Children at Risk for Depression

James Hudziak, and other researchers, presented information suggesting a strategy for improving brain health, and reducing anxiety and depression in children at risk for these conditions at the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. We have previously mentioned in this blog another excellent resource for information on bipolar, Bipolar Network News, and this information is summarized …

TV Watching Leads to Impaired Cognition

How can we build up foundational, long-lasting healthy habits while young? We know it’s important—a perennial question, if not one we face day-to-day. By building those habits early on, we can set ourselves up for healthier living long-term, and place our children on a better track for a healthier, more positive adolescence and early adulthood. In fact, the habits we …

Aerobic Exercise Stimulates Neuron Growth

Moderate aerobic exercise appears to be the best form of exercise to stimulate neuron growth. One of the great challenges facing anyone who has wrestled with depression is how best to counteract the negative effects on brain development and cognitive function that have clearly been linked to recurrent depression. Depression leads directly to reductions in the brain’s growth hormone (brain …

Preventing Cognitive Decline

Preventing cognitive decline is possible, and the solution may not involve fancy new medications with unknown side effects. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association cites numerous studies that argue that the brain changes that have been the focus of so much attention (neurofibrillary tangles and plaques) are not the whole story. Pathology is not destiny. So …

Thankfulness – A Meditation

On this Thanksgiving 2015 we received a link to the section of Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing course that talks about thankfulness and gratitude. Rick talks about how thankfulness and gratitude promote long term well-being, reduces anxiety, and improves mood. He introduces the notion that it is possible to grow this sense and change our own experience, and perhaps change …

Mindfulness Apps Updated

Mindfulness Apps Updated We have updated our mindfulness links based on a nice review in the New York Times. The reviewer suggests starting with one of the two apps (both available on iPhone and android) that has a complete program for beginners – Calm or Headspace. We particularly liked the fact that the reviewer pointed to the very personal aspects …

Self Affirmations by Songify

A good friend and colleague suggested a new technique for “self affirmations.” A technique which makes something that can seem ponderous, but is also a powerful technique for positive change, seem like a lot more fun… Self affirmations are things that you tell yourself about yourself and the world. In psychological terms, they are about reshaping our constant internal dialog through …

Mind Maps and Post Its

Stuck with a problem that you can’t figure out? Having trouble generating ideas? One of the things that the mind is very good at is coming up with potential pitfalls. And all of us have found ourselves trapped with recurring negative thoughts that make it hard to do any creative thinking. Sometimes changing the process or framework for thinking about …

Distress Tolerance

In A wonderful young woman we have been seeing for a few months asked for some recommendations for skills to help her deal with her experience of moments of overwhelming negative emotions that often seem to come out of nowhere. This post is a relatively quickly pulled together document derived from Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Think of it as a “draft” …

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 …