Target Zero to Thrive This April

DBSA targets raising expectations for mental health treatment.

A month-long social media campaign, Target Zero to Thrive, challenges mental health care professionals, researchers, and individuals living with or affected by mood disorders to raise treatment goals to complete remission—to zero symptoms.

Of course the first priority for treatment is ensuring a person living with depression or bipolar disorder is out of crisis. However, too often the end goal established for successful long‐term care is for the person to maintain a stable mood. Better, or even stable, is not always well. Every person deserves the opportunity to not just survive but thrive, and to do that we need to ensure true wellness is the end‐goal for mental health treatment.

Consider this, successful treatment for cancer proceeds with the goal of removing every cancerous cell—to achieve complete remission. Why then, do we consider treatment for depression or bipolar disorder to be successful when symptoms persist, even if the person is considered to be stable?

The cost of settling for reduced symptoms is simply too great. It is, in fact, a matter of life and death—for when symptoms persist, individuals who have mood disorders are:

  • at significantly greater risk of relapse(1)
  • more likely to experience significant functional impairment, making the day‐to‐day demands of job and family challenging, and too often, debilitating. (2)
  • more likely to have life‐threatening co‐occurring conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes—a huge factor in why individuals with mental health conditions die, on average, 25 years younger than those without mental health conditions (3)
  • at a higher risk to die by suicide (4)

DBSA President Allen Doederlein shares, “Living with a mood disorder can damage hope and lower expectations; so a person may not expect or think they deserve a full life. We, as peers, clinicians, researchers, and family, need to help them expect and achieve more—by raising the bar for treatment. Targeting zero symptoms may seem like a formidable goal, but there are over 21 million reasons and Americans living with depression or bipolar disorder to make it a goal worth pursuing!”


(1) Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;157(9):1501-4.
Does incomplete recovery from first lifetime major depressive episode herald a chronic course of illness?
Judd LL1, Paulus MJ, Schettler PJ, Akiskal HS, Endicott J, Leon AC, Maser JD, Mueller T, Solomon DA, Keller MB.

(2) J Clin Psychiatry. 2007 Aug;68(8):1237-45.
Mood symptoms, functional impairment, and disability in people with bipolar disorder: specific effects of mania and depression.
Simon GE1, Bauer MS, Ludman EJ, Operskalski BH, Unützer J.

(3) Bipolar Disord. 2004 Oct;6(5):368-73.
Burden of general medical conditions among individuals with bipolar disorder.
Kilbourne AM1, Cornelius JR, Han X, Pincus HA, Shad M, Salloum I, Conigliaro J, Haas GL.

(4) Psychiatr Serv. 2013 Dec 1;64(12):1195-202. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200587.
Does response on the PHQ-9 Depression Questionnaire predict subsequent suicide attempt or suicide death?
Simon GE, Rutter CM, Peterson D, Oliver M, Whiteside U, Operskalski B, Ludman EJ.