DBSA e-Update December 2012

Quick Links to Articles Below

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen: Resilience in the New Year

2012 has been a year of extraordinary joy and remarkable sorrow. It’s difficult—perhaps even impossible—not to focus primarily on the sorrow as our nation reels from the unimaginable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. We all must grieve and heal while sending our love and sympathy to the families of the victims.

Even as I am at a loss for words when contemplating such horror, I am certain that many facets of our work at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) are essential to the healing that we all need, whether or not we live with mood disorders. I know that we must and will find resilience. We will persist in our pursuit of wellness and joy for our community.

How are we at DBSA a model of what must happen for the world in 2013?

When there is pain and confusion, we come together. This joining in the face of adversity is essential to peer support. In 2013, DBSA will continue to provide free access to peer-facilitated support groups, and in our mutual aid of one another, we will find the strength to continue. And even as the world is frightening and complicated, if we can all come together, we can and will persist in the creation of joy.

When there is injustice, we speak out. DBSA was founded by a community of advocates who felt they had to do something to ensure that people with depression and bipolar disorder could get better care and achieve healthier lives. That is our legacy. Now, with treatment improving and understanding of mood disorders increasing, we must ensure that everyone has access to the highest quality of care. Similarly, we must come together and advocate for changes that will prevent senseless damage to our children and our communities. DBSA colleague Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD), has some cogent thoughts about some actions we can take.

When there is a challenge, we face it with wisdom and responsibility. At a personal level, wellness is not always easy—numerous challenges can get in the way of our achievement of a healthy life. Yet, armed with knowledge and inspiration, we forge ahead and keep believing that a better life is possible. At an organizational level, DBSA has certainly faced obstacles, yet we close 2013 with excellent momentum and poised for a New Year of impact and integrity thanks to the wisdom and responsibility of our Board, staff, and family of chapters. And we as a nation can find the wisdom to build solutions that allow our schools to be safe, our children to know more joy and less sorrow, and our communities to heal and ultimately thrive.

We at DBSA wish you, and all of us, resilience for the New Year.

–Allen Doederlein, DBSA President

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Concordance: Watch Online

On Monday, November 12, DBSA joined forces with the International Society for Bipolar Disorder (ISBD) and the Collaborative Care Initiative (CCI) to host a live event and simultaneous web-streamed panel discussion about enhancing collaborative care. Now you can watch the event recording online at www.DBSAlliance.org/Concordance.

Don’t miss this dynamic conversation between moderator Dr. Gary Sachs (Harvard University), a prestigious panel of mental health consumers and practitioners, and audience members. In the video, you’ll learn the basic concepts behind collaborative care and address questions about the best way and time to approach the idea with your health care provider. Find out how you can work with your health care provider to create a treatment plan that you both agree is best for you and your individual circumstances and desires. Watch today.

There’s more to come on the concept of concordance: DBSA is developing a follow-up survey to gather your reactions to concordance and the event will soon be available on DVD.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Lucinda Jewell
DBSA Board Chair

A Message from DBSA Board Chair, Lucinda Jewell, to the DBSA Community: DBSA Stands for Mental Wellness

This has been an unprecedented inaugural year to serve as your national chair. Beginning with velocity, our Board and staff collaborated to create an organizational vision: “DBSA envisions wellness for people living with mood disorders.” This statement has transformed our mission to focus on four core values of community, inspiration, wisdom, and responsibility.

I am proud to share what we have achieved and where we have exceeded expectations in all aspects of our organization. Here is just a short list of DBSA’s accomplishments in the past 11 months:

  • DBSA regenerated our regional events with chapters in the form of Partners in Mission sessions and the Chapter Leadership Forum as a stand-alone conference.
  • DBSA re-launched DBSAlliance.org with greater navigability and a focus on the areas of information most important to our chapters.
  • DBSA launched WeSearchTogether.org in collaboration with the University of Michigan Depression Center in order to boost participation of peers in research about mental health.
  • DBSA advanced strategic partnerships with Families for Depression Awareness, the National Council on Community Behavioral Healthcare, the National Network of Depression Centers, and several other social-profit and for-profit entities.
  • DBSA nurtured a successful strategic partnership with the International Society of Bipolar Disorders, and DBSA’s symposium at the ISBD conference in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012 led to our Concordance webcast on November 12, 2012 and will lead to a joint conference day in June 2013 in Miami.
  • DBSA exceeded measures for attracting new individual, government, and corporate investors in 10 of 11 months.
  • DBSA completed a three-year strategic plan, which will be presented to the DBSA community in early 2013.

