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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.

 

 
 
Newsworthy
Latest News

Let teens talk about mental illness

 

By Susan Antilla
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two high school students tried to tell stories about teen mental illnesses
  •  
  • Susan Antilla: Schools need to have open conversations about mental health
  • She says kids suffering from mental illness crave information that can help them
  • Antilla: A town in Connecticut has seen good results when it fosters discussion

Editor's note: Susan Antilla is an award-winning financial writer and author of "Tales From the Boom-Boom Room: The Landmark Legal Battles That Exposed Wall Street's Shocking Culture of Sexual Harassment." Follow her on Twitter @antillaview. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

 

(CNN) -- Two high school students -- managing editors at their school newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan -- wrote a distressing op-ed that appeared recently in The New York Times.

Madeline Halpert, a junior, and Eva Rosenfeld, a sophomore, had undertaken a Herculean task. After bonding over the discovery that both were being treated for depression, they linked up with other journalism students and gathered highly personal stories about mental illness from teenagers in their school district.

Incredibly, all their subjects agreed to be identified. No unnamed sources. No pseudonyms. These were reporters who did their homework, and subjects who saw the merit of going public about their experiences with everything from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and drug abuse.

 

 



Published By Lindsay, 2014-05-30 18:48:11 Read More...
Psychotherapy

You, New and Improved

      Want to change? How to get to a new you.

                               Self-Esteem vs. Self-Acceptance

 

The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance

How do you fully accept yourself when you don't know how?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though related, self-acceptance is not the same as self-esteem. Whereas self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, or worthwhile, we see ourselves, self-acceptance alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we're self-accepting, we're able to embrace all facets of ourselves--not just the positive, more "esteem-able" parts. As such, self-acceptance is unconditional, free of any qualification. We can recognize our weaknesses, limitations, and foibles, but this awareness in no way interferes with our ability to fully accept ourselves.

 

I regularly tell my therapy clients that if they genuinely want to improve their self-esteem, they need to explore what parts of themselves they're not yet able to accept. For, ultimately, liking ourselves more (or getting on better terms with ourselves) has mostly to do with self-acceptance. And it's only when we stop judging ourselves that we can secure a more positive sense of who we are. Which is why I believe self-esteem rises naturally as soon as we cease being so hard on ourselves. And it's precisely because self-acceptance involves far more than self-esteem that I see it as crucial to our happiness and state of well-being.

 

 



Published By Lindsay, 2014-04-21 19:16:07 Read More...
Med & Health News

Signs You're Depressed — and Don't Know It


The beginning of the year is a bummer for many — the combination of dark days, no more holidays to look forward to and never-ending bad weather make this time of year ripe for Seasonal Affected Disorder, or clinical depression with a seasonal onset.
 
 



The major symptoms of SAD and clinical depression are the same, Dr. Brandon Gibb, a psychology professor at Binghamton University, told weather.com. You’ll experience an enduring sadness most of the day every day for at least two weeks. (It’s this duration that separates true clinical depression from a few sad moods.) You’ll also experience a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

“The other really key thing is [depression] starts to get in the way of things: work, your ability to do your job, your relationships with people,” he said.

But for some people, there are more subtle signs, counterintuitive to traditional depressive symptoms. Even if you’re working hard at work and going out with your friends, you still could be depressed, in fact.

  Some people find it hard to accept compliments when they’re depressed or when their depression is starting to return. One explanation: A compliment disrupts a depressed person’s low self-esteem, so he or she refuses to accept it. Feeling self-centered (when’s the last time you complimented someone else?) is also a sign someone is retreating toward depression.

 



Published By Forum Admin, 2014-03-20 11:18:38 Read More...
Featured Topics

Mental Health Awareness Month: 10 things I know about mental illness

 

Mental Health Awareness Month: 10 things I know about mental illness

By Jessica Gardner, May 18, 2014 at 8:02 pm                                                                                                                                                                     Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and although millions and millions of families are affected by mental health issues, I have found that mental illness is one of the least talked about topics. In fact, I would go so far as to call it taboo.

My family is no stranger to mental illness and how it wreaks havoc. As I've recently discovered, various degrees of mental illness go back generations.

This post isn't about my family in particular and I'm not going to get into specifics. That's a whole series of blog posts for another day. I only share with you that I have personal experience in this area in order to let you know that I know of what I speak. I'm also not a mental health professional and my statements below are my opinions, based on my experience.

 

  1. People with mental illness are not stupid or lazy. Some of the most intelligent and most accomplished people in the world have suffered from mental illness. Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Sylvia Plath, and Vivien Leigh are just a few people who are known to have suffered from mental illness and no one would call them stupid or lazy.
  2. People with mental illness don't want your pity or to be condescended to. First and foremost, people with mental illness want and deserve to be treated with respect. Take your cues from them. Be patient. They can't always get their thoughts out quickly, but by being patient and not rushing or cutting them off shows respect, treats them with dignity, and re-enforces their value as people.

 



Published By Lindsay, 2014-05-21 16:06:15 Read More...
Announcements

Petting Away Depression

You've seen the TV commercials, the person in black and white and sad while they watch their friends and family in color happy as can be? Then the sad individual gets help, sees the world in color and has a dog run into frame to play with them, or they are suddenly on the couch petting their beloved cat. Well, there's a reason for that, pets can help individuals with depression/illnesses/anxiety.

"Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression," says Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA.

Depression affects millions of individuals in the USA alone. A lot of people reading this suffer from some form or know someone who does. A pet might not be right for everyone, so don't just show up with a pet one day for someone you know with depression.

 



Published By Lindsay, 2014-02-27 20:42:41 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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