Archive for the 'faces and mood' Category

Sleep and Depression: More Links

Friday, March 7th, 2014

In 1995, hoping to improve my sleep, I decided to watch TV early in the morning, for reasons explained here. One Monday morning I watched tapes of Jay Leno and David Letterman that I’d made. Nothing happened. On Tuesday, however, I woke up and felt great: cheerful, eager and yet somehow calm. I had never felt so good so early in the morning. Monday had been a normal day, I had slept a normal length of time. The good feeling was puzzling. Then I remembered the TV I had watched. It had seemed so innocuous. The notion that 20 minutes of ordinary TV Monday morning could make me feel better Tuesday but not Monday seemed preposterous. Absurd. Couldn’t possibly be true.

Except for one thing. I had done something to improve my sleep. Plenty of research connected sleep and depression. That research made it more plausible that something done to improve sleep would improve mood. I went on to confirm the morning faces/mood linkage in many ways. The research connecting sleep and depression had been the first signs of a hidden mechanism (we need to see morning faces for our mood regulatory system to work properly) I consider very important.

Two new studies further connect sleep and depression. One of them found that people who sleep normal amounts of time are less influenced by genes associated with depression than those who sleep longer or shorter lengths of time. The other found that teenagers who sleep less than usual are at greater risk of depression.

The theories that psychiatrists have used to justify anti-depressants (e.g., “chemical imbalance”) do not explain the many connections between sleep and depression. Depression is associated with lots of bad things, unsurprisingly, but the association with bad sleep is especially strong. It is not easily explained away. You might think that if you are depressed you are more tired than usual and therefore sleep more/better than usual. The opposite is true.  All this might have generated, among psychiatric researchers, a search for a better theory — an explanation of depression that can explain the sleep/depression connections — but it hasn’t.

 

Sleep: Summary of What I’ve Learned

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

I want to summarize what I’ve learned about how to sleep well. I’ve found about a dozen changes that helped. Taken together they suggest the importance of four dimensions:

1. Healthy brain. My sleep greatly improved when I ate a lot of pork fat. (As far as I can tell, butter produced the same effect.) I wasn’t getting enough animal fat. My sleep also improved when I started eating honey at bedtime. I assume honey raised blood sugar to better levels during sleep, improving brain performance. The great importance of this, I believe, is why we evolved preferences that push us to eat strongly sweet foods, such as fruit, separately and later, i.e., dessert. Bedtime honey also caused my muscles to grow more in response to exercise — a sign of better sleep, since muscles grow during sleep. I have never measured the effect of flaxseed/flaxseed oil on my sleep but the brain benefit was so clear in other ways I’d be surprised if it didn’t improve sleep. (more…)

Our Need for Morning Faces: Does Isolation Cause Delusions?

Monday, October 21st, 2013

In 1995, I discovered that seeing faces in the morning raised my mood the next day. For example, seeing faces Monday morning improved my mood on Tuesday (but not Monday). Study of the effect suggested we have a face-sensitive oscillator that controls mood and sleep. The oscillator needs morning-face exposure to work properly — faces “push” the oscillator as you would push a swing. Long ago, this oscillator synchronized the mood and sleep of people who lived together. The synchronization helped them cooperate. It is much easier to work with a happy person than an unhappy person and, of course, much easier to work with someone awake than someone asleep.

My results suggested you need to see morning faces on the order of 30 minutes to get a big effect. The faces need to be similar to what you’d see in a conversation. Looking at people on the subway doesn’t count. Nowadays, as far as I can tell, hardly anyone gets the right input. In extreme cases, this causes depression, poor sleep, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. What else might it cause?  (more…)

Suicidal Gestures at Princeton: A Staggering Increase

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

A friend of mine knows a former (retired) head of psychological services at Princeton University. She told him that in the 1970s, there were one or two suicidal gestures per year. Recently, however, there have been one or two per day.

Something is terribly, horribly wrong. Maybe the increase is due to something at Princeton. For example, maybe new dorms are more isolating than the old dorms they replaced. Or maybe the increase has nothing to do with Princeton. For example, maybe the increase is due to antidepressants, much more common now than in the 1970s.

Whatever the cause, tt would help all Princeton students, present and future, and probably millions of others, if the problem were made public so that anyone, not just a vanishingly small number of people, could try to solve it. It isn’t even clear that anyone is trying to explain/understand/learn from the increase.

