DBSA e-Update March 2014

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Target Zero to Thrive

Join DBSA this April as we target raising expectations for mental health treatment.

Target Zero to Thrive, a month-long social media campaign, challenges mental health care professionals, researchers, and individuals living with or affected by mood disorders to raise treatment goals to complete remission—to zero symptoms.

If successful treatment for cancer proceeds with the goal of removing every cancerous cell—to achieve complete remission, why do we consider treatment for depression or bipolar disorder to be successful when symptoms persist?

Of course the first priority for treatment is ensuring a person living with depression or bipolar disorder is out of crisis. However, too often the end goal established for successful long-term care is for the person to maintain a stable mood. Better, or even stable, is not always well. Every person deserves the opportunity to not just survive but thrive, and to do that we need to ensure true wellness is the end-goal for mental health treatment.

If a person doesn’t achieve zero symptoms, they haven’t failed, but if they are never given the opportunity to achieve that goal, the system has failed them.
–Allen Doederlein, DBSA President

The cost of settling for reduced symptoms is simply too great. It is, in fact, a matter of life and death—for when symptoms persist, individuals who have mood disorders are

  • at significantly greater risk of relapse.
  • more likely to experience significant functional impairment, making the day‐to‐day demands of job and family challenging, and too often, debilitating.
  • more likely to have life‐threatening co‐occurring conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
  • at a higher risk to die by suicide.

Join DBSA April 1 and throughout the month to raise voices, support, and expectations for mental health treatment by

  • pinning your support to your shirt or Pinterest board.
  • picturing a community of Target Zero Heroes.
  • listening to clinicians discussing raising practitioners’, researchers’, and patients’ expectations.
  • signing up to support change.
  • recognizing clinicians and researchers that already target zero.
  • sharing inspirational messages about  aiming higher.
  • spreading the word.
Learn more at www.DBSAlliance.org/TargetZero and join us April 1–30!

Finding Support: Kathleen’s Story

The Parent Connection is a new column appearing 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.

When Kathleen’s 10-year-old daughter was hospitalized and subsequently diagnosed with a mood disorder, the 43-year-old Colorado mother had no idea what she was dealing with. No one in her family had experienced the symptoms of a severe mental illness, and the doctors weren’t spending a lot of time explaining what was going on. A friend of a friend sent her an email recommending the resources of The Balanced Mind Parent Network, and, in July 2012, Kathleen quickly put in a request to join an online support community.

The Balanced Mind Parent Network offers 19 online support communities for parents and guardians of children, teens and young adults who are living with depression, bipolar disorder, or a related mood disorder. Families are assigned to support communities based on their children’s ages or by specialized population (for example, parents interested in complementary health approaches, parents who have adopted children, or parents who have children in a residential treatment facility).  Kathleen was assigned to Support 3, a general online support community for families of children ages 8 to 12 that is moderated by three volunteers who were once themselves members of the community.

“No one can really know what it’s like unless they’ve seen it or gone through it,” said Kathleen. “Being a part of this community makes it feel as if you’re not alone in the world.”

Kathleen found that particularly true when the shooting at the Aurora movie theater occurred soon after she joined Support 3. Worried about how her daughter might react to such a frightening event so close to home, Kathleen asked her Support 3 members for advice, and they offered a virtual shoulder to lean on and ways to approach her daughter based on their experiences with their own children. The Support 3 community has also shared knowledge with Kathleen about school options, medication side effects, home safety, and even stomach virus tips in order to avoid a psychiatric emergency.

“I can’t imagine where I would be right now if I hadn’t found this community,” Kathleen said. “Nothing has come close to this level of parent support.”

The Balanced Mind Parent Network website (www.thebalancedmind.org) offers many complimentary resources for parents of children living with depression or bipolar disorder.  You can also join an online support community for $5/month or $60/year. Click here to learn more.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Mary Fristad, PhD, ABPP

Ask the Doc

Q: I've been struggling with depression for over a year to the point where I've begun self-harming. My parents do not know this. I've been wanting to tell them for a while because I truly want help, but I'm afraid. How do I let them know?

A: First, let me express my empathy for the pain you have been experiencing this past year. Depression often starts as an invisible wound, and you, like many others, have found that it can lead to a visible wound; the cutting. Second, let me congratulate you on seeking advice on what to do next. Tackling depression head on will help you begin to gain control of it, rather than it maintaining control over your thoughts, feelings and actions. Third, your instincts are completely on target. Telling your parents and getting help is definitely in order. I am very glad that you are gearing up to do this.