None of this would have been possible without our new vision and the extraordinary teamwork of Board, staff, chapters, honorary and scientific advisors, and the larger community.

Let me say again: DBSA envisions wellness for people living with mood disorders—not someday, or in some distant future, but now. This does not mean that mental health symptoms will miraculously disappear, but that, as an organization, we are dedicated to making wellness available to everyone regardless of their circumstances or how they feel in the moment. How will we do this and what will it look like?

How will we do this?
Completing the vision, mission, and values statement allowed DBSA’s strategic planning committee to bring clarity and efficiency to developing a five-year strategy. The committee made three strategic choices that staff will use to frame and implement all messaging, marketing, initiatives, and programs going forward:

  • PEER FOCUS: We are peers who have or have had mood disorders and we build on shared experiences to live better now.
  • ADVOCACY: We create and promote messages, structures, and practices that advance mental health, personal choice, and wellness.
  • ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS: We provide powerful leadership to fulfill on our current commitments and stated vision with impact, accountability, and integrity.

What will it look like?
Over the past several years, institutional and social support for people with mood disorders has been focused around the concept of mental illness. Important work has been done with that focus, but the prevalence of severe symptoms remains unchanged—some would argue they have even increased over time. What will similar effort, action, and structures make available in support of the concept of mental wellness? It is up to us to create new and powerful institutions and social supports for mental wellness, and we will need the strength and commitment of our combined voices, along with those of our allies and social-profit and for-profit partners, to explore what mental wellness can make possible. Mental wellness will require a shift in how mental health is viewed, asking new questions and establishing new educational priorities, research directions, lifestyle practices, and social-profit organizations.

DBSA is that new social-profit organization. We are taking the lead in a bold adventure. We are grateful for where we have been, where we are now, and the possibilities that we have yet to imagine and make real. Wherever you are in relationship to your own mental health and the conversation for it, we invite you to join us—just where you are. You make a difference no matter how you feel. And people who have experienced depression and/or mania have made and continue to make extraordinary contributions in their own lives, in the advancement of humanity, and in the understanding of what it is to be human.

Join us in standing up, speaking out, and stepping into an unimaginable future of mental wellness for all. Together, we can!


Lucinda Jewell serves as the Chairman of DBSA. She is the former President of DBSA Boston and still serves on the board there. Previously, she was a co-founder and first editor of the Boston Book Review, a literary review modeled on the Times Literary Supplement. She earned her Ed. M in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard, and since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995, has been a tireless educator and advocate for transforming the conversation for mental health. She lives with her daughter in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

What Should Researchers Study?

Have you ever thought that the mental health community should be researching the effectiveness of different self-help strategies? Or maybe you'd like to see more studies about ways to prevent mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder?

DBSA and the University of Michigan Depression Center's collaborative project, WeSearchTogether, wants to learn more about what you think researchers should be studying. Take the survey to share your opinions about where research should go, what you think might cause or prevent mood disorders, and what you’ve found helpful in managing your own symptoms. The results of this survey will be shared with researchers and consumers to foster dialogue among researchers and consumers. WeSearchTogether furthers an atmosphere of mutual benefit and wisdom among people living with mood disorders and the researchers whose discoveries can improve their lives.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Susan L. McElroy, MD

Ask the Doc: How is Depression during Pregnancy Different?

Is depression during pregnancy different from depression at any other time? Is treatment for depression safe or effective for pregnant women?

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about one out of every five or six women will experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy. We diagnose prenatal depression when a women experiences two weeks or more of persistent sadness, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, significant changes in sleep or appetite, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, or repeated thoughts of death or self-harm. Women with a personal or family history of depression are at higher risk. Other risk factors include relationship problems, stressful life events, and pregnancy-related issues, such as earlier age of pregnancy, greater number of children, infertility treatments, medical complications, and previous pregnancy loss.

Untreated depression during pregnancy is unhealthy for mother and baby. A woman who is depressed may not take adequate care of herself, leading to poor nutrition, drinking, smoking, and suicidal behavior. Risks for the baby include premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems. Women who experience depression in pregnancy are also at risk for depression after delivery, or postpartum depression, and that may interfere with bonding behavior between mother and baby.

