DBSA e-Update June 2015

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I to We Weekend

From left to right: DBSA President, Allen Doederlein, Mark A. Frye, MD, Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD, Paul E. Croarkin, DO, MS, and Greg Simon, MD, MPH

DBSA Honors Klerman Award Winners in Toronto

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) presented its prestigious Klerman Awards to Paul E. Croarkin, DO, MS, Mark A. Frye, MD, and Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD, on Sunday, May 17, in Toronto, Ontario. Named after Gerald L. Klerman, MD, a pivotal figure in psychiatry, these awards are the highest honors that DBSA extends to members of the scientific community. Presented annually, they recognize researchers whose work contributes to understanding the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and bipolar disorder.

The 2014 Gerald L. Klerman Young Investigator Award recipient is Paul E. Croarkin, DO, MS Dr. Croarkin is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and a Consultant at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. Dr. Croarkin’s clinical interest is understanding the neurobiology, optimal treatment, and classification of mood disorders in children and adolescents. His research focuses on understanding the pathophysiology of mood disorders and developing more effective treatments that will enhance individual outcomes and impact a considerable societal burden.

For their career-long contributions to mental health research, the 2014 Gerald L. Klerman Senior Investigator Award recipients are Mark A. Frye, MD, and Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD Dr. Frye is a Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Mayo Clinic Depression Center. His clinical interests are in bipolar disorder, treatment resistant depression, and alcoholism with a research focus on genomics, brain imaging, and clinical trials. Dr. Frye has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles with fellow colleagues in his field.

Dr. Nierenberg is the Thomas P. Hackett, MD, Endowed Chair in Psychiatry, Director of the Bipolar Research Program, and Associate Director of the Depression Clinical and Research Program, at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He is also the Director of Training and Education for the MGH Research Institute. His academic appointment is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.? His primary clinical interests are treatment resistant depression, bipolar depression, and the longitudinal course of mood disorders. Dr. Nierenberg has over 25 years of experience in conducting clinical trials in mood disorders.

The DBSA Klerman Awards’ namesake, Gerald L. Klerman, MD, was professor and associate chairman of research at Cornell University Hospital Medical College and one of DBSA’s earliest supporters. He conducted the first clinical trial showing the efficacy of medication and psychotherapy in preventing recurrent depression. Additionally, Dr. Klerman led the first large-scale, multisite study to understand the diagnosis, course, and genetics of major depression. Still ongoing, the study has provided critical findings on the nature of depressive disorder.

To learn more about the DBSA Klerman Award winners’ accomplishments and expertise, read the full press release.

I to We Weekend

New Podcast With DBSA I to We Weekend Keynote Speaker Mariel Hemingway

Academy award nominated actress, author, and mental health and suicide awareness advocate Mariel Hemingway shared her perspective about recovery, life, and wellness in DBSA’s Real Recovery podcast. Get to know Mariel by listening to the podcast before meeting her in September at the DBSA I to We Weekend!


We are ecstatic that so many inspiring peers will be a part of this 30th anniversary celebration weekend. Mariel Hemingway will be joined by Pulitzer Prize nominated author, philanthropist, and mental health and civil rights advocate, Andrew Solomon; consumer leader and forefather of the peer support movement, Larry Fricks; photographer, writer, and suicide awareness advocate, Dese'Rae L. Stage; hilarious mental health advocate and comedian David Granirer; and inspiring singer-songwriter, Shannon Curtis. Plan your weekend now, and take advantage of the Advanced rates for savings! Registration scholarship application deadline is July 6th. For more information about the weekend registration, agenda, and location go to DBSAlliance.org/ItoWeWeekend.

DBSA I to We Tour: First Stop Success in Colorado Springs

On May 16, 2015, the DBSA I to We Tour launched with the first event in Colorado Springs, CO. With over 200 people in attendance, the event was a huge success. DBSA was so pleased to partner with DBSA Colorado Springs, AspenPointe, Cedar Springs Hospital, NAMI Colorado Springs, Peak View Behavioral Health, and Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention, for the Illness to Wellness Community Mental Health Fair, which provided over 50 exhibits of local community resources to the attendees. What a fantastic day of hope, education, and inspiration to kick off the DBSA I to We Tour.

