Mind Body Issues

Health problems fundamentally challenge our sense of self and safety in the world. Those people who are able to maintain equanimity in the face of medical disease and aging are truly admirable. There must be about a million articles about how to accomplish this – so I am not sure that what I have to say adds much to the literature – …

How Could Light Help?

There has been considerable skepticism about the value of light therapy for people with seasonal depression, despite a very compelling research literature. Perhaps this might, in part, be because the way that light might affect mood has not been clear. In a recently published animal study, change in light exposure increases stress hormones, depresses mood, and impairs learning through changes light …

Traveling

Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be very stressful. It is particularly important for people living with moods to do prepare for travel before they leave. A surprisingly high percentage of serious mood catastrophes, in our experience, happen during trips. And they are almost always preventable. First, if your traveling to some place without good medical care, it’s a …

Money and Security

How much money does it take for someone to feel really secure? This seems like a sensible question. Certainly, many of us have been dealing with  insecurity because of a lack of money. In other words, there is a relationship between money and security. On the other hand, over the years, we have never run into anyone who managed to …

All About Happy: Resources

What makes us happy? How can we have more happiness? Is happiness just the absence of sadness and depression? These are some of the questions that are addressed in an entertaining, informative and inspiring movie called “.” Some ideas we saw – 50% of our happiness is determined by genes, 10% is related to life circumstances (financial situation, what country …

Retraumatization

After nearly 20 years of work in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder, one thing that continues to trouble and baffle me is the phenomena that was described by Freud as the repetition compulsion.  Why is it that people who have been victimized in terrible ways are at much higher risk of being victimized again.  One would think that they would be …

Disaster’s Aftermath

The recent hurricane that hit New Jersey and New York reminded us of the research on the aftermath of disaster conducted by a friend and colleague, Kent Harber, PhD. Kent has been very interested in posttraumatic stress disorder, and in particular, the work of Dr. James Pennebaker, on the value of sharing one’s story in the aftermath of trauma. Jim …

The Different Types of Vacations

This past weekend, we were at a Halloween party talking to a computer engineer who recently moved here from Holland.  The topic turned to a discussion of things that are unusual about Americans, in particular,  the American relationship to work and vacations.  We take less vacation than almost any industrialized country in the world.  Of course, we think it’s responsible …

Sick of Vacation

Hard working professionals go on vacation and immediately get sick. This doesn’t happen just once, it is regular and reliable. What is going on? If this has happened to you, you are getting a crash course on the physiology of the body’s stress response system, and some of its flaws. It was developed to deal with very different problems than …

Performance Anxiety

Fear of public speaking and performance anxiety are very common things. Probably almost all of us have had the experience of desperately wishing to relax before a presentation. This may be a situation where you should be careful of what you wish for.When I was younger I had a terrible fear of speaking in public. And my first job out …

When the Pressure Builds

We all have stress. It is a natural part of life. The level of stress in your life may vary from moment to moment. Some folks are more sensitive to stress and others may shrug it off, choosing to find contentment with whatever hand they are dealt in a happy-go-lucky fashion. Whatever your stress management style, it’s important to just …

Bad Memories

Unstable moods and bad memories seem to go together. In the clinic where many of us work we have noticed how often it is that folks who we see with bipolar have had traumatic experiences in childhood. Why that happens is speculation. But we do know that dealing with those experiences can be very, very hard, and, potentially, life transforming. …

The Heart of Evil

We have had the experience of feeling that we were in the presence of evil. A sense of foreboding, a shiver that involuntarily runs down the spine. An awareness that our expectations of rational behavior in others may be misplaced. As we have experienced it evil may be clever, but it is not creative. At its heart lies fear. Fear …

Francine Shapiro: EMDR – A Crazy Idea that Works

As a young psychiatrist I was interested in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD – psychological reactions to severe traumatic events) and did a research fellowship on the subject with Charles Marmar at the San Francisco VA Hospital. One Thursday morning, during our regular clinical case conference, we had a woman come in to tell us about her recently discovered technique for …