Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Positive Psychology" May Not Be a Good Fit for Asians

The Esperanza magazine Web site is the bearer of bad news:

Thinking happy thoughts, focusing on the good and downplaying the bad is believed to accelerate recovery from depression, bolster resilience during a crisis and improve overall mental health. But a new study by University of Washington psychologists reveals that pursuing happiness may not be beneficial across all cultures.

In a survey of college students, Asian respondents showed no relationship between positive emotions and levels of stress and depression. For European-American participants, however, the more stress and depression they felt, the fewer positive emotions they reported.

The study indicates that psychotherapies emphasizing positive emotions, which can relieve stress and depression in white populations, may not work for Asians, who make up 60 percent of the world population....

A Cartoon That Describes the Plight of the Mentally Ill

It's one of those pictures that speaks volumes, by cartoonist Chato B. Stewart, whose work appears in the respected Web site Psych Central.

We Are for Real, and Taking Care of Business!

Here is a summary of what the DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) Colorado state organization has been doing and/or accomplished since Feb. 1, 2010:

1. In February of 2010 we secured office space at the Pikes Peak Partnership, 1352 N. Academy Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80909. We also purchased liability insurance.
2. In March, 2010 we had our first meeting of the Board of Directors for the year.
3. Plans were made to begin offering the Pathways to Recovery class beginning in June 2010.
4. The Board directed the President (now called Chair) who also serves as the Executive Director, to find income sources besides donations from board members to meet agency expenses. Expenses at that time were $350 per month.
5. Janet Karnes passed on info about the Chinook Fund, which provides seed money to new nonprofits who do not have their 501 (c)3 status yet.
6. Application for a grant was made to the Chinook Fund, and a $2,000 grant was awarded in June.
7. Steve Bell, Executive Director, made a site visit to encourage and counsel with the leaders of DBSA Boulder and DBSA Longmont. Meetings were productive and led to a joint facilitator training meeting in June. As a result of the training, each chapter now has two additional facilitators for their support groups. Charles Sakai assisted.
8. First Pathways 8-week class for job-seekers is conducted. Ten enrolled, 5 graduated (attended at least 6 out of 8 sessions and completed homework). Three members of the class secured full- or part-time employment.
9. Board meeting in Alamosa, July 2010. By-Laws revised.
10. Second Class for Pathways was held in the fall of 2010. Eight enrolled, four graduated, including Doreen Daily, a resource advocate (peer specialist) with MHA-Pikes Peak Region. She is now a Pathways Facilitator. The fall class was led by Charles Sakai.
11. Steve Bell gave presentations on the nature of mood disorders to Bayaud Enterprises in Denver, the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, a psychology class at Colorado Technical University, and Newman University at the invitation of the instructors, and/or program directors.
12. Fall 2010 - preparation of tax-exempt application began in earnest in September.
13. Application for 501 (c)3 status completed and submitted on January 2, 2011. Approval and notice received from IRS six weeks later.
14. January 2011 - Third Pathways series began. Completed last week of February. As with the end of each class, a graduation luncheon or potluck was done. Doreen Daily facilitated this session and arranged for a luncheon at the Black-Eyed Pea restaurant.
15. Beginning in late January, phone calls or e-mail contacts from consumers and family members began coming in at a rate of one or two a day. Demand for new support groups outside of Colorado Springs continues to grow. Local consumers are referred to DBSA Colorado Springs chapter.
16. Meetings were held with peers from Denver and Pueblo who want to start new support groups, one in each city to begin with. This would fill the need for peers and family members looking for support groups in those communities.
17. In February 2011 George Pollard recruited Cathy Smith to do clerical and administrative work in the office once or twice a week. George will facilitate the spring Pathways class.
18. Purchased our first used computer for $50, and installed it in our office at the Pikes Peak Partnership. We are now looking for a printer, and may acquire one soon.
19. DBSA Colorado - BrainStorm Career Services now has 5 volunteers (including an Executive Director. The spring Board meeting was held on Saturday, April 30, 2010 at Pikes Peak Partnership. Steve Bell was re-elected as Chair/Executive Director, George Pollard remains as Vice Chair and volunteered to be an acting internal auditor, and Charles Sakai was elected as Secretary and board member. The current board agreed to remain until the end of this year.


