DBSA e-Update January 2018

You're Not Alone: I'm Here

There has been a lot of talk about suicide in the media recently. Unfortunately, much of the narrative has been inaccurate and harmful. At times, it is swept under the rug and ignored; at other times, it is sensationalized and used for entertainment. Both are problematic.

Suicidal ideation and completion is a reality that must be faced. According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  1. In 2015, the CDC reported that completed suicides were the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  2. For individuals between the ages of 10 and 14, suicide was the third-leading cause of death, and the second-leading cause for those between the ages of 15 and 34.
  3. In 2015, there were more than twice as many completed suicides (44,193) in the United States as there were homicides (17,793).

These facts are newsworthy, and certainly should be discussed and not ignored. However, suicide is not entertainment nor a way to build an individual’s brand or fame. If suicide is viewed in either of these two ways, we lose the care and compassion we need to help those who are struggling.

It is not wrong or shameful to experience suicidal thoughts; however, it is very dangerous. Suicidal ideation comes from a place of extreme hopelessness and despair, a place so dark and intimidating that a person needs help to feel better.

In 2015, four percent of the United States adult population experienced suicidal ideation, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the largest group represented was age 18 to 25. But even as widespread as this is, suicidal ideation still carries social stigma. Let us stand together to stop sensationalizing or ignoring suicide and suicidal ideation. Together, we can remove the stigma from this very real experience so that individuals can ask for and receive the support that they need.

How do we do that?

First, don’t spread harmful information.  According to reportingonsuicide.org, "Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death." Instead, this organization recommends sharing only basic facts as a way to encourage those who need help. Carefully choose words, photos, and ways of sharing.

Second, get educated and share the facts. Often, individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts also experience warning signs. Get to know what they are and how to react. Learn the signs as reported by NIH; in addition, DBSA shares ideas on how to help in a crisis on its website. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is another organization, among many, which share great resources.

Know Where to Find Support

Don't be afraid to reach out to a medical professional or a suicide prevention resource. If you need support and are not sure where to start, simply start by reaching out to a loved one. Individuals can also reach out to their medical professional, call 911, or go to their nearest Emergency Room. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). Veterans in crisis can press "1" to be directed to the local Veterans Affairs facility; deaf and hard-of-hearing persons can select the TTY and chat options. For the Crisis Text Line, text 741-741.

Show Your Support and Share Stories of Hope

Here at DBSA, we wear safety pins with green beads to remind individuals that we are here as part of the I’m here… campaign. Living with a mood disorder and its symptoms can be isolating and make it incredibly difficult to ask for help. Alternatively, someone may see that a loved one is struggling and want to show their support. By saying, "I'm here," you can open up the conversation and stop the feelings of isolation.

Offer hope by sharing stories of recovery and wellness. Knowing that others have been there, and are now thriving, can help give a person what they need to move forward. DBSA shares incredible stories through its Life Unlimited program, as does the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

There are many ways that you can help. Offering support, educating yourself, and leaning on professionals are all excellent ways to provide support. Finally, being aware how suicide is discussed, and educating others on the potential harm from inappropriate communication, can go a long way to helping everyone. We are in this together. DBSA is here.  

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Life Unlimited
Elvira Gladys Crespo Castillo

Read more inspiring stories. If you would like to participate in our Life Unlimited feature by sharing your story, please submit your contact information.

Life Unlimited: Elvira Gladys Crespo Castillo

My mother, widowed at an early age, was a teacher and I was her youngest daughter. She had to face life with three children in an underdeveloped country. She felt the best thing she could do for me was to enroll me in a sports academy.

I began to practice gymnastics and sometimes had collapses, but overall this experience ended well. Despite being far from my family, I had a happy childhood: I loved sports and enjoyed the way I gained capabilities. I was an outstanding athlete and earned silver and bronze medals in many competitions. I was an athlete until 1979, when I began my university studies.

At 21 I received a degree in Pedagogy (English Language), and began to work as a teacher in various levels of education as I sought to become a methodologist. I learned a lot because I never stopped studying. I was assigned to work as an interpreter and translator in a factory where I stayed for two years, but the working conditions took a toll on my mental health. I began to experience depression, anxiety and, most importantly, a lack of self-esteem. My mother was concerned about me, and at the same time I had two children of my own, a son and a daughter.

