DBSA e-Update November 2013

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Results Are in for Co-occurring Conditions Survey

DBSA conducted an online survey (via dbsalliance.org) to understand consumers’ views regarding the relationship between mood disorders and physical health and preferences regarding relationships between mental health and general medical care. Consumers were invited to respond by notices on the DBSA home page, by email notices to chapter leaders, and by notices in the DBSA e-Update. A total of 400 consumers or family members responded. The survey included both multiple choice questions to assess consumers’ preferences regarding specific issues and open-ended questions to explore consumers’ views and personal experiences.

Several insights are revealed from our recent survey on co-occurring conditions. Consumers generally agreed with the view that mental health providers should be actively involved in improving physical health. Moreovoer, you want your mental and physical health care doctors to share information. However there is concern that medical health providers could pre-judge their patients based on knowing their mental health conditions. To learn the survey results, read the survey report summary.

Survey on Suicidal Thoughts Still Open

DBSA’s latest survey about your experience in dealing with thoughts of death or suicide is still open. We appreciate that this subject is very sensitive, but we believe it is important to understand how people cope with thoughts or feelings about suicide or self-harm. Other people may benefit from knowing what has—or has not—helped you. We appreciate your willingness to share your experiences.

NEW Survey: Addressing the Unmet Needs of Young Adults

Young adults with mood disorders between the ages of 18 -29 face unique challenges as they transition from high school, to entering the workforce or college, to starting a career and/or a family of their own. The special needs of this age group have historically not been a focus for DBSA or our new partner, The Balanced Mind Foundation. As one organization, we have a wonderful opportunity to develop specialized programming to assist young adults as they transition from family support to independence.

DBSA is seeking individuals, age 18 - 29, to help us create impactful programs to address the needs of young adults. We will be creating the DBSA Young Adult Council and are also conducting a survey to collect feedback from young adults and parents of young adults on the issues of critical importance to this age group. Take the Addressing the Unmet Needs of  Young Adults survey.  Note if you’re 18  - 29 years of age, live with a mood disorder, and are interested in learning more about the Council, please indicate this in the Survey.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Steve Brannon

Life Unlimited: Steve Brannon

After a distinguished career in the Navy, I was proud to join the public sector utilizing the immeasurable discipline and knowledge I had acquired serving in our country’s military. I enrolled in a rigorous doctor of education (Ed.D.) program at Vanderbilt University with an emphasis in Human Resource Development. I was well on the way to establishing a new career as an independent management consultant. Areas of focus included organizational development, prospective employee screening, and middle-management development.

Always keeping an eye on my roots, I pitched a proposal on the needs of returning veterans to The Tennessee Department of Veterans’ Affairs and even provided testimony to the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Committee on Veterans Affairs to the 102nd Congress. Also, immediately after retirement, I researched the impact of military base closings for then, Senator Al Gore in his Washington, D.C. office. I was a man headed toward success, but my body and mind had different ideas.

Mental Health Detour

Just shy of completing my doctoral program, I was stricken by an acute episode of depression. I couldn’t get out of bed. I had no energy. I couldn’t focus. After a year of recovering, it became apparent that I would not complete the requirements for my doctorate degree. I was devastated. My goals, dreams and aspirations drifted away.

While not recognizing it at the time, I was one of the fortunate ones. My insurance provided access to the mental health services and prescription medications I required. However, I did not readily accept the help available to me, for I faced an obstacle I now recognize as internalized stigma. It is a legitimate problem for people facing mental health challenges and can delay their receiving treatment and recapturing their lives.

Read Steve’s story.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA 2012 Annual Impact Report Released

2012 was a pivotal year for DBSA. Not only did we build organizational strength, we improved and expanded our core programming and developed new offerings centered on our three strategic initiatives for 2012:

  • Therapeutic Alliance - Highlighted by Concordance 2012, a dynamic discussion between clinicians and peers about changing the nature of collaborative care to reflect joint partnership
  • Community Engagement - Demonstrated by the inaugural launch of the DBSA +6 Campaign, six months of positive actions to connect to your health and community
  • Innovation - Represented by the launch of WeSearchTogether.org, an online portal that bridges the gap between people living with depression or bipolar disorder and the researchers whose discoveries can improve their lives and futures

Impacting Two Million Lives

Through the generosity of our supporters, DBSA shared information, gave personal support, and provided life-saving tools and hope to more than two million people in 2012. Thank you! Read the DBSA 2012 Annual Impact Report and/or learn more about DBSA 2012 programs.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc

I’ve heard claims about nutritional supplements helping with depression or bipolar disorder. Are any of these supplements actually effective? Could any of them be harmful?

