Sunday, August 24, 2008


Today I ran my first road race, a 5K (3.1 miles) in perhaps 4 or 5 years. I fully anticipated doing some walking. I surprised myself by managing to run the whole way. I further surprised myself by being able to pick up the pace the last 50 yards or so and passing several people. My time was 31:03 (a VERY pleasant surprise).

There are several points of this posting. All too often, we limit ourselves with negative expectations. It's a good idea to periodically push ourselves beyond what we think we can do. Someone said that if you have never failed, that you've never risked enough. I ran much of the race with Matt, a 80 year old man who started running at 50. Since then, he has run over 2000 races, including over 100 marathons! Matt, as well as several others were very encouraging to me when I commented on tiring. Runners generally are very encouraging to others. This is a good reminder for us to look to be more encouraging, more affirming, and treating others more often in positive ways. It also reminds us that inspiration is all around us. Sometimes we cannot see past the blinders of depression. Other times, we focus on looking for negatives, to affirm our notions that people, politicians, the world, etc. stink and will let you down. Better to be more positive towards others and to look for inspiration around us.

Best wishes,

Friday, August 22, 2008


My name is Dr. Mike Miller and I want to introduce you to my blog. The purposes are to give people a sense of who I am, as well as to write about what it means to be human, present some behavioral research findings, book reviews, and who knows what else! I hope that you will enjoy and benefit from the variety of postings that I am envisioning. Suggestions are welcome. Go to http://drmike to learn more about me, as well as to find self-help information and tips for most behavioral health concerns.

Best wishes,

Depression Patients’ Brain Circuitry Makes Them Vulnerable to Relapse

"Using brain imaging, NIMH researchers have produced direct evidence that people prone to depression -- even when they're feeling well -- have abnormal mood-regulating brain circuitry. This makes them vulnerable to relapse when levels of certain key brain chemical messengers plummet.

To test this directly and identify any brain circuit abnormalities, the researchers studied 15 un-medicated subjects in remission who had a history of depression by giving them a drug that temporarily depleted their brains of dopamine and norepinephrine.

These subjects experienced an increase in depression symptoms and a decrease in the ability to feel pleasure. PET scans showed that this was accompanied by an increase in activity in a depression-implicated brain circuit. By contrast, activity decreased or remained unchanged in the same brain circuit with depletion in 13 healthy participants who experienced only minor mood effects. Activity in specific brain structures in the circuit corresponded with a set of mood effects (see graphics below)."

This offers some evidence of why there is such a high relapse rate in depressed individuals. However, there are many studies that show while therapy and medications are about equally effective treatments, that there is a high relapse for those receiving meds only, if they discontinue the meds. Those receiving therapy, have a much lower relapse rate.

This is further evidence that depression is a bio-psycho-social disorder (generally has biological, psychological, and social factors) and that effective psychological interventions ALSO positively effect one's biology. The reality is that the psyche affects the soma, the psychological effects the biological, or the mental effects the physical. In other words, there is an endless loop where both effect the other.

Best wishes,

For full report:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Look for the good in others

Yesterday, we took our son to the University of Toledo. The idea and then reality has been somewhat difficult to deal with. It seems that only yesterday (more like 15 years) that even when he was around people he knew, he would still be hugging my leg. I accept (and somewhat celebrate) his being able to leave is evidence that my wife and I have done a decent job and helped him become more independent and socially comfortable. Last year, he attended community college and lived at home. It was an excellent transition for him from High School. Part of my difficulties is that it is one more reminder of my own mortality.

Also yesterday, Congressperson Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland died from a brain aneurysm. She was 58 (3 years older than myself). She was such a positive person, almost always smiling a real (NOT politician) smile. Dennis Kucinich referred to her as his "sister." I felt that this proclamation was sincere. Even the Republicans were effusive about her positiveness and personality.

So what is to be learned from all of this? Once I turned 50, mortality became a more pressing reality to me. It is highly unlikely that I'll ever run 10 miles again, let alone any more 26 mile marathons. A long rulk (run/walk/run/walk...) anymore is 3 miles. I accept this and try to maintain some level of physical fitness. I also accept that mortality is part of the natural order. I think that we should try to emulate Stephanie Tubbs Jones, where we bring a positive energy, affirming nature, as well as looking out for the welfare of others, past our own family and friends. We don't know how much time we have, so it is imperative to work on this NOW. I have always liked and endorsed Gandhi's dictum to "Be the change that you want to see in the world," similar to other teachings from almost 2000 years ago. Look for the GOOD in others!

Best wishes,
Blog Directory