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Bipolar News

July 4, 2005

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Bipolar disorder, Seroquel is effective for both the manic and the ... - Italy
... in separate short-term trials that a single drug, Quetiapine ( Seroquel ), may be effective in treating both the manic and depressive phases of bipolar disorder ...

Celebrities have power to inspire by example
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Effort to save man's life worth every minute
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His story hits very close to home. I am a young woman who is also bipolar. I know what difficulty it can add to a person's life. ...

Brooke blasts Cruise's depression theory
Actress Brooke Shields has blasted Hollywood actor Tom Cruise for his "rant" at those who take anti-depressants.
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Mental Health Screenings in Schools
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Communication needed in mental health care
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Public Broadcasting Official Lily Okura, 86; Mental Health Activist
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Role of Culture in Treatment, Diagnosis of Mental Illness, Washington Post Examines
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FDA warns about antidepressants, suicide

Agency issues 2nd warning, urges watching for warning signs

Friday, July 1, 2005; Posted: 12:24 p.m. EDT (16:24 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration issued a second public warning Friday that adults who use antidepressants should be closely monitored for warning signs of suicide, especially when they first start the pills or change a dose.

Much of the concern over suicide and antidepressants has centered on children who use the drugs. The FDA last fall determined there is a real, but small, increase in risk of suicidal behavior for children and ordered the labels of all antidepressants to say so.

A year ago, the FDA issued a warning that adults, too, may be at increased risk. The agency began reanalyzing hundreds of studies of the drugs to try to determine if that's the case, and told makers to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels in the meantime.

Since then, several new studies have been published in medical journals about a possible connection. Citing them, FDA issued a new public health advisory reminding doctors and patients to watch closely for suicidal thinking or worsening depression and seek medical care if it happens.
It's a difficult issue to sort out because depression itself can lead to suicide and studies show that antidepressants have helped many people recover.

But there are concerns that antidepressants may cause agitation, anxiety and hostility in a subset of patients who may be unusually prone to rare side effects. Also, psychiatrists say there is a window period of risk just after pill use begins, before depression is really alleviated but when some patients experience more energy, perhaps enabling them to act on suicidal tendencies.

In addition to the advisory, the FDA also updated its Web site with a notice about a higher-than-expected rate of suicide attempts in research with the nation's newest antidepressant, Eli Lilly's Cymbalta. Those studies were in women trying Cymbalta as an incontinence treatment; it was never approved for that use. The FDA insisted when it approved Cymbalta last year that studies of depressed patients showed no suicide link.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cruise's aversion to antidepressants at odds with scientific evidence.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service); 7/1/2005

Byline: Tina Hesman

ST. LOUIS _ The doctor just couldn't accept what he was hearing.

"I was shaking my head in disbelief, saying, `This can't be happening. Not in 2005,'" said Dr. Charles Conway, medical director of inpatient psychiatry at St. Louis University.

The source of his dismay was a television interview with actor Tom Cruise. The star of the movie "War of the Worlds" wasn't talking up his film, which opened June 29, or even his latest romance. Instead he criticized actress Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants for postpartum depression and declared that there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Cruise's religious beliefs _ the actor is a Scientologist _ clash with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence on the matter of mental illness, neuroscientists say.

"It's safe to say that we know that metabolic changes in the brain are present for all major mental illnesses," Conway said.

The case for brain changes accompanying mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and autism is closed, experts say. Now the debate is over which changes lead to mental illness and which are the result of having the disease, said Dr. Kelly Botteron, an associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and radiology at Washington University.

Botteron and other researchers are turning to brain-imaging studies and genetics to help solve the chicken-and-egg question and figure out how to improve treatment of mental illnesses. The solution may lie in unraveling the complex interaction between genes and everyday life.

Scientists have identified some genes that clearly play a role in causing mental illnesses such as depression, said Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard University School of Medicine. But it's not enough to say that a person gets sick because his or her brain is wired that way, he said.

The brain is not a static organ; it rewires itself with new experiences, Coyle said. In people who have genes that predispose them to mental illness, negative events such as abuse, neglect or other traumatic experiences may result in faulty circuitry, which leads to depression or other psychiatric disorders, he said.

Scientists know that genes aren't the sole cause of mental illness from studying identical twins. Identical twins come from the same fertilized egg and are alike in 100 percent of their genes.

But the identical twin of a person with schizophrenia has only a 50 percent chance of developing the disorder; life experience determines the rest. Schizophrenia has been linked to harm to the brain that happens at birth or even before. Babies who suffer low oxygen to the brain during birth are more likely to develop schizophrenia, said Deanna M. Barch, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington University.

Children of mothers who got the flu in the second trimester of pregnancy also have a greater risk of getting schizophrenia, she said. But Barch stressed that only people who already have a genetic susceptibility to developing the psychosis would be more likely to get schizophrenia after those early life problems.

Environment also can help protect against mental illness, even when a person has a form of a gene associated with mental illness, Coyle said.

"If you have the form (of the gene) that confers vulnerability to depression, but your life is like `Leave it to Beaver,' you'll probably come out all right," Coyle said.

