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Bipolar News

December 20, 2005

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A Sudden Shift in Moods
Washington Post - United States
... Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, fields your questions and comments about cyclothymia, bipolar disorder and ...

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Medical News Today Tue, 20 Dec 2005 6:55 AM PST
The latest bipolar news and bipolar articles published daily from Medical News Today. All articles are ordered by date. Now available - Bipolar News RSS Feed .

Agent says VA suspect bipolar
Fayetteville Observer Mon, 19 Dec 2005 9:02 PM PST
RALEIGH - The Fayetteville man accused of killing a co-worker last week in the VA hospital pharmacy was being treated for bipolar disorder, an FBI agent testified in U.S. District Court on Monday.

For the Most Needy, A Tough Switch
Washington Post Mon, 19 Dec 2005 5:03 PM PST
Antionette Keys was relieved to discover that her new Medicare prescription drug plan covers the medications she takes for bipolar disorder. And when that plan takes effect on Jan. 1, she will be able to get her four medications at the same pharmacy she always uses. Keys, 40, will see her...

Man accused of beating up officer will stand trial
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Recorder player Scott Reiss Commits Suicide
Playbill Arts Mon, 19 Dec 2005 9:32 AM PST
Recorder player Scott Reiss committed suicide on December 14, reports the Washington Post. He was 54 and suffered from bipolar disorder.

A Sudden Shift in Moods
Washington Post Mon, 19 Dec 2005 7:33 PM PST
Like most teenagers, Andrew Solomon was often at the mercy of his moods -- but in his case this situation persisted into his thirties.

Seniors get break with free meds: AstraZeneca will still provide supplies until May.

The Dominion Post (Morgantown, WV) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News); 12/19/2005

Byline: Grant Smith, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

Dec. 19--Seniors afraid of losing their access to free medications from Milan Puskar Health Right can breathe easier, at least for a little while.

Pharmaceutical giant Astra-Zeneca has postponed the cutoff date for Medicare-eligible seniors to receive its medications at no charge from free clinics across the nation.

"It's looking a little rosier here than it did earlier in the week," said Joni Costante, director of Health Right in Morgantown.

Costante said last week that 18 medications Health Right usually gets for free from AstraZeneca for its patients were going to be cut off Jan. 1, the day Medicare Plan D goes into effect.

The clinic receives free medications from about 20 other companies, too.

The 18 medications from AstraZeneca include Plendil for hypertension, Crestor for cholesterol, Zoladex for prostate and breast cancer, and Seroquel for schizophrenia or acute mania associated with bipolar disorder.

Health Right provides free medication to about 600 of its 5,000 clients, Costante said.

Drug companies have patientassistance programs that offer free medications for people with no other means to obtain them. People eligible for Medicare's prescription plan currently have access to those medications, Costante explained last week.

But now AstraZeneca is delaying the medication cutoff until May 15, the date the Medicare-eligible have to enroll in a prescription-drug plan without being penalized, said Pat White, administrator of West Virginia Health Right in Charleston and president of the board of the National Association of Free Clinics, which comprises about 2,000 free clinics.

"They are going on what the federal deadline is, May 15, which we view as a reprieve but not a solution," White said.

"The law is hurting any Medicare-eligible person who went to a free clinic."

White said a coalition of healthcare agencies, which includes the National Association of Free Clinics, received the notification from AstraZeneca this week.

"They turned around," she said. "They have basically agreed to delay their action until May 15."

Many drug companies have not yet decided how they'll handle Medicare Part D, White said. Seniors have tough choices to make, he said.

"If they enroll in Part D, for most of the drug companies they're automatically cut off, even if before they used to get their drugs for free," White said.

Health Right is preparing clients for the eventual cutoff of free medications.

"We're still encouraging people to apply for the special assistance to see if they're eligible for that, and we're helping people if they need additional information," Costante said.

"We're going to continue serving seniors after Jan. 1 and we're going to continue providing them with product (if) we have it."

Some low-income individuals with few assets may be eligible for help paying premiums on a Medicare prescription-drug plan, she said.

Copyright (c) 2005, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail reprints@krtinfo.com.

TICKER SYMBOL(S): NYSE:AZN

COPYRIGHT 2005 The Dominion Post

Their mental illness is a plus: Employees at a counseling agency have similar problems as the clients', and their coping skills could work anywhere.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News); 12/18/2005