Princeton almost surely has records that show the increase. If, as is likely, Princeton administrators never allow the increase to be documented, it will be a tragedy. It is an extraordinary and unprecedented clue about what causes suicidal gestures. Nothing in all mental health epidemiology has found a change by factor of a hundred or more — much less a mysterious huge change.

The increase is an unintended consequence of something else, but what? Because it is so large, there must be something extremely important that most people, or at least Princeton administrators, don’t understand about mental health. The answer might involve seeing faces at night. I found that seeing faces in the morning produced an enormous boost in mood and that faces at night had the opposite effect. I cannot say, however, why seeing faces at night would have increased so much from the 1970s to now.

Assorted Links

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
  • Interview with Royce White, the basketball player. I agree with him that addictions should be considered mental disorders. I think they are usually self-medication for a mood disorder, such as depression. His view that more than half of Americans have a mental disorder is consistent with my view that you need to see faces in the morning to have your mood control system work properly. Hardly anyone sees enough faces in the morning.
  • Racial quotas at Harvard by Ron Unz. “Top officials at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton today strenuously deny the existence of Asian-American quotas, but their predecessors had similarly denied the existence of Jewish quotas in the 1920s, now universally acknowledged to have existed.”
  • Traditional Filipino fermented foods (scientific paper)
  • Omega-6 supplementation (with concurrent decrease in saturated fat) increases heart disease
  • How not to globalize Korean food. For one thing, don’t assume all foreigners are alike.

Thanks to dearime.

Notes on Navanit Arakeri’s Morning Faces Experience

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

My last post described how Navanit Arakeri found that looking at faces on his iPad in the morning improved his mood. Three things struck me about his experience.

1. Small faces worked (“much smaller than life-sized”). I found that life-size faces produced the biggest effect. I never studied the effect of face size in detail (trying many different sizes). I first experienced the effect after watching Jay Leno do his monologue on a 20-inch TV — much smaller than a life-size face. Obviously we recognize faces when they are much smaller than life-size. For example, we recognize faces in newspaper photos. And we recognize people at a wide range of distances, meaning that the retinal image of a face can vary greatly in size without preventing recognition. Both facts suggest that the size of the face may not matter a lot for this effect.

2. He watched right after he got up. There is surely a window of effectiveness — a time period outside of which the faces do nothing — but when? And how long? I don’t know. It surely depends on your exposure to sunlight, which is incredibly hard to measure. Navanit found a simple rule that worked (“watch right after you get up”). When I first experienced the effect I did the same thing that works for him — I watched TV a few minutes after I woke up.

3. He became less irritable (“much more emotionally resilient to irritants and bad news”). I noticed the same thing. A paradox of depression is that people become more irritable. Depression is a disease of passivity — you don’t want to do anything — but irritability is over-reaction. I’ve heard it claimed that depression may be caused by not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Okay, lack of a vital nutrient might cause people to have less energy, but why would it make them more irritable? Not obvious. The fact that the morning-faces effect includes this component is part of why I think it sheds light on what causes depression. Perhaps anything that raises your mood will make you less irritable but I can only say it didn’t feel that way — it felt like something special. Like everyone else I have my mood raised by ordinary events (e.g., good news, a joke) and these do not seem to produce a big increase in serenity.

Morning Faces Therapy: More Good Results

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Navanit Arakeri, who is 31 and lives in Bangalore, sent me the following email about the effect of looking at faces in the morning:

Thank you, it’s the most extraordinary thing. It’s taken my average daily mood from 6/10 to about 8/10 [on a 1-10 scale where 1 = very, very bad mood, 5 = neutral, and 10 = amazingly good mood.  6/10 = just better than neutral and 8/10 = very good. Note: if 5 = neutral, then a 1-9 or 0-10 scale will work better than a 1-10 scale] It has made me officially “happy”. And much more emotionally resilient to irritants and bad news.

I do it on waking at around 8:00 AM every day. I play “morning news” videos on mute on my iPad with no zoom (so it’s much smaller than life-sized). Example video

I do it for only 20-40 minutes, usually around 25 minutes. I’ve been doing it for about 45 days now.