Barch studies the siblings of people who have schizophrenia, looking for clues about the types of brain changes that may lead to the disease. About 10 percent to 15 percent of brothers and sisters of people with schizophrenia will develop the disease, while only about 1 percent of people in the general population get the mental illness. That means that siblings of schizophrenics are more likely than people without a family history of the disease to show signs of the brain disorder.

Researchers have found that people who have schizophrenia and their at-risk siblings have altered levels of brain chemicals called N-acety.phpartate and dopamine.

The researchers also have detected changes in the structure and function of other brain regions in people with schizophrenia and some of their siblings. The hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped region of the brain involved in memory, is shrunken in schizophrenics. Changes also occur in the thalamus, a part of the brain that helps coordinate communication throughout the brain, and in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain that controls decision making, problem solving, language and social regulation.


Botteron has found changes in the size and activity of a structure called the amygdala in the brains of depressed women when compared to the brains of nondepressed women. That structure helps set the context of an experience, telling the person whether it's a fearful situation or a happy one. People with depression are often unable to tell the difference between the two.

Barch, Botteron and others would like to use these types of changes to predict who is most likely to develop schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses. But the changes are often slight, Barch said.

"It's not a big hole in the head or anything," she said.

Technology is not yet advanced enough to actually diagnose mental illness with brain scans alone.

The same is true for other illnesses, Botteron said.

"We can't just look at a heart and diagnose a condition without EKGs and blood tests," she said.

But science has clearly shown that leaving mental illnesses untreated is bad for the brain, scientists say. Depression elevates levels of a stress hormone called cortisol, Botteron said. That hormone causes the hippocampus to shrink, leading to memory and learning problems and making the disease last longer and become more severe.

Scientists have shown that antidepressants and talk therapy can restore health to the brains of depressed people and even may help inoculate against future episodes of depression, Conway said.

(c) 2005, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Visit the Post-Dispatch on the World Wide Web at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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 2005 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Mental-health forum gauges those in need.

San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News); 6/30/2005

Byline: Annette Wells

Jun. 30--A widow in her 70s lives with her 43-year-old schizophrenic son.

Her fear: He may harm himself or someone else if he doesn't get the treatment he deserves.

A couple's bipolar daughter is homeless.

Their worry: something bad will happen if she's not treated.

These were just a few stories shared Tuesday night by consumers and their families during the second of four Mental Health Services Act forums by the county's Department of Behavioral Health.

A mandate under Proposition 63, public forums are a way for the county to gauge what services are needed, as well as identify those in need.

The forums are also a way to educate the public about the state law which imposed a 1percent tax surcharge on individuals whose incomes are above $1 million.

About $350 million is available this fiscal year. Another $700 million is anticipated next year.

As of June 1, the state's Department of Mental Health estimates the county will receive $17 million for the community services and support component of the Mental Health Services Act.

There are six components, and funding for each will be based on a county's plan proposals, levels of unmet need and capacity to provide the proposed services.

For example, Ed Diksa, director of training for the California Institute of Mental Health, said young black males use the county's inpatient services more than any other group.

As a result, he said, this group should be an area of interest.

When the two hours of discussion were up, about 75 people had identified more than 35 groups in desperate need of mental-health care in the county. The groups included children, at-risk minority youths, the homeless, parolees, Latino families, low-income residents and individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Undocumented immigrants and the elderly also were mentioned.

Attendees also shared dozens of ideas on how to fix the county's problems, including getting the homeless mentally ill off the streets and getting earlier to school-aged children who have behavioral problems.

Tuesday's forum at the Behavioral Health Resource Center in Rialto was in complete contrast to Monday's in Victorville where no one showed up, except Behavioral Health staff and volunteers.

"People talk about mental-health needs and say they are important, but people don't want to put in the time to fix the system,' said Mark Uffer, the county's chief administrative officer, when asked about why the Victorville meeting was unproductive.

Uffer said he didn't anticipate much participation during this first wave of community input. But, he said, it should pick up as more people become interested and learn more.

Some mental-health advocates say it's going to take a bigger effort on the part of Behavioral Health because it lags behind other counties as far as planning for Proposition 63 funding.

Riverside County, which is set to receive about $16 million this first phase, has already had four public forums and about 80 focus groups meetings.

Written responses from the public on that county's online survey have also been received, as well as individual e-mails, Donna Dahl, program chief for its Department of Mental Health, said.

"We're basically at the stage of putting all that info together into recommendations,' she said.

"It is now up to our committees to use all of this community input and use it as part of their deliberations to develop those recommendations.'

May Farr, a San Bernardino County mental-health commissioner, said she has heard that people are concerned the county isn't putting forth much of an effort, but said that wasn't true.

Things are happening, she said.

"Los Angeles County has about 3,000 people on this,' she said.

Uffer has acknowledged that a Behavioral Health director could help smooth out the process. The department has been without one since the resignation of Rudy Lopez last year.

"We are really close. I have a candidate that was recommended by another county interviewing as we speak,' he said.

