NAMI Walks Los Angeles 2014

If you would like to participate in the Walk, donate on behalf of a walker, or check out our sponsors click the buttons on the left. Registered walkers can login with their username and password on the left.

We look forward to a great season! NAMIWalks Los Angeles County 2014 will be held on Saturday, October 11 at Grand Park.

The 5K Walk route begins at 10 AM after a Pre-Walk Program at 9:15 AM. There will be an alternate shorter route as well. Walkers will enjoy the iconic architecture and sites of downtown Los Angeles and end back at beautiful Grand Park with music and activities such as a best designed NAMIWalks t-shirt contest, best-dressed NAMI dog, free massage, raffle prizes, and more!

Join thousands of Angelinos in the county’s largest event to support mental health and fight the stigma people affected by mental illness and their families face every day. Proceeds fund NAMI’s no cost support and education programs for families and individuals living with mental illness.

REGISTER NOW as a Walk Star and become one of NAMIWalks LAC elite walkers! Just set your goal to $1,000 or more. Walk Stars who raise over $1,000 receive special incentives including a Walk Star T-shirt, pin, tote bag, crown, and more! Walk Stars will also be entered in a chance to win great prizes! Become a Walk Star today and make a difference in the lives of people impacted by mental illness!!

Sponsor NAMIWalks LAC 2014!

Mental health is a vital part of overall health. You can show your company’s leadership role in the fight for better mental health awareness and care by becoming a NAMIWalks LAC sponsor. Join leading organizations by being part of our effort to address the mental health crisis in Los Angeles County and beyond.

NAMIWalks LAC is a unique opportunity to reach a vast community of Angelinos impacted by mental health conditions. People of all ages, races, and backgrounds come together each year in a powerful and inspiring demonstration of compassionate action. As a sponsor of NAMIWalks LAC, your company will benefit from a high level of acknowledgment, receiving media impressions and exposure to a diverse audience of participants.

How Mental Illness and Addiction Influence Each Other

“Mental Illness and alcoholism or drug abuse interact in a complex dance,” says James Garbutt, M.D. professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and research scientist at UNC’s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. “Mental Illness can increase the risk for alcoholism or drug abuse, sometimes because of self-medicating. On the other hand, alcoholism can lead to significant anxiety and depression that may appear indistinguishable from a mental illness. Finally, one disorder can be worse than the other.

There are other factors that could explain the frequent simultaneous occurrence of addiction and mental illness, including:

Genetics ~ Genetic factors seem to account for some of the co-morbidity (having both disorders at the same time) of substance abuse and mental disorders. Studies comparing identical and fraternal twins found more instances of having two disorders among the identical twins, indicating that genetics likely plays some role.

Chemical deficiency ~ Neuro-chemical factors were also found to be a common thread when mental disorders and addiction occur together. A reduction in the amount of serotonin, a chemical critical to brain functioning, may be the reason that alcoholism and anxiety disorders coincide so often. There is also evidence that addiction and mental disorders are associated with the dysfunction of a group of brain chemicals called monoamine oxidases.

People with mental health problems may use drugs and alcohol:

To feel normal they may use drugs or alcohol because it helps them feel normal and accepted. It may make them feel like they don’t have a mental health problem or are not different from others. To self-medicate they may use drugs or alcohol to reduce anxiety, depression, sleep problems, tension, hallucinations (like hearing voices), and to relieve the side effects of medication. Using drugs and alcohol may increase their thoughts of suicide.

The first step in getting sober is detoxification, or detox. During detox, they must not use any drugs or alcohol so their body can cleanse itself. They may experience withdrawal symptoms, so detox usually takes place while they are receiving medical care. If the problems are severe the person may require treatment at a hospital or other facility.

Detox is followed by therapy and sometimes medications. Most likely the person will attend individual or group therapy for both problems.

Treating two sets of symptoms ~ it is very important, but often difficult, to distinguish which symptoms are psychiatric and which are addictive. A person must be substance-free for at least two weeks in order to tease apart the various symptoms.

Alcoholism and chemical dependence are long-term illnesses, with symptoms that come and go in differing strengths and varieties over time. Such diseases are called relapsing/remitting conditions.

Relapse ~ if your relative does relapse try not to get frustrated or angry. For many people relapse is a part of the recovery process, and it doesn’t mean the treatment isn’t working. Be patient.

Newsletter June 2014

How Do We Decide Where to Spend Research Money When in Comes to Depression?

FROM Psychiatric News Alert

An analysis of more than 60 clinical studies and nearly 60,000 adult patients conducted from 1996 to 2013 calculated that the total cost of depression in the United States is in the range of $188 billion to $200 billion. As much as $64 billion of these costs are associated with treatment-resistant depression, which accounts for only a fraction of all cases, but exacts a heavy toll on society.

A Review of the Clinical, Economic, and Societal Burden of Treatment-Resistant Depression: 1996-2013” was published August 1 in Psychiatric Services.