The tour continues with stops in Los Angeles and New York City! Learn more at DBSAlliance.org/ItoWeTour.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Support is Needed in Every Community

DBSA’s local affiliate chapters offer more than 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.

Have you ever thought about starting a support group for peers living with depression or bipolar disorder? Now is the time! DBSA wants to help you start a face-to-face peer support group.

Although support is needed in every community, our current chapter recruitment focus areas are Alaska, Mississippi, and North Dakota. If you or anyone you know live in these areas, DBSA would love to work with you to start a support group!

No special training is required to lead a DBSA group. All you need is a desire to give back, a commitment to helping your peers toward wellness, and the sense that wellness is possible!

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 and Volunteer Services Coordinator Angie Day at startup@dbsalliance.org or (800) 826-3632 x156.

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

Introducing Our Newest Chapters
DBSA has welcomed eight new chapters in 2015:

  • DBSA Athens, Greece                   
  • DBSA Dyer County (TN)
  • DBSA Central Florida
  • DBSA Solon (OH)             
  • DBSA Sioux Falls (SD)     
  • DBSA Warren County Area (NJ)
  • DBSA Salt Lake Valley (UT)          
  • DBSA Montreal (QC)      

Welcome to the DBSA family!

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.


Parent Connection: Mood Charting

It is well known that charting moods helps people begin to see patterns, recall specifics to speak with their doctor about, and keeps them mindful of what is happening in their life. Just as with adults, mood charting for children can be extraordinarily helpful. If your child is too young to chart for themselves, consider keeping a daily chart of your child's mood, amount and/or quality of sleep, energy-level, treatments and major life events. You may also wish to do this in collaboration with your child so that they can begin to see patterns for themselves. When your child is old enough, encourage them to take over tracking for themselves. To help your child become accustomed to being in charge of this important activity, it may be helpful to keep up your daily check-ins. Ongoing monitoring will help you and your child begin to recognize any patterns of stressful life events that may act as triggers for mood episodes. Over time, this chart becomes a valuable record that can be extremely helpful to professionals, you as the parent, and your child himself. 

DBSA offers both a print, online, and phone app mood tracker that may help you get started.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Survey Results: Spirituality and Religion in Wellness and Recovery

Between March and May of 2015, DBSA conducted a survey of our constituents regarding the role of spiritual and religious beliefs and practices in wellness and recovery. Topics included personal religious practices, beliefs about the role of spirituality and religion in recovery, and experiences with mental health providers. The survey was publicized on the home page of our website and via our newsletters distributed to individual constituents and local chapters. All responses were anonymous. 371 DBSA constituents responded. Read the report.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc

Sometimes I feel like I need medication, when things get really, really dark. But then I fight through those feelings, and when it passes, I feel like I don’t need medication. How do you know if/when it is the right time to start taking medication for depression?

When deciding about taking medication for depression, you’ll want to consider the general evidence, your individual experience, and your personal preferences.

About the general evidence: Research tells us about averages. On average, taking an antidepressant medication is more effective than taking a placebo for people with more severe and more long-term depression. On average, people with milder or shorter-term depression do just as well taking a placebo as taking an antidepressant medication. When we say that placebo “works”, we really mean that support, encouragement, and the passage of time seem to be effective “treatments” for milder or shorter-term depression. On average, antidepressant medications and specific kinds of psychotherapy are about equally effective. For people experiencing moderate depression, either treatment is reasonable. For more severe or long-term depression, combining medication and psychotherapy is—on average—more effective than either treatment alone.

Regarding your individual experience: If you have taken antidepressant medication before, then you have a different kind of evidence. If a specific medication has been helpful for you in the past (or caused you side effects in the past), it would likely have a similar effect. But your past experience with one medication doesn’t necessarily predict how you would react (positively or negatively) to a different medication.