I’m seeing a few interesting differences compared to your experience:

1. I don’t get the evening irritability at all. In fact, sometimes I get a Big Mood Improvement (see #2) in the evening (around 8:00 PM). The evening effect doesn’t happen every day, while the morning improvement is much more consistent.

2. Sometimes the mood improvement is so strong that I have an involuntary smile on my face. I can sit and stare into space feeling very happy. . . .

Sleep quality has been good throughout.

What led him to try it? “I wanted a simple self-experiment to test my lifelogging iPhone app and this fit nicely. I had read your original self-experimentation paper several years back, but never got around to trying it,” he said.

How long before he could tell it was working? “It was very clear by the 3rd morning,” he said.

He recorded the “involuntary smile” states, which lasted 30-60 minutes, on his iPhone. This graph shows how often they happened versus time of day over a 33-day period:

A value of 8, for example, means that there was roughly a one-quarter chance that during that time period he would be in the “involuntary smile” state. Before this the likelihood of involuntary smiles was zero.

Surprising Predictions From Self-Measurement

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Patrick Tucker, an editor at The Futurist, posted a request on the Quantified Self Forums for “astounding” predictions based on self-quantification. He is writing a book about using data to make predictions.

Here are examples from my self-measurement:

1. Drinking sugar water causes weight loss. The self-quantification was measuring my weight. It began when I found a new way to lose weight, which pushed me to try to explain why it worked. The explanation I came up with — a new theory of weight control — made two predictions that via self-experimentation I found to be true. That gave me faith in the theory. Then the theory suggested a really surprising conclusion, that loss of appetite during a trip to Paris was due to the sugar-sweetened soft drinks I had been drinking. If so, drinking sugar water should cause weight loss. (The nearly-universal belief is that sugar causes weight gain, of course.) I tested this prediction and it was true. More.

2. Seeing faces in the morning improves mood the next day (but not the same day). This is so surprising I’ll spell it out: Seeing faces Monday morning improves my mood on Tuesday but not Monday. For years I measured my sleep trying to reduce early awakening. Finally I figured out that not eating breakfast helped. There was no breakfast during the Stone Age; this led me to take seriously the idea that other non-Stone-Age aspects of my life were also hurting my sleep. That was one reason I decided to watch to watch a certain TV show one morning. It had no immediate effect. However, the next morning I woke up feeling great. Via self-measurement of mood, I determined it was the faces on TV that produced the effect, confirmed the effect many times, and learned what details of the situation (e.g., face size) controlled the effect. More.

3. One-legged standing improves sleep. Via self-measurement I determined that how much I stood during a day controlled how well I slept. If I stood a long time, I slept better. Ten years later I woke one day after having slept much better than usual. The previous day had been unusual in many ways. One of them was so tiny that at first I overlooked it: I had stood on one leg a few times. Just for a few minutes. Yet it turned out that it was the one-legged standing that had improved my sleep. Without the previous work on ordinary standing I would have ignored the one-legged standing — it seemed trivial.

4. Butter is healthy. I found that butter improved how fast I can do arithmetic problems. No doubt it improves brain function measured in other ways. Because the optimum nutrition for the brain will be close to the optimum nutrition for the rest of the body — at least, this is what I believe — I predict that butter will turn out to be healthy for my whole body, not just my brain.

5. Mainstream Vitamin D research is all messed up. Via self-measurement I confirmed Tara Grant’s conclusion that taking Vitamin D3 in the morning (rather than later) improved her sleep. It improved my sleep, too. When I had taken it at other times of day I had noticed nothing. Apparently the timing of Vitamin D — the time of day that you take it — matters enormously. Take it at the right time in the morning: obvious good effect. Take it late in the evening: obvious bad effect. Vitamin D researchers haven’t realized this. They have neither controlled when Vitamin D is taken (in experiments) nor measured when it is taken (in surveys). Because timing matters so much it is as if they have done their research failing to control or measure dose. If you fail to control/measure dose, whatever conclusion you reach (good/no effect/bad) depends entirely on what dose your subjects happened to take. And you have no idea what dose that is.

