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       Our mission is to create an atmosphere that is both supportive and informative in a caring, safe environment for our members to talk to their peers about depression, anxiety, mood disorders, medications, therapy and recovery.


Our vision is to advance the public awareness of mental health issues so as to eliminate the stigma that surrounds depression and mood disorders through education and advocacy, as well as striving to obtain quality medical care for mental health patients, as it is no different from any other medical illness.

 

 
 
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Latest News

Dating With a Mental Illness

 

Your condition doesn't have to keep you from finding love.

A happy young couple sits and talks in a coffee shop.

 

Having an open and honest conversation with your date can help you decide if he or she will be worth your time and effort.

By + More

When you have a mental illness, the fun of dinner and drinks and the chemistry between the two of you can be dwarfed by worrying over how your date will react when you open up about your condition. If you tell him too soon, you might scare him off. Wait too long, and you run the risk of her feeling misled. So what do you do?

 

Molly Pohlig, a 36-year-old New Yorker, has depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder – conditions she says have made dating difficult in the past. "Several people were taken aback," she says, "and I've had some relationships or dates end pretty abruptly because of it."

 

 

The issue, says Pohlig, who has written about dating with a mental illness, is that many people have not had any experience interacting with someone with mental illness. "All they’ve seen are TV shows, and they think that if you say, 'I have a mental illness,' it means you’re a psychopath."

 



Published By Lindsay, 2015-01-20 16:47:00 Read More...
Psychotherapy

How Distorted Thinking Increases Stress and Anxiety

10 cognitive distortions that make things worse for us.

 

 

I learned about cognitive distortions in the 1990s from a book by David Burns called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I’d just moved from the faculty wing at U.C. Davis’ law school to serve as the dean of students. I knew how to teach law…but I didn’t feel competent to help students who were struggling emotionally.

 

When I shared my concerns with a friend who was a therapist, she recommended Feeling Good. She said it would help me recognize when a student was engaged in distorted thinking patterns that were increasing his or her stress and anxiety. I don’t know who benefitted more from the book: the students I was trying to help or me personally!

 

Many years later, after I became chronically ill, I found the notes I’d taken on ten cognitive distortions that Burns discusses in Feeling Good. I immediately realized that I had a new life challenge to apply them to. I’m indebted to him for this piece. I’ll describe each cognitive distortion and then include a suggestion or two for how to counter it.

 

 

Of course, before you can counter distorted thinking, you have to become aware that you’re engaging in it. To this end, it might be beneficial to make a list of the ten distortions and then look it over every few days. Or, you could write down some of your stressful and anxious thoughts and then look to see which of the ten distortions they fall under.

 

In my examples, I’ll focus on distortions that the chronically ill are prone to, but those of you who are in good health can substitute a word or two and I’m confident you’ll recognize yourself in these examples.

 

 



Published By Lindsay, 2015-01-15 21:23:38 Read More...
Med & Health News

The Surprising Link Between Gut Bacteria And Anxiety

The Huffington Post  |  By Carolyn Gregoire

 

Posted: 01/04/2015 10:05 am EST

 

 

GUT BACTERIA

 

 

In recent years, neuroscientists have become increasingly interested in the idea that there may be a powerful link between the human brain and gut bacteria. And while a growing body of research has provided evidence of the brain-gut connection, most of these studies so far have been conducted on animals.

 

Now, promising new research from neurobiologists at Oxford University offers some preliminary evidence of a connection between gut bacteria and mental health in humans. The researchers found that supplements designed to boost healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract ("prebiotics") may have an anti-anxiety effect insofar as they alter the way that people process emotional information.

 

While probiotics consist of strains of good bacteria, prebiotics are carbohydrates that act as nourishment for those bacteria. With increasing evidence that gut bacteria may exert some influence on brain function and mental health, probiotics and prebiotics are being increasingly studied for the potential alleviation of anxiety and depression symptoms.

 

"Prebiotics are dietary fibers (short chains of sugar molecules) that good bacteria break down, and use to multiply," the study's lead author, Oxford psychiatrist and neurobiologist Dr. Philip Burnet, told The Huffington Post. "Prebiotics are 'food' for good bacteria already present in the gut. Taking prebiotics therefore increases the numbers of all species of good bacteria in the gut, which will theoretically have greater beneficial effects than [introducing] a single species."



Published By Forum Admin, 2015-01-05 03:08:36 Read More...
Featured Topics

Making New Year’s Resolutions Succeed

And enjoy the new year

 
Year after year, we make New Year’s resolutions that over time wither and fade into failed attempts to transform some aspect of our lives. The goals may range from health, exercise, relationships and finances all the way to spiritual and personal growth. The moment that we elect to make a significant change, we may begin to feel a bit of an endorphin rush as we fantasize what it would feel like. Yet, what begins with hopeful optimism gets swallowed into the basin of our life’s disappointments. Once again the high derived from the vision of change surrenders to the dulled resignation of the status quo.

