Author Archive for DBSA OP Staff

Tips for Limiting Holiday Depression

We’re happy to have a guest post from Patrick Bailey, a professional writer for mental health, among other topics. Check out his bio below the article.

Tips for Limiting Holiday Depression  

Many people stress out and feel increased depression and anxiety during the holidays, while others embrace the season. Holiday stress and seasonal depression can easily lead to overdoing alcohol or other substances, walking an unsteady path toward addiction.

The holidays are not meant to see who can buy the best present or max out a credit card, especially when there is little or no money available to purchase gifts. It is not difficult to get stressed out, anxious, and depressed at this time of year. A death close to the holidays, remembering a lost loved one so close to the season, hospitalizations, missing faraway friends and family, a lack of finances, the need to work on holidays, and the constant lockdowns due to COVID-19 — any or all can make things seem bleak, to put it mildly.

To better help you manage holiday anxiety and depression, be sure to devote some time to self-care, for your own good as well as that of others. 

Tips for Limiting Depression

Use some of these tips to help lessen holiday depression.

  • Exercise your body every day. It’s good for the body and the mind.
  • Exercise your mind. Read. Do puzzles. Whatever you find mentally stimulating.
  • Be realistic about the holiday and that it can bring both highs and lows.
  • Find some humor in every day.
  • Face your fears, head-on. Seek help if you must.
  • Be active. That can include exercise, but it also means being engaged.
  • Cook healthier meals, and make healthier food choices. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins — all are good.
  • Look for ways to help someone in need. Helping others can do wonders for the spirit.

Make your holiday less stressful by considering the following:

  • Ask your family’s input in your holiday planning.
  • Delegate planning, decorating, dinner, games, and more.
  • Use disposable dinner plates and silverware. No one wants to wash dishes all day. Plus it can minimize the potential spread of COVID.
  • Spend the holidays at home this year and invite only close family members, to keep things safer and follow recommended guidelines.
  • Resist the urge to be perfect in your holiday planning.
  • Cut your holiday card list in half or more.
  • Stress the real meaning of the season.
  • Avoid maxing out credit cards and buy what you can afford. If you cannot afford to buy a lot, buy a little and be happy you could do that much.
  • Draw names instead of buying everyone a seasonal gift.
  • Do not clean, decorate, shop, cook, or bake until you keel over. Do a bit, and rest a bit. Take a nap, play a game, have a cup of coffee while calling an old friend.
  • Talk about your feelings with a trusted, impartial person.
  • Eat three well-balanced meals a day.
  • Cut back on coffee and drink more water.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you feel overburdened.
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

It’s easy to go into overdrive during the holidays, but know your limits. If you are retired, you don’t need to and may not have the energy to run around like you did when you were 20ish. Take frequent rest breaks to recharge. 

Avoid situations that cause you stress. If shopping during peak times is aggravating, for example, consider curbside pickup. 

Also be sure to spend time doing what relaxes you, whether that means a bit of pampering, reading, watching a funny movie, or whatever it is that provides a small, healthy escape.

Always remember what is essential in your life and that the holidays are not all about buying and shopping for gifts. Try to remain within your budget of spending. Talk with immediate family about alternatives for the season. Make a list of beloved traditions, and ditch the ones that no one cares about. Avoid the non-essentials. Examine what matters the most. 

For your sake and that of your loved ones, do your absolute best to stay mentally healthy and alert to possible signs and symptoms of holiday depression. If substance use is interfering too heavily with your day-to-day life or during the holidays, it may be time to consider alcohol treatment options. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it takes strength and commitment. 

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. We’re


Understanding Emotional Wellness and Suicide Prevention

Guest article by Melissa Howard. See more articles from

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Life can be difficult.  Many people endure dark times, and for some, those periods of darkness can become overwhelming.  They can reach a point it becomes unbearable.  We offer this important information on suicide, emotional wellness, and stepping back from the edge. 

Who is at risk?  Suicide can touch any segment of the population.  For example, according to statistics, 14 out of every 100,000 Americans committed suicide in 2017.  People from all walks of life may be victims of suicide, regardless of age, background, social or economic standing. 

Emotional wellness.  Emotional wellness refers to your ability to accept a broad variety of emotions, both in yourself and in others.  According to some scholars, emotional wellness is necessary for people to be able to manage and express how they feel, to develop healthy self-esteem, and to engage in satisfying, healthy relationships.  It’s important to engage in relaxation techniques and a healthy stress-management program to maintain emotional wellness. 

If you are unsure about your own emotional wellness, Princeton University offers an online emotional wellness self-assessment tool to gauge your status and choose a plan for improvement.

Suicide warning signs.  Warning signs mean someone is harboring thoughts about suicide, and a crisis may be imminent.  Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

recommends being alert to the following warnings signs:

  • Extreme mood swings, including rages.
  • Acting recklessly, such as hazardous driving.
  • Abusing substances.
  • Talk of being a burden to others.
  • Talk of a desire to die or end one’s life.
  • Seeking methods for suicide.
  • Talk of hopelessness or lack of purpose.
  • Talk of unbearable pain.
  • Talk of feeling trapped or without relief.
  • Anxious or agitated actions.
  • Withdrawing or isolating oneself.
  • Talk of vengeance.
  • Sleeping inadequately or excessively.