I consulted psychiatrists but received misdiagnoses. I suffered ups and downs while my children were growing, and needed hospitalization. The last hospitalization was in 2014, when I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder and received the right medication. Since then I have had to break the stigma about my condition. I never stopped working (since 1996), which helped me to realize that I could go forward, and I could apply the willpower that I acquired from my career in sports to help me succeed.

I have learned that I am capable of reaching my professional aspirations. Today I am 55. I have worked as a translator in a radio station for 14 years, and have work at a university teaching English to students in the fields of psychology and pedagogy.

My daily routine helps me stay on the right path. I had the chance to encounter DBSA, and I feel blessed for that. I usually read everything in each issue of BP magazine, I take medications, I get proper sleep, and I practice meditation, yoga, and Qi Gong. I am also a member of an Ishaya community, whose main objective is to go beyond mental limitations and to explore consciousness.  I also like to take walks with a neighbor to relax and be outdoors.

I am enjoying happiness and peace, and I wish to help spread them. Thanks to the universe!

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Note from the Management Team

Ingrid Deetz, Chapters and Programs Vice President

January is a month of making—and for many of us, for breaking—resolutions. While we may start out strong, we often shoot too high only to end up disappointing ourselves when we aren’t able to achieve our goals.

I long ago adopted the process, instead of creating New Year’s resolutions, of creating a list of things to do in the coming year. These are not always things that I want to do, but they are always things that I know, once done, will increase my happiness. For example, never go to bed with a messy kitchen. No, I do not enjoy cleaning my kitchen, but it’s a much better start to my day to have it clean in the morning! I also make sure to include plenty of things that I truly do find enjoyable—like learning something new each week—so I don’t burn myself out.

This one is never hard for me to keep because it happens so organically in my work at DBSA. The field of mental health is always evolving, and I find this to be a particularly exciting time to be involved as we move to a more person-centered model—in which we all can influence treatment and understanding.

The DBSA eUpdate is a great way to stay up-to-date on changes in mental health, and on ways you can be involved in shaping this change.  If your goals for the New Year include learning more, taking action for change, or helping others, DBSA has you covered.

Regardless of your resolutions or lack thereof, January can be a great time to think about the year ahead, and to make plans for how you will make it your best year yet. Once you’ve given it some thought, I encourage you to join DBSA on Facebook to share your plans with our peers. I always find inspiration in hearing others’ plans, and I hope you will to.

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DBSA Chapters

DBSA Launches New Treatment Section on Website

We are excited to announce a revamp of the Finding the Right Treatment section of our website. While many think only of medication when hearing the term treatment, it is so much more. In this revamp, DBSA has pulled together information on many different treatment options including prolonged-exposure therapy, animal-assisted therapy, technological devices, and more. The updated section also provides more in-depth information on medications, common side effects and interactions, and the different kinds of talk therapy often used to treat mood disorders. We hope these additions offer you the opportunity to learn more about the many different facets of treatment, so you can discuss them with your health care professionals if you believe they may be helpful to you.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Partners with VitalCrowd to Test New Method of Crowd-Driven Design

Next month, DBSA is teaming up with the startup VitalCrowd to test a new Web-based platform for enabling broad-scale input from those who live with mental health conditions and their supporters. DBSA will work with VitalCrowd to obtain input from people living with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD); this feedback will help shape the design of a study that examines the impact of this condition. The platform will be open to both peers and supporters.

The DBSA community will be the first to access and test the newly redesigned VitalCrowd platform, which makes it easy and fun to shape the scope and direction of research—while earning “tokens” that can be used to provide financial support to DBSA.

The VitalCrowd partnership with DBSA supports our work to spearhead the development of better ways to understand what matters most to those who live with MDD. In addition to providing our community with early access to a new way to give input, the partnership provides funds to support DBSA’s work. However, we need YOU to make this partnership succeed!

Stay tuned for more information about how you can participate in this exciting pilot of community-designed research! Sign up here to get more information about the VitalCrowd/DBSA research “Design Sprint” and join the effort to shape research that matters!

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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 Helpline and other family-focused programming.

Have Hope

Jill, a mother of seven children—including a 15-year-old living with a mood disorder—spoke to DBSA about her family’s journey with mental health. During this 25-minute discussion, Jill spoke about what she had learned her child needed, her personal coping skills, and her hopes for the mental health community. Throughout this discussion, Jill conveyed her wish that families have hope that things can get better. To listen to the podcast, please click here; it is also available to read via a transcript.

