My Support - July 8, 2009
FREE Sibling Support Groups
New groups are forming now for the summer. CBF is pleased to offer two groups; one for children in grades 3-5 and a second for those in grades 6-10. Groups meet once a month on a Sunday afternoon and run in cycles of 4 sessions. They are led by a trained, licensed psychotherapist.
Meet other kids who have siblings with bipolar disorder, share your feelings in a safe, confidential place and get the support you need and deserve.
Here's what two moms had to say about the group:
"I think the most beneficial thing for ME from the group is a decrease in the guilt I feel for how awful this bp has been to them (the siblings) over the years. It gave them a much better understanding of the disorder, and a recognition that other families struggle with this as well. They no longer feel alone or that there is something wrong with THEM for the way their sister is. The group also opened up the lines of communication between us. They started talking more with me about it and asking more questions and that has been so good for us all. They have more understanding and patience (sometimes) for their affected sister. They feel that her bp is not as bad as it could be, but also now do have some fear for what it could possibly look like in the future. The group normalized their feelings. The group also gave them a place to release some long pent up emotions and I'm grateful for that."
" I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how much my son enjoyed the group the other night. He came out feeling so much better and thanking me for taking him. He really felt comfortable with you and finally felt like he was being heard with people who understand. It's been so hard on him! We can't thank you enough for doing this for all of us and of course, especially our children. He did not tell me what went on at the group (Nor did I ask) except for he finally had people he could relate to regarding his brother who is BP. He can't wait for the next group! Thank you again."
Contact Tom Kelly for more information or to set up a private, confidential intake appointment.
Bipolar & Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorder Share Many Common Genetic Variants Says International Research Consortium
A new study by a large international consortium found that many common genetic variants contribute up to a third of a person's risk of inheriting schizophrenia and many of the same DNA variations are also involved in bipolar disorder.
A Combination Of Common Genetic Variations Can Lead To Schizophrenia
A multi-national group of investigators, including a scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has discovered that nearly a third of the genetic basis of schizophrenia may be attributed to the cumulative actions of thousands of common genetic variants.
Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorder Share Genetic Roots
A trio of genome-wide studies - collectively the largest to date - has
pinpointed a vast array of genetic variation that cumulatively may account for
at least one third of the genetic risk for schizophrenia. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/156241.php
Top Ten Psych Tweeps
By Sandra Kiume
June 29, 2009
Microblogging service Twitter is maximizing in popularity. Though there are naysayers who don't understand the medium and dismiss it as shallow and narcissistic (just like early blog critics did), Twitter is used in many vital ways. For every snarkster who writes about her lunch, there's an account like Brainline sharing serious medical info. Musicians set up impromptu concerts while professors analyze journalism, and people organize flash mobs for celebrity tributes or political protests. There are job postings, science fiction flashforward zines... I could go on, but the point is: there are many, many "tweeps" with useful, revealing and cool accounts. Plenty are about psychology and mental health. It was very difficult to narrow this list to just ten, so I used these criteria:
- NO marketing (including "free" e-books, how-to guides, etc.)
- not just "broadcasting" or re-feeding, follows others and reads their feeds
- interacts with friends and followers, replies to people
- shares more than just factoids, quotes, or pop psych aphorisms
- active but not overactive
- not too off-topic, talks mostly about psychology, psychotherapy and/or mental health
- humour, taste, talent, good writing and personality
- poise, swimsuit competition, and how they'll bring about world peace
Kidding about that last one, but - here are the psych tweep pageant winners:
10. @mtabraham "Professional Counselor - my goal is to help people be more successful through mindful awareness and self acceptance." Terri Abraham is a very active tweep sharing positive thoughts and info on mindfulness therapy and spirituality. Chatty and responsive even with thousands of followers.
9. @loveisthecure5 "Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Movement Leader." I love Love is The Cure because it's a movement that's completely peer-driven without being disorganized. Volunteer-based with a sleek professional sheen, there's no crankery or misinformation. It's positive, directly supportive, promotes awareness while fighting stigma, and offers cool volunteer opportunities through building a network. LITC rocks!
8. @deborahserani "Psychologist, Professor and Author." Dr. Deb has maintained a blog for years and has transitioned to Twitter very nicely. She shares cool links on a wide variety of psychology-related subjects.
