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Bipolar News

May 28, 2006

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Women Exposed To Violence From Partner Have Higher Rates Of Depression, Adverse Health, Study Says

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder: Coping with a crippling mental divide.

La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, WI); 5/24/2006

Byline: Terry Rindfleisch

May 24--Pam Maus has tried to commit suicide many times, mostly by an overdose of pills.

The 41-year-old La Crosse woman has been in and out of state hospitals. She said she has had trouble functioning to the point that she can't keep a full-time job, and her two children were taken away from her due to her mental illness.

Maus has a form of schizophrenia known as schizoaffective disorder, in which people have symptoms of schizophrenia and a major mood disorder such as depression.

She has experienced hallucinations and delusions along with depression and anger. She said she has flashbacks to her childhood, when she was sexually abused.

Maus said she cut herself with a razor and burned herself with a cigarette many times.

"I haven't been allowed to feel," she said. "The burning and cutting helps with the trauma and stress."

She has been in therapy and on medication for 14 years. Maus now lives in a group home and hopes to transfer next to a foster home before returning to independent living.

"I feel pretty stable now. I'm hopeful I can function and live on my own some day," she said.

Maus said she often stops by Recovery Avenue, known as RAVE, a drop-in center in La Crosse for people with mental illness.

Dr. George Melnyk, a psychiatrist and chairman of Franciscan Skemp's psychiatry department, said schizophrenia is a complicated disease that can totally incapacitate a person. "They live in a world in themselves, with delusions and hallucinations," he said.

Melnyk said schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, though both quite disabling, differ in that people with bipolar disorder can function, he said.

"They have unbelievable energy and are good workers," he said. "Bipolar is a mood disorder, and one of the most difficult to diagnose and treat."

Julie McDermid, a mental health specialist with Independent Living Services in La Crosse, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1998. She said she struggled in high school and college with an eating disorder and depression.

McDermid, 37, who was sexually assaulted as a child, said she had a breakdown several years ago.

"I didn't care for my house anymore, and it was a mess," McDermid said. "Rodents were all over the place. I was hearing voices, and I thought people were following me. I was also cutting myself with razors.

"I was locking myself in the house," she said. "I knew something was wrong."

McDermid said she has been hospitalized about 20 times. She said she found some help with therapy and medication.

"I still have a long way to go, but I made a choice to get out of my pattern of behavior," McDermid said. "I realize that nothing is going to change unless I make a choice to change."

McDermid said the La Crosse County chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and drop-in centers such as RAVE and Powers in Empowerment can help people with mental illness and their families.

"We're still working on stigma," McDermid said. "People don't realize how mental illness can impact a person and a family. People can be careless about what they do and say."

Melnyk said bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are treatable with therapy and medication, but it can take years.

He said fewer people with the disorders need hospitalization today and, if hospitalized, the stay often is shorter.

"There is a lot of hope," Melnyk said. "Today, there also is more acceptance of mental illness, and it's better understood."

SCHIZOPHRENIA: Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary; may be unresponsive or withdrawn; and may have difficulty expressing normal emotions.

The cause of schizophrenia still is unclear. Theories include: heredity, an imbalance in the brain's chemistry, and/or possible viral infections and immune disorders. Scientists recognize the disorder tends to run in families.

Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking and speech, social withdrawal, extreme apathy, lack of drive or initiative and emotional unresponsiveness. No cure for schizophrenia has been discovered, but it can be controlled with treatment.

BIPOLAR DISORDER: Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is an illness involving one or more episodes of serious mania and depression. The illness causes a person's mood to swing from excessively "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, with periods of a normal mood in between. More than 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.

Although no cure is known, bipolar disorder is treatable through a combination of medications and psychotherapy.

While a specific genetic link to bipolar disorder has not been found, studies show 80 percent to 90 percent of those who are bipolar have relatives with some form of depression.

Source: National Mental Health Association


--Great Rivers 211, a 24-hour crisis line and referral service. Dial 211 or 1-800-362-8255

--La Crosse County Crisis Line, (608) 784-HELP (4357)

--La Crosse County Resource Center, (608) 785-5700

--National Alliance for the Mentally Ill-La Crosse County, (608) 784-7532

--Recovery Avenue (RAVE), (608) 785-9615

--Partners in Empowerment, (608) 782-6900

--Mental Health Coalition of the Greater La Crosse Area,

To see more of the La Crosse Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2006, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

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

COPYRIGHT 2006 La Crosse Tribune

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

Mental health II: Where do kids fit in this equation?

