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  • Writer's pictureKaren Jeffrey

Are you looking to Spiral Up? Book Summary on The Upward Spiral

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

"The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time" by Alex Korb, a neuroscientist and writer. This book offers a fresh perspective on understanding and managing depression by exploring the neuroscientific aspects of the condition. This is not to say that the cause of depression is neurochemical, but once starting down this path, it can continue to spiral downwards. The idea here is to catch it and use some of these ideas to change the direction of the spiral.


Here are some of the key ideas presented in the book:


Key Concepts:

  1. Neurobiology of Depression: The book explains the neurological basis of depression, highlighting how factors like imbalanced neurotransmitters, brain structure changes, and neurochemical dysregulation contribute to the condition.

  2. Brain Plasticity: Korb explores the concept of neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to change and rewire itself based on experiences and behaviors. He shows how certain activities can positively impact brain structure and function, leading to improvements in mood.

  3. The Upward Spiral: The core concept of the book is the "upward spiral," which refers to the process of making small positive changes in various areas of life. These changes can improve brain function, leading to an upward trend in mood and well-being.

  4. Behavioral Interventions: The book discusses various lifestyle changes and behavioral interventions that can positively affect brain chemistry and reduce depression symptoms. These include exercise, sleep improvement, social connections, gratitude practice, and mindfulness.

  5. Breaking Negative Feedback Loops: Korb emphasizes the importance of breaking negative feedback loops that perpetuate depression. For instance, depression may lead to social withdrawal, which can further exacerbate feelings of isolation and sadness. Breaking such loops can help start the upward spiral.

  6. Mindfulness and Meditation: Mindfulness practices are explored as effective tools for managing depression. The book explains how mindfulness can alter brain activity and reduce rumination, a common symptom of depression.

  7. Compassion and Self-Compassion: Korb discusses the role of compassion, both for others and oneself, in fostering positive emotional states and overcoming depressive tendencies.

"The Upward Spiral" provides you with a scientific perspective on depression and offers practical strategies to implement positive changes in your life. The book emphasizes that small, consistent efforts can gradually lead to significant improvements in mental health and overall well-being.


I'm truly loving this book and will incorporate some of these easy strategies into my work with clients. I hope you enjoyed this Book Summary on The Upward Spiral.

Using Neuroscience to Reverse the course of Depression
Book Summary on The Upward Spiral

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