DBSA e-Update November 2014

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Our Challenge to Measure Well-Being

If mental health treatment outcomes are to move beyond mere survival to true wellness, we must, of course, address problematic symptoms, but not at the exclusion of building wellness. We must begin to measure treatment success based on overall well-being and quality of life.
To help us collectively incorporate well-being measurements into treatment plans, DBSA has:

  • Added the World Health Organization’s 5-point Well-Being Index (WHO-Five) into the DBSA Wellness Tracker online and phone apps.
  • Created an Android app of the DBSA Wellness Tracker so more people can access this powerful tool from their phone.
  • Issued the WHO-Five Challenge to all mental health practitioners, encouraging them to incorporate the WHO-Five Well-Being Index into their practices for six months.

You can be part of the movement to shift the focus to wellness! You can start by making the WHO-Five a standard part of your wellness tracking or, if you’re a mental health professional, by incorporating wellness measurements like the WHO-Five Well-Being index into your practice.

The WHO-Five Well-being Index is simple. The Index asks individuals to rate how they feel on five questions related to cheerfulness, calm, vigor, restfulness, and interest. And it’s fast … it only takes a few minutes! DBSA has made it even easier by incorporating the WHO-Five Well-being Index into the DBSA Wellness Tracker, a free online and smart phone app that tracks well-being, overall mood, symptoms, life influences, medications, side-effects, physical health metrics, and more.

The DBSA Wellness Tracker reports are helpful for self-monitoring and can be shared at clinical appointments—allowing clinicians to identify potential concerns faster—so more time can be spent collaborating on a plan that meets the clinician’s goals for addressing symptoms and the individual’s goals for building wellness.

So join us in our work to build wellness measurements into our lives and treatment plans!

Demi Lovato and The Power of Peers Video

Platinum-selling recording artist, author, actress and mental health advocate Demi Lovato sits down with DBSA to talk about the power of peer support. Ms. Lovato shares, “It’s an amazing feeling being able to connect with others who really get it and have a sense of what I’ve been through.” The video captures one stop on The Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour* this past fall.  Demi asks us to, “Stay with me on my journey to becoming a stronger mental health advocate. Together we can change perceptions and increase understanding about what it means to live well with mental illness.” Watch the video.

*Tour supported by Sunovion.

Upcoming Webinars

DBSA will be hosting several FREE educational webinars in November and December that you won’t want to miss!

  • November 19, 6:00 PM–7:30 PM, Central—Tonight, Dr. Anita Clayton and Dr. Holly Swartz will be repeating their highly popular Restoring Intimacy webinar. Register now.
  • November 24, 5:00 PM–6:30 PM, Central—Join Dr. Ellen Frank and Dr. Joe Calabrese to learn about Treatment Choices for Bipolar Disorder. Register now.
  • December 1, 6:00 PM–7:00 PM, Central—Join Dr. Evette Ludman and Dr. Andrew Nierenberg to learn about Treatment Choices for Depression. Register now.
  • December 17, 3:00 PM–4:00 PM, Central—Join peer specialist Donna Dykstra to learn about strategies and tools to help you get back in the driver’s seat in Treatment Choices: Tools for Success. Register now.

And, be sure to watch some of our recent webinars if you weren’t able to join us in person. Video presentations of the following webinars are now available to watch at DBSAlliance.org/webinars.

  • Treatment Choices: Understanding Your Options with Dr. Greg Simon. Watch now.
  • Health Care Reform with DBSA President Allen Doederlein. Watch Now.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Your Giving Tuesday Gifts Will Be Matched!

“The members of my DBSA support group reached out to me and made me realize that I was not alone. If not for the support that I received from this organization, I probably wouldn’t be here … ”
– DBSA Support Group Participant

On December 2, DBSA proudly joins nonprofit organizations worldwide for #GivingTuesday—a special day to support causes that touch lives and benefit others. Please consider a gift to DBSA—any amount donated now through December 2 will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $25,000. Every dollar provides life-saving support to someone on their journey to wellness. Give now and double the impact of your gift.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The  Parent Connection appears each month in the DBSA eUpdate. Here, parents and guardians can expect to find up-to-date information and resources about parenting children and adolescents with depression and bipolar disorder. We also feature news about Balanced Mind Parent Network online support communities, the Family Helpline and other family-focused programming.