Let me suggest that you simply begin to tell your story. Pick a time and place that you can speak to them with some privacy and some “space” to shed some tears (maybe in the early evening at home, not on the drive to school on a Monday morning). Start wherever the beginning seems to you and describe what you have been experiencing—the negative thoughts, the unpleasant feelings, the physical symptoms (this may include some combination of changes in your sleep, your appetite, your ability to concentrate, your energy level). Sometimes depression begins after a loss or disappointment, sometimes it just starts “out of the blue.” Feelings simply are, they aren’t right are wrong, they are just there. Explain some of the strategies you have tried to make the depressed feelings go away (I bet there was a long list before you turned to cutting). Tell your parents that you realize you can’t fix the depression on your own and that you want both their love and support and professional help to feel better. I predict that doing this will set you on the road to recovery.

Mary Fristad, PhD, ABPP, is a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Human Nutrition at the Ohio State University. Dr. Fristad is the Director of Research and Psychological Services in the OSU Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; her area of specialty is childhood mood disorders. She has published over 150 articles and book chapters addressing the assessment and treatment of childhood-onset depression, suicidality and bipolar disorder (manic-depression). Dr. Fristad has been the principal or co-principal investigator on over two dozen federal, state, local grants focused on assessment and treatment of mood disorders in children.

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.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

After the introduction of DBSA’s 2014: The Year of Thriving, a friend and colleague from one of DBSA’s chapters called to congratulate us on a campaign that looks at those of us who live with mood disorders not as amalgams of symptoms, but as a diverse and talented group with much to contribute, and potential not just to survive, but to thrive. Yet he went on to share that, when he described the initiative to participants in one of the chapter’s support groups, their reaction was dubious. “Thriving” as a concept seemed difficult to grasp among a group of people that had experienced recent hospitalizations, suicide attempts, or unemployment. Indeed, when shared with people for whom surviving didn’t seem a given, but rather a hard-won battle, “thriving” felt like almost an impossible dream—a destination so far away that even to think of it could be perceived as setting oneself up for failure.

This sentiment truly resonated with me, and all the more so as, over the past several months, I’ve personally dealt with much more acute symptoms of depression than I have had in a very long time. There were days, even weeks, when thriving seemed so very far away; indeed, I don't think thriving was on my mind at all. During those stretches, just for tears to stop, for anxiety and self-loathing to lessen, for racing thoughts to slow down were all I could muster hope.

I guess what I’m saying is that I get it. I know from real, and recent, personal experience that sometimes, just making it through to the next day may actually be a very lofty goal. When I assured my friend that I understood and validated the support group members’ concern about thriving, he shared that maybe a better verb would be “striving.” And I like that. What DBSA’s Year of Thriving is all about is not a notion that, if we’re not personally in a place of thriving, we’re somehow failing. Rather, we feel that we, as a community of peers, must take the lead on a fundamental paradigm shift: that, although surviving is where we sometimes must start, we owe it to ourselves and our peers to promise ourselves that this is not where we will settle. And “thriving” is our word for that transformation—from symptoms to resiliencies, from illness to wellness, from settling to striving. When we as a community can demand and achieve a higher standard of what “successful treatment” is, we will as a group and as individuals thrive.

Higher standards require new targets, and so in April we launch Target Zero to Thrive: a challenge to our community to raise expectations from fewer or less severe symptoms to zero symptoms, from better to well. The reasons for this are not just that we deserve better (although we do). Targeting zero symptoms will mean our likelihood of relapsing is lower and the courses of our conditions will not be as severe. Join DBSA in spreading the word that we’re setting a new standard for research, for treatment, and for our own expectations and demands!

Believe me, I know—I know—that thriving can seem so elusive, even impossible, at times. But we can’t get there if it’s not even part of the conversation, and that’s why DBSA is targeting zero…we must strive for a new endpoint if we’re truly committed to wellness.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Support is Needed in Every Community

DBSA has gained three brand-new chapters since the beginning of the year! Welcome to the family DBSA Revere (MA), DBSA Nicholas County (WV) and DBSA Freehold Boro (NJ)!

DBSA’s local affiliate chapters offer nearly 700 peer-led, in-person support groups, offered at no-charge to people living with mood disorders. In addition, many chapters offer groups for friends and family members of peers. These local meetings offer attendees a sense of community and the type of support that can only come from someone who has been there and can help.

Even with nearly 300 chapters and 700 support groups, there is always a need for more help, hope, and support! DBSA is actively looking for dedicated individuals to start DBSA chapters in unserved or under-served communities, including the following states:

North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Dakota

Do you know someone who may be interested in bringing peer support to an underserved community? Let them know that DBSA is here to help! Together, we can ensure that everyone, no matter the location, has access to a DBSA peer-led support group.

You can learn more about being a chapter leader by requesting a complimentary copy of DBSA’s guide Starting a DBSA Chapter. You can also contact Chapter Relations Manager Stephanie Kubik at chapters@dbsalliance.org or (800) 826-3632 x154.

To find a DBSA chapter in your community, visit our Online Support Group Locator.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Congratulations to our 2013 Chapter Service Award Winners!

The DBSA Chapter Service Awards recognize exemplary service by DBSA chapters, state organizations, and their leaders. Winners will be honored at the 2014 Chapter Leadership Forum in addition to receiving a cash award and bulk subscriptions to bp and esperanza magazine.

The 2013 Chapter Service Awardees are:

State Organizations
DBSA Tennessee
DBSA New York

Large Chapters
DBSA Colorado Springs (CO)
DBSA MDSG Long Island (NY) 

Small Chapters
DBSA Norman (OK)
DBSA Feeling Better About Ourselves (FL)

Rookie Chapter
DBSA Murfreesboro (TN) 

Outstanding Leadership
Leslie Davis of DBSA Rockland County (NY) and DBSA New York 
Steve Brannon of DBSA Jackson (TN) and DBSA Tennessee

Visit our chapter spotlight page to read about their amazing accomplishments!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Peer Specialist Training

Apply today!
DBSA Peer Specialist training prepares peers to use their experiences to support the recovery of others: helping inspire hope and achievement of personal goals. Facilitated by nationally-recognized trainers, this comprehensive 26-hour course delivers a foundation in recovery principles, intervention techniques, and ethical practice, addressing key competencies for this growing behavioral health workforce. Here are three spring training opportunities to participate:

DBSA Core Training Milwaukee, WI
April 28-May 2, 2014
Application Due: March 25 (a limited number of partial scholarships are available)

DBSA Veteran Peer Training Milwaukee, WI
April 28-May 3, 2014
Application Due: March 25

DBSA Veteran Peer Training Dallas, TX
May 12-17, 2014
Application Due: April 11

Care for Your Mind: March Highlights

Say ‘hello’ to the National Network of Depression Centers. NNDC will provide several posts to CFYM over the year. In this inaugural post, Dr. John Greden  explains the work of this organization.

Congratulations. You Did It
Over the past two months, Care for Your Mind has closely followed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed ruling around Medicare Part D’s six protected classes. Advocates were delighted to learn last week that CMS would not move forward with a proposal to remove antidepressants and immunosuppressants from Medicare Part D’s six protected classes at this time. This action was thanks in large part to a combination of the mental health community’s expert and peer perspectives as well as your insightful comments and willingness to take action to oppose this rule—proving once again the power of grassroots advocacy.

Make Your Voice Heard in Washington at the Largest Mental Health Event
DBSA will again participate in the largest mental health event in Washington as advocates descend on the Capitol to support the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day. This annual event unites members of community behavioral health organizations and partners such as DBSA in asking members of Congress to support mental health legislation.

Leading up to the event, DBSA will host a webinar for DBSA attendees to assist them in preparing for Hill visits. You’ll learn how to schedule visits with your Congressional Representative, develop a personal story that relates to pending legislation, and be an effective spokesperson for your peers.

You don’t need to be a policy expert to attend—you just need the passion to share yours and your peers’ lived experiences. Quoting from one of last year’s attendees:

The power of your personal story trumps the strongest pitch of any lobbyist on Capitol Hill

DBSA will also have a delegation attending the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s Hill Day on May 9. Families and children representing key states will ask Senators and Representatives to support mental health policies directly affecting the lives of children.

To learn more about these events contact Phyllis Foxworth at pfoxworth@dbsalliance.org.

Walk Away from Anger

Are you plagued by irritability and "anger attacks"? Those overlooked symptoms of depression affect women as well as men—but we can help you keep control.

Read “Walk away from ANGER.”

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Daily Affirmation
When you get discouraged, say to yourself,"I didn’t cause it. I can’t cure it. But I can cope with it.

A good way to distract ourselves when we are overwhelmed is to step away and focus on a hobby. Like painting, crochet, knitting, or drawing. Even reading and gaming can help as long as the books and games do not contain triggers.

Hypnosis CDs for Improved Sleep
Listening to someone’s voice can be very relaxing. These CD’s often have soothing music or nature sounds that are calming as well. Instead of upping your sleeping pill, try one of these relaxing CDs!

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

Looking for trainings near you? Click here.

March 25:
Application deadline for DBSA core peer specialist training in WI

March 25
Application deadline for DBSA Veteran peer specialist training in WI

March 30
World Bipolar Day

April 1–30
DBSA Target Zero to Thrive Campaign

April 11
Application deadline for DBSA Veteran peer specialist training in TX