To learn more about mood disorders in children and to find parental peer support, visit DBSAlliance.org/BMPN.

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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.

Got a nagging question? Submit your questions to Ask the Doc online. Also, take a look through our Ask the Doc feature page, a comprehensive archive of past columns, which may already have the answer to your questions.

Ask the Doc

Can antidepressant mono therapy in cyclothymic disorder cause full blown mania? Is that a sure sign of type 1 bipolar disorder?

Let’s start with a little diagnostic jargon. Officially, we use the term cyclothymic disorder to describe a mood pattern including both mild depression and hypomania—with neither severe enough to make a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. And we use the term bipolar disorder type 2 to refer to a mood pattern including both major depression and hypomania. Finally, we use the term bipolar disorder type 1 to refer to a mood pattern including both major depression and full mania. Full mania means that significant manic symptoms last at least 7 days or lead to hospitalization.

Antidepressant medications can certainly cause mania, especially if they are used alone (without a mood stabilizer or anti-manic medication). That can happen in people with no history of hypomania or mania—but this risk is higher in people with type 2 bipolar disorder and highest in people with type 1 bipolar disorder. In other words, a history of mania increases the odds that taking an antidepressant can bring on mania.

Officially, a manic episode brought on by taking an antidepressant would not add up to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. But it would certainly identify someone at higher risk for having a manic episode in the future, with or without antidepressant medication. My advice to anyone who experienced mania after starting an antidepressant would be: You should make sure any doctor who wants to prescribe an antidepressant knows about this! Some people have used the term “type 3 bipolar disorder” for the pattern of depression with a manic episode that ONLY happened while taking antidepressants. But psychiatrists do like to name things!

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Care For Your Mind

Our gift to you to start the New Year: "Healthcare Reform: Selected Readings from Care for Your Mind," a free download. We wish you the very best in 2018! 

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Share Your Experiences with Depression with DBSA

DBSA has just released a new survey designed to help us learn what depression is like for you — and what you have found to be most helpful. We will use this to not only inform our programming, but to use the overall results (not individual information) to create a publication and present it at upcoming mental health conferences to better educate clinicians. For the information to be as useful as possible, we need several hundred people to take the survey. Please consider completing this survey—and sharing it with your network—by following the link.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp Magazine: Help for the Highly Sensitive Person

If you are a “highly sensitive person” overstimulation from your environment can be a trigger for mood episodes. Here is what you need to know.
By Kelly K. James

Are you bothered by sounds and smells that don’t annoy the people around you? Are you often accused of being overemotional and too easily upset? You may qualify as a “highly sensitive person,” or HSP.

That’s a term coined by research psychologist Elaine Aron to describe people who possess something called the sensory sensitivity processing trait.
Psychologists measure sensory sensitivity with questions about how you react to both physical and emotional input, or stimuli. Loud noises, pain, cluttered countertops—but also the arts and music, violence in movies or TV shows, other people’s energy. How easily you startle—but also how quickly you get stressed out when under pressure.

In the March 2016 issue of Social Behavior and Personality, researchers from the State University of New York at Stony Brook noted that the trait “is characterized by sensitivity to both external and internal stimuli, intense emotions, and a cognitive style characterized by a preference for elaborate processing of information.”

Highly sensitive people go through the day feeling distressed by ordinary experiences anyone else would barely notice. For Michelle D., the brush of cooled air on her skin is difficult to abide. Read full article.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Facing Us Clubhouse

Visit the FacingUs.org to get more tips, create your own tips, track your wellness, and connect with peers. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free.

Wellness Tips from Peers

Staying Out of Bed During Depressive Episodes
I know I like to stay snuggled up in bed and just want to snuggle up and sleep in bed. Instead, I’ve developed a routine of making my bed as soon as I get up, making my bed keeps me from laying in it all day when I have things I have to do but don’t think I can or don’t want to in my Depressive Episodes.

My body is a vessel...
...but if I pour my everything into everyone else, I have nothing left for myself. I have realized that I need to take time to do things for myself that make me feel better. Whether that’s do my makeup, fix my hair, take a longer shower, or call a friend. This is imperative to my recovery.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

Happy New Year! Stay tuned for more events.

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