The News & Record (Piedmont Triad, NC); 5/24/2006

Byline: Lorraine Ahearn

It would have been nice.

At the Guilford Center on North Eugene, one of the county's full-service mental health centers, they've put in new carpet, bright pastel walls, and a kids' play area in the Child and Family Services waiting room. The long-planned work is almost done.

But as if to show how abruptly the state's mental health "reform" is about to pull the rug out from under the most vulnerable children -- this time almost literally -- parents who watched the progress of the spring renovations were already on notice that most of the services offered inside are being discontinued.

With the center being ordered, along with others across the state, to gut its staff by June 30 in favor of "divestiture" to HMO-type providers, thousands of families are scrambling to find new psychiatrists, therapists and caseworkers for children suffering from mental illness.

School bus driver Rudy Kennedy, for example, received a letter March 3 giving him two weeks to find new services for his daughter. The 14-year-old is bipolar, and her violent, psychotic episodes finally forced the family to place her in a group home. When Kennedy last met with a casework manager at the Bellemeade building and saw workmen pulling up the old carpet, it was a cruel joke.

"Why don't we fix up the ship before we sink it?" said Kennedy, who moved here in 2004 after Hurricane Charley destroyed his Florida home.

"We finally had everything in place for my daughter. Our caseworker has been absolutely wonderful. She pulled rabbits out of hats for us. And now she's being fired. That's stupid."

At a chapter meeting Monday night of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, veteran child psychiatrist Barbara Smith was peppered with questions from parents confused by the virtual dismantling of the public mental health system. Other than to offer medication management and crisis services, the Guilford Center, like other regional centers statewide, will no longer exist after next month.

"I was stunned. I just cannot believe it," Smith, a staff psychiatrist at Moses Cone Hospital, said of the changes, which the state announced in March would take effect June 30, six months sooner than planned. "Where are all these people going? They can't just close mental health without an alternative."

In a March letter to families, Guilford Center officials said they were "excited" about the change: "We believe this new service is more flexible and that it should meet your child's needs better" than before.

The center's director of nursing, Paula Snipes, said her agency would still be a "safety net," and that clinicians would help what she called "consumers" to find new providers.

But families and doctors said this week it is difficult to find therapists, caseworkers and psychiatrists who take the kind of insurance many children carry: Medicaid.

Advocates say it's no accident that business-school words such as "divestiture" and "consumer" have crept into conversation about public health.

"It's all boiling down to dollars and cents," said Jean Allen, who founded the outreach program Tristan's Quest, named for her son who died while being restrained at Charter Hospital in 1998. "Where does that leave kids? Sometimes I think they've been left out of the equation."

For Smith, who grew up bipolar in the '50s before the therapeutic knowledge available today, it's a painful predicament: An age of possibility for the mentally ill -- if they have money.

How, then, to calculate the cost of not treating children early on for disorders such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress or depression? Should someone have taken an adding machine and totaled up all the misery before scrapping our mental health centers?

It would have been nice.

Next week: A gathering storm.

Contact Lorraine Ahearn at 373-7334 or

COPYRIGHT 2006 News & Record

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

More patients getting an online diagnosis.

Greeley Tribune (Greeley, CO); 5/24/2006

Byline: Millete Birhanemaskel

May 24--Linda Evans Cox is admittedly "a user." It is easy to get hooked in a world where there are truly no dumb or embarrassing questions, Sandra Esparza knows. Doctors actually advised William B. George against it. But not unlike a caffeine junkie's coffee in the morning, Cox, Esparza and George join millions of Americans in their reliance on the Internet for important health information -- both in sickness and in health. More than 17 million adults, or 12 percent of adults online, said the Internet played a crucial or important role in helping another person cope with a major illness, according to findings released by the Pew Research Center. One in five adults online, or 20 percent, said the Internet has greatly improved the way they get information about health care. "It's not that I don't have confidence in my doctor, they just don't have as much time anymore," George said.

