National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Advocate e-newsletter, January 2007

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From Mental Illness to Spiritual Wisdom: A Father-Daughter Odyssey

Barb and Tom ZanzigFor 10 years, Barb and Tom Zanzig have been living with the effects of mental illness, she as a young adult with bipolar disorder, and he as her father.

In 2006, they decided to speak out publicly for the first time, not only about the devastating impact of mental illness, but also about the spiritual lessons that each of them learned in the midst of it all.

NAMI's FaithNet is pleased to present the full audio of their moving presentation.  Read More... 

NAMI Book ShelfMental Illness and the Death Penalty: A New Book, A New Case

John GrishamJohn Grisham has written 18 best-selling novels. The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town is his first work of non-fiction and focuses on a case in which a mentally ill man, Ron Williamson, spends 20 years on death row for a murder he did not commit.

It comes at a time when, on January 5, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a man with schizophrenia in Texas in order to set a standard for determining when mental illness is so severe that execution is unconstitutional -- a case in which NAMI has filed a "friend of the court" brief on the issue.

Read a review of Grisham's new book, and learn more about the current case before the Supreme Court. Read more…

New Online Videos on Bipolar Disorder

Dr. Lawson How is bipolar illness diagnosed? What advice would you give someone in recovery from bipolar? What advances are being made in the research and study of bipolar?

These are just some of the questions addressed in a series of 13 short videos now available online from NAMI's 2006 convention. The videos feature questions-and-answers with Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. William Lawson of Howard University Medical School, and John McMananmy, consumer and author.

The interviews were conducted through a partnership with, and are available for viewing on HealthCentral's BipolarConnect Web site. Watch the videos now…

Living with Mental Illness on Campus

HollingsworthIn December, The New York Times ran a front page article profiling the experiences of several young adults with mental illness making the transition to college life.

The article examined the hopes and concerns of the both the students and their families as they negotiated this transition, dealing with such issues as separation anxiety, managing medications, and disclosing to peers and professors.

The reporter, Lynette Clemetson, worked with several NAMI families and members in researching the article. One of them, Stacey Hollingsworth, is featured in a special video segment on the Times Web site and discusses founding a campus chapter of NAMI to help other students. Read more...

Did You Know?Online Discussion Groups

• NAMI has almost 50 different online discussion groups.

• Each group is organized around a different topic area.

• There are groups focused on consumers and specific mental illnesses, as well as groups for parents, spouses, siblings, college students, teens, veterans, people of faith, and other communities.

• The most popular groups are "Living with Biploar Disorder", "Living with Schizophrenia" and "Living with Major Depression".

• In 2006, more than 50,000 messages were posted across all the groups. Over 120,000 messages have been posted since the discussion groups launched in 2003.

• Each month, an average of 1,500 people visit the discussion groups. The most popular messages are often read by hundreds of people.

Visit NAMI's online discussion groups now.

"Famous People" Poster Now Available

Famous People

NAMI is pleased to announce the re-release of our popular "Famous People with Mental Illness" poster. This attractive poster lists some of the most well-known people whoe have lived with mental illness. The caption reads "People with mental illnesses enrich our lives." The cost is only $1.50, plus shipping and handling. Order now from the NAMI Store.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you notice periods of depression that seem to accompany seasonal changes during the year, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression – usually in late fall and winter – alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year.

Most people with SAD are women whose illness typically begins in their twenties, although men also report SAD of similar severity and have increasingly sought treatment.

SAD can also occur in children and adolescents, in which case the syndrome is first suspected by parents and teachers.

Symptoms of winter SAD usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April.

Some patients begin to slump as early as August, while others remain well until January. Regardless of the time of onset, most patients don’t feel fully back to normal until early May.

The usual characteristics of recurrent winter depression include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain, although a patient does not necessarily show these symptoms.

Additionally, there are the usual features of depression, especially decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, and social withdrawal.

SAD is often misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have SAD, learn more about it and how it is treated by reading NAMI's Seasonal Affective Disorder Fact Sheet.

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