Collaborative and Proactive Solutions for Caregivers

In the third of a new series of parent-focused DBSA podcasts, Dr. Ross Greene, author of the highly acclaimed books The Explosive Child and Lost at School, discusses understanding and parenting easily frustrated and chronically inflexible children with DBSA Parent Volunteer Coordinator Julia Small.

In the podcast, Dr. Greene explores his Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach, which sets forth two principles: First, challenging behavior in kids is best understood as the result of lagging cognitive skills (rather than as the result of permissive and inconsistent parenting). And second, the best way to reduce challenging episodes is to work together with the child to solve the problems that have set in motion the challenging behavior (rather than imposing adult will or using reward-and-punishment systems).

“A major thrust of the CPS model is to get caregivers out of the heat of the moment,” Dr. Greene explains, “out of deciding rapidly is this willful or is this a reaction to an anxiety or a mood trigger, moving away from looking at the kid’s behavior and instead focusing on the problems that are causing those behaviors, and then proactively deciding … is this one of the ones we are just letting go right now, setting aside for now because it’s not a high priority, or is this one of the ones that we’re actually solving collaboratively. That’s the level of analysis that I find is much more helpful to caregivers than in the heat of the moment trying to decide is this behavior willful or a reaction to an anxiety or mood trigger.”

Listen to the podcast, and be sure to read the Parent Connection column each month to connect with news about DBSA parent-, child- and teen-focused programming.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

President’s Note: Allen Gives Thanks

I just looked at a weather map, and the colors tended towards grays, blues, and purples across much of the United States. Such dark stripes are a sure sign of the onset of an especially early, and especially frigid, winter season. While I hold out hope for at least a few warmer days with sparkling autumn sunshine— that map is striped with some oranges and yellows!—I can’t help but feel that autumnal moment I associate with the Thanksgiving season is being frozen out! So I’m personally making a concerted effort to honor and relax into a time of thanks: a celebration of the music of this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Maybe you can join me, and we can all bring Thanksgiving back!

Part of why I love Thanksgiving, and why we might all do well to embrace it as a holiday within the mental health community, is that it reinforces a marvelous habit of wellness—the expression of gratitude. So I’m going to “work my wellness” right now and give my thanks!

Among many blessings and achievements I can count for our organization, I must say I feel (as all of us on the Board and staff do!) that we’re especially thankful for you. It’s your commitment and passion to help improve the lives of people living with mood disorders that allows DBSA to reach 3.1 million people, as you can see in our annual report. It’s your enthusiasm and dedication that introduce us so powerfully to new friends like the extraordinary young artist and advocate Demi Lovato. It’s your support that will allow DBSA to sustain another record-breaking year of support on Giving Tuesday and meet a challenge to raise $25,000 (or more!) that day.

Most of all, it’s your outreach, support, and kindness for which I give thanks. Many of us might be experiencing depression or other mood-related issues during this time of year, and the DBSA community is consistently creating a safe space for those folks to voice these issues, to learn from and teach others, and to see the potential for hope in the warm face of a peer. There is no greater gift than that of understanding, and I thank each and every one of you for your partnership in creating a nurturing, empowering, and inspiring context for all of us to transform from illness to wellness.

My profound thanks to all of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

– Allen

Jennifer Marshall

Life Unlimited Story: Meet Jennifer Marshall

Taking the Mask Off
My mental illness emerged at the very end of 2005 in December—two years into my marriage, but before kids came along. At twenty-six, I was at the top of my game as a creative staffing agency recruiter, enjoying married life, and building our first house. One week my husband was on a business trip and I was so wired I couldn’t sleep. For a week. This led to a manic episode that landed me in the hospital. It left everyone close to me, including the psychiatrist who treated me when I came out of the hospital, scratching their heads. No previous mental health history we could identify, and nothing that we knew of in our family.

After a few days in the psych ward, I took the rest of the week off from work, and returned to my job the following Monday, attributing the entire incident to the intense deficit of sleep. But two weeks later the mania was back with a vengeance and I was hospitalized on Christmas Day, certainly one of the darkest days of my entire life.

