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National Contest Encourages People with Depressive Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder to Speak Out

WILMINGTON, Del., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Currently in its second year, the SPEAK and Be Heard… Living With Depression contest, made possible by AstraZeneca in partnership with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), encourages people with depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (also called depression) to share their stories of success.  Submissions are now being accepted for the program, and finalists, selected by judges from patient, advocacy, healthcare, literary, film, music and art communities, will have the opportunity to inspire people living with unresolved symptoms of depression such as sadness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed through their stories of successfully managing their disease.(1)

Combined, bipolar disorder and depression affect as many as 22 million American adults(1,2,3,4)  and, in a clinical study, nearly 2 out of 3 people with depression experience unresolved symptoms after initial antidepressant treatment.(5)

Stories can be submitted online at in the form of an essay, song, art, poetry, or video. To qualify, essay, song and poem submissions must be received by August 13; and art and video submissions by September 10.

"If you suffer from depression it can interfere with every aspect of your daily life and you may feel symptoms that include sadness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed," said Janet Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., a New York-based psychiatrist in private practice.  "By sharing their success stories, finalists in the SPEAK and Be Heard contest will inspire others with their success and show how important it is for people with depression who are still experiencing depressive symptoms to talk to a healthcare professional and develop an appropriate treatment plan."

A group of judges from DBSA and the mental health community will select three finalists from each category.  Those selected may have the opportunity to share their success stories with local, regional and national media, will be featured on the SPEAK and Be Heard Web site,, on DBSA's wellness community Web site,, on AstraZeneca media properties, various social media outlets, and on the Web site for bp Magazine, which empowers and motivates the community of individuals living with bipolar disorder, or Esperanza, which is a magazine designed for the mental health community.

"Many people with depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder or depression face a difficult journey as they learn to manage their illness," said Allen Doederlein, DBSA Executive Director for External Affairs. "Through personal goal setting and the guidance of a healthcare professional, success can be achieved over time, and individuals coping with depressive symptoms can attain a healthy, thriving lifestyle. Success may be measured in many ways: from the basics of feeling well enough to get out of bed, to the complexities of maintaining meaningful work, fulfilling relationships, and personal happiness."

To learn more about the campaign, please visit at

About SPEAK and Be Heard… Living With Depression

The SPEAK and Be Heard … Living With Depression campaign, made possible by AstraZeneca in partnership with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), is designed to inspire hope and show the importance of seeking help for the unresolved symptoms of depression and developing an appropriate treatment plan with a health care provider in an effort to successfully manage the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder.

Select entries will be used to educate people on bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder through educational, promotional, and commercial programs that are related to the SPEAK and Be Heard … Living with Depression campaign.

About Bipolar Disorder

Millions of American adults are affected by bipolar disorder.(6,7) People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings from highs, called bipolar mania, to lows, called bipolar depression.(1) Bipolar disorder can significantly interfere with thoughts, activity, and physical health.(8) The depressive episodes of bipolar disorder often produce symptoms like prolonged periods of sadness, a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, and feelings of worthlessness.(1) For many individuals, the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder are often the predominant mood episode.  This means that for people living with bipolar disorder, their depressive symptoms may recur more often and last longer than their mania.(9)  

About Major Depressive Disorder

MDD affects approximately 14.2 million American adults in a given year and today it is often treated with antidepressants.(4) Unlike normal instances of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, MDD is persistent and can interfere with an individual's thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, and physical health. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the US.(7)

Symptoms of depression include: persistently sad or irritable mood; pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, and energy; difficulty thinking, concentrating, and remembering; physical slowing or agitation; lack of interest in or pleasure from activities that were once enjoyed; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness; recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.(1) The diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode in MDD is the same as for a depressive episode of bipolar disorder with the major distinguishing feature between the disorders being the absence of manic or hypomanic episodes in MDD.(1)

About the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the leading patient-directed national organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder. The organization fosters an environment of understanding about the impact and management of these life-threatening illnesses by providing up-to-date, scientifically-based tools and information. DBSA supports research to promote more timely diagnosis, develop more effective and tolerable treatments and discover a cure. The organization works to ensure that people living with mood disorders are treated equitably.

Assisted by a scientific advisory board composed of the leading researchers and clinicians in the field of mood disorders, DBSA has more than 1,000 peer-run support groups across the country. Nearly five million people request and receive information and assistance each year. DBSA's mission is to improve the lives of people living with mood disorders.

For more information, please visit or call (800) 826-3632.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines.  As a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease medicines, AstraZeneca generated global revenues of $32.8 billion in 2009.  In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $14.8 billion healthcare business.

For more information about AstraZeneca in the US or our AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings programs, please visit: or call 1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).  


  1. American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: APA; 2000, pp. 382-397.
  2. Hirschfeld RMA, Calabrese JR, Weissman MM, et al. Screening for Bipolar in the Community. J Clinical Psychiatry. 2003; 64:53-59.
  3. US Bureau of the Census.  Accessed on April 15, 2010.
  4. Kessler, RC, Berglund, P, Demler, O, et al. The Epidemiology of Major Depressive Disorder Results From the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). JAMA. 2003; 289: 3095-3105.
  5. Rush AJ, Trivedi MH, Wisniewski SR, et al.  Acute and longer-term outcomes in depressed outpatients requiring on or several treatment steps: a STAR*D report. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163:1905-1917.
  6. Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry. 2005:62(6):617-627.
  7. National Institute of Mental Health. The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America. 2008. Accessed on June 9, 2010.
  8. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Recovery. August 2008.  Accessed on April 15, 2010.
  9. Calabrese JR, Hirschfeld RMA, Frye MA, et al. Impact of Depressive Symptoms Compared with Manic Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder: Results of a U.S. Community-Based Sample. J Clinical Psychiatry. 2004;65:1499-1504.

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