The Riggs Blog

The Riggs Blog

The Riggs Blog is a mix of news about clinical work, research and educational activities from the Austen Riggs Center, as well as a source for information beyond our walls that we find interesting and thought-provoking.

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    All patients begin in an evaluation and treatment phase for the first six weeks of their treatment at a residential or hospital level of care. This time is used to better understand whatever brings them to the Austen Riggs Center.

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    It may be hard to imagine patients having a say in the way a hospital is run – not just an opinion about the care they received, but a real partnership with staff in engaging a range of clinical and administrative issues.  Yet this is just what happens at Riggs, where the core of the clinical program is the recognition that patients come with significant strengths as well as difficulties, and that the exercise of these strengths is as important for the patient’s prognosis as it is for the community’s daily life.  

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    The Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center along with the Yale Child Study Center are jointly sponsoring an Infant & Family Mental Health Training Program. The first session will be held at the Austen Riggs Center Friday through Sunday, April 10-12, 2015, with the second session to follow, November 6-8, 2015.

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    Mental health advocate Mariel Hemingway is coming to Berkshire County to speak about suicide, stigma and mental health and to show the documentary film Running From Crazy. The event will take place on March 28, from 2:00 to 5:00pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. 

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    The Austen Fox Riggs Library houses a vital and robust collection of literature, journals and history related to psychoanalytic thought, practice and research. It is available as a resource to Riggs staff and mental health professionals. Through a recent acquisition, an exploration of online cataloging and the utilization of the Work Program at Riggs, the library continues to grow and evolve to better meet the needs of library users and also to provide a space where patients can learn and develop skills.

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    It is harmful to leave bipolar disorder untreated. Not only are there the acute risks of untreated mania (interpersonal chaos, financial and occupational problems, health consequences, and the risk of suicide), but there is also evidence that each manic episode increases the likelihood of successive manic episodes, leading to a long-term worsening of the illness. Optimal treatment of bipolar disorder most often involves certain lifestyle changes, consistent use of mood-stabilizing medications, and psychotherapy.

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    We are pleased to announce an online continuing education platform, available on our website, where psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers can obtain continuing medical education/continuing education credit.  If you are not a member of one of these guilds, you are still welcome to take any of the course offerings.

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    Treatment of bipolar disorder begins with careful diagnosis. Because bipolar disorder frequently presents first with depression, or because patients with manic or hypomanic states frequently do not recognize themselves as having a problem, accurate diagnosis is frequently delayed. Though historically under-diagnosed, recent research suggests that bipolar disorder is currently over-diagnosed almost half of the time. There are no laboratory tests for bipolar disorder. Diagnosis is made by a detailed appraisal of symptoms and of family history, and by ruling out other conditions that present in similar ways.

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    Accepting an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 87th Academy Awards,  for their film, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Ellen Goosenberg Kent (director) and Dana Perry (producer) highlight how important awareness and discussion about suicide are in helping counter associated stigma and loss.  After receiving the Oscar on Sunday night for their HBO documentary detailing the emotional strain faced by trained hotline responders as they work to provide support and intervention for troubled veterans calling the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 24- hour call center, Ms. Perry states, "We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying to sweep it under the rug."

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    Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is a serious mood disorder characterized by wide swings in mood, energy and activity levels.  Though most patients with bipolar disorder experience depressions as a part of their illness, a manic, hypomanic, or mixed-manic episode is required to make the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. 

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