DBSA e-Update March 2012

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Note from Allen: Report from Turkey Bipolar Disorder & Physical Triggers
Linda Gray Sexton Joins DBSA Honorary Advisory Board Wellness Tips from Peers
Ask the Doctor Q & A Save the Date
Get Ready for the DBSA Positive Six (+6 ) Challenge  
National Council Needs Your Help Inviting Stephen Colbert to Hill Day

From left to right:
Christy Beckmann, Treasurer, DBSA Board
Allen Doederlein, President, DBSA
Lucinda Jewell, Ed. M., Chair, DBSA Board

Note from Allen: Report from Turkey

I write this from Istanbul, Turkey, where DBSA co-presented a symposium on advocacy at the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Society of Bipolar Disorders. It is fitting that the ISBD Conference took place in Turkey, for it was two thousand years ago in this region that Aretaeus of Cappadocia was the first person to write of the intersection of mania and melancholia that we know today as bipolar disorder.

The people of Istanbul—including many local individuals who live with mood disorders—have been incredibly welcoming and gracious, sharing the customs and history of their city, which have been new to me, and their stories of living with depression or bipolar disorder, which have been familiar. Despite cultural differences, the people from Turkey (or Iran, or Switzerland, or Uganda) who live with mood disorders are indeed my peers…we have been through something similar, and this links us in a very deep way.

Along these lines, DBSA’s presentation—a panel discussion including Mexico’s Dr. Manuel Sanchez de Carmona, Turkish peer advocate Tezer Orhan, and DBSA, with moderation by South Korea’s Dr. Kyooseob Ha and Sweden’s Dr. Lars Haggstrom—focused on peer support as a universal tool for wellness. Peer support is inherently driven by and responsive to the needs and concerns of diverse populations at the local level, so we presented on best practices DBSA has learned in its over 25 years of fostering community engagement through peer-led support groups.

After our presentation, a young woman from Uganda addressed the panel and said that the support groups started at her clinic several years ago had not lasted, but that she felt that our talk gave her concrete ideas about how she and her peers could create something more enduring. This was a remarkably moving thing to hear, and I was further moved by the tradition of peer support launched and nurtured by the members of the peer movement who founded and have driven DBSA on its journey of hope—for they developed a model that is replicable, and that will have profound impact, internationally. I am eager to see DBSA’s international programming grow, as it will in conjunction with our joint presentations with ISBD in Miami June 16, 2013.

Thank you for being part of a global force for good: peer support.



Linda Gray Sexton Joins DBSA Honorary Advisory Board

DBSA welcomes Linda Gray Sexton as the newest member of the DBSA Honorary Advisory Board (HAB). Ms. Gray Sexton is the author of two memoirs, two books of non-fiction, and four novels, as well as being the literary executor of her mother, the late Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, Anne Sexton. Her current memoir, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide is a very personal account of her struggle with depression, bipolar disorder and the tendency to suicide, which she inherited like a legacy from her mother, who killed herself when Sexton was twenty-one. Through the help of family, therapy and medication, she curbed the cycle of suicide that she once seemed destined to inherit.

Ms. Gray Sexton joins HAB members Patty Duke, Jessie Close, Marya Hornbacher, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Greg Montgomery, and Andrew Solomon in exemplifying how people living with mental health conditions can and do live extraordinary lives unlimited by a diagnosis. Learn more about each of the members of the DBSA HAB.

Thank you to Dr. Joseph Calabrese, DBSA Scientific Advisory Board member for contributing his expertise to this month’s Q & A.

Ask the Doctor Q & A

"I've been reading that ketamine can help with severe depression when other treatments haven't worked. Should I ask my doctor to try it?”

The short answer to this very good question is that this treatment is still considered experimental. Ketamine is not approved by the FDA to treat depression, it is not available outside of research studies. At this point, it is more useful to help us understand the biology of depression and to point the way to future treatments.

However, let’s spend some time describing what ketamine is and what it is supposed to do.

Ketamine is an experimental drug currently under study at the National Institute of Mental Health and other research infrastructures around the world. Under the leadership of Carlos Zarate, MD, this compound has been shown to possess rapid and marked short-term efficacy in the treatment of major depressive episodes in both Major Depressive Disorder (unipolar disorder) and bipolar disorder. Not only do the symptoms of depression go away quite quickly, but thoughts of suicide do so as well. The results of Dr. Zarate’s studies are quite remarkable because it normally takes several weeks to make a major depressive episode go away. Unfortunately, Ketamine can have severe side effects, and it is subject to abuse.

Ketamine is a drug which has been used in human and veterinary medicine. When used in human medicine, it is used prior to surgery by anesthesiologists to induce and maintain general anesthesia. Although Ketamine has been used safely and effectively by anesthesiologists, it has gained some notoriety for its use on the streets as a way to induce hallucinations, known as “Special K”.

Let’s finish by talking about how ketamine is important in the regulation of mood. Ketamine is believed to have its effect by changing how nerve endings talk to one another. When one nerve talks to another nerve within the brain, it does so by putting out neurotransmitters. There are three categories of neurotransmitters amines (norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, etc.), peptides (enkephalins, neuropeptide Y, substance P, etc), and amino acids (glutamate, glycine). Ketamine is now known to affect the excitatory amino acid, glutamate. Glutamate is one of 20 amino acids (the building blocks of the human body), and one of only two primary excitatory amino acids the other is aspartate.