Effective treatment for depression is important to mother and baby. Good self care (exercise, a healthy diet, regular sleep) is always important. For women with mild or moderate depression, support groups and individual or group psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, may be enough. Women who experience more severe depression sometimes take antidepressant medication. A decision to take medication must balance the possible benefits and risks. All antidepressants cross the placenta and get into the baby’s blood stream. There is not enough information to say that any antidepressants are completely safe, and some antidepressants may be linked to physical malformations, heart problems, pulmonary hypertension, and low birth weight. Talk with your prenatal care and mental health providers about risks and benefits of specific antidepressants, and remember that new information about safety of antidepressants in pregnancy is always becoming available.


Susan L. McElroy, MD, is the Chief Research Officer at the Linder Center of HOPE and a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where she directs the psychopharmacology research program. She is internationally known for her research in mood disorders.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Holiday Gifts from DBSA

Let DBSA help you spread your holiday cheer by ordering your holiday cards from the Cards For Causes website. By going to the “Select A Cause” tab, you can pick DBSA from the “Health” drop down menu. Then select the holiday card of your liking to purchase. When checking out, you have the option to add a line at the bottom of the card sharing with others your support of DBSA. When you order from Cards For Causes, 20% of your purchase goes straight to DBSA.

Make your gift strike a special chord this holiday season by making a gift of hope. For that person you have no idea what to get or that someone that has everything, consider a gift of hope, $50 and above, in their honor this Christmas. A gift of hope goes beyond the gift giver and receiver. It's a gift that supports and empowers the 21 million Americans living with a mood disorder diagnosis. A gift of hope made during the month of December will have the option to send the honored individual a thoughtful acknowledgement card notifying them of your gift to DBSA in their name.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Follow Your Dream: Become a Peer Specialist in 2013

We’re pleased to announce that the next DBSA Peer Specialist Core Training course will take place on March 4–8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. DBSA Peer Specialist Training prepares people like you to use their recovery experience to assist others as peer specialists. Facilitated by nationally-recognized trainers, this comprehensive course delivers a foundation in recovery principles, intervention techniques, and ethical practice. Training takes place Monday–Friday, followed by certification testing. DBSA actively seeks a diverse group of applicants for this unique training experience.

Application deadline is Wednesday, February 6. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for qualified applicants. Please visit DBSA’s training and consultation webpage to download the application form and for additional information.

Note: Each individual state or service delivery system sets its own peer specialist training and certification standards. Please check local requirements with your state certification body, office of consumer affairs, or service delivery system before making the decision to participate in this training course. DBSA can provide information on training curriculum content on request.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Resolve to Be an Early Bird

Thinking ahead to New Years resolutions? Resolve to take advantage of early bird rates for the DBSA 2013 National Conference: Stronger Together. Celebrate wellness with your peers in sunny Miami, Florida over the course of three days filled with hope, help, education, and inspiration. Conference highlights include skills-based breakout sessions, support groups, comedy night, and moving keynotes, such as Priscilla Ridgeway (co-author of Pathways to Recovery: A Strengths Self-help Workbook). The conference will take place at the Hilton Miami Downtown from June 14–16, 2013.

Early bird conference registration will end on January 14, which makes the holiday season an opportune time to register. Visit the registration center to learn how you can register online, by mail, or over the phone.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Making Peace with Parenting

Minutes before relatives and friends arrived for her daughter’s second birthday party, Missy N. retreated upstairs to her bedroom and broke down. The stress from making the invitations, cooking, and cleaning the house to make this a special celebration for her first child had caught up with her.

Still sobbing as people began filling up her house, she paged her psychiatrist, who posed this question: “What do you want to get out of this day?”

That question not only turned things around on that important occasion, but in the years since has served as a guiding query whenever the mother of two from Massachusetts is struggling to be the parent she wants to be.

Read the full article at Esperanza Magazine.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

There is no space like the one you create for yourself.

Frame of Mind
If you are in a negative frame of mind (nothing is good about something or someone), it is not a good time to talk about something significant or serious. Write a note and come back to it later.

Visit the Facing Us Clubhouse to get more tips, create your own tips, track your wellness, and connect with peers. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

February 6, 2013
Deadline to apply
DBSA Peer Specialist Core Training
Chicago, IL

March 4–8, 2013
DBSA Peer Specialist Core Training
Chicago, IL

June 14–17, 2013
DBSA 2013 National Conference: Stronger Together
Miami, FL

Back to top.