Attentional Bias Modification Prevents Depression

A middle-aged nurse wrestling with depression said she want to do “everything” that she possibly could to improve her mood. She doesn’t have access to therapy through her insurance, and she’s already vigorously pursuing mindfulness practice, but her request reminded me of an article I recently read on Attentional Bias Modification as both a possible treatment of depression and as …

Exercise Keeps Us Young

A recent New York Times article entitled “How Exercise Keeps Us Young” prompted me to write this post. Those of us who are thinking about getting older may find the whole topic discouraging. There seem to be very few cultural models of successful aging (other than not doing it). The New York Times article summarizes a study that appeared in …

CBT for Insomnia Reduces Suicidal Thoughts

CBT for insomnia (CBTi) is clearly preferable to taking sleeping medications for most people. Studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy is associated with greater improvements in sleep quality than sleeping medications, and that those improvements are more durable, and, particularly in the elderly, sleeping medications are associated with significant adverse effects, including an increase in mortality. But it can be a hard …

Welcome to the Jungle

Since Welcome to the Jungle is a book about bipolar written for young adults. And since most people are diagnosed with bipolar as young adults, often thrown into a world of confusingly contradictory information, needing to suddenly understand a complicated condition, and make important self care decisions, when they have only recently started living independently, we thought this book could …

Exercise and Stress – How Exercise Prevents Depression

Exercise seems to reduce stress. But how does this work? And what about exercise effects on depression? An article in the New York Times summarizes a recent publication in the journal Cell which may explain how exercise prevents depression. A wealth of research shows that regular exercise reduces the risk of depression. A very large study in Britain, for example, suggested that …

Robin Williams: Preparing for Depression – Lyndsey

Much has been made of Robin Williams’ ongoing struggle with darkness culminating with his suicide after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. People have commented mostly on how confusing it seems that someone who gave so much laughter could be visited by such exquisite pain. But we bipolars know all about this. It’s almost like living with two distinct personalities in …

Working with a Psychiatrist Effectively

If you are a psychiatrist, sometimes you have an opportunity to experience a response to treatment that seems like a miracle. But when miracles don’t happen, what are strategies for working with a psychiatrist effectively? Early in my career, the serotonin re-uptake inhibitors SSRIs) were released, and I had a chance to see a number of people who had given up hope …

Foundations of Wellbeing

Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing online seminar is going to help 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 …

Mood Charting Part 1

“My medications work for a while and then they just stop working…” “I have tried everything and nothing works…” “I have been in treatment forever but I just never seem to get better…” In our experience these very common concerns are often symptoms of an everyday problem in psychiatric treatment of mood disorders: it is very hard in a traditional …

Mindfulness and Impermanency: The Practice of Acknowledging the Temporary – Arnrow

After reading this article by TV producer-turned-mindful meditation enthusiast, Mark Koberg, I have been reflecting on how my awareness of permanency, or rather, lack thereof, in my life affects my overall day-to-day experiences. In his account, Koberg shares how a medical diagnosis and a newfound indifference to the career he had been building all of his adulthood ensued a journey …

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 …

Quitting Smoking Improves Mood

A study published in the British Medical Journal reports that quitting smoking had a simillar positive effect on mood as an antidepressant. The researchers did an analysis of 26 studies using a technique called a “meta-analysis” and looked at changes in mental health (anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, quality of life, positive affect, and stress) at ≥6 weeks’ post–smoking cessation …

Internet Therapies Generate Interest

There is increasing interest in “apps” that can support mental health (one of our most enthusiastic readers recently posted a query on this topic on the forum). Apps are rarely intended to deliver “therapy” – they are usually not written by mental health professionals (although mental health professionals may be consulted along the way). Their goal is to be appealing …

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 …