Stay tuned for more developments on ketamine as it is likely to lead to major breakthroughs in at least the short-term treatment of major depressive episodes.

Do you have a question for a mental health care provider? We will be accepting questions for our clinical panel and will publish a select question and answer in each of the DBSA monthly eUpdates. Submit your question here by April 4th to be considered for the April eUpdate.

Joseph Calabrese, MD, holds the Bipolar Disorders Research Chair and is Professor of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. He is also the Director of the Mood Disorders Program within the Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Dr. Calabrese co-directs an NIMH-funded ‘Bipolar Disorders Research Centre, whose projects include child and adolescent research conducted by Bob Findling, geriatric research conducted by Martha Sajatovic, dual diagnosis research conducted by Keming Gao, metabolic research conducted by Dave Kemp, and molecular genetics conducted by Jinbo Fan. Dr. Calabrese has received numerous research grants from the NIMH and other Federal agencies and has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers. Dr. Calabrese has received the NARSAD Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and the Gerald L. Klerman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.


Get Ready for the DBSA Positive Six (+6 ) Challenge

DBSA’s Positive Six campaign kicks off May 1—start spreading the word and planning ways to be part of the fun! Check out our list of Feeding Kindness Thought Starters for May activities and get you excited about doing something good for yourself and your community. And don’t forget to request a free calendar of the monthly challenges on www.positive6.org.

Stay tuned for the April eUpdate for more ways to get involved!

About DBSA +6
DBSA +6 challenges you to make small, positive changes in your life for six months. Each month—May through October 2012—we will feature a new +6 challenge aimed at building new connections with your health, relationships, and community. Whether it’s incorporating a new habit, reconnecting with old friends, sharing kindness, or simply making someone smile, little things can make a big difference—in your life and in the lives of others.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Council Needs Your Help Inviting Stephen Colbert to Hill Day

National Council is inviting Stephen Colbert to attend their 8th Annual Hill Day, June 25-26 in Washington, DC. Hill Day has grown in presence on Capitol Hill, with more attendees and more impact each year to help raise the profile of mental illness and addictions policies.

DBSA is proud to support National Council in this initiative and urges you to join their campaign to get Stephen Colbert to come to Hill Day by watching their musical invitation video and:

Tweeting it to Stephen: Stephen, be our man at @NationalCouncil #HillDay2012! bit.ly/BeOurMan @StephenAtHome
Sharing it on Facebook: Loving this video by @TheNationalCouncil inviting Stephen Colbert to come to Hill Day 2012! Please share this with your friends to help spread the word. bit.ly/BeOurMan

Visit National Council’s website to learn more ways that you can get involved in the Colbert Campaign. To register for Hill Day for free, click here .

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Bipolar Disorder & Physical Triggers

DBSA is pleased to partner with bp Magazine/esperanza to bring you empowering and informative articles featured in the quarterly bp and esperanza magazines. The below article, by Beth Brownsberger Mader, is from the winter issue of bp magazine.

I have always been “outdoorsy.” All my life I’ve loved outdoor adventures—from rock climbing to rafting, high-altitude running to distance swimming, camping in the dirt to sliding down glaciers, and everything in between.

In hindsight, I experienced bipolar disorder symptoms during many of my adventures, long before my diagnosis in 2004. Today I understand that I am sensitive to physical stressors—usually the extremes, like heat, cold, fatigue, poor sleeping conditions, or body-punishing activity—and I realize that, once triggered, my behavior can run all up and down the bipolar disorder spectrum in unpredictable ways…

Read the full article

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

In the Facing Us Clubhouse, consumers who have found small ways to make a big difference in their recovery can share wellness tips like those listed here. Visit the Clubhouse to be inspired by your peers…and to pass on some of your own inspiration.

To access the Wellness Tracker visit the Facing Us Clubhouse. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free!

Meditate on all things for which you are grateful—from the running water in your sink, to your cat on your lap. Meditate on the happiness of others, thinking to yourself: “your happiness is cause for my happiness”. Focusing on these small thoughts of beauty brings joy, happiness, and love to your heart.

If at third you don’t succeed, try something else!

Being Defensive
Once we lash out at someone, we cannot take it back. Better to think first or pause, as a reminder that we are all human and tend to be nervous about the defensive reactions of others.

A Note about FacingUs.org
When you visit the Facing Us Clubhouse, you'll notice that several "rooms," including the room that houses wellness tips, require you to log in or create an account. Why is this necessary? Because in these sections, you are creating personal journals, books or a plan that is uniquely yours. So, we need a way to pull your unique information—like pulling your file out of a filing cabinet.

Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and FREE! We only need two things to create an account just for you—your e-mail and a password. Please be assured that we will not distribute or sell your information to anyone outside of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. The media room and creativity center on the site does not require registration. The only reason we require registration for other parts of the site is so that you can create your own personal wellness tools.

Save the Date

April 23-27, 2012
DBSA Peer Specialist Training
in Chicago, Illinois

May 1, 2012 October 31, 2012
DBSA +6 Campaign

July 23-27, 2012
DBSA Peer Specialist Training
St. Louis Empowerment Center, St. Louis, MO

Sept. 5-8, 2012
NAPS conference in Philadelphia, PA

October 10, 2012
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Portland, OR

June 14, 2013
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Miami, FL

June 15, 2013 - June 17, 2013
DBSA 2103 National Conference
Miami, FL