It’s curious as to how we try to evoke change in the same way — year in and year out — with similar results. If we conducted a survey six months after the New Year and asked people about the success of their resolutions, we’d no doubt find an abysmal rate of failure. Our struggle with change is resoundingly stubborn and scant attention is devoted toward understanding why that’s the case. Let’s take a look.

 

Change begins as a thought, underscored by a wish or even stronger, an inspiration. This may set in motion an even stronger feeling, an intention. Most people find themselves somewhere within this continuum. Clearly, where you fall within that range is important toward the eventual outcome but nevertheless insufficient for an assurance of reaching your goal.

 



Published By Forum Admin, 2015-01-02 01:29:25 Read More...
Announcements

Increasing Alcohol Taxes Could Help Reduce Binge Drinking

Increasing Alcohol Taxes Could Help Reduce Binge Drinking, Study Suggests

 
 
 

alcoholismRaising alcohol taxes may help reduce the binge drinking rate, according to researchers at Boston University.

They found a one percent increase in alcohol prices due to taxes was associated with a 1.4 percent decrease in binge drinking.

The more alcohol taxes increase, the more binge drinking rates decrease, the researchers report in Addiction.

Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in one sitting for men, or four or more drinks for women and causes more than half of the almost 90,000 alcohol-related deaths in the United States annually, HealthDay reports.

Tennessee, the state with the highest taxes on beer, had the lowest binge drinking rate (6.6 percent) in 2010. In contrast, the states with the lowest alcohol taxes (Delaware, Montana and Wisconsin), had the highest binge drinking rates.

In 2010, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent panel of public health and prevention experts, recommended increasing taxes on the sale of alcoholic beverages, "on the basis of strong evidence of the effectiveness of this policy in reducing excessive consumption and related harms."



Published By Forum Admin, 2015-01-20 16:24:53 Read More...
Meds

Celexa May Help Ease Alzheimer's-Linked Agitation

Study finds it might be safer alternative to standard antipsychotics

 

TUESDAY, Feb. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The antidepressant Celexa shows promise in easing the agitation people with Alzheimer's disease often suffer, and may offer a safer alternative to antipsychotic drugs, a new study finds.

"Agitation is one of the worst symptoms for patients and their families: it puts the Alzheimer's patient at risk for other system overloads (cardiac, infection), wears them out physically, and exhausts caregivers and families," noted one expert, Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

He said that while antipsychotic drugs are typically used to help ease the agitation, they are also associated with a higher risk of death for Alzheimer's patients, so safer alternatives would be welcome.

The new study was led by Dr. Constantine Lyketsos, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer's Treatment Center in Baltimore. It included 186 Alzheimer's patients with agitation symptoms such as emotional distress, aggression, irritability, and excessive movem

 

 

 



Published By Lindsay, 2014-02-19 18:21:07 Read More...
Stories

Speakers share about struggles with mental health

 

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in her 20s came as a relief to Hope Richardson. There was finally a name for what she felt and something that could be done, she said. Because mental illness is a lifelong condition, staying well takes effort, and she's mindful of that every day.

Once afraid of others not liking her and unable to stand up for herself, Richardson said she often walked around with her head down and hair covering her face. She went through bouts of depression and struggled with anger, manic episodes and suicidal thoughts.

Early on, she was hesitant to talk about her condition.

"I didn't want people to know. I was kind of embarrassed and ashamed," said Richardson, 44, of Des Moines.

Through therapy and support, she has learned to "live with," rather than "suffer," mental illness and says the only way to end stigma is to educate others.

She's part of a group of trained speakers who open up about their disorders through In Our Own Voice, a public awareness program sponsored by the National Alliance for Mental Illness Greater Des Moines. The local chapter began offering the program last fall.

Sharing their stories serves as a type of ongoing therapy for the speakers and a chance to paint a realistic picture of mental illness, which affects one in four adults — about 61.5 million Americans every year. One in 17, or 13.6 million Americans, live with a serious mental condition such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

 



Published By Lindsay, 2014-05-21 14:13:32 Read More...
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Eating-disorder patients battle insurers over care

Eating-disorder patients battle insurers over care






Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer
September 10, 2011

When Jeanene Harlick's weight dropped to 65 percent of normal, her doctors recommended the San Mateo woman go into an intensive residential treatment facility that specialized in treating anorexia and other eating disorders.

But her health insurer, Blue Shield of California, refused to cover her care - not because it wasn't considered medically necessary, but because her plan excluded coverage for residential treatment programs. Harlick spent almost 10 months in residential treatment, while her parents went hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt to cover the cost.

Harlick, now 37, later sued the insurer.