Morning Faces Therapy for Bipolar Disorder: What One User Has Learned

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

A friend of mine has been using morning faces therapy to improve his mood — he suffers from bipolar disorder — for 15 years. He is the first person I told about it. I recently asked him how his use of it has changed over the years. He replied:

I began the morning faces therapy in April, 1997. I can think of only two significant changes over the years in my use of the therapy: 1) I use a mirror instead of videotapes, and 2) I accept that once or twice a week I’m too tired to start as early as I’d like (so I get more sleep instead). To elaborate:

1) When I restarted the treatment in 2006 after having been hospitalized, I was too depressed to deal with videotaping. In fact, I was too depressed to get out of bed so early. The mirror solved both problems, because I could easily prop it on my mattress top. After a few days I was able to get up, allowing me to listen to music, use bright lights, etc., during the treatment.

2) Whether for lack of discipline or the proper genes, I simply can’t go to sleep early enough so that I can get up early every morning. (Granted, I haven’t tried everything, but for the sake of the argument, let it stand.) This shortcoming used to bother me a great deal. Then on October 6th, 2011, I read in this blog about someone else who didn’t always start the treatment early, because he was “too tired to get up early”. Well! It didn’t seem so bad if someone else had the same problem. Over the years I’ve found that starting 30-60 minutes late once or twice a week doesn’t seem to perturb my mood enough to cause great concern.

I asked how the therapy has helped him. He replied:

The benefits of the morning faces therapy have been both 1) quantitative and 2) qualitative.

1) I have had bipolar disorder for 27 years. With the therapy, I’ve been medication-free for 6 years, and I was on much reduced doses of medication for about 7 years. So it’s fair to say the therapy has reduced the severity of the illness by around one half. Also, the lithium that I took in part caused kidney disease, whereas, obviously, there are no side effects from looking at faces in the morning.

2) The qualitative difference seems far more important to me. I am basically content with life; I am comfortable in my own skin. I’ve never felt like this before, and life without this is empty.

Note to skeptics: you might think, well, bipolar disorder is known to go in remission, and maturity often brings contentment. But this fails to explain why stopping the treatment brings back both the illness and the essential sadness.

Morning Faces Therapy Improvements

Friday, April 13th, 2012

A friend with bipolar disorder writes:

I began the morning faces therapy in April, 1997. I can think of only two significant changes over the years in my use of the therapy: 1) I use a mirror instead of videotapes, and 2) I accept that once or twice a week I’m too tired to start as early as I’d like (so I get more sleep instead). To elaborate:

1) When I restarted the treatment in 2006 after having been hospitalized, I was too depressed to deal with videotaping. In fact, I was too depressed to get out of bed so early. The mirror solved both problems, because I could easily prop it on my mattress top. After a few days I was able to get up, allowing me to listen to music, use bright lights, etc., during the treatment.

2) Whether for lack of discipline or the proper genes, I simply can’t go to sleep early enough so that I can get up early every morning. (Granted, I haven’t tried everything, but for the sake of the argument, let it stand.) This shortcoming used to bother me a great deal. Then on October 6th, 2011, I read in this blog about someone else who didn’t always start the treatment early, because he was “too tired to get up early”. Well! It didn’t seem so bad if someone else had the same problem. Over the years I’ve found that starting 30-60 minutes late once or twice a week doesn’t seem to perturb my mood enough to cause great concern.

Sleep and Mood Strongly Linked

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

I recently came across a 2005 survey, done in Texas, that found people with poor sleep were far more likely to be depressed or anxious than people with better sleep. Huge risk ratios:

People with insomnia . . . were 9.82 and 17.35 times as likely to have clinically significant depression and anxiety [than persons without insomnia.]

Other studies have found similar results. For example, a 1979 survey interviewed the same people twice, one year apart. People who had insomnia both times were 40 times more likely to be newly diagnosed with major depression during the intervening year than those who did not have insomnia at either time.

A simple thing to say about the sleep/mood correlation is that it supports my theory of depression, which says depression is often due to malfunction of two circadian oscillators (one controlled by light, the other by faces). If they are working properly (in sync, with large amplitude) you sleep well and are in a good mood when you are awake. If they are not working properly (e.g., not in sync) then you do not sleep well and are in a bad mood at least part of the time while you are awake. What is called depression (e.g., not wanting to do anything) is actually a good thing in the middle of the night. Not wanting to do anything — being still — is necessary to fall asleep.

A sad and more complicated thing about this correlation is that it is ignored. It is not explained by any theory of depression popular among psychotherapists, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, not to mention a dozen other explanations of depression (psychoanalytic, etc.) that psychotherapists favor. Nor is it explained by any pharmacological theory of depression. In other words, if you seek treatment for depression within our healthcare system the treatment you will receive will derive from a theory that cannot explain this result. Yet the correlation is so strong it must be telling us something important.

