Hunger Regulation

Recently several folks have asked us questions about diet, hunger, weight gain, and nutrition. Certainly for many people with depression, gaining weight is an important issue, both as a cause and consequence of depression. Let’s begin by trying to make some sense of hunger. In other posts we will be talking about how stress and the hormone system relates to …

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 …

Memory, Stress and Aging

Many older people are concerned about impaired memory, and the relationship between memory, stress, and aging can be difficult to untangle. Obviously worry about memory problems can be a source of anxiety and stress. But can stress and anxiety be a cause of memory problems? And if so what can be done about it? Elsewhere we will be talking about …

Proactivity

Proactive behavior refers to actions taken that are forward thinking, that anticipate future problems, and are aimed at avoiding those problems. They are focused on changing the environment for the better. Proactivity contrasts with reactivity as an approach to challenges. Reactive behavior is about dealing with the crisis that is present right now. Reactivity also often is associated with a wish …

Leaving War Behind

I spent many sessions working with a successful entrepreneur to try to help him cope better with stress and depression. His problems seem to be neatly encapsulated in Joseph Campbell’s notion of the Hero. Like all of the heroes in the past, he set out as a young man to make fame and fortune and to change the world for …

Stress Free and Happy

It can be extremely difficult to lead a balanced lifestyle. When we are driven to reach a goal, it is easy to become stressed and obsessed with reaching a particular outcome.  At what point does all the stress start to have a negative impact on our personal happiness? It is great to have ambitions and to work hard to reach …

Sleep Strategies

One of the most frequent causes of insomnia is anxiety. Insomnia of this kind is caused by increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system at night. The body releases norepinephrine (the flight or fight hormone) at night when that system should be inactive. You wake up and you feel “wide awake.” A current patient of Dr. Forster’s is having difficulty sleeping …

Stress, Resilience and the Neurobiology of Depression

Dr. Eric Nestler, M.D. believes that when it comes to treating depression, we should be doing better.  Less than half of those with depression get better after receiving maximum treatment. Dr. Nestler describes depression as a broad syndrome hat involves many different diseases. Because the specific causes of depression cannot be identified, this disorder is difficult to treat. In order …

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 …

Awareness and Acceptance

The New York Times has had a series of well written articles on the topic of mindfulness. The most recent article notes that brain scans show that mindfulness can change the way our brains function, and help us improve attention, reduce stress hormones and even bounce back faster from negative information. The increased ability to bounce back from negative information that comes from …

Kindling

What do small sticks used to start a fire have to do with bipolar moods? Not much… Kindling in the context of this post refers to a phenomenon that is well documented in some people with seizure disorders and which may have relevance to some people with bipolar moods. Bob Post, who was for many years Chief of the Biological …

On the Borderline

I am writing a presentation for the UCSF Bipolar Program on the topic of the relationship between Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder and I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts in a quick post. Borderline personality disorder involves a “pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity” which begins by early adulthood …

Needing to be Perfect

The need to be perfect is one of the “dangerous ideas” that can destroy a life. It often comes from the fear of abandonment that all of us have, and which can be easily activated in childhood by a mismatch in personality with one’s parent. A wonderful, smart, attractive, funny, energetic woman talked with us about her experience of this. …

WorkSurfing

The New York Times recently published an intriguing article entitled “Relax, You Will Be More Effective.” It arrived at just the right time. Preparing for an upcoming vacation had made me particularly hectic. And then, while I was on vacation and writing this post, I got a blog post from MoodScope which was devoted to the importance of taking regular …

Trickster Brain

If you want to figure out if something is true or not, you’re probably better off not going to a psychiatrist. Therapists really have no greater ability to decipher what the truth is than anyone else. On the other hand, if you go to see a decent, “good enough” therapist, with enough experience working with people, he or she might …

10% of Americans Suffered Childhood Sexual Abuse

Approximately 10 percent of American adults were sexually abused as children, according to a study reported in Comprehensive Psychiatry. They are more at risk of psychopathology and suicide attempts than are adults who were not sexually abused as children. This study fits with other evidence. The global prevalence of child sexual abuse has been estimated at 19.7% for females and 7.9% for males, based …

Meditate!

Rick Hanson has a wonderful blog of practices that will help you achieve excellent mental health. We encourage you to subscribe to his newsletter (Just One Thing). We were inspired to share with you a summary of last week’s email. It is devoted to one of the five most useful practices – meditation. Meditation increases grey matter in a number of …