Getting treatment covered for eating disorders has long been a struggle for many of the 24 million Americans diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. Intensive residential treatment for eating disorders typically costs $900 to $1,200 per day.

In a significant ruling for those seeking residential treatment for mental health conditions, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sided with Harlick last month. The three-judge panel ruled Blue Shield's policy excluding residential treatment violates the state's 2000 Mental Health Parity Law, which requires certain serious mental health diagnoses, including eating disorders, to be covered at the same level as physical health.

Major victory for patients

"It's a landmark victory for those suffering with eating disorders," said Lara Gregorio, legislative policy program director for the National Eating Disorders Association. "So many families go bankrupt fighting this and still don't win. It sets a precedent for other states to follow suit."

But the legal battle is not over. On Friday, Blue Shield, which is based in San Francisco, filed a petition for a rehearing in front of the same appellate court panel. A lower court had ruled in favor of the insurer.

Blue Shield spokesman Stephen Shivinsky said the petition is based on "several significant errors in the opinion." According to court documents filed Friday, the insurer argued that state law does not require coverage for all medically necessary treatments and allows plans to set coverage limits.

Harlick's attorney, Lisa Kantor, described the appeal as "desperate" and is convinced the appellate court decision will prevail.

"The point of this decision is (insurers) have to provide all medically necessary treatments for severe mental illnesses," Kantor said. "When you exclude a critical modality of treatment such a residential treatment, you're not providing parity."

California has one of the strongest mental health parity laws in the country, but some argue that anorexia and other mental health conditions are still not treated as comprehensively as physical health, often because they are misunderstood.

While many patients with eating disorders can be treated on an outpatient basis, some patients need hospitalization or the constant supervision of a residential treatment center.

"Residential treatment is a key component of working on eating disorders," said Victoria Green, clinical director of New Dawn Eating Disorders Recovery Centers, which has a residential treatment center in San Francisco.

"You have hospitalization, which only stabilizes somebody medically, and we're the next level of treatment. We treat highly acute people who cannot function in the world," she said, adding that insurers either don't cover the care or authorize just a few days of treatment at a time.

Insurance dictates care

Dr. Neal Anzai, medical director of the eating disorders program at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, said his patients have to be "literally on the verge of death" to get hospitalized and then their insurance coverage often dictates how much care or what kind of care comes next.

"It's hard to get people into the hospital, but once they're there, there's a battle whether we can get them down to residential care or partial hospitalization," he said.

In Harlick's case, her insurer would cover hospitalization but not residential care.

Harlick had been battling anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder for more than 20 years when her doctors recommended a residential center in 2006. Harlick finally found a suitable inpatient facility in Missouri, where she stayed almost 10 months - from April 2006 to January 2007.

"The treatment I received helped me have a lot more compassion for myself. I do still struggle and am still working on it," said Harlick, who continues to battle with issues of weight and is on disability, but is working to finish her master's in social work at San Francisco State University.

"I'll keep on fighting, but I know if I haven't received the treatment I did, I would most likely be dead," she said.

Harlick said she wants her case to be successful to help other people receive the treatment they need. She also hopes it will legitimize anorexia as a mental illness, and not an obsession with weight and appearance as some people believe.

"It would just be extremely rewarding to think something a little good came out from my struggle because I still feel enormous guilt and shame," said Harlick, referring to her continuing condition as well as the unspecified amount of money her family spent for her treatment.

More than money involved

For Harlick's mother, Robin Watson, the money was the last thing on her mind.

"We were so desperate, we thought we were going to lose our daughter," said Watson, who lives in Burlingame. "We had to move and deal with the consequences later."

While Watson hopes to recoup the treatment costs, she said the three-year court battle has become about more than money. "It's about the discrimination insurance companies put on mental illnesses and the very little understanding they have about eating disorders," she said.

Kantor, Harlick's attorney, filed a petition last week in state Superior Court in Los Angeles for a class-action suit against Blue Shield on similar grounds.

"Jeanene was lucky. Her family knew they needed to take care of her," Kantor said. "I'm scared to find out what will happen to a lot of young women who had this policy and didn't have a family to support them. I don't know how many lives we've lost."

U.s. toll of eating disorders

-- About 24 million Americans have anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating disorders. .

-- Anorexia is characterized by self-starvation and weight loss. Binge eating and bulimia can involve behaviors such as vomiting, use of laxatives and excessive exercise.

-- More than 90 percent of sufferers are female, with most being diagnosed as teenagers.

-- Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all mental health diagnoses.

-- Health effects include fatigue, blood pressure problems, osteoporosis, electrolyte and chemical imbalances, and death.

-- Twenty-three states, including California, have enacted mental health parity laws that require insurers to cover eating disorders, but coverage requirements vary greatly.

Source: National Eating Disorders Association.

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/10/MN8C1KTQD5.DTL


This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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