Ginseng

If you are a ginseng believer, then ginseng is the one supplement that all of us should be taking. Russian scientist Israel Brekhman coined the term “adoptegens” to refer to agents that helped individuals deal with stress. The prime example of this, in his view, was ginseng. [If you are interested in an example of the controversy that surrounds many …

The Loving Brain

Get ready, because the month of July has an exciting event coming up! Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is hosting a free interview series called the Loving Brain starting July 15. For the 8 following Mondays, experts will be giving talks on how to develop positive relationships with others and establish a healthy self image. If you happen to miss a speaker …

Runner’s High

A great way to gain both physical and mental strength is to make running a part of your workout. A lifestyle that includes running promotes well being and reaps both cognitive and mental benefits. When running, the body releases endogenous opioids, like endorphins, that relieve stress. The feeling some people call a runner’s high is due to the activation of …

Know Your Body

Geneen Roth talks about how infatuated she was with her imperfections while growing up. She was constantly thinking of how much better looking she would be if she didn’t have certain features. If only she could cut out all the flaws, so just her best features would remain she could be happy.  Roth tried to reach self improvement through shaming …

Stress and Your Brain

Stress has a major affect on our bodies and our brain. The release of catecholamines (adrenaline and related chemicals) and cortisol causes significant changes throughout our body that are designed to prepare us for “fight or flight.” By shutting down all non-essential functions the stress response system prepares us for a life and death struggle Nowadays there are no life …

Depression and Heart Disease: Inflammation

A large study published in April of 2013 in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology followed 667 people with heart disease for 5 years and found that depression appears to lead to inflammation rather than inflammation leading to depression. Excessive inflammation is one of the main causes of heart disease, because it is associated with blockages in the blood vessels that deliver blood to …

Iron for PMS

A recent study suggested that women who consumed higher amounts of iron (from plant not animal sources) had a lower rate of premenstrual symptoms. Those who consumed more than 20 milligrams per day had about a 30% reduction in PMS symptoms compared with those who consumed less than the average amount  (average intake of 9.4 milligrams per day). This study …

Drug Companies

This blog has mostly not dealt with questions related to medications for treating mood disorders.  When we looked around to see what was out there on the Internet, it seemed to us that there was no dearth of information about medications.  The problem was finding reliable information about non-medication approaches to living with moods. This morning I met with an …

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 …

Power out of Depression

It sometimes can be very hard to think of ways of getting out of a lurking depression. A recent email from Moodscope (a site with a mood tracking program that many people find very useful) highlights one very useful strategy: instead of staying stuck in your brain, switch your focus to physical activity. This strategy can be surprisingly effective. If …

Body Work

Several months ago a young attorney who I have been seeing for a couple of years came in and, reluctantly, told me that he and his wife had not had sex for the past year. It took two or three months to get him to consider going for couples counseling.  I found a therapist who specialized in working with couples …

Exercise and Brain Health

According to the Exercise and Brain Health: Good Points to Remember article in the December 27, 2012 issue of Bipolar Network News, “(…) exercise is extremely important in (…) helping to improve depressed mood, increasing cardiovascular fitness, and maintaining healthy cognition.” It is also suggested that aerobic fitness may increase the size of the hippocampus which in turn decreases risk factors for …

Mind Body Issues

Health problems fundamentally challenge our sense of self and safety in the world. Those people who are able to maintain equanimity in the face of medical disease and aging are truly admirable. There must be about a million articles about how to accomplish this – so I am not sure that what I have to say adds much to the literature – …

Inspiration and Skepticism

A very dear and cherished friend is visiting us. She has inspired this post. Every time we are fortunate enough to visit with her I have an opportunity to wrestle with the dichotomy of faith and inspiration, as opposed to science and skeptical inquiry, that is at the heart of Western medicine. Carey has vigorously embraced healing and faith. And …

Giving Thanks

A friend asked “What is Thanksgiving all about?” There is the traditional answer about the Pilgrims and the Indians, but Thanksgiving as a national holiday has a shorter history. The holiday was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863. The idea was largely the product of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for …

All About Happy: Resources

What makes us happy? How can we have more happiness? Is happiness just the absence of sadness and depression? These are some of the questions that are addressed in an entertaining, informative and inspiring movie called “.” Some ideas we saw – 50% of our happiness is determined by genes, 10% is related to life circumstances (financial situation, what country …