7. @therapyonline "A wide lens is cast at the Online Therapy Institute ranging from email and chat to videoconferencing and Second Life." DeeAnna Merz Nagel maintains this popular account with a focus that's business-to-business for professionals who offer online therapy. She manages to share lots of intriguing info while straddling a thin line between professional organization and marketer - without falling into the dark side.
6. @shiftstigma "Shift believes that people with a history of mental health problems should have the same chances and opportunities as everyone else." For anyone concerned about stigma - which is anyone involved with mental health - this awesome UK charity keeps an active Twitter account with lots of thought-provoking info and a friendly, accessible tone. Unlike so many organizations on Twitter that are disappointingly aloof broadcasters, they reply to followers and initiate conversations too.
5. @iopsychology "I/O Psychologist who studies motivation, apathy, gossip, and metacognition." Industrial-Organizational Psychology grad student/TA at Michigan State University. Gordon B. Schmidt writes about research and shares the work of other tweeps and bloggers in the field, but also takes the time to compliment a friend's puppy.
4. @drdavidballard "Head of Corporate Relations and Business Strategy at the American Psychological Association. Business, psychology, technology, health and productivity." Dr. Ballard is Tweeting on behalf of a organization so you won't find personal opinions on things that aren't professionally relevant, but he is thought provoking, interactive, shares great news links and he writes, well, like a pro.
3. @drkathleenyoung "Licensed Clinical Psychologist Treating Trauma in Chicago." Her practice (and Twitter & blog focus) is on PTSD, domestic violence, sexual assault, trauma in general which you might think would make for a bleak feed but she's very upbeat, encouraging, active and interactive. Shares useful info and talks to lots of tweeps whether professional or civilian.
2. @kidtherapist "Children's Therapist and Author of Kids Awareness Series Books." Kara T. Tamanini's feed is an awesome mix of personality, community, well-aggregated professional quality info, and friendly interaction. I adore her account, and I'll bet the kids that she treats adore her too. Enthusiastic and on point.
1. @drkkolmes "Clinical psychologist in private practice specializing in anxiety, depression, relationships, sexuality and the intersection of technology and mental health." Very in tune with the net culture zeitgeist, Keely Kolmes has spoken about online mental health at SXSW and MentalHealthCamp. She challenges paradigms and explores boundaries in questions like: Should you "friend" your therapist? Read her blog? Should a therapist Google a client? A 21st century psychologist who'd top any new media mental health list, she unquestionably deserves the crown from us.
Should the winners not be able to fulfil their tweeting duties, here are the runners-up:
@countersuicide Shares crisis resources, suicide prevention info and news. Unlike the professional suicide prevention orgs on Twitter, this heroic volunteer directly interacts with people in crisis online. Crucial and literally lifesaving.
@apahelpcenter From the American Psychological Association, not very interactive but oodles of valuable info.
@marielhemingway My fave mentally healthy celebrity on Twitter, she offers lots of love, positivity and tips for healthy living.
Video: Web Therapy
Comedy webisodes about a dubious web therapist played by Lisa Kudrow.
Doctors Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder In Children Should Consider Irritability A Symptom, Study
New research from the US adds to mounting evidence that when diagnosing bipolar disorder in children doctors and clinicians should consider irritability as a possible symptom.The study, by researchers at the Bradley Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, both in Rhode Island, and colleagues from other centers, is published online in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Disability Rights California
Advance the rights of Californians with disabilities.
Our vision is a barrier free, inclusive world that values diversity, culture, and each individual.
In this world all people with disabilities have:
Equality, Dignity, Power, Freedom of choice, Independence, and Freedom from abuse, neglect, and discrimination.
They have quality, culturally responsive, safe, affordable, accessible:
Housing, Education, Healthcare, Technology, Transportation, and Individual and family supports that they choose and direct.
People with disabilities have the right to family, social, and intimate relationships. They are financially secure, can make life choices, and have opportunities for satisfying work, recreation, spiritual lives, and community service.
Advocacy Principles http://disabilityrightsca.org/about/advocacy.htm
Disability Rights California Advocacy Plan 2008- 2012 (htm) or (pdf) Our current four year goals for the services we provide.
If you receive a notice of action reducing your services, you can appeal the decision and ask to be reassessed. You only have a short window of opportunity to do this though, so you shouldn't wait.
