Forest fire lighting sky

Changing Core Beliefs of Depression

Getting well depends in part on changing core beliefs of depression that often begin to develop early in life. According to recent neuroscience findings, putting together a narrative about who you are is one of the most important parts of mental life. The narrative integrates many dimensions of mind: memory, emotion, thinking, sense perception, awareness, every signal that flows from the farthest reaches of the nervous system into the brain. [...] Read the rest»

powerful dog

Mind Over Pit Bull and Depression

After a family-rich Thanksgiving week, I was hard at work Sunday morning writing a post on the placebo effect when my wife and I decided to take a refreshing walk with our two dogs. We didn’t know it, but we were on our way this foggy morning to a head-to-head confrontation with a stray pit bull. When it was over and I’d had time to catch my breath, I was [...] Read the rest»

Divided Brain Still

The Divided Brain

With the aid of rapid-fire animation, this video on the divided brain illustrates part of a lecture by psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. McGilchrist describes the right and left sides of the brain as helping us navigate two different dimensions of experience but not according to the oversimplified older model of analytical versus intuitive capabilities. [...] Read the rest»

Fractures and Changes

How Does Depression Change You? Can You Ever Be Yourself Again?

Have you ever wondered if multiple episodes of depression change you so much that you’ll never get back to your old self? Most people I hear from say: I want to be myself again. That’s their definition of recovery. Can it happen? I found an interesting discussion about long-term changes in an online journal called Medicographia. The editors posed a question to psychiatrists and researchers from around the world and printed their responses together. Here’s the question: Is the patient really the same after a major depressive episode? Read the rest»

Multi-Colored Pills and Capsules

3 Questions about Antidepressants

If you’re depressed, you will get a prescription for an antidepressant, sooner or later. In fact, medication is likely to be the first treatment you receive, perhaps the only one. Most people are fine with that. They want to feel better fast, and medication seems like the best route. Primary care physicians and psychiatrists prescribe them as a matter of course. Websites for the Mayo Clinic, Stanford, the National Institute [...] Read the rest»

Nervous System Diagram

Depression Gets Physical: Pain, Heart, Bone and Beyond

Just as I was thinking I understood the full range of depression’s impact on my life, I started finding out about links between the mood disorder and some nasty physical problems. I mentioned in this post the prevalence of pain among depressed people seeking treatment from their regular doctors. But depression can do a lot more to your body than inflict pain. It has been linked to coronary heart disease, [...] Read the rest»

Purpose - -Reading by-striatic

Reading as a Form of Depression Therapy

Have you ever heard of bibliotherapy? I’m always trying to identify ways to start working on recovery from depression, but I never thought much about one of the first steps I took – reading. I was surprised to learn that reading books for medical treatment dates to World War II, when it proved effective for wounded veterans. Bibliotherapy also seems to be helpful for depression. Even though I first learned [...] Read the rest»

Why Therapy Can Work: Ideas from Brain Research

Brain research is one of those many scientific fields that I’ll never know much about, but I find it important to get even a limited understanding of the direction of recent findings. It helps me to know, for example, that emotions are generated unconsciously through multiple brain systems before anything gets to awareness. As I wrote in the last post, that opens a different outlook on why it’s so hard [...] Read the rest»