Regarding your personal preferences: Some people have a strong preference to avoid taking medication. Some people prefer psychotherapy over medication, and some prefer the other way. Your preferences do count in this decision. Doctors and therapists may have useful information for you about averages. Families and friends can sometimes offer a useful outside perspective about how you are doing now and about your past experiences with treatments.? Taking medication for depression can be a complicated decision, so you’ll want to use the best information you can get. Decisions involve both information and preferences, and your preferences are the ones that matter.

DBSA’s Treatment Choices webinar includes more information about understanding the range of depression treatments and wellness strategies.

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 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.

Training for Peer Specialists: Upcoming Opportunities

Are you interested in using your personal lived experience to inspire hope in your peers on the path to wellness? 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.

DBSA’s Next Veteran Peer Training Course
July 20–25, 2015
Chicago, Illinois
Download application (PDF) or apply online.
Application deadline is June 19, 2015

DBSA’s Next Core Training Course
August 17–21, 2015
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Download application (PDF) or apply online.
Application deadline is July 22, 2015

Connect & Network with Peer Specialists
There are three great opportunities coming up to come together with peer specialists to learn, share resources, and network.

“Advocacy, Poverty and Peer Support” is the theme for the 2015 conference of the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS), an important event for peer specialists and those who support them. The conference takes place August 20-21, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. Early bird conference registration rates are available through July 1. Visit the iNAPS website for the latest conference information

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.

Next Steps Training is happening 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

Take Action and Raise Your Voice

Being an active citizen and participating in democracy is one important way to improve access to quality mental health care and end discrimination. Communicating with your legislators is an excellent way to get your voice heard. You can do so in a letter, by making a phone call, or with a personal visit.

Not sure what to write in your letter? Subscribe to the DBSA advocacy platform at DBSAlliance.org/TakeAction? to learn about the issues and receive updates including information on letter writing and phone campaigns. Or visit the DBSA website for tips.

Ready to take on the challenge of visiting your legislator but don’t want to go it alone? DBSA has two opportunities for you. To see if you live in a state where DBSA has a grassroots organization, visit the state page at DBSAlliance.org/TakeAction, send an email to the state GO Chair and ask how you can get involved.

For those who want to raise their voice around national initiatives, DBSA is pleased to once again partner with the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day 2015. This is a unique opportunity to join members from six other major mental health organizations to storm Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. The event begins on October 5 with informational workshops and sessions about mental health legislation currently being debated in Congress. On the following day, October 6, you can join your state delegation to visit the offices of your Congressional Representative and Senators making a strong statement that access to quality mental health care needs to be a national priority.

The event is free and includes breakfast and lunch on October 5 and breakfast on October 6. In order to participate you do need to register. If you have attended in past years’ you know how rewarding this event can be. If this is a new opportunity for you, consider joining your fellow DBSA participants. It’s a great way to feel empowered, know that your voice is being heard and have fun!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Regina M.

Life Unlimited: Meet Regina

On a fragrant, spring evening in 2006, my mood and behavior were marred by somber darkness and crippling psychosis. It was my first break in several years. Screaming into the phone at my psychiatrist, I couldn’t hold back gibberish and nonsensical speech. I don’t recall, but somehow I contacted an ambulance and I was on my way to a community hospital.
My psychiatrist, who was at the hospital, attended to me. Full of grandiosity, I screeched sounds repeatedly. My clothing was quickly replaced with a white straight jacket right out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I had become violent.? Kindly, they placed me in a darkened room where I ruminated about the world coming to an end. I saw myself as Jesus and concocted over and over elaborate schemes to save earth.

I envisioned myself as omnipotent. My bipolar disorder I was at its absolute worst. After a week, excellent psychiatric care and an opportunity to rest my mind and body helped me to heal. I had arrived at this state because I had asked my former psychiatrist to take me off my medicine because of terrible side effects. After a few weeks of not sleeping, I spiraled into sleep deprivation psychosis. It was traumatic for a few days. Initially, I still resisted sleep.? However, as bad as it was, I can compare my current mental health and it is now much better. Yes, there are times when I still have hard times. But they are few and far between. Since then, I haven’t been back in the hospital. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to have excellent care. Even though I initially went off my medicine, I have since learned that “pharmaceuticals for better living” made a huge difference in my life.? My recovery included learning how to take care of myself. If I felt mania coming on, I would often go to the beach and read soothing literature. I would soak up serenity. Support from friends and family eased me back to a calm state. Sometimes a heart to heart conversation with a close friend makes the difference.

