“The Dr. Denise Show” Podcast (She’s an Awesome Holistic Psychiatrist!)

Dr. Denise and her beloved dog Boomer

Happy Friday, my friends!

When I received a confirmation email from psychiatrist Dr. Denise McDermott that I’d be a guest on her show, I was nervous. Then I freaked and considered canceling. You see, before I had contacted her to be a guest, I checked out her credentials and they were impressive and intimidating!

When I listened to her podcast archives I felt better. She was warm, personable, and nothing like 99% of the psychiatrists I’ve encountered. Dr. Denise believes in the mind-body-spirit connection. 

Dr. Denise believes in the mind-body-spirit connection. She’s traditionally trained—I’m not saying she’s a mega-granola-eating, patchouli-drenched physician-hippie (a “phippie”??!!), BUT she believes in combining allopathic and holistic approaches. She’s a proponent of using the least amount of meds necessary. That is very cool.

As soon as we began recording our podcast, Dr. Denise completely set me at ease. We just jumped right in and I felt like I was talking with a friend. There was none of that lofty “pdoc” attitude (i.e. “I’m an M.D. and I’m clearly better than you! You’re a M.D.-degree-less nothing!”)

We’re about the same age and we share some of the same cultural references, plus she’s based in Southern California and some of you know that’s where I grew up. 

Click here for the link to our podcast.

Dr. Denise’s E-Book

Dr. Denise shares how our thoughts, feelings, and actions coupled with our DNA determine our sense of happiness and wellbeing. We hope this ebook will inspire you to embrace your mental wellness and take a new stand for your mental health – feeling empowered and strong no matter what challenge you or your loved ones are faced with right now in your life.

My Amazon Review:

November 11, 2017: Verified Purchase

As a mom with postpartum bipolar disorder, I found Mental Health and How to Thrive such an uplifting, fascinating read. It was refreshing to read a psychiatrist’s perspective on spirit, mind, and body instead of taking of a purely clinical, boring approach. Dr. McDermott packs so much into this short book.
Learn about the word “neurostyle” Dr. McDermott prefers to use instead of other terms typically used for mental illness. She explains how it’s possible to thrive through crisis and go above and beyond surviving. She discusses a variety of mood disorders (a.k.a neurostyles) in children and adults, and she stresses the importance of incorporating mindfulness into one’s life. Other chapters examine how sleep affects mental health, a family peace plan (one of my favorites!) and essentials for mental health. I highly recommend this fantastic book to anyone seeking better mental health.

Visit Dr. Denise on Twitter

(She has lots of beautiful & inspiring tweets with stunning images & thought-provoking quotes!)

@DrDeniseMD

Click the links below to connect with:

Dr. Denise on Facebook 

Dr. Denise’s Website

As a famous bunny once said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend & see you next Friday!

Love,

Dyane

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

Foreword by the perinatal psychiatrist and acclaimed author Dr. Carol Henshaw. Available on Amazon in paperback & Kindle versions!

 

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My Q & A with Postpartum Psychosis Advocate/Author Jennifer Moyer

 

Dear Friends,

Recently I was honored to be asked by Jennifer Moyer to do a Q & A for her blog.

Several years ago I found Jennifer’s book A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness: A Story About Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis in which she not only suffered from postpartum psychosis but was ultimately diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

I urge you to get a copy and read it.

I wrote the following 5-star review on Amazon:

I found A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness to be a clear and very compelling memoir. I commend Jennifer Hentz Moyer for her longtime dedication for writing about her suffering as well as her triumphs after being diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.

As a mother who was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder (PPBD), I took a particular interest in Jennifer’s story. She was not only was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis but ultimately bipolar disorder, postpartum onset. I felt so inspired after reading her book and it will help many women who face the agony of a postpartum mental illness as well as stigma. I discovered Jennifer while reading her profile in the acclaimed book Back from the Brink: True Stories and Practical Help for Overcoming Depression and Bipolar Disorder by Graeme Cowan.”

 

Jennifer and her loving family

Please go to this link to read the Q & A on Jennifer’s blog, and if you could leave a comment so Jennifer & I know you stopped by, that would be awesome!