FDA Confiscates Generic Manufacturer's Drugs
Friday June 26, 2009
The US Food and Drug Administration has seized all drugs manufactured by Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories Ltd. at the company's facilities in Michigan. The agency said the action was taken because Caraco has consistently failed to meet the FDA's current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements. Caraco manufactures several generic medications commonly prescribed for mood disorders, including:
- Amlodipine (generic Norvasc)
- Citalopram HBR (generic Celexa)
- Clonazepam (generic Klonopin)
- Fluvoxamine (generic Luvox)
- Mirtazapine (generic Remeron)
- Paroxetine (generic Paxil)
- Zolpidem (generic Ambien)
In a statement addressing what consumers should do if they are taking drugs manufactured by Caraco, the FDA said: "The FDA advises consumers taking medicines from Caraco not to interrupt their drug therapy. If FDA identifies Caraco drugs on the market that pose risks to patient safety, the Agency will take additional regulatory action and immediately notify the public." The manufacturer's name should appear on your prescription bottle and the accompanying papers. This statement means that at this time drugs manufactured by Caraco have not been found to be unsafe. Don't stop taking a medication simply because it is made by this company, and don't panic about running out of a medication. Your pharmacy should not have a problem obtaining the same generic drug from another manufacturer. For a complete list of the generic drugs manufactured by Caraco, see this FDA Press Release. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm169095.htm
Top 5 Humorous Gifts for Manic-Depressives
By Kimberly Read & Marcia Purse, About.com
Updated March 30, 2009
Spend a few minutes in one of our chats or read through a few forum posts and you quickly realize that those with bipolar disorder (manic depression) have a keen appreciation for humor and a sharp sense of the ironic. Laughter is, after all, a great stress release. Thus, we have compiled a list of a few humorous items for those on your shopping list who have this disorder. http://bipolar.about.com/od/laughter/tp/tp_2005fungifts.htm?nl=1 or check out this site, 100's of gifts: http://shop.cafepress.com/bipolar?cmp=knc--g--us--lib--hlthbac--c--bipol...
Alcoholism + Mental Health Problem = Dual Diagnosis
Written by HealthyPlace.com Staff Writer
Combining a mental health condition with an alcohol or drug addiction produces big problems. Dual diagnosis occurs when someone has both a mental disorder and an alcohol or drug problem. These conditions occur together frequently. In particular, alcohol and drug problems tend to occur with:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
Sometimes the mental health condition occurs first. This can lead people to use alcohol or drugs that make them feel better temporarily. Sometimes the substance abuse occurs first. Over time, that can lead to emotional and mental problems. No Iframes
How common is dual diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis is more common than you might imagine. According to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association:
37-percent of alcohol abusers and 53-percent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.
Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 percent abuse either alcohol or drugs.
What is the impact of using drugs or alcohol when you have a mental illness?
The consequences can be numerous and harsh. Persons with a co-occurring disorders have a statistically greater propensity for violence, medication noncompliance, and failure to respond to treatment than consumers with just substance abuse or a mental illness. These problems also extend out to these consumers' families, friends and co-workers.
Medically, having a simultaneous mental illness and a substance abuse disorder frequently leads to overall poorer functioning and a greater chance of relapse. These people are in and out of hospitals and treatment programs without lasting success. People with dual diagnoses also tend to have tardive dyskinesia (TD) and physical illnesses more often than those with a single disorder, and they experience more episodes of psychosis. In addition, physicians often don't recognize the presence of substance abuse disorders and mental disorders, especially in older adults.
Socially, people with mental illnesses often are susceptible to co-occurring disorders due to "downward drift." In other words, as a consequence of their mental illness they may find themselves living in marginal neighborhoods where drug use prevails. Having great difficulty developing social relationships, some people find themselves more easily accepted by groups whose social activity is based on drug use. Some may believe that an identity based on drug addiction is more acceptable than one based on mental illness.
People with dual diagnoses are also much more likely to be homeless or jailed. An estimated 50 percent of homeless adults with serious mental illnesses have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. Meanwhile, 16% of jail and prison inmates are estimated to have severe mental and substance abuse disorders. Among detainees with mental disorders, 72 percent also have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.
NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)
NIH Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Our Country's Freedom
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Fear of losing a job, a friend or a lover can keep you silent about having bipolar disorder. But it is only in speaking up and reaching out that you can find help and build a support network. Sharing your experiences in a safe place can be therapeutic, too. That's why support groups can be an important component of a treatment plan.
