The Upward Spiral

Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time
by Alex Korb, PhD | 240 pages

Alex Korb is a neuroscientist in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Go Bruins!) He’s also a great writer. As per the sub-title, the book is all about “Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.” It’s REALLY good. Inspiring. Scientifically grounded. Simple. Practical. <- A winning formula for a great book! Big Ideas we explore include the power of exercising your brain (which is the #1 tip, btw), setting goals (and making decisions), developing positive habits (via repetition, repetition, repetition), biofeedback (and how to take advantage of it), and the power of others (rely on it!).


“You can’t always change where you are, but you can change where you’re going. What if, instead of your life spiraling down, it spiraled up? What if you suddenly had more energy, slept better, hung out with your friends more, felt happier? Your neural circuits have just as much potential for this as they do for depression. It often takes only a few positive emotions to kick-start the process, which then begins to fuel positive changes in other areas of your life—this is the upward spiral, and its incredible efficacy has been proven time and again, in hundreds of scientific studies. The question is, what’s actually happening in the brain, and how does this spiral begin?

It turns out that positive life changes actually cause positive neural changes—in the brain’s electrical activity, its chemical composition, even its ability to produce new neurons. These brain changes alter the tuning of your brain’s circuitry and lead to further positive life changes. For example, exercise changes the electrical activity in your brain during sleep, which then reduces anxiety, improves mood, and gives you more energy to exercise. Similarly, expressing gratitude activates serotonin production, which improves mood and allows you to overcome bad habits, giving you more to be grateful for. Any tiny change can be just the push your brain needs to start spiraling upward.”

~ Alex Korb PhD from The Upward Spiral

I got this book after a number of Optimizers recommended that I check it out. (THANK YOU! And, one more time: If you have a book you’d like me to cover, please let us know here!)

Alex Korb is a neuroscientist in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Go Bruins!) He’s also a great writer.

As per the sub-title, the book is all about “Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.”

Basically: The neuroscience of depression and how to reverse it. It’s REALLY good.

Inspiring. Scientifically grounded. Simple. Practical. <- A winning formula for a great book!

Dan Siegel, a leading neuropsychiatrist (and author of Mindsight) also associated with UCLA, wrote the foreword to the book. As he says, “The Upward Spiral has been a joy for me in its clarity, its cutting-edge science, and its inspiring translation of current research into practical tools for everyday life. Even though this is my field as a neuropsychiatrist, psychotherapist, and mental-health educator who focuses on the brain, I learned a ton and laughed a lot. This book is at the same time informative and fun.”

If you or someone you know have suffered from depression I think you’ll love this book as much as I did. (Get a copy here.)

Alex walks us through eight powerful life changes that can get us on an Upward Spiral: exercise, decision making, sleep, habits, biofeedback, gratitude, social support, and professional help.

I’m excited to share some of my favorite Ideas with wisdom we can apply to our lives TODAY, so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

Alex Korb, PhD

Neuroscientist, writer and coach. Author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression