DBSA e-Update July 2015

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New Videos and Web Content Educate about Agitation

Agitation is a symptom characterized by uneasiness, excessive talking, and unintentional motions that can pose a challenge to people living with mood disorders and their loved ones. This two-part video series is the latest segment of our comprehensive Understanding Agitation education program, which aims to shed light on this commonly misunderstood symptom and promote compassionate, effective treatments.

The Personal Stories video illustrates the impact of agitation, presents wellness options, and shares ways to support an individual experiencing agitation. The De-escalation video is a simulation of a highly effective, verbal technique which has been identified as a preferred intervention in helping calm someone experiencing agitation. It is intended as a training video for healthcare professionals, but will also be of interest to people looking for information on best practices for treating agitation.?

Visit the Understanding Agitation page to access other elements of the program, including an educational brochure and webinar recording, with more resources for peers and clinicians to be added this fall.

I to We Weekend

Announcing Keynote by Dese’Rae Stage and Special Performance by Jennifer Marshall

The line-up for the DBSA I to We Weekend this September 25–27 just keeps getting more exciting! Dese’Rae Stage, founder of Live Through This, will join our distinguished Weekend keynotes Mariel Hemingway, Andrew Solomon, and Larry Fricks. And Jennifer Marshall, story-teller and co-founder with Anne Marie Ames of This Is My Brave, will be joining fellow performers, singer-songwriter Shannon Curtis and comedian David Granirer for a special Peer Showcase event Friday evening, sharing how they’ve found their voice through the creative arts.

And if you’re a young adult, parent, advocate, peer specialist, or DBSA chapter participant, you won’t want to miss out on our newly expanded Leadership Forum on Sunday. This day provides in-depth education on issues that are specific to your interests. Learn more about the full Weekend agenda.

Take advantage of the Advanced Rates for savings before August 24. Download the brochure and for more information about the weekend registration, agenda, and location go to DBSAlliance.org/ItoWeWeekend.

Attention Greater Los Angeles: The DBSA I to We Tour Comes to You August 15

DBSA is crossing the nation this year on the DBSA I to We Tour with the goal of shifting the focus in mental health from “I to We”—from eliminating illness to building wellness; from isolation and fear to a welcoming community of support; and from individual views to powerful, collective voices!

Our second stop on this multi-city tour will be in Northridge, CA, on August 15, 2015, when the national organization of DBSA joins forces with our local chapters and other Greater Los Angeles mental health organizations for the DBSA I to We Tour: Greater Los Angeles presentation. Keynote academy award nominated actress and author, Mariel Hemingway will share how a family legacy of mental illness, suicide, addiction, and depression compelled her to become a passionate mental health and suicide awareness advocate. There will be a book signing immediately following the event.

Please join us Saturday, August 15, 2015, 1 PM–3PM on the California State University Northridge campus in the Student Union Grand Salon, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330.

Learn more about the event and parking instructions at DBSAlliance.org/ItoWeTour.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Chapter Spotlight: DBSA Middle Tennessee Bellevue Celebrates 10 Years

In honor of their 10th anniversary, DBSA Middle Tennessee Bellevue had a wonderful celebration involving lively conversation, recognition of longtime group participants, and, of course, an abundance of food!

The chapter has a lot to celebrate! In addition to their weekly support group, another example of their amazing accomplishments was joining a panel to educate nursing students about bipolar disorder. They shared their stories and engaged in role plays to allow students to experience how a patient with a mental health issue is cared for in different settings. According to a group leader, “It is teaching they can't get from a book. The students write very positive things and enjoy our visit!”

And, advocating for the rights of individuals living with mental health challenges, one DBSA Middle Tennessee Bellevue participant visited Tennessee’s Capitol Hill to meet with a senator, two representatives, and the Speaker of the House to advocate for a bill that would require mandatory suicide prevention training for medical education programs.

On the horizon is a new website design and new leaders who are dedicated to making sure DBSA Middle Tennessee Bellevue continues to be a place of hope and a safe haven for people living with a mood disorder. Congratulations on your special anniversary and excellent work in your community, DBSA Middle Tennessee Bellevue!

To see what some of our other affiliates are up to, visit the Chapter Spotlights section of our website!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
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.


Parent Connection: Special Programming for Parents at DBSA I to We Weekend

DBSA will be celebrating our 30th anniversary with a special, three day wellness conference and leadership forum September 25–27, 2015. We’ll be celebrating our accomplishments, providing educational programming, and giving opportunity for our growing community to meet each other in person.

On Sunday of the Weekend, parents will be able attend two special sessions. The first, led by Rev. Cheryl Magrini, DBSA Board Chair and Chicago Loop Chapter Leader, and entitled Building Resiliency in the Family, will focus on the ability to learn and bounce back from difficult situations—to help build resiliency in all family members.

Susan Link from the Illinois Department of Public Health, will lead a session entitled, Crisis Happens—Be Prepared. She will discuss identification and awareness of triggers, plus how having a plan in place for healthy daily living will help lessen or avoid a family crisis.

To learn more or register, visit our website at DBSAlliance.org/ItoWeWeekend.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
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.

Ask the Doc

Are there other health conditions that can cause depression and bipolar disorder? My doctor tested my thyroid, which made me think it might be connected.

Many other health conditions (and some medications used to treat other health conditions) can cause mood symptoms. The list of medical problems that can mimic or look like depression is very long, but most things on that list are rare. We don’t recommend testing for every one of those possible medical problems before getting help for depression. Depression is common, and hypoparathyroidism (that’s a mouthful!) is rare. The old medical saying goes:? “If you hear hoofbeats, don’t look for zebras.”

Thyroid disease can cause symptoms of depression. And thyroid disease is relatively common, especially in women or people with a family history of thyroid problems. So testing for thyroid problems is one of the few medical tests we often recommend before diagnosing or treating depression.

Looking for a medical problem that lies behind depression makes more sense if symptoms of depression show up in an unexpected or unusual way—like depression for the first time late in life or depression along with other symptoms that point to a specific medical problem. On the other hand, looking for a medical problem causing depression makes less sense if depression shows up in the usual way—like a return of depression following the same pattern it has shown in the past.

If you are concerned about medical problems causing symptoms of depression, the best test is a discussion with your primary care doctor.? S/he can ask you about symptoms that might point to some specific medical problem and follow up with a physical examination. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, you should get one!

It’s important to remember that the relationship between mood disorders and other medical problems is not “either/or”.? Often it’s “both/and”.? People who live with mood disorders are more likely to experience a wide range of medical problems (heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, chronic pain). In those situations, we would say that diabetes or arthritis can cause or increase depression. But that doesn’t mean the depression isn’t real or shouldn’t be treated. In fact, we know that treatment for depression can have side benefits such as reducing pain from arthritis and helping people manage diabetes or heart disease.

Got a nagging question you want to ask a doc? Submit your questions online for a chance to get the answer. Check future DBSA eUpdates 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

bp Magazine: Bipolar and Letting Go of Guilt

There’s a reason people talk about being weighed down by guilt. Check out these healthy ways to lighten your spirits and move yourself forward. Read “Bipolar & Guilt" article.

Training for Peer Specialists: Upcoming Opportunities

Application Deadline for August 2015 Core Peer Specialist Training is July 22
Whether you’re looking for initial training to enter the peer specialist workforce, or continuing education to maintain your certification, DBSA—the recognized leader in peer specialist training—can meet your needs! Here are your next opportunities to participate in DBSA peer specialist training: highly interactive, informed by first-hand peer experience, and facilitated by nationally recognized trainers.

Next DBSA Peer Specialist Core Training Course
August 1721, 2015
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Download application (PDF) or apply online.
Application deadline is July 22, 2015

Register now for DBSA Peer Specialist Leadership Forum on September 27, 2015 as a part of the DBSA I to We Weekend in Itasca, Illinois. This day-long forum tackles two topics key to effective peer specialist practice: telling your story and ethical practice. Join the wellness weekend for inspiration, education, and connection. Learn more at DBSAlliance.org/ItoWeWeekend.

Apply now for Next Steps Training, September 28-October 1, 2015 following the DBSA I to We Weekend in Itasca, Illinois. Developed by the International Association of Peer Supporters (INAPS) under the SAMHSA-supported national Recovery to Practice initiative, this experiential course will strengthen your knowledge in key areas of peer specialist practice, including peer support values and guidelines, trauma-informed services, multicultural awareness, and more.
This training includes 32 hours of continuing education for experienced peer specialists. Apply online today, the deadline is September 9, 2015.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Congress Pushes for New Cures for the 21st Century

When laws on the book get in the way of medical innovation everyone stands to lose. That’s one reason why the 21st Century Cures Act was unanimously approved by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee this past spring and went to a full House vote on July 10, 2015.

What the act means to you: This legislation, if/when it becomes law, has the potential to speed up new treatment options for mood disorders by creating an environment of:

  • research collaboration
  • inclusion of the lived-experience perspective in research, and
  • advancing personalized medicine by allowing researchers to design more targeted clinical trials

DBSA recently sent a letter to Rep. Fred Upton, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee thanking him for working tirelessly to move this legislation forward, and noting that it has the potential to encourage federal agencies such as Health and Human Services and the FDA to more closely work with organizations such as DBSA. It is our hope that this collaboration will result in identification of outcomes that matter to individuals with the lived-experience and that these newly identified outcomes will become important elements of the research process. We specifically pointed out to Rep. Upton that the most meaningful new therapies will result when measurement tools include wellness outcomes as defined by individuals.

The 21st Century Cures Act also supports additional funding for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neuroethologies (BRAIN) Initiative, but DBSA asked that the Committee direct the National Institute of Health (NIH) to specifically include depression and bipolar disorder in the studies.

Your Voice Matters
On the days prior to the full House vote, DBSA sent out an action alert to people who subscribed to the DBSA advocacy platform asking them to participate in an email writing campaign to Congressional Representatives. Thanks to their efforts a last minute effort to derail the legislation was defeated and the 21st Century Cures Act passed. The bill has now moved on to the Senate for consideration. DBSA will be sending out an action alert asking people to participate in an email campaign to their Senators when the bill comes up for a vote in the Senate. Subscribe to the DBSA advocacy platform today so that you don’t miss out on the next opportunity to make your voice matter.

News from Our CFYM Advocacy Blog

Are you prepared for a mental health emergency? What are the options? Our Care for Your Mind advocacy blog addresses this important life-saving topic in a new series on psychiatric emergencies. Read the first post in the series, How can we improve emergency departments psychiatric care? By Scott Zeller, MD, Chief of Psychiatric Emergency Services for the Alameda Health System.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Tina Mason

Life Unlimited: Meet Tina

I’m a 47 year old single mother that used to maintain a wonderful career in the healthcare industry and had a very productive life until the end of 2008. After having personal difficulties, I found myself needing to take a leave of absence from my job, which led to my resignation in 2009. I experienced a deep depression and with the economic fall out, I found myself in financial debt and emotional despair. This went on until 2011 when I finally found myself so desperate that I asked for help with my dark depression. I felt alone, worthless, sad, and empty because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get a grip on life. At my doctor’s appointment, I was prescribed an antidepressant. Six weeks after being prescribed the antidepressant, I went into a full blown mania episode. It just so happened to be the first day of my daughter’s 8th grade year of school. It all began three days prior, when I found myself struggling with insomnia. It was a very scary and confusing time for me. I was experiencing increased energy, giddiness, and racing thoughts. Eventually I became paranoid, delusional, and sick to my stomach. I was confused and I did not understand what was wrong with me. I alerted my closest relative who took me to the doctor. I was immediately put on an antipsychotic and the antidepressant was lowered. I was told that day that I have bipolar disorder. After many visits, it was clarified to me that I had a chemical imbalance which led to the mental break and resulted in me being diagnosed with bipolar disorder type I.

I am lucky that I have a great, loving family, and I trust my doctor’s advice and instruction. I had to give myself time to adjust to my new self that now has to take a smaller dosage of the same antipsychotic and different antidepressant. It has been a trial and error finding what dosage works best for me. But I also had some financial and emotional setbacks. I had to move in with a family member for over a year to get back on my feet. During this time, I regained control of my emotions and became more financially secure which allowed me to move into my own home.

I have learned that I am stronger than I realized. If you have love for yourself and others, you can live a normal life with a mental health condition. I know that I have to take my medication daily, eat right, have the proper sleep, and keep my stress level down in order to maintain a well-balanced life and to manage my bipolar I disorder—just like most productive people. I know that having a mental health disorder is no different than having an illness such as arthritis or diabetes. I am currently blogging to try to teach others that they should not treat anyone less because they may have mental issues such as I do. Being my own advocate is the first step to standing up for social equality for people who face the stigma of mental illness in our society today.

Currently, I am still a work in progress. I enjoy activities with my daughter, family, and friends. I have found it necessary not to be shameful of my disorder. Talking and sharing my story not only helps me, but hopefully could help someone else. It has definitely been a character building experience and I have learned a lot about myself and how much of a fighter I am.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Only 10 Days Left to Nominate a Peer for the 2015 DBSA Life Unlimited Award

Nomination deadline is July 25, 2015

Do you know someone who is living life a life unlimited by a mood disorder and actively working to help others do the same? Nominate them for the 2015 DBSA Life Unlimited Award. The award will be presented at the DBSA I to We Weekend in Itasca, IL. The winner will be given a scholarship to the DBSA I to We Weekend Conference, including travel and hotel accommodations. Learn about our past winners, AJ, Linea, Walter, and David.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen: Today’s Challenges and a Hopeful Future

At DBSA, we pride ourselves on being practical, balanced, and action-oriented so that we can address the real, often serious, challenges related to mood disorders. We know, from our personal experiences as people who have these conditions, that one issue we may face is that of agitation. But do we always understand what is meant by agitation—and what we can do about it? For example, it likely makes intuitive sense to most of us that we might experience agitation if we are dealing with the manic or hypomanic states of bipolar disorder. Yet agitation can also be a feature of depression for many individuals. Or consider this: many people use the terms “agitation” and “anxiety” almost interchangeably, but the states are clinically distinct (though very often co-occurring and overlapping).

These considerations, and strategies for managing and reducing agitation, are featured in DBSA’s new suite of resources about agitation. Not only do we have a brochure, webinar, and Care for Your Mind blog post discussing agitation in the context of emergency care, we also have some incredibly practical—and powerful—videos about agitation. With greater understanding, and some practical tools and techniques, those of us who experience agitation can hopefully address it in a much more effective manner.

We also focus on the possibility of a healthier future in our work at DBSA. This is why we embarked upon the WeSearchTogether initiative nearly five years ago, and that’s why we’re also immensely proud to be part of the first psychiatric project funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the new MoodNetwork! I urge absolutely everyone reading this to take two minutes (Really! I did it myself, and it took under two minutes!) and sign up for a groundbreaking program that will help those of us who have personal lived experience of mood disorders shape and guide a healthier future for ourselves and our peers.

Led by DBSA Klerman Award-winning researcher and thought leader Andrew Nierenberg, M.D., and his team at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, the MoodNetwork includes numerous partner organizations, including DBSA. MoodNetwork is a study that brings together people with mood disorders—along with families and friends, clinicians, and researchers—and that will gather a lot of data about depression and bipolar disorder from these individuals’ experiences. With the rich information provided by people who have “been there,” MoodNetwork will help generate greater knowledge about, and better treatments for, mood disorders. From understanding and reinforcing the strengths and resiliencies that can align with mood disorders, to managing and treating debilitating symptoms, our aggregated data and observations—perhaps for the first time on so large a scale in the history of rigorous research about these conditions—will take center stage.

From a practical understanding of the day-to-day challenges of depression and bipolar disorder to the creation of a hopeful, healthy future, DBSA is ensuring that the voices of those of us who have these conditions are driving the conversation—and action!

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.

Don’t underestimate the battles you’ve won. Sometimes just getting out of bed (even if you get back in again) is a major accomplishment.

Let the music overcome you.
Bipolar Disorder
When I’m in an atmosphere with loud music that I love, dancing and singing and feeling the beat in my soul makes me forget everything except I feel I am in heaven.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

July 22, 2015
Application Deadline for August Peer Specialist Training
Apply online or Download PDF

July 25, 2015
Life Unlimited Award Nomination Deadline
Nominate a peer

August 15, 2015
DBSA I to We Tour: Greater Los Angeles
Northridge, CA
Learn More

August 20–21, 2015
“Advocacy, Poverty and Peer Support” 2015 conference of the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS)

August 24, 2015
Advanced registration deadline for DBSA I to We Weekend

September 25–27, 2015
DBSA I to We Weekend Wellness Conference & Leadership Forum
Learn more

September 28–October 1, 2015
Recovery to Practice Next Steps Training Course
Itasca, Illinois (following the DBSA I to We Weekend Wellness Conference & Leadership Forum)
Apply online