Have a good weekend, 

Love,

Dyane

p.s. On Wednesday our local paper Good Times published Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld’s article about my book Birth of a New Brain. I took a hideous picture; I’m not photogenic like Miss Lucy, but the article is great!

http://goodtimes.sc/santa-cruz-news/dyane-harwood-postpartum-bipolar/#respond

 

Miss Lucy “I Can’t Take A Bad Picture” Harwood 

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw, now available on Amazon.

My “Psych Byte” Webinar for the International Bipolar Foundation

 

It’s the day after Thanksgiving at dawn. I’m watching a beautiful orange-gold sunrise while Lucy is chomping her dog food and everyone else is asleep. I hope your Thanksgiving went as well as possible. For those of you in other countries, I hope your week has been a good one.

This will be a short post, but you have the option of watching a “Psych Byte” YouTube video I recorded last month.

What’s a Psych Byte?

It’s a mini-webinar series produced by the International Bipolar Foundation. I was asked to participate last year and I nervously accepted because I was told my discussion could be as short as 15-20 minutes.

Pre-recorded webinars can be heavily edited or recorded in one take with minimal or no editing. Once I started recording the Psych Byte, I had to keep going—there was a little editing done, I believe, but not much. There are mistakes galore, but I like to think that makes the talk more interesting and authentic! At least I don’t think I used any potty language!

If you give it a listen, I hope you learn something new. If you could please “like” and share the YouTube link that would be awesome. The more positive response, the more likely the International Bipolar Foundation will note the need to share more information about postpartum bipolar disorder & how it relates to postpartum psychosis.

Also, if you’ve read my book and found it to be a worthy read, please review it on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I’ll be very grateful to you!

Take care & have a good weekend!!

Love,

Dyane

 

 

 

 

 

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw, now available on Amazon.

I Get By With A Little Help From My (Famous) Friends

My most famous friend of all, Lucy with her new hedgehog “baby”

 

Happy Friday!

I’m sitting at a table at La Placa Bakery. La Placa is an amazing pastry/gelato wonderland recently purchased by a family from Sicily. It’s responsible for my gaining at least ten (maybe 12 15) pounds. Yes, it’s all La Placa’s fault I gained a muffin top, certainly not mine.

Anyway, last week I was having a blah day. I jumped online for a teeny, tiny hit of serotonin that supposedly activates when one checks Twitter. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Imagine my astonishment when I noticed the comic/actor/author Jay Mohr had tweeted this gem to his 333 thousand followers!!!

 

 

While Jay’s generous, wonderful tweet didn’t result in an immediate explosion of my book sales, it didn’t matter. His belief in my book and his contribution of the preface are two of the best gifts I’ve ever received, bar none. 

Jay’s at the helm of a couple dynamic podcasts on Podcast One—America’s Lakers and the acclaimed Mohr Stories 

Speaking of podcasts, I want to promote my friends Rebecca Lombardo and the holistic psychiatrist Dr. Denise McDermott.

Rebecca, who has bipolar disorder is an author, podcast host, and a mental health advocate, plus she has a social media promotion business. I’m sure I’m leaving something important out about her, but please trust me when I say she’s super cool! She’s a big Twitter fan; follow her at: @BekaLombardo. Rebecca will be a guest on the Dr. Denise Show podcast, which premieres tonight, and I encourage you to listen! Dr. Denise is also a Twitter fan and tweets many positive and beautiful messages—follow her at: @DrDeniseMD

Rebecca Lombardo, co-host of Voices for Change 2.0 with her husband Joe

Twitter: @Voices4ChangeRJ 

The vivacious, progressive Dr. Denise and her magnificent dog Boomer

Here’s the link to the Dr. Denise podcast.

I apologize for this post being rushed. I’m sure there are typos galore, but at least it will be much shorter than my usual novella.

In twenty minutes I’m meeting with the facility coordinator who manages the venue where I’ll speak in December. My next talk will be slightly different than my October library presentation. I need to jazz it up a bit! (But I draw the line at pole dancing or hula hooping.) I’m not sure what I’ll be doing just yet, but I’ll do my best to get it recorded so you can see what I wind up doing.

 

Okay, it’s WordPress publication time, but before I press that little blue “Publish” button I have a little more to write. I know the start of the holiday season is rough for most of us and most likely that’s putting it mildly.

Ever since my father died in 2009, Thanksgiving has not been the same. He loved that holiday so much, so I miss him more during Thanksgiving than the other days of the year.

