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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.


Latest News

'I want this to be joyous': Edinburgh fringe's startling shows about depression



In cabaret shows and musicals such as My Beautiful Black Dog,

performers at the fringe are breaking the taboo of mental health





‘People don’t want to talk about this stuff’ … Brigitte Aphrodite’s My Beautiful Black Dog. Photograph: Olivier Richomme

As a nation, the UK has never excelled at talking about its own state of mind. From discussions about depression to frank admissions of unhappiness, such matters have mostly remained taboo in favour of maintaining that very British stiff upper lip.

However, at this year’s Edinburgh festival fringe, mental health has emerged as an unexpected theme, with performers and comedians increasingly creating and championing pieces that break through the stigma.

As is reflective of the breadth of the fringe itself, these ideas and issues around mental health are being presented in pieces spanning standup and musicals to monologues and dramatic lectures. Already grabbing headlines is Fake It ’Til You Make It, a show created by comedian Bryony Kimmings and advertising executive Tim Grayburn.


Published By Forum Admin, 2015-08-09 19:15:11

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
Med & Health News

Depression and teens

Learning that your teen has depression can be terrifying for a parent – concerns range from getting the right treatment to general safety. It was estimated in 2013 that 8 percent of high school students attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And now, a reanalysis of data in The BMJ last week found that Paxil, one of the most prescribed antidepressants on the market, is ineffective and even harmful for treating major depression in adolescents.

The new findings are in contrast to the original study from 2001. Researchers of the original industry-funded study found Paxil, just one of a group of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, was safe and effective. The reanalysis showed that a number of adolescents from the original study did experience increased thoughts of suicide. But the suicidal thoughts were simply counted as generic adverse events and not clearly presented in the results.

For a long time, there have been some indications that these medicines may raise the rates of thoughts of self-harm in adolescents. This led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2007 to issue a “black box” warning about increases in suicidal thoughts. In December 2014, the warning was revised to state that attempts at self-harm decreased in patients ages 24 and older with anti-depressant use, but there was no change on the warning for adolescents.

During this nearly decade long discussion, most psychiatrists and many other mental health professionals felt that the warnings were too strict. As a result, they thought many teens were not getting the help that they needed – while others worried that these medicines were possibly harmful. 

What has followed in the wake of this latest reanalysis are stories in the press which have raised the issue of the safety and effectiveness of some antidepressant medications for adolescents.  


Published By Lindsay, 2015-09-24 15:23:31
Featured Topics

No more excuses: Move it or lose it!




Sore knees keeping you from a brisk walk through Valley Forge? Waiting out an aching back before hitting the Y? Ironically, lack of exercise is likely the reason your body is inflamed. Waiting for it to magically heal itself is not only dangerous but could be making it worse. It’s time to dump the excuses and start cycling, hiking and even singing your way back to a healthier and happier lifestyle. You would be surprised at how quickly and favorably your body will respond to even a moderate, low-impact workout.

Reality check
Did you know that every one pound gained puts approximately three to 10 pounds more pressure on your knees when walking, running or climbing stairs? Wincing through a barre class may seem overwhelming at first, but keeping your weight healthy, your muscles flexible and your bones strong are essential to pain relief. The endorphin high after a romp on the Radnor Trail can help ease depression; a weekly dance class can work wonders, increasing memory skills and warding off dementia.
No one knows the magical healing benefits of exercise better than the staff at Bryn Mawr Rehab. Domenica Hottenstein of Paoli is a rehab nurse for patients with brain or joint injuries. “Daily exercise is paramount in the rehabilitation process. We get each patient on his or her feet every day no matter what current condition. Even if they are unable to move themselves, our specialists will physically move them until they can.” Domenica says she still marvels at how quickly the human body can recover as long as it keeps pushing its limits every day.
This lesson became very real for Domenica, 49, last winter when she slipped on black ice and severely injured her ankle, requiring surgery, bed rest and a long recovery process. An active runner, Mojo friend and busy mother of three teenagers, she was devastated but she didn’t sit still for long. “I knew it would get better if I did the time,” Domenica says, “and if I didn’t try to stay in shape, it would take twice as long for me to recover.” With the assistance of her doctor and physical therapist, Domenica developed a workout regimen with high-intensity upper-body movements and lots of loud music. It worked. Less than a year later, she is as fit, trim and youthful as she was before her injury.

High intensity/Low-impact tips

As they say, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. It’s up to you to be creative and persistent in finding enjoyable activities that push you physically. Even moderate exercise can do wonders to ease pain and keep your weight in check. Consult your doctor and/or physical therapist to learn your limitations, but don’t let them become a “reason” to sit on the sidelines.

Upper-body cardio

It’s a myth that a good cardiovascular workout needs to be high impact – with feet leaving the ground – in order to get results. Not true! As long as your heart rate has been elevated for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes, you’re getting a great workout and you can certainly get there with low impact exercises. To add intensity, try accessing the upper body with more power and strength. The more muscle groups used simultaneously, the more calories burned and the bigger the metabolic boost. For instance, if walking is your activity of choice, walk briskly. Consciously engage your core by walking tall with your shoulders down and back. It makes me crazy to see people “power walking” with their arms flaccidly at their sides! Increase intensity by treating your arms like they are weights. Bringing them up higher with more force brings more muscles to life and gives you more bang for your efforts.

Continuous movement

Are you someone who stops moving just when your breath gets a little choppy? If so, you are cheating yourself. Keep moving until you reach a level of fatigue and then reach beyond it – regularly and frequently. If your muscles are sore the next day, congrats! It’s a desirable sign that your body is repairing itself and getting stronger for its next play date. Please note that pain is not good. Lay off that movement until you consult a professional.


Published By Lindsay, 2015-03-23 15:23:10

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

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

Comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe are blowing up the stigma of mental health


Image: Vicky Leta/Mashable

EDINBURGH — One of the buzziest shows at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is about depression. Severe clinical depression in fact. Bryony Kimmings and her partner Tim Grayburn’s Fake It 'Til You Make It, which explores in depth Grayburn’s secret depression and nervous breakdown, hogged the headlines over the festival’s opening days and is sold out for its entire run.

They’re not the only artists who have focussed on mental health; this year’s programme is packed with productions that take aim at the issue, from Brigitte Aphrodite’s My Beautiful Black Dog to stand-up Carl Donnelly’s Jive Ass Honky and cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat’s Black, a production whose blurb quotes Maya Angelou: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

See also: Semicolon tattoos are a new way to talk about mental health


Published By Lindsay, 2015-08-12 18:47:01
Member Testimonials
I want to thank everyone for their support, when it seems like there's no hope it's amazing what a few words of encouragement can do to brighten a bad day, lastly I would like to thank DF for being here, had I not found this place in cyber space I very likely would be setting in the dark and hungry which my depressed side doesn't seem to mine, but the side fighting to get my life back doesn't care for at all. Take Care
Forum Admin  Forum Admin

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.

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


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