DBSA e-Update May 2013

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Don’t Miss Advance Rates for DBSA 2013 National Conference

The DBSA 2013 National Conference: Stronger Together is a weekend-long event that connects you with a community of peers, with leading researchers in the field of mood disorders, and with the skills you need to discover and employ your own personal strengths for better living. From June 14–16 in sunny Miami, FL, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • choose from among more than 20 breakout sessions;
  • hear 4 inspirational keynotes: Victoria Maxwell, Patrick Kennedy, Priscilla Ridgway, and Melody Moezzi;
  • attend support groups and peer roundtables; and
  • find fun and inspiration with your peers!

Advance rates for the DBSA 2013 National Conference end May 20. Register today!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

Care for Your Mind: DBSA needs YOUR voice!

As I mentioned last month, we at DBSA are thrilled to have launched Care for Your Mind with our partners at the national family and caregiver organization, Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA). Care for Your Mind takes ideas and information from some of the leading minds working in the mental health community and brings them together in a forum for dialogue and debate. But we can’t have the robust discussion we need to without you. We need your comments, challenges, and personal stories—how are you being affected by mental health care policy changes? What needs to change within our system? How can we build a mental health care system that works?

See more in this introduction from FFDA Executive Director, Julie Totten, and me:


Join the conversation!
–Allen Doederlein, DBSA President

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Continuing Education for Social Workers at DBSA National Conference

DBSA is pleased to offer a special program of breakout sessions for social workers during the DBSA 2013 National Conference this June in Miami, Florida. The social work credits will be offered on Sunday, June 16.

Social Work Focus

For social workers looking to enhance their professional knowledge and understanding, DBSA recommends the following course of four breakout sessions from Sunday's program:

  • Practicing Mindfulness (9:45–10:45)
  • Getting in the Rhythm (11:15–12:15)
  • Recovery to Practice (1:30–2:30)
  • Channeling Creativity (2:45–3:45)

This program is approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval #886630888-1990) for 4 Social Work continuing education contact hours.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc: Is hypothyroidism interacting with bipolar disorder?

I read a lot about hypothyroidism interacting with bipolar disorder and how taking thyroid supplements can be useful. What is the criteria doctors use for determining if supplements might be beneficial for someone with bipolar disorder?

Mood disorders and thyroid problems are related in several different ways. People who live with mood disorders (both depression and bipolar disorder) are more likely to have thyroid problems. And people who have thyroid problems are more likely to experience mood disorders. And some of the symptoms of depression (like fatigue and slowed thinking) overlap with the symptoms of low thyroid or hypothyroidism. And lithium (commonly used to treat bipolar disorder and sometimes used to treat depression) can cause low thyroid or hypothyroidism. And a form of thyroid hormone is sometimes used as part of depression treatment—even in people who don't have low thyroid.
Initial evaluation for a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder should usually include a blood test for thyroid function, especially for women. We are generally quicker to suggest thyroid hormone supplementation or replacement for people who live with mood disorders. In general, we would not recommend thyroid hormone replacement unless thryoid function is clearly low. But for people who live with depression or bipolar disorder, we often recommend thyroid hormone replacement even when thyroid function is borderline low. If you are taking thyroid hormone replacement for low thyroid, you should have blood tests checked once or twice a year because the dose sometimes needs to be adjusted.
People taking lithium should have a blood test for thyroid function once or twice a year. If lithium seems to be reducing thyroid function, some people choose to try a different medication. But some people choose to keep taking lithium and also take thyroid replacement, especially if lithium seems to work well and doesn't cause other problems or side effects.
Finally, a form of thyroid hormone (called liothyronine) has sometimes been used as a "booster" or add-on treatment when an antidepressant is not effective or only partially effective. Adding liothyronine can help reduce depression even in people who have normal thyroid function tests. In this situation, adding the liothyronine does sometimes cause borderline high thyroid. So doctors need to watch for side effects of this (like jitteriness, sweating, tremors) and need to check blood tests to make sure that the dose is not too high.

Greg Simon, MD, MPH, is a psychiatrist and researcher at Group Health Cooperative at the Center for Health Studies in Seattle. His research focuses on improving the quality and availability of mental health services for people living with mood disorders, and he has a specific interest in activating consumers to expect and demand more effective mental health care.

Got a nagging question you want to ask a doc? Submit your questions online for a chance to get the answer. Check the next DBSA eUpdate to see if your question was chosen.

