60 Minutes has an interesting segment entitled “Untreated Mental Illness and Imminent Danger?” Except for some stigmatizing language, this is an excellent segment that sums up the serious consequences of replacing psychiatric treatment with incarceration.
Please watch the segment and let us know what you think.
Many of you probably already know that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was recently updated from version IV to version 5. (That’s not a mistake, the American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the DSM, changed from using Roman numerals to using Arabic numerals.)
I just discovered a 19-page document online that provides an overview of the changes from DSM-IV to DSM-5:
In our NAMI support group and Family-to-Family Education Program, we use two interesting words that I never gave much thought to before: normative and normalize. As I was preparing to co-teach Class 1, these two words sounded like jargon to me. Why not just use the word normal instead? I wondered what these words meant, so I looked them up in my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, and here’s what I found:
to make conform to or reduce to a norm or standard
of, relating to, or determining norms or standards
Approximately a year ago, my wife, Cecie, and I along with a friend and neighbor Kitty Haffner, started a NAMI support group in Crawfordsville, IN. This Wednesday, Kitty and will start teaching the free 12-week Family-to-Family Education Program. This course is for people who have loved ones with a mental health diagnosis, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and so on. For more info, check our our website, cvillenami.org.
If you have a loved one with mental illness, one of the best ways to help your loved one is to educate yourself. If you haven’t taken the Family-to-Family course, I strongly recommend you do. Check out the Family-to-Family Course Schedule to see if the course is being offered in your town or a town nearby.
If you’ve taken the course, please post a comment to share your opinion of it.
From Joe Kraynak, co-host of Bipolar Beat: I have been corresponding with a young man who is currently being held in a federal detention center (FDC). I asked him to share his insights and advice for how friends and family members can support a loved one with bipolar or another serious mental illness who is in prison. He wrote this post.
Everyone knows the importance of communication in maintaining one’s emotional and psychological well-being. Communication is even more essential for those with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses who may be confused about where they are and why and may even be experiencing paranoia and psychosis.
About ten years ago, I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder I. To qualify for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder I, you must have experienced at least one manic episode that was not triggered by medication or substance abuse. Most people with bipolar I experience depression, as well, but depression is not required for a diagnosis of bipolar I.
I have been in a Federal Detention Center (FDC) for the past five months. In accordance with my attorney’s advice, I cannot discuss any details of the case. Recently, I have started corresponding with Joe Kraynak, coauthor of Bipolar Disorder For Dummies. He requested that I share my insights from inside the criminal justice system regarding the way medications are prescribed and administered.
My wife is seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed lithium for her bipolar disorder. Recently, she visited another doctor, who prescribed Mobic (meloxicam), a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), for pain and swelling in her knee. A couple weeks later, we spent the afternoon in the emergency room, where my wife was treated for lithium toxicity and had her lithium blood level checked.
I just watched President Obama’s “Shameful Day for Washington” speech, and I take issue with the fact that he included people with severe mental illness in a group he described as “dangerous individuals.” Here’s what he said:
“By now it’s well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun. We’re talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness.”
Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that antipsychotics may work, at least in part, by restoring normal gene function in people with bipolar disorder. (Chen, H., Wang, N., Zhao, X., Ross, C. A., O’Shea, K. S. and McInnis, M. G. (2013), “Gene expression alterations in bipolar disorder postmortem brains.” Bipolar Disorders, 15: 177–187. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12039)
The research team did post-mortem (after death) examinations on the brains of three groups of people:
People with bipolar disorder who never took antipsychotics
People with bipolar disorder who had taken antipsychotics
People without bipolar disorder (the control group)