Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is the relaxation technique that I have had the most success with, (and I have tried many of them!) – by that we mean a technique to help in the moment with stress and anxiety, as opposed to something like mindfulness meditation or another meditation technique, which works best as a regular practice that over time reduces anxiety. …

Hope

Find Hope Despite Adversity

Finding hope can feel miraculous when wrestling with the endless challenges of any chronic illness, including depression. At the end of a long week struggling to help others I ran across an article by a psychiatrist who has thought long and hard about the sources of hope, and felt the wonderful sense of renewal that hope brings to the beleaguered. …

Mood Planning – Gina

Mood planning is an activity that is closely aligned with the goal of this website: helping people to live creatively with moods.  Having a plan in place ahead to time for when you notice warning signs or full symptoms of mania can minimize the negative impact a mood episode can have on your life. I often work with patients in …

Supercharge Your Circadian Rhythms

Why a post about how to supercharge your circadian rhythms? The fact is that for a lot of us our bodies and our brains have a hard time adapting to modern life and the result is poor quality sleep, daytime fatigue, and, for some, depression. What Are Circadian Rhythms? Circadian rhythms are what allow your body to go from vigorous …

How High is High?

We met a few days ago with one of our favorite people. She’s a writer and an artist and she has been gradually reducing some of her medications to see whether the combination of more diligent self-care and a lower dose of medications can lead to better quality of life and a return of some of her creative capacities. This …

Fear of Catastrophe

Fear of Catastrophe

How to respond to the fear of catastrophe? Many people are having trouble getting to sleep these days. Fear of catastrophe has reemerged as we contemplate the craziness of nuclear war. This seems like a good time to review what we know about situations where there is the potential for something really bad to happen but the magnitude and nature of that …

Pets and Mental Health – Gina

As I write this article about pets and mental health, I sit next to my 4 year old dog, Rufus. I am regularly reminded in my daily life of the valuable role pets can play in our lives. Pets can play a huge role in providing support and have been shown to have both physical and psychological benefits in the …

Successful Job Hunting

A young man in the tech industry who worked with me for nearly a decade got me started thinking about the key to successful job hunting. The tech industry is notorious for its high turnover and this young man enjoyed working in startups, where the turnover is even greater. As a result, he found himself looking for work every year …

Ready for Change

Ready for Change?

Getting Ready for Change The process of getting ready for change has been the focus of the research of James Prochaska for the last 40 years. James O. Prochaska and Carlo Di Clemente, developed the Transtheoretical Model for change (TTM), which is the most widely accepted framework for understanding change in the mental health and substance use treatment communities. They found …

Nature and Wellbeing – Gina

Nature and Wellbeing Many patients I work with speak of the value that nature plays in their lives and I can say that I also strongly relate to the value it plays in my own. Through personal experience and repeated accounts from others, I have seen how nature can improve moods, increase feelings of connectedness, and impact thought patterns. More …

Radical Acceptance and Coping with Bipolar Disorder – Gina

What is radical acceptance? Radical acceptance is an approach named by Marsha Linehan, PhD who created Dialectical Behavior Therapy that is about completely and totally accepting something, stopping the fight against reality, and ultimately, suffering less. Things will regularly happen in our lives that are outside of our control, such as having a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or experiencing a …

Mood Trends

  Mood trends are useful to track in order to prevent a full blown episode of depression, hypomania or mania. I think of them as equivalent to the idea of a falling or rising barometer. Before satellites and modern weather forecasting, whether the barometer was rising or falling was the best predictor of the weather. If the barometer was rising …

Hope and Self Efficacy – Gina

Believing you can create change in your life is the foundation for successfully making the change. Self efficacy is the sense that you can make change and thus hope and self-efficacy are intimately connected. Often people with bipolar or depression are overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness. They feel stuck and unable to manage their moods. And yet a great deal of research shows …

Recovery from Bipolar

Planning for Recovery from Bipolar I recently came across a great account from a man living with Bipolar Disorder, Steven Propst. In an insightful and direct way, he describes what recovery has looked like for him and helpful steps in finding it for yourself. By examining the importance of accepting his diagnosis, gathering information to cope with his ups and …

Bipolar 101 – The Basics and Beyond

Bipolar 101, an online course hosted by Gateway Psychiatric begins March 17, 2017: Bipolar 101 – The Basics and Beyond. The class is based on the acclaimed Barcelona Bipolar Disorders Program. Bipolar 101 – An online course will cover topics such as: “What is Bipolar?” – What do we know about the causes and what are the implications of this information. …

Harm Reduction

Reducing the Harm of Substances in Your Life: A Harm Reduction Approach Have you noticed that your substance use is impacting your mood, relationships, or work? Are you looking to reduce the negative impact substances are playing in your life? Harm Reduction methods can be useful in exploring ways to prevent harm and reduce risks in your life caused by …

Starting the New Year Right

Starting Off the New Year Right: 5 Areas of Your Life to Implement Self-Care As we start off the new year it’s important to remember the value of taking care of ourselves and engaging in regular self-care. Our mood, anxiety, substance use and relationships can be greatly impacted by stress levels and self-care is an important way of supporting ourselves …