DBSA Colorado State:

1. Establish 4 new support groups outside of Colorado Springs - 2 already in the works.
2. Provide relevant information and referrals to 200 incoming contacts.
3. Conduct at least 2 leadership training workshops for existing chapters.

BrainStorm Career Services;

1. Conduct 4 Pathways to Recovery classes.
2. Assist at least 20 Pathways students in securing meaningful and sustainable employment OR getting enrolled in formal education to further their career goals. Seventy percent of these students would still be on the job or attending school after 6 months.
3. Conduct at least 3 vocational rehabilitation consultations or workshops with large employers in El Paso County [Colorado] to educate them about hiring persons with psychiatric disabilities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Excellent Question: What Are The Benefits of Being Able to Laugh?

Chato B. Stewart has been published in BP Magazine, a magazine for people with bipolar disorder, their family members and friends, and all those with a professional interest in this medical condition (such as psychologists).

Words Of The Wisdomless: Moods

"Only one person can change your mood, that person is you! You can let people lift you up, or let them knock you down. This means it is vital to pick
your friends wisely! Too bad, we can't pick our family... Well, at least, we can ignore them on Facebook!" - By Chato B. Stewart

An article on about "Laughter is good for your health" said how laughter relaxes the whole body. Just one good laugh a day can make a positive difference. Yes, laughter helps with stress, and many believe that laughter can also boost your immunity by... "decreases the stress hormones and increases immunity cells and infection fighting antibodies". The article went on to say that laughter antibodies help the immune cells and are necessary to fight off colds and infections and speed up recovery....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Nice Treatment, if It Works

Lately hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been touted as a treatment of choice for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain (TBI), both of which are associated with depression. Sadly, much of the findings in favor of this method have been anecdotal in nature, and it is not cheap (80 sessions at $200 apiece, for an estimated total of $16,000). The Veterans Administration published a meta-analysis of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and while it is good for carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, air or gas embolism, and a few other ailments, the jury is still out concerning how effectively it can help patients with PTSD or TBI.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Study Attributes Motive to Overuse of Consumer Credit

In the Science News article, "People Who Overuse Credit Believe Products Have Unrealistic Properties," we read:

A University of Missouri researcher says people who overuse credit have very different beliefs about products than people who spend within their means. Following a new study, Marsha Richins, Myron Watkins Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Trulaske College of Business, says many people buy products thinking that the items will make them happier and transform their lives.

"There is nothing wrong with wanting to buy products," Richins said. "It becomes a problem when people expect unreasonable degrees of change in their lives from their purchases. Some people tend to ascribe almost magical properties to goods -- that buying things will make them happier, cause them to have more fun, improve their relationships -- in short, transform their lives. These beliefs are fallacious for the most part, but nonetheless can be powerful motivators for people to spend...."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones Seeks Treatment for Bipolar II Disorder

Both CNN and the Los Angeles Times have reported that Catherine Zeta-Jones, wife of Michael Douglas, checked herself in to a mental health facility for treatment.

This explanation is from the L.A. Times:

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is typically lifelong and recurrent, David J. Miklowitz, PhD, said. Some people have their first episode in childhood, others later in life; the majority, during the teen years. Some people experience episodes every few years; others are in and out of episodes constantly.

Bipolar I is characterized by severe manias, said Miklowitz, during which people either "feel on top of the world" or irritable and angry. They sometimes feel like they have superpowers or heightened perception; their thoughts race and they're loaded with energy. Usually people with bipolar I swing between this manic state and a "flip side" of extreme depression during which they slow down, feel sad and lose interest in activities they usually enjoy (including sex). They can suffer from fatigue and insomnia, and can become suicidal.

People with bipolar II swing from severe depression to a milder and briefer manic state called hypomania. They aren't impaired to the extent that folks with bipolar I can be. "People notice a change, but it's not extreme," Miklowitz said.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stating the Obvious About Alcoholics

A Live Science report stresses a major reason why alcoholism is so difficult to treat:

Only 1.2 percent of the nation’s more than 7.4 million adults ages 21 to 64 with an untreated alcohol abuse disorder thought they could be helped by treatment, the report said.

And among those with an untreated alcohol dependence disorder, a more severe condition, only 7.8 percent recognized they needed treatment, according to the report. Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are considered disorders in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

The report, released yesterday (April 7), is based on data from national surveys of 67,500 people conducted between 2006 and 2009....