If you’re going through a similar struggle, I send you an extra big hug, and no matter what you’re facing, I implore you to take care of yourself. Thanks so much for reading and for taking time to “like” and comment.

Lots of love,

Dyane “Typo Sinner” Harwood

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw, now available on Amazon.

My Lunch with Spalding Gray

Spalding Gray

June 5, 1941 – January 11, 2004

 

In my last post, I wrote about a memoir by Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review. When I read Ms. Paul’s memoir My Life with Bob, I discovered we both were fans of the acclaimed actor/author Spalding Gray.

Ms. Paul wrote of her fervent desire to have lunch with Spalding Gray, but that never came to pass. However, I did have lunch with him, but my time with the brilliant raconteur did not go well.

I wrote about my miserable lunch with Spalding Gray. It’s preceded by an account of my first “grown-up” job and my chronic dysthymia, now known as persistent depressive disorder. How I wish we could do our lunch over again in 2017. He’d still be with us, a grandfather perhaps. I’d be 100% more confident compared to how I felt in 1992.

While it’s not exactly an uplifting read, I hope you find it interesting.

 

 

I drank my first cup of coffee at age twenty-two.

The momentous event occurred on day one of my entry-level, full-time job. I had been hired to be the office manager of Silicon Events, a special event production company. After years of part-time jobs, it was a shock to suddenly work a long stretch of tense, busy hours five days a week. I was slow to get going at the 8:30 a.m. starting time, but once I drank that first cup of coffee, I became much peppier thanks to the zip of caffeine. Moreover, I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed the taste of French roast. My love affair with java had begun, and I took full advantage of the Mr. Coffee machine located five feet from my desk. 

Because Silicon Events had a skeleton crew of four employees, each of us did a myriad of duties. The lion’s share of my job included standard office tasks such as accounting, filing, and answering phones. As time went on, my responsibilities became more diverse, challenging and interesting, especially when I began working at our summer events.

I assisted Colin, the dark-haired, slightly stocky director, and his wife Sheryl, the company’s creative director. She was a beautiful olive-skinned blonde with expressive brown eyes. I worked alongside the development coordinator named Blake, a tall surfer who was atypically driven compared to the other laid-back Santa Cruz surfers I knew.

Our office was a three-hundred-square-foot room, and since we didn’t have cubicles, we could overhear one another’s phone conversations. While sound barriers would’ve helped, they also would’ve made the small room even more cramped. We eventually got used to blocking out the others’ voices, and Colin was often out of the office, resulting in one less distraction.

My job kept me on my toes, literally and figuratively. Silicon Events produced weekend musical events in Silicon Valley that attracted thousands of attendees. These festivals featured world-famous musicians such as Etta James and Crosby & Nash. Due to his former career in the concert industry, Colin was well connected in the music business and he had an outstanding reputation.

This was my first experience working closely with a perfectionist. One of my primary duties was answering the phone. Our callers ranged from big-time talent agents who represented Ray Charles and Willie Nelson to mellow Santa Cruz shaved ice vendors hoping to rent a booth at our next festival. None of them knew we worked out of an office not much bigger than a closet.

Colin wanted his staff to be professional and give callers the impression we worked in a sophisticated agency. If I made a mistake during a conversation, he’d usually overhear me and brusquely correct me the moment I hung up the phone. At least he didn’t yell, but I felt humiliated and stupid for making errors. I was young and new to office procedures—it was to be expected I’d need time to learn. After a couple of months, I finally started getting the hang of the policies and I became a valued member of the company.

I loved working with Sheryl. She was funny, creative, and caring, and she complimented me on my hard work, attention to detail, and my interpersonal skills. I never grew tired of Sheryl’s appreciation of my strengths. Her faith in my abilities boosted my confidence. I knew how lucky I was to have her in my corner.

Blake was only a couple years older than me and he became a brother figure. Like Sheryl, he was a blast to work with and the three of us often joked around. Blake was always willing to help me with a work project if I hit a snag. I frequently picked his exceptionally intelligent brain. I knew he was bound for greatness and I turned out to be correct; ten years later he’d become a successful district attorney.

Blake and I thrived in our first “grown-up” jobs, and we operated as a family unit more than as a staff. There was dysfunction among us, as there is with any family, but I worked at the company for over four years.

