Friday, September 30, 2005

Bipolar Awareness Day this Thursday

NAMI Story from Missouri

NAMI (National Alliance on the Mentally Ill) is celebrating its 19th year of educating Americans about mental health through mental illness awareness week.

This year marks the third annual Bipolar Awareness Day, celebrated during mental illness awareness week on Thursday, October 6, 2005. Bipolar Awareness Day was created to increase awareness of Bipolar Disorder, promote early detection and accurate diagnosis, reduce stigma, and minimize the devastating impact on the millions of Americans presently affected by the disorder.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Patty Duke on QVC!

From Boyd's Bears Online:

"'ve heard about 'em, you've been waitin' for 'em...and now we've got your very first chance to meet and get 'em! We're talkin' about The Patty Duke Collection by Boyds! Tune to QVCTM September 27 from 1pm 'til 2pm (EST!) to see legendary actress of stage, screen and television Patty Duke herself introduce the first of her family of fuzzy friends live on the air!"

Oscar winner Patty Duke speaks at Austin fundraiser

Reprinted with permission and courtesy of KVUE, Austin, Texas. (Link above requires subscription, full story posted below.)

Oscar winner Patty Duke stopped in Austin Sunday for a benefit for the New Milestones Foundation. The organization supports the Austin Travis County MHMR Center, which helps people with mental illness, substance abuse issues or developmental disabilities. The center aims to end the stigma associated with mental illness while providing services ranging from counseling and medication to vocational assistance and housing. As the event's keynote speaker, the actress relayed her own battle with bipolar disorder or manic depression.


By Emily Hummel,

It has been more than 20 years since Patty Duke was diagnosed. She had spent decades enduring the euphoric, chaotic highs and suicide-inspiring lows of the disease. Since her diagnosis and daily Lithium treatments, the actress had enjoyed a new life, free from the trauma and drama, without major side effects.

The actress first spoke of her problems in her 1987 autobiography “Call Me Anna,” which was followed by a more detailed account of mental illness in her second book, “A Brilliant Madness.” She continues to travel the country as an advocate for mental health.

“I was being given an opportunity to reach out, to demonstrate if I can, that there is successful treatment for mental illness,” Duke says. “Spreading the word about successful treatment has become my thing to…make me feel like I’m making a successful contribution.”

She combined efforts with her husband, former Army drill sergeant Michael Pearce, son Kevin Pearce and nephew Mike Kennedy to launch the Patty Duke Online Center for Mental Wellness. Still in the beginning stages, the grassroots site connects people with resources and sends a message that they are not alone.

“The main thrust of the Web site is to give people information and for them to talk to someone who’s walking in their shoes,” adds Duke. “What people are willing to reveal on the Net -- that they are not willing to reveal in person or on the telephone -- it did not occur to me what a perfect avenue it is for this kind of work.”

Of the stigma often associated with mental illness, the actress says, "The barriers are starting to crumble.” She hopes that those hesitant to voice their problem will find that “just having a conversation with someone about it is extremely helpful.”

Patty Duke is extending that hand of help, over the Internet. In the “Ask Patty” section of, she answers questions about dealing with mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder.

“As she says, she’s not a doctor. She doesn’t tell you to go do this, go do that. She’s an expert patient and can help people that way, from her perspective and her side of it. With all the links on the site and her information that she’s learned over the past 25 years, I think it’s very helpful and gives some insight,” adds Michael Pearce.

The gifted actress has delighted audiences since first taking to the Broadway stage as the young Helen Keller in 1959, followed by the film version of “The Miracle Worker” that won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She became the youngest person to have a television show with her name in the title when “The Patty Duke Show” hit the airwaves on ABC in 1963. She remained active in film, television and theater through the decades while raising a family. Two sons, Sean and Mackenzie Astin, followed her into show business. Kevin, 17, entertains culinary ambitions while helping with her Web site.

So what’s next for the dynamic actress? A film for the Hallmark Channel titled “Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door” is slated for February 4, 2006. Duke costars with Patrick Duffy, Shelley Long and Bruce Boxleitner.

A new adventure begins Tuesday September 27 when the actress appears on QVC for the first time with the Patty Duke Bear Collection from Boyds Bears. Viewers can expect to hear about Duke’s longtime affinity for collecting the stuffed animals during the program from noon to 1 p.m. (CST.)

Click on the link for more information on the Travis County MHMR Center.

Click on the link to find out more about the Patty Duke Online Center for Mental Wellness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cheering Chow

Harvard Magazine Food and Depression Study:

"Each year, about 19 million adult Americans report the onset of depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That's 9.5 percent of our adult population.

In Japan and Korea, the figure is drastically lower - around 2 percent. Pondering this disparity, scientists noticed that the least depressed populations, mostly in Asia and Scandinavia, are also those with diets rich in oily fish like salmon and tuna.