You can read endlessly about the high cost of health care. What if the high cost is not the core problem? What if it is only a symptom of something less obvious? What if health care costs a lot because we have a poor understanding of health and disease (as the failure of popular theories of depression to explain the sleep/mood correlation suggests)? What if we have a poor understanding of health and disease because health research is too concerned with allowing healthcare providers to make money?

Assorted Links

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Thanks to Jim McGuire, Dave Lull and Peter Spero.

Morning Faces Therapy: Personal Account

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Five years ago I heard from someone that he had been successfully using my discovery that seeing faces in the morning improved my mood the next day. Recently I asked him to write about his experiences with it. Here’s what he wrote:

I’m a male professional in my 30s and have had mild to moderate depression since my early teens. I am a considerable rationalist and skeptic, so when I read about Seth’s morning faces therapy in a New York Times article about 5 years ago, my first thought was to doubt its effectiveness. But it was so easy and simple to try, with nothing to lose, that I gave it a shot. To my surprise, it really worked, and the change was quite noticeable. (more…)

Morning Faces Therapy Page

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

If you want to find out about using morning faces to improve your mood, go to this page, to which I will be slowly adding links. If you have suggestions about what to include, please leave a comment or email me. The page is meant to be an easy way to learn more.

Morning Faces Therapy For Bipolar Disorder: A Story (Part 2: First Two Months)

Friday, July 29th, 2011

In the 1990s, I discovered that if I see faces on TV early in the morning, I feel better (happier, more eager, more serene) the next day, but not the same day. Faces Monday morning, for example,  make me feel better on Tuesday but not Monday. I studied this effect extensively. The results suggested that a circadian oscillator controls our mood and sleep and needs morning face exposure to work properly.  Absence of morning face exposure, this theory says, increases your risk of depression — a view not compatible with the “chemical imbalance” explanation of depression but one supported by the strong association between depression and insomnia.

I told friends about this. One of them had devastating bipolar disorder. As he describes here and here, he got great benefit from looking at faces in the morning. After I posted his account of his experience, a man I’ll call Rex wrote me that he was going to try it. At 29, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At 32, he slit his wrists. He is now 37.Since then he’s been in and out of mental hospitals. Now he lives at home. I wanted to follow his use of morning face therapy “prospectively” — before knowing what would happen. I posted this, about his background, around the time he started. (more…)

Morning Faces Therapy for Bipolar Disorder: Follow-Up Questions

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

In May I posted a friend’s story about how he used my morning-faces discovery to improve his life. It helped enormously (“It felt like a giant headache was just lifted off me”). I asked him some follow-up questions.

What time of day do you look at your face in a mirror? For how long?

I look at my face in a mirror for an hour starting at about 6:20am (Daylight Saving Time). It doesn’t feel weird or vain to me. I usually listen to C-SPAN, Comedy Central, or music during the therapy.

You wrote: “I’m able to enjoy life and relate to others in ways that I never could my entire life.” Could you elaborate?

In my letter I said that my initial reaction to the face therapy was that it felt like a giant headache was just lifted off of me. That “headache” was the weight of depression and anxiety on my mind. My whole life I have been burdened by that weight, under its shadow to one degree or another. Another angle on this:  Your initial reaction was “I felt great – cheerful and calm, yet full of energy”. I am quite certain that before the therapy I was never in that state of mind. But I’m not just talking about typical enjoyment—hearing the music, conversing and laughing, a fine meal, etc. In The Simpsons episode “Barting Over”, Homer is twirling slowly high in the air on a skateboard, and a novel idea pops into his head: if he buys two kinds of nuts separately, he can combine them at home to get “mixed nuts”. That sensation of weightlessness, with little solutions to little problems just popping up, is new to me. When you add up hundreds of those solutions, you find life itself less burdensome. You make more room for appreciation, gratitude, friendship, and so on. You begin to get an inkling of what a full human life could be.

People “automatically reject the idea”, you wrote. What happens?