At work, I developed good relationships with a variety of people including talent agents, government agency representatives, and media contacts. I coordinated hundreds of food, art and craft vendors who participated in the annual summer festivals we produced. What kept me from looking for another job was feeling valued, interacting with talented people, and the excitement of producing a special event.

However, the start of almost every workday, a thick depression would hit me hard. At 8:00 a.m. I’d sit in my Jetta in the parking lot, dreading the moment I’d have to force myself to walk twenty feet to the office where I’d don a fake smile. As anyone could imagine, it was exhausting to live that way on a daily basis. No one ever questioned me about my mood, and I was relieved I wasn’t found out outright. I worried if I revealed how bad I felt, I’d lose my job. I didn’t confide in friends or family nor did I seek counseling, which would have been immensely helpful. My only outlet was writing in my journals.

When I sat down in my chair to begin work, I was able to ignore my low mood. I drank a few cups of coffee and the buzz helped lift me out of lethargy. Being busy helped me to stop ruminating about how terrible I felt. When I answered the phones I faked an upbeat tone, calling upon my latent acting talent to be as convincing as possible. I returned home each night to my beloved Sheltie dog Tara, my journal, and an empty studio, pessimistic and deeply lonely.

Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts

 

One fall morning at work I found out Spalding Gray, one of my favorite authors, would be performing at Villa Montalvo. The villa was a stunning Italian Mediterranean-style mansion nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Villa Montalvo was an ideal place to see a performance and the expensive ticket prices didn’t stop the venue from quickly selling out every show.

Spalding Gray was known for his signature monologues in which he sat behind a plain wooden desk on an empty, dim stage. His performances include Swimming to Cambodia about his experience filming The Killing Fields, Monster In A Box about writing his only novel, and Gray’s Anatomy about his diagnosis with a rare ocular condition called “macular pucker” which can cause blurred, distorted vision.

He often played the role of a doctor in films due to his intellectual air, a shock of white hair and his trademark Rhode Island accent. Producer/actress Fran Drescher handpicked him to play the psychiatrist in her hit television show The Nanny. Spalding Grays’ performance as the Stage Manager in a revival of Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town was so outstanding it would’ve made Thornton Wilder proud.

A couple of years before his Villa Montalvo visit, I attended Spalding Gray’s sold-out Santa Cruz show Monster In A Box. The audience was riveted during his performance—you really could’ve heard a pin drop in that room. He had an endearing, fascinating quality about him. It was incredible to observe how he seamlessly incorporated humor, pathos, and brilliant insights. Despite some disturbing truths he had revealed about himself in his monologues and books, Spalding Gray inspired me.

Despite some disturbing truths he had revealed about himself in his monologues and books, Spalding Gray inspired me.

Silicon Events worked for Villa Montalvo, and I didn’t hesitate to ask if I could serve as Spalding Gray’s production assistant. After being granted permission, I helped fulfill his production rider (contract) requirements. Some performers’ riders could contain notoriously high-maintenance demands such as providing a bowl of a particular color M&M candy in the dressing room. Luckily Spalding Gray’s rider requirements weren’t too difficult. There were only a few slightly unusual requests such as hiring a shiatsu masseuse to help relax him before his show.

The day Spalding Gray came to town, I rented a new gold Pathfinder (my dream car at the time) at my expense. My Jetta was showing its wear and I thought I could impress Spalding Gray with a nice car! I nervously drove to his hotel to pick him up and take him to lunch at the Good Earth restaurant in affluent Los Gatos.

To my utter humiliation and disappointment, our meal was a horror show.

After we had sat down, I puffed up with pride and said magnanimously, “Mr. Gray, I’m treating you to lunch! Get whatever you’d like!”

He murmured a distracted “thanks” as his eyes perused the menu.

I’m sure he assumed Villa Montalvo was treating him. Perhaps if he knew I was paying out of my meager pocket, he might have softened a bit.

My attempt to appear calm didn’t work. Rivulets of sweat from my armpits created dark shadows on my pretty silk pink blouse. As we sat across from one another at a small table in the harsh sunlight, I was in such a dither that he got visibly annoyed with me.

He declared, “You’re jagged!”

Jagged? What the hell kind of word is jagged? I thought.

