DBSA e-Update October 2012

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2013 DBSA National Conference: Register Online Ask the Doc: Should I Try Natural Lithium?
Reminder: Concordance 2012 DBSA Ambassador Highlight: Paula Cole-Miler
Positive Six: Spreading Smiles Still Time to Apply: November Peer Specialist Training
Participate in Research Study from Your Computer (and Get Paid) Wellness Tips from Peers
The Tension Tango Save the Date
A Note from Allen  

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

2013 DBSA National Conference: Register Online

The DBSA 2013 National Conference website is now live and online conference registration is open. Get a head start on your plans to join the DBSA community in sunny Miami, Florida this coming June and take advantage of discounted early bird rates at www.DBSAlliance.org/Conference2013.

The theme for this empowering weekend is Stronger Together—stronger communities, stronger partnerships, and stronger as peers. Visit the conference website to stay up to date on conference developments, including new speaker announcements and information about fun opportunities to take in the Miami backdrop. Conference highlights include an empowering keynote from Priscilla Ridgway, co-author of the highly acclaimed Pathways to Recovery course and workbook, and a performance by Victoria Maxwell of her one-woman play, accompanied by the results of a research study measuring the effects of her artistic work on reducing stigma.

At DBSA 2013 National Conference website, you’ll find all of the following resources and more: 

  • Online registration center
  • Latest conference news
  • Conference agenda
  • Session descriptions and suggested tracks
  • Special event details
  • Hotel and travel information
  • Miami area resources

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. Stronger Together will take place at the Hilton Miami Downtown in Miami, Florida on June 14–16, 2013. Visit the registration center to secure your spot now.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Reminder: Concordance 2012

Concordance. n. Agreement.
Where Prescription Becomes Collaboration

Concordance 2012 is a live and simultaneous web-streamed panel discussion about enhancing collaborative care. The panel of distinguished mental health care practitioners and consumers will describe a process for consumers to collaborate with providers to create a treatment plan that meets the individual’s goals and circumstances. Both in-person and online audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and weigh-in on this emerging methodology.

When: November 12, 2012, 2:30–4:30pm EST
In person: Cahners Theater, Museum of Science, Boston, MA
Online: Everywhere

Don’t forget to RSVP for this exciting, free event.

Visit www.DBSAlliance.org/Concordance to learn more about our distinguished panelists and RSVP now for the live or web-streamed event.

Marketing and promotions for this event are supported by a charitable contribution from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Concordance 2012 is supported in part by an independent educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc. This program is funded in part by a contribution from Lilly, USA, LLC, which had no control over its content. No personally-identifiable information regarding attendees is provided to any grant supporters.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Positive Six: Spreading Smiles

This month, the DBSA Positive Six Campaign challenges you to get your grin on. For October’s Spreading Smiles Challenge, we encourage you to do something kind and unexpected for others. Whether you tell a joke, feed a parking meter that’s about to expire, or send a note to a friend about how much you care, the smiles you create are bound to multiply.

DBSA’s Positive Six October resources are there to help you meet the challenge. We’ve designed cards that you can print and hand out to make others smile this month, as well as a podcast about how one man uses stand up comedy to spread smiles and foster recovery. As always, we’ve also got a new cartoon, thought starters, and more.

More to Smile About
October marks the final month of the DBSA Positive Six Campaign. Thanks for taking small steps along with us to connect to your health, your community, and your relationships. Even if you haven’t been participating in the campaign, it’s never too late to start thinking and acting with positivity. Make someone smile this month and help us end this year’s DBSA Positive Six Campaign with a bang.

Get Involved

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Participate in Research Study from Your Computer (and Get Paid)

Participating in mental health research doesn’t always mean making hospital visits or taking different medications. Researchers need to collect all kinds of information about mood disorders that can eventually lead to breakthroughs in understanding. Sometimes it’s as simple as answering a few questions over the phone or filling out a survey. And some studies will even pay you for your contribution to their research.

One study currently listed on WeSearchTogether.org seeks to understand how Facebook use affects individuals with Major Depressive Disorder. Qualified participants will be compensated for their time spent answering questions and granting researchers a look at your Facebook activity. Learn more and find other studies at WeSearchTogether.org.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Tension Tango

Adding an anxiety diagnosis to bipolar disorder can feel like bad news—but it's a key step toward real relief.

Dave M. has been through the unshakable weight of depression and the reckless risk-taking of mania. But he says the sudden panic of anxiety is worst of all. It’s been a constant in his life as far back as high school, when he remembers freezing in place at the chalkboard in algebra, unable to write the answer to an equation as sweat beaded up.

Research indicates that more than half of people with bipolar disorder also have an anxiety disorder. Often the anxiety strikes first, suggesting that it could be a risk factor for developing bipolar, says Regina Sala, MD, PhD, of Columbia University. 

Read more of “The Tension Tango” at BP Magazine.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

A Note from Allen

I knew her right away.