In the meantime, take a look through our Ask the Doc feature page, a comprehensive archive of past Ask the Doc features which may already be home to the answers you seek.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Life Unlimited: Noeline

After a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in 2001, which came at the heels of a harrowing post-partum season of my life, I momentarily lost more than just my sanity and ability to cope. I lost the solid footing under me of memories and experiences of my life as I was swept up in a whirlwind of retrospective questioning. As a spiritual person, I had revisited every “mystical” encounter and questioned it. As a new mom, I revisited every decision I had made and wondered if I knew what I was doing. The questions continued: Was my marriage based on manic impulsivity? Was this the reason why I could never finish anything I started? Or spent uncontrollably? Or was increasingly anxious and paranoid of people and the world? Finally, was I really just the sum total of chemicals gone awry in my brain?

Read the rest of Noeline’s story to find out how she lives a life unlimited by bipolar disorder.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Become a Part of the New Peer Specialist Workforce

DBSA Peer Specialist Training Course: July 8–12, 2013, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Are you are a person living with a mental health condition who wants to use your experiences to assist your peers in moving forward to recovery? If so, working as a peer specialist may be the next step for you. This workforce is growing nationwide with expanding employment and volunteer opportunities. DBSA’s nationally-recognized peer specialist training course orients participants to a recovery philosophy and prepares them to use peer-delivered services to enhance treatment strategies. Here’s how to apply:

All applications must be received by DBSA by June 6, 2013.

Course fee
$975 per person includes training materials, beverage breaks, and post-training certification testing.

A very limited number of partial training scholarships are available for participants. Please indicate your interest on your application and include any relevant information on your need for financial support.

Please note:  Each individual state or service delivery system sets its own peer specialist training and certification standards. Please check applicable requirements with your state certification body before applying for the training course.

Join the Collaboration to Establish National Practice Standards for Peer Specialists

The International Association of Peer Supporters (formerly NAPS) continues to seek the input of peer support providers across the U.S. on core values common to all peer recovery support practices in the fields of mental health, trauma, and substance use. The association will use this input to come to consensus on the values that are most important to those of us who give and receive peer support. Peer supporter recommendations are being carefully considered as part of a current effort to establish National Practice Standards for Peer Support Providers, which will be used to offer guidelines and achieve greater credibility to the emerging peer support professions. DBSA is an active participant in the national practice standards development process.
To learn more about the project or comment on the National Practice Standards, visit the iNAPS website or Facebook page.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

How are You Feeding Kindness this May?

As part of the DBSA Positive Six Campaign we challenge you to participate in the May Feeding Kindness Challenge by reaching out to someone this month to share a meal. Whether it is sharing a brown bag lunch with someone, inviting a friend over to dinner, or donating canned goods to a local food pantry, you will certainly brighten someone’s day!
Visit the May Feeding Kindness Challenge page to find inspiration in May’s challenge thought starters, read educational articles, listen to a podcast, chuckle at the challenge cartoon, discover healthy recipes, and much more!

Don’t forget to post on our Facebook page to let us know how you’re meeting the challenge!

June Sneak Peek

Don’t forget to join us the first Monday in June (June 3) for the kick off of the Positive Change Challenge. We will be giving away Positive Six merchandise at the top of every hour (9 a.m.–4 p.m. Central) on our Facebook page. The June challenge asks you to incorporate two positive changes into your routine, whether it’s drinking more water, eliminating negative self-talk, or smiling at yourself in the mirror each morning. The first step is to get involved and take the challenge.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Leeza's Life Lessons

After coping with depression and major life changes, popular TV personality Leeza Gibbons hit the reset button—and she wants to show you how to do it, too. Read the full article at Esperanza.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Keep on Going
Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Mood-Lifting Music
Listen to music in another language. Somehow by not having lyrics to distract you, it makes you forget about things by changing your focus. The beat and rhythm take over. In the past I have listened to a Japanese pop band, New Zealand maori drums/traditional music, Ukrainian folk/dance/instrumental music, Latin, and Spanish music. Try it!!

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

May 20
Last day of Advance Registration Rate for DBSA 2013 National Conference

June 1–30
DBSA Positive Six Positive Change Challenge

June 6
Deadline to apply for Milwaukee DBSA Peer Specialist Training

June 14–16
DBSA 2013 National Conference: Stronger Together
Miami, FL

June 17
DBSA Post-Conference Institutes
Miami, FL