Byline: Stacey Burling, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Dec. 18--The weekly Friends Connection staff meeting in Old City could have passed for a business meeting almost anywhere. Doughnuts were passed around. Minutes were read. There were some laughs, and a few chilly words from the boss about the meaning of "mandatory." Things got a little testy during discussions of how one employee should manage his long hours, and whether another had any hope of scheduling his remaining vacation days, but everyone left smiling. And, yes, it was way too long. Nothing suggested that eight of the 10 people around the table were recovering substance abusers and that half, including the boss, have a mental illness. This is a workplace where mental illness is a plus. Program manager Carol Holmes, who has had depression, wants workers for this peer-counseling program who have experienced problems like those of their clients. "To me, that's sort of like your B.A.," she said. Her program is one of many operated by the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, whose president and chief executive officer, Joseph Rogers, estimates that 80 percent of his 350 workers have mental illnesses. When you consider how irritating it can be to work with the narcissistic power grabbers and passive-aggressive whiners in a "normal" office, that is mind-boggling. But Rogers, who has a bipolar disorder, says all it takes to manage and work alongside people with mental illnesses is flexibility, individualization and compassion. It is an approach he thinks could make other workplaces saner. "A lot of times," he said, "it just means creating a work environment that's healthy for everybody." True, mental-health experts say, but they think most businesses would still find a way to reject a job candidate who was open about his mental illness. "You'll notice they're not starting a trend," said Ted Hayes, a research industrial psychologist with the Gallup Organization. On the other hand, the experts said, mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are so common they are unavoidable. "The fact of the matter is, if you didn't hire anybody with a history of psychiatric problems... you'd have a hell of a time hiring a workforce," said David Baron, chairman of the Temple University School of Medicine's psychiatry department. Many employees with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder are highly productive, said Alan Langleib, a Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist, and any business would want to keep them. The best approach for managers is to recognize when there is a problem and encourage workers to get help. Untreated mental illness, though, costs plenty in lost productivity, poor morale, and higher medical costs, he said. "These individuals are exacting an enormous toll on American output." When the Mental Health Association started in 1952, it was meant for professionals. "Speaking for those who can't speak for themselves" was its slogan. Rogers, who had been psychotic, homeless and suicidal, was the first "consumer" hired in 1984. "That was like extremely revolutionary," he said. As a teenager, Rogers became so psychotically manic that doctors diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. He has been hospitalized more than a dozen times. His job at the association was one of the "lucky breaks" that allowed him to "find these niches where I could shine." A tall, broad man with a striking gray beard, Rogers, now 52, quickly saw the value of work in his own life and has made helping others work a priority. "It's absolutely key to recovery and rehabilitation," he said. Work gives people a routine, which helps them combat the mood changes that are typical of many mental illnesses. It also helps people feel productive and valuable. Most important, it helps the mentally ill feel less alien. "It's a way to fit in in society," Rogers said. "I think one of the biggest problems that mental illness creates is isolation." He has created a place where employees can say they are taking a mental-health day and mean it, where people joke about the "chronically normal." Though the organization usually cannot specifically ask job candidates about their mental-health history, it can craft job descriptions in a way that emphasizes the value of personal experience. Many candidates volunteer that they have struggled with depression or bipolar disorder. In general, Rogers said, it is harder for people with schizophrenia, the most serious of the mental illnesses, to work. "We don't discriminate against sane people," he said playfully. Sometimes he even tries to hire people without mental illnesses, but often ends up with workers with problems anyway. "The idea of trying to find sane people is a challenge," he said. Once someone is hired, Rogers and other managers focus on the employee's performance on the job, not his mental illness. Because mental illness often hits in late adolescence or early adulthood, sufferers may be less mature, or lack people skills that others develop during that period. They may need to be taught about something as basic as making eye contact during a job interview. Anger management is emphasized.

And employees may need to learn to keep some of their problems to themselves. "You can be the most paranoid, out-there kind of person if you just keep your mouth shut about it," Rogers said. He and other association managers said employees could openly use sick days or vacation time to deal with their emotional problems, just like people with a sick mother or a new baby. An employee may have to switch supervisors if there is a bad fit. Managers learn who works best in groups and who needs to work alone. Administrators said it was rare for employees to become psychotic on the job, though it has happened. Susan Rogers, who is Joseph Rogers' former wife and works as director of special projects, remembers only one suicide. Rogers himself has needed hospitalization since he started work, though not in the last decade. "There were periods when I would get sick again," he said. "You have periods of sanity and insanity." Loran Kundra, a new employee who worked in a law office before she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, said it had been "freeing" to work in a place where it was OK to talk about her illness. For the most part, she said, her new coworkers have been better behaved than some of her fellow lawyers were. "Quite honestly, I saw more blowups at the law firm, in terms of people slamming doors and being rude to one another," said Kundra, who is responsible for disseminating information about research and training projects.

Susan Rogers said that, when she became suicidally depressed in 1998, "people were totally sympathetic and compassionate, because it's a place where you can be sick and recovered." It is one reason she wanted to stay. "Compassion," she said, "builds loyalty." Jeannie Whitecraft, a division director who has faced depression, said working with people who were actively trying to get better was a pleasure. "They're open to feedback, and they want to grow," she said. "It's part of their program." Jack Boyle, who left a job in a for-profit company to become the association's chief financial officer, said he had been particularly impressed with how quickly people volunteer to help out when someone else needs a leave. "Part of the recognition is that someday it might be them," he said. Of course, not everyone is a model employee, Joseph Rogers said. Some cannot do everything their jobs demand. "If you're going to hire people with disabilities," he said, "you're going to also have to fire people with disabilities."

Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or sburling@phillynews.com.

Copyright (c) 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail reprints@krtinfo.com.

TICKER SYMBOL(S): Unknown:GO

COPYRIGHT 2005 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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