"He has met with staff at (Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton) and is making rounds. I think he will be finished up on Friday. I'm already pretty high on him at this point.'

Uffer said the candidate has 37 years of experience in behavioral health and human services. If all pans out, he anticipates making an offer to him maybe this week or next.

Once a Behavioral Health director is in place, Uffer anticipates that the county will see some positive changes within months.

"I really believe it's going to be up to the county and its staff and the restructuring that we're doing to fix the system. We need to get a solid leader at the topic that has a mixture of a couple of key ingredients. One of them is being a true advocate for mental health,' he said.

"Someone who understands the disease process and how it is integrated with the rest of the health-care system. Not only is it mental health, but there are physical health and social service needs.'

Diksa, who has been in the county for several weeks training behavioral health staff and volunteers, said $17 million is not the answer to the problems in the county. But, he said it's a good start.

"When you look at the money you have and what all these groups are that need services, you have to prioritize,' he said. "That's not going to be easy.'

He encouraged Tuesday's attendees to bring a friend to upcoming forums and focus groups.

Two more forums are planned in July: one next week in Rancho Cucamonga and the other in Morongo Basin.

To see more of the San Bernardino County Sun, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2005, San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.

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 2005 San Bernardino County Sun

Personal assistant sentenced for stealing millions from Chicago magnate.

Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News); 6/30/2005

Byline: Rudolph Bush

Jun. 30--It wasn't long after prominent Chicago businessman and horse breeder Peter S. Willmott hired Rose Erwin as his personal assistant that he gave her his absolute trust, including unquestioned power over his personal bank accounts.

Hired in December 1998 at a salary of $50,000 per year, Erwin, 57, and her husband Vernon, 58, lived the next five years like multimillionaires, taking extravagant trips to Las Vegas and buying luxury cars, a new home in Mokena and a beachfront condo in Miami.

From February 1999 to May 2004, the Erwins stole more than $9.5 million from Willmott, with Rose Erwin giving him bogus checking-account summaries to cover their crime.

The Erwins, who have pleaded guilty to fraud, each received a maximum 6 1/2 year federal prison sentence Wednesday. They also forfeited about $1 million in personal property to repay a portion of their debt.

A former top executive at Carson Pirie Scott and FedEx, and currently chairman of Children's Memorial Hospital, Willmott spoke of the heavy emotional and financial toll the theft has had on his family.

"I hired Rose Erwin to be my administrative assistant," he said. "She immediately violated my trust ... She chastised my wife and myself for our spending while she was continuously spending on cars, jewelry, three houses, taking trips to exotic places ... going to casinos and lying all the time to us."

Beyond his personal troubles, Willmott told the court that the larger community, and particularly Children's Memorial, has suffered as a result of the crime.

"It is difficult for me to ask others to give when I'm in a position" of making smaller charitable contributions, he said.

Willmott's wife, Michelle, told the court that on three occasions, he has offered his resignation to boards he is on, only to be turned down.

"It's almost impossible to live and go to sleep at night with a $10 million debt hanging over us," she said.

Willmott's attorney, James Mutchnik, declined to specify how deeply the Erwin's fraud cut into his client's fortune.

Beyond his achievements in business, Willmott has succeeded at the highest levels as a horseman. His Willmott Stables produced the thoroughbred colt Eddington, which finished third in the Preakness Stakes in 2004.

Rose Erwin's attorney, Linda Amdur, argued that bipolar disorder and a gambling addiction drove her client's theft.

Dr. Kenneth Busch, a psychiatrist, testified that Erwin's mental health severely deteriorated after her daughter was killed in a 1994 traffic accident. She experiences suicidal lows and deluded highs, he said.

"She had little to no appreciation of the amount of money she was going through," he said.

On cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Atty. Jake Ryan pointed out that Busch couldn't testify that Erwin didn't know what she was doing was wrong or was unable to control her behavior.

U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah agreed. Just before he sentenced Erwin, he told the court that the death of her daughter and her mental health did not explain her crime.

"The reason was greed and self-gratification, and gratify yourself you did," he said.

The scheme was simple and relied on Willmott's absolute confidence in Rose Erwin.

According to the Erwins' guilty pleas, Rose Erwin persuaded Willmott to accept brief summaries of bank statements and canceled checks rather than review them directly.

For five years, she was able to keep him entirely in the dark about the massive checks she wrote to herself and her husband.

The money bought two Porsches, a Cadillac, a Lexus and a Volkswagen. It was wired by the tens of thousands to Las Vegas casinos, where it was promptly lost, according to court documents.

Willmott believed the lies about the Erwins' rapidly expanding lifestyle. He learned of the scheme only when his bank called him to ask about two large checks written to Vernon Erwin, his attorney said.

A tearful Rose Erwin turned to Willmott and his family just before a deputy U.S. marshal led her into custody.

She cried, saying she never thought she was making them her victim.

A few feet away, Willmott stared straight at her, stone-faced.

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

Copyright (c) 2005, Chicago Tribune

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 2005 Chicago Tribune

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