As author John Hornberger, M.D., CEO and president of Cedar Associates, a health research firm, told Psychiatric News, “As a general internist, I see patients across a broad spectrum of diseases. There are clear differences among disciplines in the level of stigmatization associated with disease and public advocacy, and these differences influence the debate about health care and research priorities. With our study, we sought to understand better the burden of mental health, especially the patients who are most difficult to treat.”

The review found that the annual costs, combining health care and productivity losses, for someone with treatment-resistant depression were nearly double those of someone with treatment-responsive depression and nearly quadruple those for the general population’s health-related costs ($20,120 vs. $10,592 vs. $5,095).

Psychiatrist Jerry Halverson, M.D., medical director of adult services at Wisconsin’s Rogers Memorial Hospital-Oconomowoc and a member of APA’s Council on Advocacy and Government Relations, was not surprised by the results. “The findings perfectly underline what we as clinicians see every day,” he said. “Our patients have many physical and psychiatric comorbidities in addition to depression, so they not only account for a proportionally higher percent of the health care spending; but their quality of life is terrible.”

The financial burden attributed to depression is higher than recent cost estimates for cancer ($131 billion) and diabetes ($173 billion), but depression receives far less research funding from the National Institutes of Health than those two illnesses. The authors noted that improved access for underserved populations and better patient education would help lower this burden, but also stressed a need for new therapeutic strategies like pharmacogenomics.

To read about recent research into a potential therapy for treatment-resistant depression, see the Psychiatric News article, “Ketamine Shows Rapid Action In Treatment-Resistant Depression.”

Some of the “Other” Common Symptoms in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is most easily recognized by the symptoms that define it, such as visual and auditory hallucinations (e.g., “seeing things” and “hearing voices”) and delusions, including paranoia. But other symptoms are also extremely common.

Apathy, for instance, is often observed. If a person is experiencing auditory or visual delusions and paranoia – “psychosis” – they they are less likely to engage in day to day activities because the voices and suspicions are controlling the majority of their life. A Person living with schizophrenia can still experience depression even when they are not having other symptoms, the person will show signs of apathy, which can be attributed to the depression. Excessive doses of antipsychotics can also sometimes contribute to apathy.

Negative Symptoms Associated with Schizophrenia

Between 40% and 50% of people living with schizophrenia who have been treated and are recovering

will show evidence of negative symptoms. Negative symptoms include:

• Emotional flatness or lack of expressiveness.
• Inability to start and follow through with activities.
• Lack of pleasure or interest in life.

One distinction of some people living with schizophrenia is they do not expect enjoyable activities to give them pleasure, which likely causes them to not engage in pleasure-seeking behaviors.

Related articles

Anxiety Linked to Higher Long-term Risk of Stroke

The greater your anxiety level, the higher your risk of having a stoke, according to new research published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke. The study is the first in which researchers linked anxiety and stroke independent of other factors such as depression. Anxiety disorders are one of the most prevalent mental health problems. Symptoms include feeling unusually worried, stressed, nervous or tense.

Over a 22 -year period, researchers studied a nationally representative group of 6,019 people 25-74 years old in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants underwent an interview and took blood tests, medical examinations and completed psychological questionnaires to gauge anxiety and depression levels.

Researchers tracked strokes through hospitals or nursing home reports and death certificates. After accounting for other factors, they found that even modest increases in anxiety were associated with greater risk of stroke risk.

“Everyone has some anxiety now and then. But when it’s elevated and/or chronic, it may have an effect on your vasculature years down the road,” said Maya Lambiase, Ph.D.

People with high anxiety levels are more likely to smoke and be physically inactive, possibly explaining part of the anxiety-stroke link.

Reprograming Skin Cells Into Brain Cells

Using skin cells from patients with mental disorders, scientists are creating brain cells that are now providing extraordinary insights into schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.

For many poorly understood mental disorders, such as schizophrenia or autism, scientists often wish they could turn back the clock to uncover what has gone wrong in the brain. Now thanks to recent developments in the lab, this is coming true.

Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Joll...

Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Researchers are using genetic engineering and growth factors to reprogram the skin cells of patients and grow them into brain cells. In the lab under careful watch, investigators can detect inherent defects in how neurons develop or function, or see what environmental toxins or other factors prod them to misbehave in the Petri dish. With these “diseases in a dish” they can also test the effectiveness of drugs that can right missteps in development, or counter the harm of environmental insults.

“It’s quite amazing that we can replicate a psychiatric disease in a petri dish,” says neuroscientist Fred Gage, a professor of genetics at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies. “This allows us to identify subtle changes in the functioning of neuronal circuits that we never had access to before.”

Borderline Personality Disorder Workshop in Venice Beach August 15


After attending this workshop, you will be able to explain when medication is appropriate for your Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) client, describe primary treatment targets, and use alternatives to medications that can help your client make a recovery from their BPD and co-occurring disorders.
Friday, August 15
Clearview Center
Venice Beach 
8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.: Breakfast and registration
8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.: Formal networking
9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.: Presentation and Q&A


1 CE credit is available for psychologists, MFTs and LCSWs.
Free to attend. RSVP required.
For more information or to register, contact Veronica Beeler or (310) 862-8980, ext. 103.