It was apparent from Spalding Gray’s derisive tone that being jagged was most definitely not a good thing. My face flamed red and beads of sweat popped out on my upper lip. I wanted to sprint out the restaurant door and run twenty-two miles to Santa Cruz so I could hide in my studio.

I didn’t know what retort I could make, so I went with my old standby.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, unable to meet his eyes.

I hastily finished my cashew chicken salad sandwich and strawberry fruit smoothie. He had ordered the same entrée as me. We busied ourselves eating since our conversation had taken its nosedive. I was surprised no one recognized him – maybe people were scared to ask for autographs because of the negative energy surrounding us.

While I might have gotten away with being “jagged” with another actor, Spalding Gray was known for his moodiness. I naïvely thought I could charm the actor. However, I didn’t anticipate I’d become so jittery I’d alienate him.

After lunch, I brought the actor back to his hotel so he could have a shiatsu massage I had arranged with “Yoko.” I was exhausted from our brief interchange, but there was still work to do. After the show, I went backstage and met Spalding Gray’s girlfriend and work partner Kathie Russo. She was lovely, gracious, and welcoming to all of Spalding Gray’s fans, even the jagged ones.

Spalding Gray and Kathie Russo

 

Although our time together had been an ordeal, my shame melted over time and I continued to keep up with Spalding Gray’s new books and films. I read about his early years in which his mother, a Christian Scientist who had untreated bipolar disorder, died by suicide. I read that Spalding Gray suffered from recurring depression and some of his physicians suspected he might have bipolar disorder. Then I read about his horrific car accident in 2001.

While traveling in Ireland, Spalding Gray was in a car crash in which he had terrible injuries including a skull fracture. He fell into a deep depression following the accident. He consulted with the famous neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, the doctor portrayed by Robin Williams in the Academy Award-nominated film Awakenings. His general outlook grew worse and in 2004, he went missing. At age sixty-two, Spalding Gray jumped off the Staten Island Ferry to his death in the freezing water, but it took two months for his body to be found. His family was agony as they waited for the news. He left behind Kathie, their two sons, and his stepdaughter.

When I heard the news about Spalding Gray’s death, my first thought was, What a horrible, horrible way to die! I felt so sorry for his family, especially since it took such a long time for them to learn what had happened to him. No wife or child should ever go through such hell.

I hope with all my heart he is now at peace.

One of my favorite Spalding Gray books: Morning, Noon and Night

 

 

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw, now available on Amazon.

Writing Rejection Strikes Before Publication Day!

When I read this quote my first thought was:

“Whoa…Sylvia Plath must have been manic when she wrote that!”

 

(Please note: this post was written before the Las Vegas tragedy.)

 

 

I know that things could be worse in my life.

Much, much worse.

Those of you familiar with my background know what events I’m referring to, but for those of you who are new to my blog, here’s the backstory:

I’ve been a revolving door hospital patient. I suffered from treatment-resistant bipolar depression for seven years, I’ve been suicidal, and I’ve had two rounds of electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy.

After all that, one would assume a writing rejection is not that big a deal.

Right?

Wrong.

This particular rejection really got to me. I thought my submission was good—it wasn’t amazing, but I felt it had merit. Despite the fact my submission focused on a rare mental illness, its content was relevant to readers with mood disorders of different kinds. The essay fit the editors’ specifications I had carefully perused. I had checked with the editors to make sure my topic would be appropriate and I got the go-ahead.

Here’s my rejection email:

Dear Dyane,

You are a horrible writer and geez – you need to do something else, anything else, like take up knitting, or create an herb window garden, or explore vegan cooking.

(Just kidding.)

Thanks so much for your submission to How the Light Gets In. After reading through entries, conferring, reading, and conferring more, we’re sorry to tell you that we won’t be including “The Deja vu Conversation” in the anthology. As writers, we know how much time and effort (not to mention gumption!) it takes to craft and submit a piece. Thank you for trusting us with it. We received an overwhelming amount of beautiful entries.

It was a nice problem to have. But also, it made the process of choosing very difficult. We sincerely appreciate you sharing your work with us. Also, thank you for adding your voice to the larger story of mental illness. It’s encouraging to see that there are many of us speaking up and helping to break the stigma that surrounds mental health. None of us are alone in our battles. 