Click here to read more. http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx?id=524
FREEDOM TO WORSHIP
For many consumers, religious faith is a lifeline that tows them through the choppy seas of bipolar disorder. Researchers at the University of Manitoba have even found a tentative link between attending religious services and reduced risk of suicide.
Click here to read Spirituality, Religion and Suicidal Behavior. http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx?id=555
FREEDOM FROM WANT
Compulsive spending, a common symptom of mania, can beggar bank accounts. Money needed for household expenses or carefully planned-for purchases goes up in smoke during a shopping spree. For insight, check out our story The spending spree.
Click here to read more. http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx?id=235
FREEDOM FROM FEAR
Everyone worries about everyday stresses like how to pay the bills and raise the kids. Those fears can spin out of control into general anxiety disorder, "the most common anxiety condition in bipolar disorder," according to psychiatrist S. Nassir Ghaemi, director of the moods disorder and psychopharmacology programs at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and co-editor of the clinician's guide Bipolar Depression.
He also points out that anxiety can lead to insomnia, "a major trigger for manic episodes and general destabilization of bipolar disorder." So watch for symptoms like sleep problems, spending an excessive amount of time thinking about trivial worries, an inability to sit still, and scattered or racing thoughts.
Has Mental Illness Impacted Your Driving or Driver License?
About.com Friday July 3, 2009
Do you remember the last time you updated your driver license and how they ask you all the various questions? Do you need corrective lenses? Are you currently holding a driver license from another state? Is your driver license currently suspended revoked? Do you want to be an organ donor? Do you have any condition that may impair your ability to drive? And so on. Apparently in some states, the required disclosures include statements about mental or emotional impairments that may affect driving safety. A mother recently shared with us that her twenty-one year old son was asked on his driver license application if he had any mental illnesses. He was honest and said he had bipolar disorder. He was issued a license, but pending an investigation of the extent to which his mental illness might impair his driving. Medical forms were sent to his psychiatrist, but they were never returned to the department of motor vehicles and the state suspended his license. Ouch! A couple of years ago, PegHost divulged a personal experience with learning the fact that the laws do apply to prescriptions as it relates to driving under the influence. She shares, "I am writing to share with you a harsh lesson I learned through a personal experience. I hope my incident will help others avoid a similar debacle. DUI means driving under the influence of not only alcohol and illegal drugs, but also medications prescribed by our doctors. If you don't know your meds, find out about them. Then get a second opinion before you get behind the wheel of a car!"
It's Hard to Catch Lightening in a Bottle and Mania is Like Lightening!
by Julie Fast
Mania is Like Lightening...
It's hard to write about mania considering that I have been in a downswing for weeks, but it's a topic I have to continually address- I hear stories all summer about people who go off their meds because they feel so GREAT and then the disasters that follow.
It's easy to think - the sun is just so WONDERFUL!!!!!! when the weather gets nice, you're off school, you have a vacation, the kids are home, etc. And there is no doubt that summer is wonderful if you were depressed in the winter- but this is just a friendly reminder that when things get WONDERFUL!!!!!, it's time to check for mania. Here are 8 questions to ask yourself or your loved one.
- Are you sleeping a lot less than what is considered the norm- but are still filled with energy the next day? The norm is seven to eight hours- mania sleep would be less than five hours for example- or sometimes not even sleeping at all.
- Did what seemed truly hopeless suddenly become full of possibility and beauty?
- Are the people in your life commenting on your energy level and that you need to cool it?
- Are you more creative, but less functional?
- Do you have the thought that you don't need your medications as you feel JUST FINE!
- Are you acting ( or even thinking ) compulsively regarding spending, se**xuality, travel, etc?
- Are you filled with nervous and uncomfortable energy? Is this energy painful and worrisome- but you can't seem to calm down?
- Is your mind racing, are you starting to see things and hear things, do you feel paranoid or agitated?
There are two levels of mania- hypomania (bipolar II) and full blown mania (bipolar I). Mania can start slowly and stay at a low level- it can start really quickly and spin out of control and often move into psychosis really quickly. Within the levels of mania- there is euphoric (happy! grandiose!) mania and dysphoric/mixed mania (agitation, racing thoughts, irritation, anger, feeling uncomfortable.)