The American Psychological Association also notes those considering suicide may show signs of preparing for death.  This may take on a variety of appearances, such as giving away possessions once held dear or making funeral arrangements. 

What to do.  If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please get help.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at any time of the day or night.  The number for the hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  It’s a free service to connect those in crisis with help.  Experts recommend adding the hotline to your cell phone in case of an emergency, as well as the number for a trusted relative or close friend.  Also, don’t hesitate to seek out a counselor or therapist if you feel you need to speak with someone.  Many insurance policies cover this type of therapy, and seniors who are enrolled in Medicare have access to an annual depression screening through their primary care physician.  Additionally, those seniors with a Medicare Advantage plan, such as one from UnitedHealthcare, can take advantage of counseling services and prescription drug coverage.

If someone is in immediate danger, you can call emergency services.  Also, include the non-emergency number for the local police department in your phone.  

There is hope.  No matter how difficult life becomes, remember that tomorrow is a new day.  If you or someone you love is suffering, reach out.  No matter how dark it seems, things can be better.

Giving Thanks with Mental Illness

The holidays can be a time of happiness for some but also a time of stress and sadness for those of us coping with mental illness. Sometimes it feels impossible to feel thankful at Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips to cope with the Thanksgiving holiday this year.


Gratitude and Depression

The Psychological Importance of Gratitude and Gratefulness

Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Mental Health


10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family

How to Avoid a Family Disaster at Thanksgiving: Plan for a Holiday that’s Just So-So

10 Survival Tips for Thanksgiving Family Gatherings


Healthy Tips & Recipes to Read Before Thanksgiving

Five Tips to Staying Healthy During Thanksgiving

Nutritional Psychiatry: Here, Eat This. It Will Make You Feel Better


If you are struggling with the holidays, you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Including online chat 

Suicide Awareness in KC

September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. According to NAMI, 41,000 individuals are lost to suicide each year. This is a time to share stories, support one another, and become an advocate to end the stigma around mental health. Here’s a couple ways to get involved here in KC:

Speak Up Walk   

When: Sunday, September 16th

Where: Garmin Campus, Olathe, Kansas

Registration will be accepted until the morning of the walk.

Registration and Frequently Asked Questions

Why support Speak Up? “Our passionate hope is that Speak Up will provide quality education and awareness in our community and bridge the communication gaps between community, schools and parents.” Learn more about Speak Up



Out of the Darkness Greater Kansas City Walk  

When: Saturday, October 6th 

Where: Berkley Riverfront Park

Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk. However, anyone who would like to participate can register in person at the walk from the time check-in begins until the walk starts. Registration is free and open to the public. Walk donations are accepted until December 31st.

For more information on contacts to call click here.

Why support Out of the Darkness? “When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.” Learn more about American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


Happy Birthday DBSA

Do you remember your favorite birthday?
What made that day so special?

For me it was my eighth birthday, the day I finally got my first bike. I remember coming home from school to find my dad putting my new ride together. He had
taken off work early to make sure my bike was ready for me. I can still see that bike clear as day in my mind, with its metal gleaming and its black and gold banana seat, and I can still remember how happy and cared for my dad’s actions made me feel.

Today I’m happy to be a part of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance’s 33rd birthday and to ask you to join me in making a special birthday gift on behalf of the decades we’ve spent providing hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of the people we serve.

When we blow out our birthday candles, we’ll be wishing for an increase in accessible peer support networks that ensure the 21 million individuals living with a mood disorder can feel as supported and loved as I did when I came home to my very own bike all those years ago.

I am excited about what DBSA is building, and I hope you decide to join me in helping to make our birthday wish come true!

Michael Pollock
Chief Executive Officer

At birthdays, it’s also important to look back and celebrate accomplishments. Here are some recent events DBSA is proud of…

The New York Times reached out to DBSA to provide the peer perspective on how to help individuals dealing with thoughts of suicide for its front-page article on the highly-publicized losses of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

DBSA’s draft language for the PEER Act, which has been rolled into the Mission Act, passed in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Signed into law, this bill authorizes the hiring of peer specialists in 50 Veteran Administration primary care settings.

Charity Navigator listed DBSA as one of the top organizations addressing suicide prevention and mental health.

We can only convert our birthday wish into action with your support.

Is the gig economy for you?

Guest blog by Brad Krause from SelfCaring

Image via Pixabay

Being Your Own Boss Can Bring Freedom, Flexibility

Today, aspiring entrepreneurs can launch a business without a lease or landline. Indeed, it seems all it takes to start a small business in the current climate is an idea and an Internet connection.

But don’t draft your resignation letter just yet. Although 15 million Americans were self-employed in 2015, accounting for 10.1 percent of total U.S. employment, roughly 20 percent of new businesses fail in their first year and around half don’t make it to their fifth birthday. So it’s important to evaluate whether you have what it takes to succeed as a long-term entrepreneur.

