DBSA e-Update July 2012

Quick Links to Articles Below

DBSA Re-Vamps Website Ask the Doc: Gary Sachs, M.D.
Say What You Think National Events for Peer Specialists
DBSA +6 Challenge The Cognitive Connection
DBSA Welcomes New Chapters Wellness Tips from Peers
The Next Generation of Peers Save the Date

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Re-Vamps Website

We’re thrilled to debut our newly re-launched website, DBSAlliance.org. We’ve embraced a new look that brings more color and ease into your browsing experience. From the moment you visit the new DBSA website, a rotating banner keeps you abreast of our most timely and important programs and initiatives. Cool colors and clean design not only make reading through the site more enjoyable—they also better capture our organization’s attitude of helpfulness and our commitment to improving the lives of our peers living with mood disorders.

You can still rely on our robust online tools and resources, but now, they’re easier to access. Learn about all our site enhancements and tell us what you think.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Say What You Think

DBSA invites you to participate in three surveys designed to give you a voice in determining the resources DBSA provides and the way researchers use patient information.

  • Do you have opinions about the privacy of medical records for children and young adults? Do you care about how patient information is used by researchers? Your thoughts can affect the way researchers conduct their studies. Let us know what you think with the Research Permissions & Privacy Survey.
  • DBSA is working to create a YouTube video library to address questions of great importance to people living with bipolar disorder. What do you want to see in these videos? Help us create the materials that matter to you. Take the Bipolar Education Program Topics Survey.
  • The 2013 DBSA National Conference will be held in Miami, FL, June 14–16, 2013; the theme for the weekend is “Stronger Together.” Workshops and seminars will focus on strengths-based wellness strategies and tools. Tell us what you want to see at the conference. Take the 2013 National Conference Survey.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Positive Six: Give It a Try in July

This month, the DBSA Positive Six Campaign challenges you to try three new things you’ve been hesitant to try in the past. Whether you brave a rollercoaster, change up an old hairdo, take a class that intimidates you, or taste a new food, you’ll discover something new about yourself—including the knowledge that you can push past a little anxiety to accomplish your goals.

DBSA’s Positive Six July resources are there to help you meet the challenge. Check out our Roll the Dice game for ideas of what to try, and listen to the latest Positive Six podcast for tips on overcoming anxiety about trying new things. As always, you’ll find thought starters, a new cartoon, and more.

Get Involved

August Sneak Peek

Don’t forget to join us August 1st for the kick off of the New Connections Challenge. We will be giving away Positive Six merchandise at the top of every hour (9am-5pm Central) on our Facebook page. The August challenge is all about making new connections, so we’ll encourage you to reach out to four people with whom you’d like to cultivate a friendship. The first step is to get involved and take the challenge.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Welcomes New Chapters

We’re excited to see DBSA chapters spreading far and wide. Join us in welcoming the latest new chapters:

DBSA Contra Costa
DBSA Los Angeles Northeast
DBSA UCLA-Westside

DBSA Greater Jacksonville
DBSA Jacksonville Downtown
DBSA Kissimmee Good Samaritan Society

DBSA NE Michigan

DBSA Woodbury Faith-Based

New Jersey:
DBSA Somerset County

DBSA Bethany

DBSA Lancaster

DBSA Chesapeake Moods & Moments

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Next Generation of Peers

During the past two months, I have had the pleasure of meeting two extraordinary young people whose work as advocates and as writers has inspired me immensely. Author Linea Johnson, who with her mother Cinda Johnson created the honest and deeply resonant Perfect Chaos (St. Martin’s Press), is an extraordinary person who has shared her own raw and difficult story in a way that demonstrates not only the complexity of living with bipolar disorder, but also the power and beauty of the human spirit. It was amazing to read Linea and Cinda’s book, having welcomed them to our 2011 National Conference in Houston, Texas, when their book was still in the final stages of being published. We celebrate Linea’s bravery and her commitment to helping others share their personal stories, as she is DBSA’s July 2012 Story of Life Unlimited.

Another young woman whose courage and commitment to our cause has impressed me a great deal is one of the two 2012 winners of the International Bipolar Foundation essay contest, Genevieve Green. Consider these wise words from her winning essay: “The stigmatized, generalized, and absolutely searing use of ‘bipolar’ in everyday speech, especially when the label is met with such horror and protest, such disgust at the very thought of being “crazy,” is a daily experience I find to be incredibly upsetting and painful. I know that I am not alone in this.” Genevieve will be DBSA’s August 2012 Story of Life Unlimited.

And of course those Stories of Life Unlimited look especially nice as framed by our revamped DBSAlliance.org site. We hope you—and everyone who comes to us seeking information, empowerment, support, and inspiration—find the site easier and more pleasing to navigate.