I created my bipolar disorder treatment plan to help my depression- but they have helped the most in terms of mania. It's hard to catch lightening in a bottle- and mania is like lightening. The treatment window is SO short. Please make sure you are ready for the absolutely first signs that it's starting. Fill out or look at your mania Health Card for yourself or for your family member if your loved one has bipolar disorder. Being aware and well prepared will end the need for crisis thinking and will catch mania in it's earliest stages.
I want us all to have a wonderful summer- not a WONDERFUL!!!!! summer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie A. Fast, best selling author of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder and Get It Done When You're Depressed is an award winning bipolar disorder advice columnist, national speaker, and sought after expert in the fields of bipolar disorder and depression. Julie's work specializes in helping people manage all aspects of their daily lives -despite the complications that bipolar disorder creates.
When a Child Commits Suicide
For parents, the thought of a child dying for any reason is a tragedy beyond compare. But what happens when your child commits suicide? How do you even begin to deal with that?
Dealing with Anger and Guilt After a Suicide
Coping With Loss: Bereavement and Grief
Families Need Help to Deal with Aftermath of Suicide Attempts http://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/depression/help-to-deal-with-after...
HealthyPlace.com Medical Director and Board-Certified Psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Croft, notes that child and teenage suicide can sometimes be prevented by recognizing the symptoms of depression in children and the warning signs that your child is contemplating suicide and then contacting your family doctor and taking immediate and appropriate action. Here are some ways to help a suicidal person.
Bipolar disorder in children and adolescents: a rocky road
2 July 2009 | by Tony James
Bipolar disorder in children and adolescents typically follows a tumultuous course with periods of apparent euthymia interrupted by numerous changes in mood state and a high frequency of subsyndromal symptoms, a new study has shown. The Course and Outcomes of Bipolar Youth (COBY) study previously reported on the first two years of illness in 263 young patients aged from seven to 17 years at the time of diagnosis. This latest report has described 413 patients followed for four years. There were 62% who had a syndromal recurrence, most often depression, of whom half had two or more recurrences. The polarity of the index episode predicted the polarity of subsequent episodes. Participants were assessed as symptomatic for 60% of the total follow-up period, usually with depression or mixed polarity, but there were numerous changes in mood state. Overt mania was quite uncommon. "The course of bipolar disorder, the relative infrequency of syndromal DSM manic episodes, the effects of development in symptom manifestation, and the high prevalence of comorbid disorders may account...for the difficulties in recognising and managing this illness in youths," the report concluded. The high recurrence rate, chronicity and psychosocial morbidity made it vital to encourage early diagnosis and effective treatment, it stated. American Journal of Psychiatry 2009; 166: 795-804....
Author releases 'Dear Prudence,' an inspiring book of hope
by Express-Times staff
Monday June 29, 2009, 9:04 AM
"The sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful and so are you. Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play" -- The Beatles
The hopeful message in the lyrics of The Beatles' popular song served as inspiration for a book of the same title.
Amanda Grieme, author of "Dear Prudence," let the music of her life guide her along the way to writing the novel. "The title came to me one day when I was listening to 'The White Album,' she says. "The correlation, in my heart, is uncanny." The book follows a young woman, Ana Guida, as she escapes a hospital and copes with the struggles of bipolar disorder. Along her way, she is guided by a guardian angel-like being, who leads her to her Fate.
Grieme, who has experienced her own struggles with bipolar disorder, considers her writing a tool in which she can give back to the world. "There is no coincidence; I have suffered and endured so that I can share a message of hope through creative writing; it is my medium," she says.
The Thinkers: She peers into the brain for cause of bipolar disorder
Monday, June 29, 2009mary phillips
By Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mary Phillips peers into the brains of people with bipolar disorder, and what she has found there gives a whole new meaning to the term "bipolar."
Dr. Phillips, a University of Pittsburgh psychiatrist, has discovered that each half of a bipolar patient's brain may be responsible for a different extreme of the illness.
Bipolar patients often cycle between periods of paralyzing depression and hyperactive mania.
Using a brain imaging technique that shows the connections between different parts of the brain, Dr. Phillips' group has shown that wiring problems in the left half of the brain may cause patients' manic phases, while a different kind of wiring problem on the right half may create the episodes of depression.
Her study focused on a bundle of fibers known as the uncinate fasciculus, which connects an emotion-processing area known as the amygdala, at the bottom of the brain, with a regulatory area known as the orbital prefrontal cortex, at the front of the brain.