The Ups and Downs of Entrepreneurship

Considering you’ll probably be doing everything from marketing to maintenance as a small business owner, being your own boss requires a few key personality traits, such as adaptability. You should also be comfortable confronting conundrums and adept at finding solutions quickly. Finally, you have to be equally at ease with risks and routines. After all, you are taking a chance by going out on your own. But the fact that you no longer have to answer to anyone else means you’ve got to have the disciple to stick to a schedule, meet deadlines and cover your new business’ bills as well as your own.

That being said, self-employment can be an ideal option for people who want or need the freedom to set their own schedules, work at their own pace, and choose their clients and colleagues. Such flexibility could fit people with physical health conditions, family obligations, or mood disorders — such as anxiety and depression — that might make it difficult to work for someone else or thrive in a traditional work environment.

But self-employment can have its downsides for anyone, regardless of their circumstances. For instance, your income isn’t guaranteed, which can create anxiety. Setting your own schedule may also become its own source of stress because it can be difficult to strike a healthy work-life balance. You may also have to handle your own health insurance, retirement savings, and vacation scheduling, among other administrative details. So it makes sense to research resources provided by freelancer advocacy organizations and other sources to learn more about the less-obvious aspects of being your own boss.

Getting into the Gig Economy

So starting smart does require more than an idea and Internet connection if you want your new business to have staying power. At the same time, you don’t necessarily need an extensive business plan and substantial seed fund to get going. Starting small can be a great way to ease into entrepreneurship.

For instance, you can experiment with the gig economy while holding down another job.  The gig economy is generally defined as a framework where people are hired, often through digital marketplaces to work on demand, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it could include people operating an after-hours business while working a more permanent part- or full-time job, working for a variety of clients to cobble together a living as a full-time freelancer, or toiling as one of the many students, parents or retirees taking on tasks only when their schedules allow.

That variety makes the size of the gig economy difficult to measure definitively. But one survey from Intuit Inc. and Emergent Research showed an estimated 7.6 million Americans will be regularly working in the on-demand economy by 2020, more than double the 3.2 million working on demand in August 2015.

So the gig economy is expanding, and it’s also providing a launch pad for many professionals who want to parlay their passions into permanent paychecks. If you’re craving a career that offers you the freedom and flexibility to chart your own course, consider becoming your own boss. A small start could someday become big business.

Suicide Help

Recently we heard the tragic news of KC native and fashion designer, Kate Spade. She was believed to have lived with bipolar disorder and is noted to have sought help numerous times. It is not known that this is the reason of her suicide. According to the CDC there are many factors other than mental health that contribute to suicide including relationship problems, substance abuse, crisis, physical health problem, loss of housing, and job/financial problems. As suicide rates are on the rise, it is important that we raise our level of knowledge and understanding of suicide as well. This will help promote suicide prevention. 

CDC’s Preventing Suicide Fact Sheet

World Health Organization’s Suicide Prevention Initiative 

CDC’s Understand Suicide Fact Sheet   

Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Including an online chat option

Missouri Suicide Prevention Resource Center

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Including online chat 

National Suicide Text Hotline

SAVE : Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Suicide Prevention | SAMHSA

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Most importantly – Please Remember You Are Never Alone


Isolation and Mood Disorders

In January, I ended up in the hospital for my depression. My experience there changed a lot of things for me. One of the really important realizations it led to: isolation is probably my biggest trigger for depression. A couple of things happened that let me see this. First, my doctor told me he didn’t want me to be alone. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Second, the social worker held a “family meeting” for me, where my loved ones and I discussed what I needed to be okay after I got out. We planned for me to spend alternating weeks with my partner and my sister’s family. It wasn’t until I had to spend a week alone that I realized what a difference this was making. My depression started coming back immediately; I didn’t have any motivation to get out of bed. I remembered what the doctor had said. Maybe there was something to not being alone.

Since that time, experience has reinforced that isolating myself is indeed my worst trigger. The support of my partner and my family members is vital. I’m employed again and living on my own again, but I make it a point to spend as much time as I can with my supporters, even – or especially – when I don’t feel like it.

Check out this article by Good Therapy to learn more about emotional and social isolation.

It’s Spring now, why am I not happy?


Many of us are accustomed to relating seasonal affective disorder with the dark, cold winter months. Once spring hits and it becomes April, that should all just go away, right? It turns out April can be just as hard on SAD as the winter months. Therese Borchard, a columnist for Everyday Health, offers four different theories on why April can actually make depression and anxiety levels raise in her article 

April Is the Cruelest Month: Why People Get Depressed and Anxious in the Spring

  1. Change
  2. Hormones
  3. Memories
  4. Allergies and toxins

For more explanations be sure to check out the link above. She also has an article on how rainy weather, like we have had in KC for some time now, can affect depression.

Weather and Mood: Rainy With a Chance of Depression

In this article she links to some interesting studies relating weather and mood. 

So, if you just aren’t feeling it yet this month – you are not alone!

Talking to your kids about school shootings

Don’t know how to talk to your kids about what happened in Florida? With so much media attention, school shootings can create much anxiety in children. Here is some advice.

Marcia Weseman, Ed.D, is a child trauma expert and Manager of Community Programs and Prevention at Saint Luke’s Crittenton Health Center.