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard” was the comment of a woman in the bipolar support group. Some in the group of the if-it-sounds-crazy-enough-I-believe-it persuasion would nod their support. My sister theorized that it was all just meditation (!) and finished by saying, “I get enough faces at work.” My dental hygienist was somewhat persuaded by the fact that a newborn can recognize its mother’s face within hours of birth.

Do you continue to see a psychiatrist and/or a psychologist? If so, are they curious about how well you are doing without meds? If they’re not curious, how do they explain it?

My psychiatrist and psychotherapist are glad that I’m doing well, but they are not curious about the face therapy, the bright lights, or the fish oil. They are skeptical toward alternative treatments. I gather they think that my improvement is due to remission, or an upswing in the illness’s cycle, or the accumulated years of talk therapy. Or they abandon reason altogether, saying, “Whatever works for you.”

Why do you need to go to bed “early”? What happens if you don’t? What makes it difficult or discipline-requiring to go to bed “early”?

If I go to bed late, I need to take an hour nap the next day, which is a drag. At 10pm I’m almost never tired enough, plus I usually feel that I haven’t accomplished enough for the day. At your suggestion, I am trying to reset my circadian rhythm by getting 2 hours of morning light from approximately 7:30am to 9:30am.

What effect does the early morning bright light therapy have? How do you do it (e.g., equipment, time of day)? Why did you start it?

As I recall, the lights helped me to wake up early, fairly rested and alert. I started in 1997 at your suggestion with a bank of four GE F40SP65-ECO tubes, 40 watts each, 48 inches long. I now cover half of the bank to reduce the intensity. I get thirty minutes of exposure starting at about 6:50 am (Daylight Saving Time).

In 1997, what made you decide to try the faces?

I was primed for the idea that a big change might help. Six months prior, I had made a somewhat beneficial switch to Depakote after taking lithium for 11 years. Also, you claimed that you already had good experimental results with several people, and that Andrew Gelman at Columbia University was impressed with your work.

“I hadn’t needed Moban since 1999,” you write. Why not?

From 1999 to 2003, the face therapy was so effective that I didn’t need an antipsychotic (e.g. Moban).  From 2003 to 2006, when I didn’t use the face therapy, I kept certain habits that I had adopted during that therapy: keeping a fairly normal sleep schedule, avoiding fluorescent lights at night, and getting a decent amount of social interaction.

With the benefit of hindsight, why do you think it did not keep you out of the hospital in 2003?

When I told my psychiatrist in 1999 that I was going to use the face therapy instead of medications, he exclaimed, “That’s like taking off a cast and trying to walk right away!” Indeed, for 12 years my mind had been numbed with psychiatric drugs. Although the face therapy was seemingly miraculous, it couldn’t restore all that was lost.  Yet with little support from others I was trying to “walk”: I had the goals of getting a job and a social circle; I had a dream of leading the way for all depressed people. It was unrealistic to expect that I could do much more than crawl through life. By 2003, I needed the hospital because I was in over my head.

Why did back pain and stress put you back in the hospital? Why did they lead to a suicide attempt?

My mental state deteriorated because of lack of sleep, which in turn was due to back pain and stress. Both back pain and stress are manageable—given enough time and attention. Unfortunately, at the time I was overwhelmed with many new problems and many lingering old problems. I had just moved. The house had far more traffic noise and housemates than I was accustomed to. I didn’t have the money or strength to move again; I was falling out with an old friend; my wrists and feet were injured. If I went back to the mental health system, I would be more handicapped than ever. The situation seemed hopeless.

Why did publicity related to The Shangri-La Diet make you try this again?

I actually thought that Diane Sawyer might call me after saying to herself, “Wow, what else has Professor Roberts discovered?” So I wanted to shape up my mood fast! I assumed that the Shangri-la Diet in its way must be about as great as the face therapy. I didn’t suspect that the media would treat your diet like any other—as an offbeat fad.

You wrote: “In August of 2010, dissatisfied with my low energy level, I decided to go off medications completely again.  What did you do? 

I had been “stabilized” on 250 mg of Depakote, which is a sedating anti-manic drug, and 20mg of Prozac, which is an antidepressant that can induce mania. About once a month, I got rid of the sedation by skipping the Depakote for a few days. On one occasion, when I tried to skip the Depakote for 9 successive days, I became slightly hypomanic and had trouble sleeping. Over the course of several months, I reduced the Prozac to 10mg, and even to 5mg, but still I couldn’t stay off the Depakote for more than about 7days without problems.