Simply put, she said, the amygdala "allows us to perceive the emotional salience" of things we experience, while the orbital prefrontal cortex areas on either side of the brain "act like brakes on the amygdala."
Her study found that on the left side of the brain, which is associated with more positive feelings, the uncinate fasciculus was much thinner than normal, which could mean the front of the brain was less able to control those feelings in bipolar patients, sending them into hyperactive, sometimes grandiose episodes of mania.
On the right side, which is more linked to negative feelings, the wiring was thicker and had more cross-connections, which she said "can lead to sort of getting off the point and thinking too much, getting off into this reverberative, ruminative loop" of anxious, melancholy ideas.
In mentally healthy people, that right-side cabling is smoother and more unidirectional, she said, which may allow the front of the brain to short-circuit any excessive negative thoughts.
To measure patients' feelings while they were in the brain scanner, Dr. Phillips' team showed them images of happy and fearful faces. Previous research has shown that people with bipolar disorder react much more strongly to fearful faces than typical people do.
Finding out what is wrong in the brains of people with bipolar disorder is an important first step, Dr. Phillips said, but the more exciting potential is to use that information to improve diagnosis and treatment. The studies hold out the potential that "we can use neuroimaging to choose the right medication and dose" for patients.
It may also help doctors differentiate those who have bipolar disease from those who just have depression, since they are separate disorders with distinct treatments.
And someday, it could help researchers predict who is likely to develop bipolar disease, which could be crucial to offering early treatment.
Dr. Barbara Sahakian, a neuropsychology professor at Cambridge University, said at an international bipolar conference held in Pittsburgh last week that "many of the neuropsychiatric disorders that exist become chronic, and the more episodes a person has, the more difficult it is to treat them effectively, so prevention or early detection is an extremely important issue."
Dr. Phillips' work could also help resolve a controversy that has sprung up over diagnosing bipolar disease in children. While research at Pitt has shown that children can get bipolar disorder and often suffer the most severe form of the disease, there also have been reports that some psychiatrists have been diagnosing children as bipolar without strong evidence for it.
Brain imaging "biomarkers" could help resolve those questions, she said. Dr. Phillips, who grew up near Nottingham in Great Britain and has both an M.D. and Ph.D. from Cambridge University, spends a lot of time flying over the Atlantic.
While she lives most of the year in Pittsburgh, she flies to the United Kingdom every month to six weeks to fulfill parallel duties as a neuroscience professor at Cardiff University, and she conducts her research in both places.
She entered medical school at the age of 18 and soon knew what she wanted to focus on. "I was fascinated by psychiatric illnesses because they were so un-understandable at the time."
She also knew she wanted to work with the fast-growing field of brain imaging, which uses everything from X-rays to radioactive isotopes to magnetic fields to view what parts of the brain are active.
As a psychiatrist, she has always wanted to use the results of her imaging work to find new ways to help patients, and she believes there is the real potential of doing that with bipolar disorder, which affects an estimated 1 percent of the population, or more than 3 million people in the United States.
Her discoveries also have strengthened her belief that mental illness is centered in a dysfunctional brain. People may be born with their problems, or their illnesses may alter their brains, but either way, there are concrete changes in the structure and functioning of the brain that scientists will be able to unravel. "People suffering from these illnesses want to know what's going on in their brains. Just like with a broken leg, you want to know where the break is -- you want to know where the break is in your brain."
With the progress being made in neuroscience, "we will be able to say, 'This is where the problem is, it's not all in your mind,' and that's going to destigmatize psychiatric illnesses more than anything."
Mark Roth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1130.
First published on June 29, 2009 at 12:00 am
Actress Mariette Hartley Counsels Families Torn by Suicide
By Mike O'Sullivan Los Angeles 25 June 2009
Suicide has a traumatic impact on the victim's family. The Hollywood actress Mariette Hartley lost three family members to suicide and is helping others cope with their loss.
Mariette Hartley has been a familiar face on television for nearly 50 years, from her roles in the early Western Bonanza and the classic series Star Trek, to recent shows like Grey's Anatomy.
She comes from an accomplished family with a turbulent history. Her grandfather, John B. Watson, was a noted psychologist who is credited with founding behaviorism, the school of psychology that limits itself to the study of behavior and the environmental influences that shape it.
