August Meeting — Infinitely Polar Bear

NAMI South Bay August Membership Meeting
7:30 PM Monday, August 21, 2017

Please come and join with your NAMI South Bay friends to view “Infinitely Polar Bear” movie. Infinitely Polar Bear is based on a true story and is a funny and heartbreaking portrait of the many unexpected ways in which parents and children save each other. After Cam Stuart (Oscar Nominee, Mark Ruffalo) has a manic breakdown that lands him in a mental hospital, his wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) and their two young daughters are forced to move into a cramped apartment in Cambridge. Broke, stressed and overwhelmed, Maggie leaves for New York to complete her MBA and build a better life for their daughters. With his wife away in New York, Cam quickly realizes that he is in over his head.

The Caring and Sharing Support Groups will meet at 6 PM and the regular meeting (now a movie night) will meet at the First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson Street in Torrance.

Open Mind Special Reprise Film Screening — TOUCHED WITH FIRE

From the Friends of the Semel Institute: Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby play a pair of New Yorkers who both live with bipolar disorder in Paul Dalio’s debut film, Mania Days. The couple meet in a psychiatric hospital and begin a romance that brings out all of the beauty and horror of their condition.

Dalio wrote, directed, edited, and composed the music for this feature film which deals with many of the issues he tackled while trying to find a balance with his own bipolar disorder. Touched With Fire, which also stars Christine Lahti, Griffin Dunne and Bruce Altman, premiered at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival. Spike Lee is the executive producer.

  • Monday, February 1, 2016
  • 6:30 PM Check-in
  • 7:00 PM Program
  • James Bridges Theatre, Melnitz Hall, UCLA

Admission is free but reservations are required.

For questions call 310-825-8871 or venusse@brain.ucla.edu

Parking is available for $12 in Structure 3 (see map)

A Good Resource for News about Bipolar and Related Disorders

There are many groups and organizations other than NAMI that share information about mental illnesses and do their part to help raise awareness, end stigma and address, with clear vision, the real issues mental illnesses raise. One group that provides free updates in the form of a newsletter to anyone that requests it is Bipolar Network News (BNN). BNN is a newsletter publisher and online clearinghouse of information about mood disorders, and a quarterly print and email publication.

BNN regularly provides updates on the latest research about bipolar disorder in the hope of shedding light on emerging trends in research and treatment to help educate patients, family members, interested laypeople, physicians, and other field professionals. The newsletter is available free of charge to all who request it. You can visit BNN’s website and request an email subscription by CLICKING HERE, or request a postal subscription HERE.

Infinitely Polar Bear — New Movie with Mark Ruffalo portraying a Father with Bipolar Disorder

In the new, award-winning movie, Infinitely Polar Bear, Mark Ruffalo plays a father whose bipolar condition affects all or most of his life, from an inability to keep a steady job to bold wardrobe choices. Of his character, Ruffalo says he has “one foot on the banana peel and the other on the grave.” It a “real tightrope act.” Ruffalo, 47, had little difficulty accessing the character. He says manic depression “runs in the family,” and that he has personally suffered occasional bouts of depression. 

“I have close family members who are manic and weren’t diagnosed until later in life. Yes their behavior at times will get extreme, but no one was ever looking at it like that. It’s on a scale, it slides around, and you never really know if they’re in mania, or they’re just happy, or they’re sad, or they’re deeply depressed. Sometimes you think it’s like a movie, where you turn the switch on and turn the switch off, but it isn’t like that. It’s more like a dimmer switch.”

In the film, the dad comes around. He gets more regular on his medication and temper tantrums reduce, permitting his daughters to finally see him as the mostly harmless, lovable weirdo he is.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1pCQS1H2Z0]

Reducing the Risk of Suicide in Individuals with BPD

NAMI is pleased to announce that Dr. Marsha Linehan will be one of the outstanding speakers who will join 2,000 NAMI members at the 2015 NAMI National Convention in San Francisco this July. Scheduled to speak on Monday, July 6 in the “Advancing Recovery” track, Dr. Linehan will share her latest research on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), including the results of her latest study. In this study, Dr. Linehan and coauthors set out to evaluate the importance of the skills training component by comparing three treatment groups: skills training plus case management to replace individual therapy; DBT individual therapy plus activities group to replace skills training so therapists instead focused on the skills patients already had; and standard DBT, which included skills training and individual therapy. The authors found that all three treatments reduced suicide attempts, suicide ideation, the severity of intentional self-injury, use of crisis services due to suicidality and improved reasons for living. The results also showed that inverventions that include DBT skills training are more effective thatn DBT without skills training. Read the full study.

