Bipolar

It Shines: Living with Bipolar II Disorder

I’m quick to reflect on high school glory days. It’s pretty silly, seeing as how I’ve not even reached the 10-year reunion mark. Flipping through my old yearbook, I noticed one of my favorite teachers wrote “Dear Beth, calling you a delicate flower would not give justice to your violently cheerful exuberance. It’s been amazing to watch your shifts from scarily giddy to sleepy to gloomy then back again.” I didn’t learn until later that this was a much abbreviated but also decent description of someone with type two Bipolar Disorder. Even with the intensity of my demeanor back then, no one would have pegged that onto a cheerleading prom queen.
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Brain Blogger

How Modern Society Taints Our Circadian Rhythm


The day-night cycle is one of the most defining patterns of life as we know it. We live in a cyclic environment and circadian rhythms are an essential element in the biology of living organisms.

Many physiological processes are synchronized with the day-night cycle, being modulated by environmental timing cues such as sunlight. Our biological clock must detect the cyclic variations in light in order to manage our physiological functions accordingly. To do so, light changes are sensed by specialized cells in the retina called retinal ganglion cells; these retinal photoreceptors receive light and send information to the brain, more specifically to a structure located in the hypothalamus called suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). SCN neurons then convey temporal information to other tissues, producing synchronized circadian rhythms in many of our bodily processes.
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Brain and Behavior

Pillow Talk: You Need More Sleep

“You can sleep when you are dead,” a friend chides.

Offering an awkward chuckle, I was too tired to supply a witty response. In America, we stifle our collective yawn to meet the next pressing deadline. But there is a more important deadline than the latest accounting project: our (sleep) health. For a painful few, sleep is an elusive dream.

In American society, we sacrifice sleep for employment or academic obligations. In competitive academic programs, we brag about the number of all-nighters we pull. Time has chronicled the sleep fatigue of first-year residents and its damning effect on patients.
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Books

Psychology Around the Net: October 8, 2016


If the image didn't give it away...today is my birthday!

I've been celebrating since last night -- not because I'm a person who likes a big deal made out of her birthday, but because I have family members and friends who love me and want to celebrate life with me.

I'm blessed, and I'm eternally grateful for it.

So, while I take a break this morning and check out What Science Has to Say About Being in Your 30s (much of which I'm pretty used to at this point, I'm sure), why don't you check out some of this week's latest in mental health news such as how psychology explains our fear of clowns, how we're sabotaging ourselves during the pursuit of happiness, how our personalities can help us choose the best careers, and more!

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Anxiety and Panic

Banished From the Bed: How to Overcome Sleep Cravings

“Just let me lie in bed for another five minutes,” I groan to my mother.

She mumbles before acquiescing. I turn over, spooning the pillow. We have had this conversation before.

For the anxious and depressed, sleep is our salve. It is a temporary reprieve from uncomfortable memories and feelings.

As I crawl into bed, I justify my sleeping patterns. “Well, lounging in bed may be counter-productive. But at least I am not abusing alcohol or drugs,” I rationalize.
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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: September 10, 2016


On September 11, 2001, four airplanes were hijacked by al-Qaeda and flown into both World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon just outside of Washington, D.C., killing more than 3,000 people, including police officers and firefighters.

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of what we now refer to as 9/11, and people will pause and reflect and grieve just as they have for the past decade and a half.

They will take a moment or two or more to remember those who were senselessly killed during these attacks -- as well as their family members and other loved ones.

I know I, for one, will, too.

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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: September 3, 2016


Here in the U.S., we're currently in the throes of Labor Day Weekend (and I'm at a local music and arts festival, celebrating!).

Labor Day is the first Monday of September, and although it gives us a nice little three-day weekend, it's about much more than that: Labor Day honors our country's labor movement and "constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

So, Happy Labor Day! I hope you're doing something to celebrate all your hard work and, once you get a chance, check out this week's latest in how your mood affects whether you live in the moment or the future, the new warning labels regarding opioid use with other medications, what your choice between iPhones and Androids says about your personality, and more!

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Bipolar

10 Ways to Prevent Mania and Hypomania

Bipolar disorder is one of the most difficult illnesses to treat because by addressing the depression part of the illness, you can inadvertently trigger mania or hypomania. Even in Bipolar II, where the hypomania is less destabilizing than the often-psychotic manic episodes of Bipolar I, persons often experience from a debilitating depression that can’t be lifted by mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Antidepressants, though, can cause a person with bipolar to cycle between hypomania and depression.

I have worked with psychiatrists who were too afraid of cycling to risk using antidepressants for bipolar patients. They put me strictly on mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. However, I did not get well. I stayed depressed, and all original thoughts in my brain vanished.
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Brain and Behavior

How to Become a Morning Person in 5 Steps

Different people prefer to work at different times of the day. Some find themselves most productive in the mornings; other are better as night owls. However, mornings are traditionally seen as the start of everyone’s day. Regardless of whether your body clock is ready for it, you’ll need to adjust to early mornings, especially if you’re in a 9-to-5 job.

You can try temporarily forcing yourself to wake up early in the morning, but it’s difficult if you aren’t fully committed to being a morning person. Want to learn to be a morning person? Here are five psychological tricks to train your brain:

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General

Tips for Sleeping Peacefully While Anxious

Based on my experience, there are two main reasons for trouble sleeping: either you are excited about something or you are anxious about something. I can still vividly remember that night before we as a family were leaving for Washington, DC for the first time.

I was a child then, and the thought of traveling all the way to where the president lives was almost overwhelming for me. I tossed and turned in bed; walked around my room; looked out my window into the dark; and before I knew it, I looked out my window to see the sun rising above the horizon. I finally fell asleep in the car during the more than eight-hour drive to DC.
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