Watson also wrote extensively on child-rearing. Based in part on his animal studies, he argued that children should be shaped through external stimuli, and shown few signs of affection, such as hugging or kissing.
Old approach led to problems
Hartley blames that approach to child-rearing for some of the family's problems. And she says some family members have bipolar disease, a condition once known as manic depression. The family has faced the trauma of suicide, first by her uncle.
"And he took his life in 1959," she explained. "And as a kid from Connecticut, it wasn't talked about a lot, obviously, but I didn't get it. It really wasn't until 1963, when my father took his life in the next room and my mother and I were left with all of the cleanup, psychologically and physically, that it totally changed my life."
It took years of therapy for her to come to terms with the loss, which the family kept secret for decades.
She revisited the emotions of the trauma in 1984, when she starred in a television movie called Silence of the Heart, about a couple who had lost their son to suicide.
"And I asked to meet a family, and I was so grateful to these people - I'll never forget them - and they shared the experience of the loss of their son," Hartley said. "It was exactly the same experience as my loss with my dad - the trauma of discovery, all of that stuff."
Similar to combat veterans
She says she realized that suicide survivors experience similar stresses to combat veterans.
"They fought in a war that they didn't ask for necessarily," she noted. "They saw atrocities that they've never been trained to process, and then they come back into society, and nobody wants to talk about it."
Hartley works on behalf of military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic-stress syndrome.
Works as counselor
In 1987, she cofounded the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and now counsels others who have lost loved ones to suicide.
Therapist Karen Dean Fritts
Therapist Karen Dean Fritts is also a suicide survivor. One day, she received a message on her answering service that her brother had killed himself. She was mid-way through her work day seeing patients.
"I hung up the phone. I felt numb. I felt other-worldly. And then I had responsibility to other people. I went back to work," Fritts said.
Feelings of shame
She says the view of suicide as shameful, hurts surviving family members.
"There's a lot of shame, almost as if it's contagious, that talking about it in some way ... it's like when somebody's very ill, I don't want to get too close, don't want to know too much, because in some ways, it overloads the human being's own processes," Fritts said.
Mariette Hartley underwent years of therapy before learning that she suffers from bipolar disease, like several others in her family.
"It's definitely a genetic component in our family," she explained, "and I am so grateful to have been born now where there is definitely help."
Suicide vs natural death
The actress lost her cousin to suicide a few years ago, and says her mother attempted suicide, but finally died peacefully with her family. She tells therapist Karen Fritts that this is kind of death brings a family together, unlike suicide, which pulls it apart.
"There is something very different about a gentle death that's inclusive," Hartley said. "I think what happens when it's that violent, what your brother did and what my father did, and what my beloved cousin did, my uncle did, it's so exclusive. It just shuts us out. And it makes me feel, which is the worst feeling in the world for me, powerless and helpless."
Both women say help can be found from organizations, support groups and medical professionals for those thinking of suicide, and counseling can help the traumatized families of those who take their own lives.
IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, H.R. 2740.
Thursday, July 9! Please call your Congressional Representative on July 9. Ask him or her to co-sponsor. We would like to get as many cosponsors as possible so the bill passes. Your call can help make that happen!
Dial 202-224-3121 (TTY 202-225-1904) and ask for your Representative.
Support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, H.R. 2740!
Why is H.R.2740 so important?
How do you find your Representative?
What do you say?
Help Parents Recover Expert Witness Fees and Level the Playing Field!
School districts can use tax dollars to employ and pay for psychologists and other technical experts.
Few parents can afford the thousands of dollars needed to pay for expert testimony that is necessary to prevail in IDEA due process hearings and litigation. Parents have fewer resources and yet must bear a greater financial burden.
The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, H.R. 2740, is necessary to allow parents to recover their expert witness fees. It will restore Congress' original intent. This bipartisan bill, introduced by Congressman Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) and Pete Sessions (Texas), will help level the playing field and make the right to due process affordable for parents across America.
Find out more details about the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, H.R. 2740 and make your call on Thursday, July 9!
Please ask friends, colleagues, clients, and family members to call too. It will only take a few minutes. Even if you signed the petition, it's important to make a call. The petition is going to Congress' leadership. But parents and advocates need to call their individual Representatives for support.
Link to this Alert: http://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/09/al.fairness.act.09.htm