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2015/Reducing-the-Risk-of-Suicide-in-Individuals-with-B#sthash.nYRYNOps.dpuf

Your Teenager: Just Moody… or Something More?

By Ken Duckworth from NAMI Blog

“Is my teen normal?”

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist and father of 3 teenagers myself,  I get asked this question by people in my community all the time—at the grocery store, at the community pool and at cookouts. It’s pretty clear to me this is an important public health concern for the people I know.

First, anxiety is normal and often healthy. It relates back to our human wiring—the evolutionary protection for being prepared for threats, like an incoming mastodon. In the modern day, we still have the same kind of alarm system even though the stresses are different.

For instance, it is natural to get anxious before the SAT exam because of the weight our society places on it. It’s perfectly acceptable to get anxious before your first week at sleep-away camp or trying out for a school play. Anxiety can be motivating to a point, but anxiety can also be overwhelming and disabling.

One way to answer the question is to look at your teen’s level of functioning. Does the anxiety reduce his ability to perform at school or engage with friends? Are the symptoms of anxiety stopping her from pursuing what she wants?

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/111773267]

When It Could Be a Mental Health Condition

Anxiety disorders often co-occur with other conditions, such as depression. Major depression in teens is an important public health concern and, like anxiety, often responds to treatment. Depression is characterized by more than 2 weeks of persistent sadness (or irritability, hostility) coupled with most of the following warning signs: sleep troubles, appetite changes, physical complaints, negative or hopeless thinking, concentration problems, loss of interest in activities and, most concerning, suicidal thoughts.

Family history of mood and anxiety conditions can increase the risk for some teens. People with trauma histories may be quicker to experience threat and anxiety based on the past. Teens who are stressed by divorce, are being bullied—on social media or at school—or who have problems “fitting in” in social circles are also at risk.

A full clinical assessment from a health care provider is a worthy investment of time and resources to determine a diagnosis if you’re seeing any of the signs I mentioned in your teen. There are a few medical concerns that can mimic anxiety and depression, so it’s a good idea to look for those—examples are thyroid disorders and substance use disorders.

Once a comprehensive assessment is made, the next step is forming a treatment plan that your teen can buy into. It is challenging yet essential to get your child’s acceptance and collaboration into any plan to approach these issues. While some kids will quickly acknowledge their vulnerabilities, others will be more resistant. This spectrum is natural and expected—not everyone will want support.

Communicating with Your Child

How do you talk with a teen you are worried about? Listening to them is the best first rule. Speak from your own experience. I don’t encourage parents to lead with a diagnosis—I begin with a supportive focus on the functional problems they are having, like with friends for example. This can often be something both the parent and teen can connect on. Loving a teen into care can be difficult, but keeping lines of communication open is key. You don’t need to get to yes on everything, but you may need to get to a professional. I tell parents that their job is to get their teen to my office, but it’s mine to get them back for a follow-up visit.

At the end of the day, I may not be able to give a well-rounded answer at the soccer field, but I hope that what I’ve shared will help if you are concerned about your child’s mental health.

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2015/Your-Teenager-Just-Moody-or-Something-More#sthash.X8CfxZfh.dpuf

Study Finds Treatment-Resistant BPD Responds Better to ECT Than Medication

Bipolar Disorder. Image Credit: xpixel | shutterstock

Bipolar Disorder. Image Credit: xpixel | shutterstock

From Psychiatric News Alert: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for treatment-resistant bipolar disorder appears to be more effective than an algorithm-based pharmacologic treatment in terms of symptom improvement, says the report “Treatment-Resistant Bipolar Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Electroconvulsive Therapy Versus Algorithm-Based Pharmacological Treatment” in the January American Journal of Psychiatry. But remission rates did not differ between the two groups and remained modest regardless of treatment choice for this challenging clinical condition.

According to the research, ECT treatment was significantly more effective than the pharmacological treatment. For more details of the research, see the Psychiatric News article. There were possible limitations noted by Mauricio Tohen, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Christopher Abbott, M.D., M.S., additionally stating:

“In spite of the above limitations, this report adds major value to the evidence-based data on the use of ECT as a treatment option for bipolar depression.”

For more research on the use of ECT in depressive disorders, see the Psychiatric News article, “Ketamine Outperforms ECT in Depression Study.”