Again, thank you for submitting and all the best as you move forward,

Kelley and Gillian

My take: they should have stopped the email after the first paragraph. The remainder seems saccharine and uses a cliché. I believe a rejection email should be brief and condescension-free unless it has specific feedback for the writer.

Everyone gets rejections – one of J.K. Rowling ‘s rejection letters said she should join a writing group!

 

I was especially vulnerable on Rejection Day because I had a cold. I get a nasty bug every October, although this year I was doing all I could to prevent it, i.e. taking the cold-busting, vile-tasting Wellness Formula.

Because of my cold, I wasn’t able to get out with Lucy for our restorative, attitude-adjusting, walks that almost always improve my mood.


Recently, I was inspired by my blogging friend Sara Gethin whose hit novel Not Thomas received very challenging criticism in the British daily newspaper The Guardian. While it wasn’t writing rejection per se, negative reviews have much in common with writing rejection.

She took the criticism in stride—she has such a great attitude, one I wish she could bottle and sell to me. Gethin’s situation was unique and I encourage you to read this post, part one, and this post, part two, about her experience being nominated for a fiercely competitive reader’s choice contest. 


By the way, if any of you submitted a piece to those editors and it was accepted, please take my hissy fit with a grain of salt! I will be happy for you! I will promote you! Don’t be afraid to share your good news

I need to focus on something wonderful instead: the publication of my book on Tuesday! And guess what? My first case of my books arrives TODAY by 6:00 p.m.!!!!

I’m so excited!

I’ll be taking pictures of the books fresh out of the box. I feel like they’re my babies. (I know that’s weird, but it’s true.)

Please don’t forget to tell your friends, your social networks, and everyone else you know on this planet to buy Birth of a New Brain on Tuesday, October 10th and, if at all possible, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll be forever in your debt!

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!!!

Love,

Dyane


This collie looks so much like Lucy, it’s uncanny! I’m not getting the costume though. It got bad reviews, and I know Lucy would hate it.

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

With a foreword by perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw,

will be published on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10th – hurrah!

Until then, Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for Kindle and paperback pre-sales.

 

Please Listen To My First Podcast!

Hi everyone and Happy Friday!

Last Monday I recorded my first podcast with Dr. Katayune Kaeni.”Dr. Kat” is the host of the popular podcast Mom and Mind. She’s a psychologist & has lived experience in Perinatal Mental Health Training, Advocacy, Treatment, and Stigma Crushing!!!

Dr. Kat was a wonderful and patient host. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to guide me through my first podcast experience. I know it might not seem like a big deal to record a podcast, but I was able to rustle up all kinds of anxiety, all the way from the technical to the emotional aspect of the process!  

It will be available this Monday and I’d love it if you could listen to it and/or spread the word about it via your social media.  You can follow Dr. Kat on Twitter at  @DrKaeni, she has a Facebook page, and her website is: http://www.momandmind.com

Our conversation will be available this Monday and I’d love it if you could listen to it and/or spread the word about it via your social media. 

Last week I promised to write about a tool that can potentially help lift depression.

What is it??? It’s an air ionizer of all things! My psychiatrist emailed me an article that has the details and I’m copying the info. for you below. Please let me know if you’ve heard about air ionizers for depression! If you have a success story to share, let me know in the comments so I can mention it in my upcoming book talks.

A Hopeful Contender for Bipolar Depression

While some psychiatric breakthroughs are greeted with a hope that borders on hype (think ketamine), others are met with undue skepticism. The humble air ionizer falls into the latter category. These devices purify air by creating negatively charged oxygen ions. The idea that they could treat depression is so implausible that scientists first employed them as placebos, before discovering that they actually worked.

Evidence in unipolar depression

That discovery was first reported in 1995 by Michael Terman’s laboratory at Columbia University,1 and since then 5 controlled trials have emerged in unipolar depression Each has been positive, with effect sizes in the range of what we see with antidepressants (total sample size: n = 168) Ionizers are well tolerated and lack significant risks, and the research that supports their health benefits dates back to the 1950s. Although their safety and efficacy are reasonably well established, we know little about their mechanism of action, which is part of what has hindered their mainstream adoption.

Which device?

Another factor that has limited their use is the difficulty of finding air ionizers with the right specifications. Without FDA regulation, it’s hard to know which device to use. Many ionizers produce ozone as a by-product, which can damage the lungs. Others don’t generate a high enough density of negative ions to treat depression. In the clinical trials, only high-density ionizers worked; low-density devices served as a placebo.