Many different nutritional supplements are sometimes suggested to help with depression or bipolar disorder. Three of them have been studied enough that we can say something about their effectiveness and safety: s-adenosyl methionine (also called SAMe), omega-3 fatty acids (often found in fish oil), and hypericum (also called St. John’s Wort).

SAMe has been studied as a treatment for depression since the 1980s, including blinded studies comparing it to a placebo. There is reasonable evidence that SAMe is effective either alone or in combination with prescribed antidepressants. No specific risks have been identified, and it appears to have fewer side effects than most prescribed antidepressants. While the evidence for SAMe is not as extensive as for prescribed antidepressants (fewer studies involving fewer patients), it is certainly reasonable to consider. SAMe has not been well studied as a treatment for depression in bipolar disorder. It may be effective, but (as with prescribed antidepressants) it could bring on mania or more rapid mood swings. Continue reading to learn about the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids and St. John’s Wort.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

As we approach Thanksgiving, I offer my warm and heartfelt thanks to the millions of people who engage with and support the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Indeed, I am struck by how much there is to be thankful for this year. In the broader community, this autumn alone, we have seen publication of the long-awaited final rules for implementation of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, and our friend and Honorary Advisory Board member Patrick Kennedy’s coalescence of the mental health community at the inaugural Kennedy Forum Conference. Here at DBSA, our alignment with The Balanced Mind Foundation is allowing us to reach the younger members of our community, and we are beginning our dialogue with a new survey about the challenges faced by transitioning adults. 

Our family of DBSA Chapters is an inspiring force for good, with 286 Chapters across the country providing free, in-person, peer-facilitated support to 53,471 people who are affected by depression and bipolar disorder. I thank each and every one of our extraordinary Chapter leaders and support group participants who join us on our collective journey to help ourselves, and our communities, to access and achieve wellness.

I honor and thank our nation’s Veterans, who in all they do embody peer support and giving back. We are proud to have worked with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to provide Peer Specialist Training to hundreds of Veteran peers this year; we have been honored to learn with and from these extraordinary men and women.

And I thank each of you reading this note. From wherever we are on our own journeys, we are part of changing the conversation about depression and bipolar disorder, helping to shift the focus from danger and drain to one of possibility and contribution. 

Thank you for your engagement and support of DBSA,


Mental Health Advocacy

DBSA Joins the National #GivingTuesday Movement to Encourage Spending with a Purpose 

On Tuesday, December 3, DBSA is encouraging individuals to kick off the giving season by giving back to others, through making a gift of hope to DBSA. By participating in Giving Tuesday, individuals are taking action to create a better world by giving back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support. As a community of peers, DBSA is grateful for all you do to enrich our community with your voice and support of individuals living with, or affected by, mood disorders.

This holiday season we are asking, if you haven’t done so already, for you to further your support by making a charitable donation to DBSA on Giving Tuesday, December 3, 2013. All donations received will help DBSA reach our goal to raise $30,000 to receive a match gift from The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration in support our alignment with The Balance Mind Foundation.  

Making a gift in honor of a friend or loved one is a wonderful way to add meaning to your holiday shopping this year. As a token of our thanks, DBSA will send an “Embrace Possibility ▪ Embrace Positivity” bracelet to everyone that makes a gift on December 3, 2013, of $50 or more. Individuals making a gift of $100 or more will receive two bracelets---one to keep and one to share. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please contact development@DBSAlliance.org

Mental Health Advocacy

Care for Your Mind: October Highlights

Care for Your Mind has been honoring our Veterans with several popular postings. Learn the opinions on the state of mental health care from experts at the Wounded Warrior Project and the Veterans Health Council for Vietnam Veterans of America. By lending your voice, we create a community where we can help policymakers understand the realities of the mental health care system for individuals living with a mood disorder and their families.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Brain Food

We've got tips on how to counter cravings and make healthier diet choices so you can feel better in body, mind and mood. 

Read "Brain Food."

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

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.

On a gloomy day, just think of Annie and the song The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow. And remember better days are ahead. The gloomy days are only temporary.

Bipolar Disorder
Anger is a part of life. When I get angry I take a “vacation.” I go into my bathroom, take my hand-held electronic solitaire game and turn on a fan to drown out any noise and play the game for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. However long it take me to calm down. It works great.

Listening to someone’s voice can be very relaxing. CD’s that have soothing music or nature sounds that are calming work well as well.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

Now through January, 31, 2014

Lilly Reintegration Scholarship, a program that helps those battling with severe mental illness go back to school in order to gain the skills to secure employment and reintegrate into society has expanded to include Major Depressive Disorder Major Depressive. Applications are currently available to download and print at http://www.reintegration.com. Applications must be postmarked by January 31, 2014, and recipients will be notified in June 2014.

January 13-17, 2014

Peer Specialist Core training will be held in Chicago. Be sure to register to reserve your seat.