I worked as a writer for most of my adult life. I wrote about health and mental health. After successive breakdowns, it became difficult for me to write and work full time. I learned that brain chemistry is altered from trauma. I am currently reinventing my writing life. Through writing and asking questions of my psychiatrist, I have learned quite a bit about bipolar. I am passionate about understanding bipolar in order to help others and myself. Education about mental illness is improving. Yet, when I shared with a neighbor that I had bipolar disorder, she was quick to call me a lunatic and looney when she became angry at me. Sometimes, I feel that my desire to help others is because of that neighbor. I am not a lunatic, but old scripts have people calling me or others names because they just don’t understand. I believe that many people are frightened of mental illness because there is so much stigma. Once I began to understand bipolar, it became my intention to educate others about the condition. I encourage those who are having mental health difficulty to seek help. A longtime friend jokingly says my picture should appear on posters for people seeking therapy. I provide referrals to therapists or other mental health professionals in order to ease suffering. I have delivered speeches about mental illness in order to reduce stigma. Sometimes that can be frightening but I believe it may help.

I recognize the need to take care of my own mental health. I recognize when I am cycling up or spiraling down, I need to intervene. I use techniques to calm myself and work closely with my mental health team. My goal is to help myself so I can help others with bipolar disorder.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

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.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

Numerous doctors and researchers have been involved with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) over its 30 years of education, advocacy, and support. A highlight of each year is definitely our Scientific Advisory Board and Gerald L. Klerman Awards Reception, which was held this year at the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, on May 17, 2015. Both recipients of the Klerman Senior Investigator Award are longtime friends and very important partners of DBSA, Dr. Mark Frye of the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Andrew Nierenberg of Harvard-Massachusetts General Hospital. These leaders in the mental health community are deeply committed to better understanding, better outcomes, and better standards of care, to work with them over many years has been a great honor and privilege. Our Klerman Young Investigator Award recipient, Dr. Paul Croarkin, also of the Mayo Clinic, is a new friend to DBSA—and what an important friend for us to know, as his important and pioneering work has largely been focused on child and adolescent experience of mood disorders. These partnerships and connections, long-standing and new, are vital to DBSA’s ability to stand for wellness and possibility with mental health.

Another vital and energizing partnership that DBSA has is with the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD), an organization primarily comprised of researchers and doctors from around the globe. ISBD has long recognized the importance of representing the needs, concerns, and, especially, contributions of people who have mood disorders within their work. In 2015, the organization had “Experts by Experience” as a track within their entire annual conference—a powerful declaration of the centrality of the contributions of peers to our community, and to our future.

I warmly thank these individuals, and everyone at ISBD, for their engagement and dedication to improving—indeed, transforming—the lives of people who have mood disorders.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp: Pets & Bipolar: Friends with benefits

How do pets make our lives (and moods) better? Let us count the ways!
Click here to read more

News from Our CFYM Advocacy Blog

Workplace issues can often be difficult to navigate. Read the current CFYM series to obtain tips and suggestions from experts.

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.

Count your blessings, no matter how few.

Remembering that “all things are temporary” and “this too, shall pass,” has helped me to stay calm and to reduce the worry.

Recovery Focus
I can start over any time. It can be New Year’s Day or a Tuesday. I can start over, where I left off, I don’t have to go back to the beginning. I can start over monthly, weekly, daily, hourly or every minute/second if I want. I can even start over by changing my goal if it doesn’t work for me.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

July 6, 2015
Scholarship application deadline for DBSA I to We Weekend??????????
Apply online
July 20–25, 2015
Veteran Peer Training Course
Download Application (PDF) or apply online
Application deadline is June 19, 2015

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

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

August 17–21, 2015
Core Peer Specialist Training
Apply online or Download PDF

?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