One time was a shock, twice forced the reality of the situation to set in. My husband never left my side, even though he must have been scared to death. My parents, clearly devastated this was happening to their daughter who had been perfectly healthy her entire life, suddenly were thrown into dealing with two psychiatric emergencies in one month.

My life was turned upside down. Continue reading Jennifer’s story.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

3.1 Million Impacted

Before we close the books on 2014, we invite you to read DBSA’s 2013 Digital Annual Report, now available online. We have a lot to be proud of. With your support, DBSA touched countless lives and made a difference by giving personal support and hope with life-saving tools. Take a look at all you have accomplished in 2013.

  • 3.1 Million people directly touched by DBSA resources, messages, and services
  • 287 chapters and 12 state organizations provided organizational support
  • 425 Veterans trained as peer specialists
  • 800 support groups served 53,000+ peers in local communities
  • 8,952 views of Depression: Out of the Blue and Bipolar Disorder Education video series on DBSA YouTube channel
  • 47,768 educational brochures distributed nationwide
  • 757,238 visitors to DBSA web properties increased education and awareness of mood disorders
  • 790,000 senior citizens positively impacted by national Medicare advocacy win

DBSA envisions a better future for our community, and we’re committed to offering the tools, support, and resources necessary to make that better future happen—Thank you for helping us make our vision a reality. Read the full report.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doctor: with Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Q: I've taken different antidepressants over the years, and now my body seems to reject medications that helped before.  Any suggestions?

A:  We certainly know that antidepressant medications sometimes seem to stop working. Clinicians started to describe the “Prozac poop out” more than a decade ago, and it seems that the same thing can happen with any antidepressant. For some type of medications (like narcotic pain medication or benzodiazepine anxiety medications) we understand the chemistry of tolerance. For those drugs, long term use causes brain cells to adapt so that the same amount of medication has less and less effect over time. That tolerance and dependence process is pretty similar from person to person. Developing a “tolerance” to antidepressant drugs is very unpredictable from person to person, and we haven’t found any chemical change that explains it.

But the more we study this problem, the better we understand that we don’t really understand it. For example, we used to believe that whenever one antidepressant medication seemed to stop working, it was best to try switching to a medication of a different chemical type or class. We now know that the chemical type of class isn’t a useful guide. If one medication stops working, it’d definitely worth trying a different one—but the odds of success seem about equal if the new medication is similar to or different from the one that’s no longer helping.

Even if we don’t have a lot of science to guide us, we can still come up with some practical advice. If your antidepressant medication doesn’t seem to be helping:

  • Consider whether other substances (alcohol, street drugs, or changes in prescription medication) might be making depression worse.
  • Ask whether the dose of the medication is at the most effective level.
  • If it’s time to try something different, changing to a different medication or adding a second “booster” medication seem about equally likely to help.
  • How you respond to one medication doesn’t really predict how you will respond to a different one (even a different medication from the same family).
  • When trying a different medication, it’s important to be patient enough (sticking with it long enough to know if it will really help) but not too patient (sticking with it past the point of futility). Be sure to ask your doctor how and when you will assess whether any new treatment is right for you.

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.

News from Our CFYM Advocacy Blog

Honor the Veteran in your life by acquiring supportive skills offered through the VA with Coaching Into Care. Learn about VA mental health services for family & friends on DBSA’s Advocacy blog, Care for Your Mind.

Peer Power: Getting Better Together

Empathy. Role models. Tried-and-true management tips. There’s power in connecting with peers!
Read the article.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Worry does not empty today of its sorrow, it empties tomorrow of its strength.

Consider buying yourself something soft—something sweet and fluffy, a favorite animal or a pillow. Lay down with it when you feel like the world is too big and feel the comfort object in your arms ... The world isn’t so big when you have a small companion to make it a little better.

Recovery Focus
I am a human being with a heart and a brain. I am not a disorder. I am comprised of an infinite number of parts and I choose to believe in the whole not the diagnosis.

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

Mark your calendar!

November 19
Restoring Intimacy webinar

November 24
Treatment Choices for Bipolar Disorder webinar

December 1
Treatment Choices for Depression webinar

December 2
#GivingTuesday—Your gift will have double the impact!

December 17
Treatment Choices: Tools for Success webinar