Blowing Things Up: Self-Destructive Responses to Frustration

Why do we sometimes come up with self-destructive responses to the unpleasant feeling of being trapped or the anxiety of an unhappy life situation? I talked about this a little bit in an earlier post that was based on an article in the New York Times. In that article, it was noted that many people  may find it so hard to deal with the stress …

Accepting Uncertainty

We are often trapped more by what we think about how things should be, or “have to be,” than by the reality of the challenges we face.  This week I have been noticing how often the phrase “I can’t stand.XX” precedes a statement that is quite obviously not true.  Someone who has been living with the uncertainty of multiple sclerosis for …

Being Busy is an Antidote to the Terror of Being Alone

My attention was captured when I read an article that suggested that there was a common human experience that many people in our busy worlds find so disturbing that they voluntarily give themselves electric shocks in order to distract themselves from feeling it. No Time to Think. Nowadays, people can keep negative thoughts at bay with a frenzy of activity. …

Starting Bipolar Treatment – Dr Suzanne A . Black and Mr. Stuart Jessiman

Through the Door : The Initial Consultation – Part I I arrive at the door of an address of an English speaking psychologist in Paris given to me by my wife – This is someone I don t want to see.; but, my increasingly erratic, increasingly violent behavior is threatening my marriage , job and basic sense of well-being . …

Summer Vacation: Taking a Break from Therapy

Maybe because it’s summer, and everybody’s thinking about vacations, or maybe it’s just a coincidence, but we’ve been spending a lot of time talking with people these past two weeks about taking a break from treatment or drastically cutting back on treatment, etc. All of it has us wondering about how to think sensibly about these types of decisions. After …

Hypomania and Sensory Experience

More than a decade ago, Dr. Suzanne Black, who occasionally writes posts on this blog, got me interested in the sensory experiences associated with hypomania.In our Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the only reference to these is under the heading of “distractibility.” And, indeed, sometimes people who are experiencing intense and profound sensory experiences everywhere they look and listen, may have trouble …

Longevity and Having a Purpose in Life

Studies in older adults have suggested that having a sense of purpose in life can add years to longevity. Now researchers have taken a look at the question of whether these beneficial effects occur in younger people. The study looked at a group of 6163 people aged 20 to 75 and followed them for 14 years. They found that having …

Mood Swings – What Causes Them?

What causes mood swings? What do we think about when someone says their mood has been “up and down?”Among the most common causes of mood shifts are the following: A mood disorder such as bipolar, or an atypical depression. Bipolar as a cause is obvious, but an atypical depression can also be associated with mood swings. In the case of bipolar …

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 …

Evolutionary Psychology and Understanding Depression

We are glad to finally have a summary of a fascinating conversation with Dr. Julio Ozores up on this site in our “Conversations” series. Dr. Ozores challenges us to think about depression in a new way. Although many of us struggle with the negative effects of depression in our lives, are (or were) there benefits to depression that have led …

Social Media Makes Moods Go Viral

Previously we reviewed evidence that the people we live with (family, neighbors, even the larger community of people in a metropolitan area) have an effect on our mood, so it is not surprising to learn of a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of California, Yale, and Facebook that found that moods can go viral, just like ideas and …

When the Grown-ups Disappear: On Self-Destructive Behavior

A brilliant young man I know has been stuck in a pattern of self-destructive behavior and constant and terrifying self-criticism. Nothing seems to be helping him get out of this cycle. We have thoughtful conversations about the problem and come up with various solutions but then, the next time we get together, the behavior remains unchanged. I often feel as …

My Motivation Is Gone

Several of the people that I saw this week have been struggling with a loss of motivation. A lack of motivation can be one of the most prominent symptoms of a major depression, but there were other aspects of their loss of motivation that I found fascinating. I asked one of these patients, a man in his 40s who is …

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 …