In 33 years , Dr. Ken Olds of Family Physicians of Greeley has witnessed the change firsthand. He doesn't mind and, in fact, happily obliges patients who wish to know the complicated spellings of their maladies.

He even occasionally agrees with patients such as one Monday who had a bad reaction to a drug used to treat bipolar disorder. The patient came back with research that supported a drug he wanted to try in its place. "I smiled and thought it was perfectly reasonable to try," Olds said. He can't predict how many people go home and Google "congestive heart failure" but he estimates between 10 percent to 20 percent of his patients do some type of Internet research. Occasionally, it makes his job easier. But he also recalls a woman diagnosed with a curable form of cancer. The woman had a stack of Internet research 1-inch thick, Olds said. She tried every form of natural treatment she read about until she "waited, waited, waited and eventually died," Olds said. "She had a type of cancer that was very curable and fooling with various concoctions people swore by killed her." So while he jokes about the teenager who knows what type of sexually transmitted disease he has, "there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet," he said. The vast and sometimes unreliable information may be why doctors at Children's Hospital cautioned George against researching an autoimmune disease his granddaughter may have. They asked him to wait until she was diagnosed, he said. "It can be nerve-racking ... because the average person doesn't have medical training.," George said. "They warned us not to go onto the Internet until we have all the information. I don't blame them. It could be devastating emotionally."

But George, 68, treats the Internet as sort of a second opinion, or 12.8 million second opinions, which is how many sites pull up from a Google search on autoimmune disease. Another benefit is being able to research a topic without feeling bashful about it, such as asking about bladder scopes. "You don't have to feel like 'Oh, I shouldn't have even asked him that,' " Esparza said. She declined the bladder scope after researching the procedure online. Esparza, 58, researches for friends what triggers seizures and even subscribes to an e-magazine about kidneys. "Another thing that is helpful is you can print it out. If you don't remember, you can look back and say 'OK. These are the things I need to watch out for.' (A doctor) may verbally tell me but not necessarily write them down," she said. Cox of Platteville said it is far better to know too much than too little. An 8-year survivor of stage 3 breast cancer, Cox said she wishes she had started researching online sooner. "If I had known more, I definitely would have opted to be part of a protocol to help test the value of new and potentially lifesaving drugs," she said.

Copyright (c) 2006, Greeley Tribune, Colo.

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


COPYRIGHT 2006 Greeley Tribune

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

Postpartum Psychosis Linked to Bipolar Disorder.

Business Wire; 5/26/2006

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- An important and comprehensive paper, "Review of Postpartum Psychosis," which presents fresh data linking the illness to bipolar disorder, has just been published in Journal of Women's Health ( The authors are Dorothy Sit, M.D., Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA; Anthony J. Rothschild, M.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA; and Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., M.S., University of Pittsburg, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA. Journal of Women's Health is published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Postpartum Psychosis, or PP, is an overt presentation of bipolar disorder timed to coincide with tremendous hormonal shifts after the first one to four weeks of childbirth. It is considered an emergency that necessitates an urgent evaluation, psychiatric referral, and possible hospitalization. The defining characteristics of PP are an early and rapid onset, accompanied by profound confusion, delusional beliefs, mood swings, and inability to function that represent a major change in baseline. Clinical clues suggest the underlying affective disorder is most likely a bipolar illness. Such patients usually experience a brief illness, rapid treatment response, and the absence of long-term impairment. The prognosis is optimistic, and the authors cite rapid and accurate diagnosis of postpartum psychosis as crucial in expediting the appropriate treatment to permit for a full and quick recovery with limited danger to the mother, child and family.

Journal of Women's Health focuses on diseases and medical conditions that hold greater risk for and are more prevalent among women throughout their lifespan. The emphasis is on clinical care relating to women and clinical research, especially clinical trials and outcomes. To read "Review of Postpartum Psychosis" online and other authoritative papers from this journal, visit

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in promising areas of biomedical research and clinical medicine and surgery. New Journals include Obesity Management; Journal of Breastfeeding Medicine; and Bariatric Nursing and Surgical Patient Care. A complete list of the firm's 60 journals, books, and news publications is available at The company's biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide (

COPYRIGHT 2006 Business Wire

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

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