I walked into the Palos Country Club, where the Fourth Annual Patrick B. Mackey Memorial Golf Outing was being hosted by the family, friends, and community of Patrick Mackey. From across the room, I saw Maureen Mackey’s sparkling smile. I instantly knew it was her, even though we hadn’t met in person before that afternoon. I walked over, introduced myself, and let her know that I could tell instantly that she was Maureen—that she was Patrick’s mom. We shared a hug, some tears, and definitely more smiles as the lovely afternoon, full of laughter and hope, continued.

When our loved ones leave us, as Patrick did too soon, we carry them in our hearts and carry on despite the difficulty of doing so. I believe the smiles we share with those we encounter day to day help us to celebrate all of our loved ones, both those who are with us and those who have left us. Your smile may look like that of your son, your father, your daughter, your mother, or it may simply have been planted there, many times, by a friend, partner, spouse, or loved one. But the smiles shine on, begetting new smiles as their reflections, mirroring both our own joy and that of the people in our hearts. Through smiles, I have known people I never got to meet in person—Dan, Dave, Davka, John, Rebecca, Todd, and many more—just as through my smile, you’ll know all of my loved ones and reflect their love back to me. That’s part of why I think October’s Positive Six challenge, Spreading Smiles, is such a great idea. I hope it will inspire a few more smiles for you, too.

May we all find, remember, and share smiles this October and always,


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc: Should I Try Natural Lithium?

I’ve heard that natural lithium is available at health food stores and online. It’s supposed to have fewer risks and side effects than prescription lithium. Should I try switching from prescription lithium to the natural kind?

Lithium dietary supplements usually contain lithium orotate, a different lithium “salt” from the lithium carbonate or lithium citrate in most prescription lithium. Lithium doses in dietary supplements are much lower than in prescription lithium—usually 10mg per pill instead of 300mg or 450mg. There are some claims that lithium orotate is better absorbed or more active, so lower doses are still effective. But there is no clear evidence (no randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded trials) showing that low doses of lithium orotate are effective for treatment or long-term prevention of mood symptoms.

Still, it is possible that very low doses of lithium are helpful for some people. Lithium is a naturally occurring mineral, and trace amounts are present in the water many of us drink. And areas with more lithium in the water supply tend to have lower suicide rates! So, very tiny amounts of lithium —less than 1% of the lithium even in low-dose dietary supplements—might sometimes be helpful.

But if you are taking prescription lithium, you definitely do not want to switch to a low-dose nutritional supplement without talking with your doctor. For some people, suddenly stopping lithium or suddenly decreasing the dose can cause severe mood swings or symptoms of mania.

And you wouldn’t want to add a lithium nutritional supplement to prescription lithium. That might increase your blood level of lithium enough to cause side effects or increase your risk of long-term problems from lithium.


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.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Ambassador Highlight: Paula Cole-Miler

This October, DBSA would like to highlight Paula Cole-Miller's ambassador story. Her optimism and creative use of language exemplify the plethora of talents possessed by many who are affected by mood disorders. She hasn't let her diagnosis keep her from striving to achieve great accomplishments, and she is an inspiration for others to do the same. You can read the rest of Paula's story on her ambassador page and show support for her efforts by making a gift to her page today.

If Paula's story has inspired you to become a DBSA Ambassador, you can sign up today. Just this fall, we've added six more ambassadors to our program. We'd like to welcome Rachel McFadden, AJ Peterson, Steven Smith, Otilia Fonseca, Stacey Seaman, and Elle Skocilich. Read their stories.

Want to share with others why you support DBSA? Has DBSA made an impact on your personal recovery story? The DBSA national office wants to hear from you! We are looking for people to submit testimonials (2–5 sentences) and personal stories (2 paragraphs to a page) to feature in our creative projects and campaigns. To learn more about how you might submit your story or testimonial, email Brittany Telander at BTurski@dbsalliance.org.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Still Time to Apply: November Peer Specialist Training

DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training prepares people like you to use their experiences to effectively support the recovery of others. This comprehensive course delivers a foundation in recovery principles, intervention techniques, and ethical practice. The next DBSA Peer Specialist Training course takes place November 26–30, 2012 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.

Send your application by Friday, October 19. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for qualified applicants. Visit DBSA’s training and consultation webpage for additional information.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Be Present
The unknown can influence the present. Stop. Work with what is known.

Good Things
When life is hectic and overwhelming, focus on the little successes. When spinning around in a circle, you need to set your sights on a single point. You need to think about the good things as they happen, even if they may be small and mundane.

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

October 1–31, 2012
DBSA +6 Spreading Smiles Challenge

October 22–23, 2012
DBSA Mental Health First Aid Training
Springfield, IL

November 12, 2012
Concordance 2012
Online and in Boston, MA

November 26–30, 2012
DBSA Peer Specialist Core Training Course
Baltimore, MD

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