Depression or Bipolar

Fatigue is a common symptom in people with recurrent depression or bipolar. And in fact a common symptom in the general population. It is estimated that up to 10% of otherwise healthy people suffer from fatigue. And it is a more common symptom in women than in men. Sometimes fatigue may persist well beyond other symptoms of depression. First, it …

Foundations of Wellbeing

Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing online seminar has helped many people enjoy better, richer, happier lives. As regular readers of this blog know, we very much like Rick Hanson’s books and other writings, and now he has created a wonderful online seminar. We don’t usually make such a big deal about programs, but we think this is going to be …

Self-Esteem: A Key Aspect of Mental Health

Much has been written about the topic of “self-esteem.” Sometimes the idea almost seems like one of those “buzz” words that doesn’t really mean anything. A significant amount of research points to the development of self-esteem as a key aspect of mental health. Self-esteem builds slowly and its foundation is the sense that we are loved and valued by others. …

Mood Disorders and Summer Nutrition – Arnrow

We recently wrote about healthy eating for people with mood disorders (original post can be viewed here). Today, we bring you some delicious and easy ideas to enjoy in this summer weather—well rather, July in San Francisco that so happens to be co-occurring with the hot and sunny climate in other places. Infused water Drinking infused water is a great and …

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 …

MoodSurfing – It Isn’t About Reaching a Goal

I have had a couple of conversations this past week that reminded me of my belief that one of the big problems in this country is our preoccupation with “results.” Elsewhere, I’ve noted how this leads to short term strategies that have bad long term consequences. In education, this means cramming for exams instead of learning the material. In business it means not investing in …

Zinc Might Prevent Depression

In several animal studies, zinc deficiency can cause behavior that looks like depression. In other animal studies, giving  zinc can have antidepressant-like activity if the animals are zinc-deficient. And there is some clinical evidence that zinc might boost the effectiveness of antidepressants in humans. Now a large meta-analysis of studies that looked at zinc blood levels in people with depression (Swardfager, et …

Yoga for Mood and Health

Many of our patients with chronic mood disorders report that beginning yoga and doing it consistently has been associated with periods of remarkable stability. There are studies supporting yoga as an evidence based approach to the treatment of depression. But it is hard to figure out where to begin. At the end of this page are some additional resources. One …

Befriending Stress

A colleague recommended this fantastic TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on the cardiovascular and social benefits of befriending stress (and potentially other negative emotions) as opposed to fearing these types of feelings. Kelly offers a fascinating perspective on oxytocin as a stress hormone that serves as a mechanism for resilience, helping people connect with others in times of challenge. Kelly …

Exercise or Inactivity Changes Your Brain’s Structure and Its Resilience to Stress

This past year has been a remarkable year in terms of new studies examining the effects of exercise on your brain. Everyone knows, of course, that exercise is good for you. But these studies together provide compelling evidence that exercise (and inactivity) profoundly change the structure and function of your brain. One set of studies has shown that exercise profoundly …

Was James Bond a Lush?

Always in search of the latest cutting edge medical knowledge, we happened across a fascinating research article in the December 2013 British Medical Journal that asks the question – “Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor?” Before going any further and looking at the research methods and conclusions, we have to warn readers that this may be …

Mediterranean Diet and Depression

Boost your brain power naturally! Try this simple intervention to reduce depression, stroke, heart disease and improve cognition. Does that statement make you a bit wary? A recent meta-analysis of 22 studies spanning two decades finds that the Mediterranean diet is associated with significant reductions in the risk of depression and stroke, and significant improvements in cognition. Across the studies, …

Herbal Supplements Often Not What They Claim

A recent study concluded that herbal supplements are often not what they claim to be. The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine and it got front-page coverage on the New York Times website. Using DNA analysis, researchers tested 44 products from a dozen companies. The DNA signatures were compared with samples obtained from horticultural greenhouses. The study was summarized in the New …

Changing Hormone Levels and Mood

I was on the phone yesterday having an urgent consultation with a woman we have worked for 15 years. She has had a pretty straight forward history of depression and anxiety that we’ve treated primarily with antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy. She’s had a good response to this treatment approach. The two things about her depression that are a little …

Depression and Inflammation

Recently there has been increasing interest in the relationship between depression and chronic overactivity of the body’s biological defense system – inflammation. When we have an infection, or an injury, or almost any other kind of illness, the body activates a series of processes designed to respond to the threat. Unfortunately, the inflammation system, especially if it is turned on …

Hormones and Food

In an earlier post we talked about some of the research on appetite. We reviewed some of the peptide hormones that regulate appetite and how the entire system that controls appetite is really designed to cope better with a time of scarcity than a time of plenty. Here I want to talk more specifically about the interplay between other hormone …

Hunger Regulation

Recently several folks have asked us questions about diet, hunger, weight gain, and nutrition. Certainly for many people with depression, gaining weight is an important issue, both as a cause and consequence of depression. Let’s begin by trying to make some sense of hunger. In other posts we will be talking about how stress and the hormone system relates to …