Thank you for navigating your journey with support from DBSA


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Dr. Gary Sachs is Director of the Bipolar Research Program at Harvard University.

Ask the Doc: Gary Sachs, M.D.

"I have suffered with depression and fatigue for over 40 years. Is there anything that will help the 'flatness' and 'no motivation'? I cannot make myself do anything. I also sleep pretty much 18 hours out of 24."

Addressing any symptom begins with trying to diagnosis the cause. You may be wondering whether your symptoms are due to your mood disorder or could be caused by a general medical disorder.

Since your condition seems to be life-long, it’s not likely that you are suffering from a medication side effect, infection, or have an acute life threatening condition.  Simple blood tests and an EKG are usually sufficient to rule out the most relevant medical problems. Most people are not well served by endlessly pursuing expensive evaluations for rare conditions.

This brings us to the realm of psychiatry. There are three main possibilities to sort out: 1. Your treatment could be ineffective, 2. Your treatment could be partially effective, or 3. Your symptoms could be due to side effects of your treatment. In some cases the answer may seem obvious, but for most cases there is substantial uncertainty and management proceeds based on a working hypothesis.

Under hypotheses 1 and 2, you haven’t responded adequately to current Plan A and will be looking for a more effective Plan B. Before you move on to Plan B, however, it's sensible to be sure you have given Plan A adequate time at a therapeutic dose before moving on to a higher dose of A or to new treatment B. Importantly, patients may find antidepressant medications work best when used in conjunction with lifestyle changes (e.g., regular exercise, a healthy sleep/wake cycle, and a healthy diet) and/or formal psychosocial treatments (e.g., Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy, or Family Focused Therapy).

Under hypothesis 3, you will be weighing the risks and benefits of management by subtraction, reducing the dose or eliminating the offending treatment. Management by subtraction (of ineffective medications) is a very attractive option, because it can often produce quick improvement, but reducing partially effective medication can lead to worsening depression. This risk may be managed by reducing the dose gradually in search of a level where the adverse effects resolve and the treatment remains effective.

Whichever management option you choose, routine measurement of your progress can be a helpful way to guide your care.  This can be as simple as keeping a daily mood chart or using a rating scale once a month.

Reminder: Don't stop taking your medication, change your dosage, or add any kind of medication without first speaking with your doctor.

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.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Events for Peer Specialists

The Hope Concept Wellness Center will host Wellness Solutions 1.0, an education and outreach conference, at the Sheraton Society Hill in Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 4–5, 2012. DBSA is an organizational co-sponsor for the event, and Vice President Lisa Goodale is among the conference's featured speakers. View the conference program. To register, visit the Hope Concept Wellness Center website or call (817) 263-4673.

Wellness Solutions 1.0 precedes the 6th Annual National Association of Peer Specialists Conference in Philadelphia, Sept. 6–8, 2012, also at the Sheraton Society Hill. The theme for the conference is Recovery Revolution Part II. Peer Specialists will come from across the country to improve their peer support skills, hear inspiring speakers, and network with their peers from around the country. Early bird registration fee is $225 per person, through August 1. Visit the conference website for more information and to register.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Cognitive Connection

Attention—the ability to focus on a task or conversation, tune out distractions, and, ultimately, filter information into working memory—is the gateway to learning, memory and other higher cognitive processes, says Frederick Goodwin, M.D., a leading clinical researcher on bipolar disorder who is now based at George Washington University.  

All of those functions can go haywire during depression and mania, of course. In fact, manic symptoms can mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Read more about bipolar brain fog at bp Magazine

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 share wellness tips. Visit the Clubhouse to be inspired by your peers and to pass on some of your own inspiration.

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.

Forgive relapses:

Most people are so hard on themselves. We would never treat a friend as cruelly as we treat ourselves. We are only human. It seems relapsing into old self destructive behaviors is somewhat inevitable. At least it is a legitimate possibility and one you must be forgiving of if it occurs! I am gracious when others forgive me. But I see now how absolutely necessary it is for me to forgive myself, to be kind to myself! 


I have often found that the times that I want to be reclusive and alone are the times when I need to be around others the most.

Trace, face, and erase:

Bad things happened in the past, but for me to get better and live a full life, I needed to trace those ugly moments, face them, and work on erasing them.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

July 1–31, 2012
DBSA +6 Give it a Try Challenge

July 31
Deadline for Applications
2012 Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program

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

August 1–31, 2012
DBSA +6 New Connections Challenge

August 17–18, 2012
DBSA Mental Health First Aid Course
Springfield, IL

September 1–10, 2012
National Recovery Month
United States

Sept. 4–5, 2012
Wellness Solutions 1.0 Conference
Philadelphia, PA

Sept. 6–8, 2012
NAPS Conference
Philadelphia, PA

October 10, 2012
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Portland, OR