Recently, Dr. Terman has helped remove that obstacle by identifying a low-cost device that’s feasible for clinical practice: the Wein VI-2500. (My psychiatrist wrote: I looked up the price of the Wein VI-2500 – $74.00) This device generates ions at a high enough density to treat depression (450 trillion ions/sec), with ozone production well below the FDA’s cut-off for safety (< 0.05 ppm)

How to use

The Wein is easy to use, and Dr. Terman has a useful guide on his website. Patients can either sit near the device for daily sessions or have it turn on while they are asleep using a socket timer. Sessions should be 30 to 90 minutes. Either way, they need to be close to the device (within 3 feet) and keep things that would pull the negative ions away from them (mainly other electronic devices) away from the ionizer. Unlike the lightbox, air ions do not affect circadian biology, so the device could feasibly be used at any time of day, or even left on throughout the night, although the available studies employed a morning protocol.

Dr. Terman expects to see improved air ionizers in the near future and keeps updated product recommendations at www.cet.org

While we may not understand their mechanism in the brain, we do know what they do in the air, and that story has some natural appeal. If you’ve ever enjoyed the fresh air around a waterfall, ocean breeze, or humid forest, then you’ve experienced natural air ionization. When water breaks into the air, it creates negative oxygen ions. Those ions have a pleasant scent and also filter out pollutants such as cigarette smoke, dust, and mold. Indoor air tends to be depleted of negative ions, mainly because of the effects of air conditioners, heaters, and dehumidifiers.

Ionization and bipolar depression

What remains unknown is whether these devices will work in bipolar depression. One study has been published, but the primary aim was to test light therapy in bipolar depression, and the high-density air ion group was too small to draw conclusions (n = 2)

On the other hand, we have no evidence that these devices destabilize mood, and Dr. Terman is not aware of any cases of hypomania caused by ionization.8 Air ionization has been tried in manic patients, with results that suggest it may improve manic symptoms. Those 2 studies did not have the rigor to conclude anything beyond the suggestive. They used a double-blind crossover design with single treatment sessions in a total of 28 patients. Their findings are consistent with a host of small studies in normal populations that suggest negative air ions improve irritability and tension, while positive ions tend to have the opposite effect. Dr. Terman does warn that the ionizers can raise energy and alertness, so they should be used in the morning if tried in patients with bipolar disorder.

The bottom line

My previous column listed 20 treatments with at least some controlled-trial support for bipolar depression. In practice, that list is often insufficient to meet the clinical needs of patients with this chronic and highly recurrent condition. Beyond that evidence base, I’ll consider treatments that work in unipolar depression and have a low risk of destabilizing mood. Aerobic exercise makes that list, and air ionizers deserve a place on it as well. Their empiric support may not be as robust as what we have for exercise and depression,but their ease of implementation will be a plus for many patients whose depression has sapped their energy and motivation. 

REFERENCES

1. Terman M, Terman JS. Treatment of seasonal affective disorder with a high-output negative ionizer. J Altern Complement Med. 1995;1:87-92.

2. Terman M, Terman JS, Ross DC. A controlled trial of timed bright light and negative air ionization for treatment of winter depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55:875-882.

3. Goel N, Terman M, Terman JS, et al. Controlled trial of bright light and negative air ions for chronic depression.Psychol Med. 2005;35:945-955.

4. Terman M, Terman JS. Controlled trial of naturalistic dawn simulation and negative air ionization for seasonal affective disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163:2126-2133.

5. Flory R, Ametepe J, Bowers B. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of bright light and high-density negative air ions for treatment of seasonal affective disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2010;177:101-108.

6. Perez V, Alexander DD, Bailey WH. Air ions and mood outcomes: a review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry.2013;13:29.

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What do you think?!?!?!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. Today I didn’t get a chance to find some cutesy memes I love to intersperse through the post (it’s one of my favorite things about blogging!) but I hope to have time to that next Friday. (And for all I know, maybe some of you are muttering “Thank God, I can’t stand memes!”)  😉

Have a wonderful weekend  and please take good care of yourselves,

Love,

Dyane

 

 

Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for Kindle and paperback pre-sales.