You wrote: “Getting off just the two drugs was tricky, because of the difference in half-lives.” What was “tricky” about it?

I was boxed in by the difference in the drugs’ half-lives. Prozac has a plasma half-life of about 10 days, while Depakote has a half-life on the order of only 10 hours. I considered splitting the enteric-coated Depakote, but never did. I decided that the only way out was to stop taking the Prozac, but continue taking the Depakote for 10 days until the Prozac was out of my system. So I tolerated being depressed and sedated until I could stop the Depakote, too.

 

 

“Stuff of Seth”: Faces/Mood and Anticipatory Waking

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

After trying the Shangri-La Diet, Jazi yechezkel zilber found that other aspects of my research (“stuff of seth”) were relevant to his life:

Years ago, I was part of a community where people would be up early praying etc. For an hour and then eat together. I noticed that going there in the morning was good for me, but was puzzled by the effect. I hypothesized it was the social effect per se.

At some point, I stopped this (what the hell do I have with religion and prayer?) and noticed that I got depressed. I remember that the depression came with a delay. It was funny to see it, as I could not make sense of it. But this I remember well. The depressive effect was not the same day as not going to the prayers but tomorrow (or later?).

I was not having early awakening then. Afterwards, I started having periodically early awakening, I cannot remember the frequency, but it was there and annoying. Now when going to the community, I had two hours between awakening and eating. Whereas at home I would eat immediately after waking. Another thing that puzzled me was how I came to wake up naturally *before* my scheduled wake-up time. I used to wake up much later. With food anticipation it makes perfect sense. I woke up two hours before conditioned feeding.

The Amish have extremely low rates of depression — and eat communal breakfasts. The story about early awakening reminds me of a student who told me when you told us this in class I didn’t believe it but lately I started waking up too early and was puzzled until I realized I had changed my breakfast.

Morning Faces Therapy For Bipolar Disorder: A Story (Part 1: Background)

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

In the mid-1990s I discovered that seeing faces in the morning raised my mood the next day. If I saw faces Monday morning, I felt better on Tuesday — not Monday. This discovery and many other facts suggest that we have an internal oscillator that controls our mood — in particular, how happy we are, how eager we are to do things, and how irritable we are. For this oscillator to work properly, we must see faces in the morning and avoid faces and fluorescent light at night.

In rich countries, almost everyone gets nothing resembling the optimum input. One of the problems this may create is bipolar disorder. A week ago I posted how a friend of mine used my faces/mood discovery to control his bipolar disorder. After that post, a man I’ll call Rex wrote to me thanking me — that post had inspired him to try to control his own bipolar disorder that way. Before knowing anything about whether he would be successful, I decided it would be good to follow and record what happens. Either way — successful or not — it should be revealing.

I am going to post his story in several parts. The first few parts are background.

My first full-blown bipolar episode was at 29 years of age.  (I am now 37.) (more…)

Comment on “Morning Faces Therapy For Bipolar Disorder”

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

In yesterday’s post, a friend of mine with bipolar disorder told how he used my faces/mood discovery. It allowed him “to enjoy life and relate to others in ways that I never could my entire life,” he wrote. Partly because it allows him to stop taking the usual meds prescribed for bipolar disorder, which have awful side effects.

What do I think about this?

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Morning Faces Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Monday, May 16th, 2011

In 1995, I discovered that seeing faces in the morning improved my mood the next day. If I saw faces Monday morning I felt better on Tuesday — but not Monday. The delay was astonishing; so was the size of the effect. The faces not only made me cheerful, they also made me eager to do things (the opposite of procrastination) and serene. This is the opposite of depression. Depressed people feel unhappy, don’t want to do anything, and are irritable. Eventually I found that the mood improvement was part of a larger effect: morning faces produced an oscillation in mood (below neutral then above neutral) that began about 6 pm on the day I saw the faces and lasted about a day. As strange as this may sound, there was plenty of supporting data — the connection between depression and insomnia, for example.

After I had observed the effect on myself hundreds of time, I urged a friend with bipolar disorder to try it. Recently he wrote me about how it has helped him.

Here is the very short story of my experience with this treatment.

I have used your treatment since 1997. As an indication of its effectiveness, from 1999 to 2003 I was completely off of medications, and now I’ve been off again since August of last year. (more…)