At the other end of the depression spectrum are countries whose citizens consume the smallest amounts of such fish - places like New Zealand and France, for example, where the incidence of depression is 11 and 16 percent, respectively. Even after factoring in reporting differences caused by societal attitudes about mental health, the discrepancy seems too wide to be mere coincidence."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Link Suggested Between Regions on Two Chromosomes and Bipolar Disorder

Harvard School of Public Health:

"An international team of 53 researchers has offered the most convincing evidence so far linking bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, to two chromosomal regions in the human genome. The finding gives scientists refined targets for further gene studies.

'Even though bipolar disorder affects millions of people around the world-sometimes throughout their lifetimes-what we understand to be biologically relevant at the genetic level is not terribly characterized,' said Matthew McQueen, lead author and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). 'This research can help focus the field to identify viable candidate genes.' "

Friday, September 16, 2005

Disclosing Bipolar Disorder -

Should I tell the boss?


"NEW YORK - Your mood swings from overly happy and excited to overly irritable and angry. The highs may last from several days to a month or more, but the lows often last longer and can be harrowingly deep. That's life with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition that some say affects about one of every 25 Americans.

See seven tips for disclosing a bipolar disorder to your employer. "The stigma is real," says David J. Miklowitz, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado-Boulder and author of The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need To Know. "It can be as subtle as fellow workers attributing justifiable reactions to situations to your illness, or as blatant as not getting a job or a promotion."

Those with a bipolar disorder face a basic decision: Tell the boss about the condition or remain silent.

Miklowitz, who earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles, says those with a bipolar disorder usually adopt one of four approaches:

-- Tell everyone about the condition, including the boss and co-workers.

-- Tell one or more trusted co-workers who don't hold positions of authority.

-- Don't tell anyone, but admit to having a bipolar disorder on any work-sponsored health insurance claims, opening the possibility that the employer may find out.

-- Don't tell anyone at work, and don't use your employer-provided health insurance to cover treatment costs."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Journal of Clinical Psychiatry Publishes Two-Year Results From Cyberonics' Depression Pilot Study

Corporate Press Release

"HOUSTON, Sept. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Cyberonics, Inc. (Nasdaq: CYBX) today announced that the peer-reviewed two-year results from its treatment-resistant depression D-01 pilot study were published in the September 2005 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (J. Clin Psychiatry 66:9, September 2005).

The article, entitled "Two-Year Outcome of Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) for Treatment of Major Depressive Episodes"; by Ziad Nahas, M.D., Associate Professor at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC); Medical Director of Brain Stimulation Lab at MUSC; and Director of Mood Disorder Program at MUSC, et al, presents the three-month, one-year and two- year response and remission rates from the 60-patient VNS pilot study conducted at Medical University of South Carolina, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Columbia University.

Based on last observation carried forward analyses, HAM-D response rates were 42% and HAM-D remission rates were 22% after two years of adjunctive VNS Therapy(TM) in patients that had received a mean of 15.7 unsuccessful clinical treatments in the current depressive episode, the median of which was 6.8 years. At two years, 81% of the study participants were still receiving VNS Therapy."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Daily Routine May Help Bipolar Disorder - WebMD

Study Shows Regular Sleeping and Eating Patterns May Help Stabilize Patients: "Sept. 8, 2005 -- Most of us function better when we maintain a regular daily routine, but for people with bipolar disorder, routine may make a big difference in recovery.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine report that bipolar patients fared better when their treatment stressed the importance of establishing daily routines for things like sleeping and eating." - by Salynn Boyles, WebMD Medical News

Monday, September 05, 2005

"All our problem now"

Mentally ill homeless is a real problem all around the country. This is a very interesting article from the Arizona Republic online website on the scope of the problem in one metropolitan area.

The Arizona Republic

"Plenty of people - police who struggle to deal with homeless mentally ill, citizens who can't use parks, the sick who wait hours in emergency rooms, everyone with a conscience dismayed by the sight of helpless, vulnerable human beings living a miserable life on the streets - say the current situation is untenable.

But it's far from hopeless. A new approach pioneered in California and recently introduced in Phoenix is proving effective in helping the mentally ill homeless build new lives."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

NAMI's State Affiliates

There are some terrific state affiliate websites for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Here is an example for NAMI in Colorado, which offers great local and regional information. NAMI Colorado

We suggest that anyone looking for immediate support, help, or recommended medical professionals go to either the national NAMI web site or their state affiliates.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Role of Genetic and Environmental Factors in the Development of Schizophrenia

Mental Health InfoSource: "No one factor appears to be most significant in the genesis of schizophrenia. This is evident despite the very significant resources that have been expended in the search to understand the patho-etiology of schizophrenia. This may be because there are multiple factors involved; multiple different disorders with varied pathologies present with the schizophrenia phenotype; or a combination of both.

The search to uncover the pathological basis to schizophrenia has, however, provided broad generalizations that have yielded more specific etiological candidates as a result of newer, more powerful methodologies, particularly those resulting from the Human Genome Project.

Interestingly, some of the genetic candidates identified providing explanatory models that may incorporate identified environmental risk factors."