Category "Anxiety"

31May

Experiencing withdrawal: What it’s like to stop taking antidepressants – National

by BBG Hub

When Elizabeth tried to get off her antidepressants for good, she says she felt like she was in a fog.

The 29-year-old educator, who asked Global News to only use her first name, said she had six days of “serious side effects” after she stopped taking paroxetine, an antidepressant often used to also treat anxiety.

“I had nausea, headaches, felt sick and like something was ‘off,’” she said. “[I felt] lethargic and had no energy, no motivation and struggled with sleeping.”

READ MORE: ‘I couldn’t believe it’ — why disability claims for mental health are often a struggle

She had been on the medication for about two years, and had attempted to go off twice before, but the withdrawal symptoms were just too much.

This time, she did more research online to see what other people experienced so she was aware of what may happen.

“I prepared myself for what I expected to be a long journey,” she said. “I talked to my family and warned them of the side effects and that I would need extra support and encouragement during the withdrawal time.”

It took Elizabeth a couple of weeks before the pain subsided, and she slowly gained her energy back.

WATCH BELOW: How cooking helps ease symptoms of anxiety and depression





“After about a week, I started to notice that I was feeling a bit more like myself, and by week two, I felt like I had beat the ‘fog,’” she said. “[My doctor] didn’t really explain any side effects, or how [the medication] would affect me.”

How many people are on antidepressants

Elizabeth is not alone in her experience.

Canada is among the top counties with the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world, according to 2017 data by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Based on government data from 2011 — the most recent available — antidepressants were the most prescribed drug for men 25 to 44, and the top drug prescribed to women aged 25 to 79.

(A 2014 study out of the University of Calgary found that antidepressant use in the country may now be stabilizing.)

READ MORE: ‘Depression isn’t like a broken bone’: Steps to overcome this common mental illness

In the U.S., antidepressant use has almost doubled since 2010, and more than tripled since 2000, according to data analyzed by the New York Times.

And as antidepressant use has increased in recent years, so have conversations around the withdrawal.

On Thursday, the U.K.’s Royal College of Psychiatrists released a new report warning of possible side effects of antidepressants, urging health-care providers to better monitor patients who use the drugs.

The report said there should be more awareness around side effects of the medications, highlighting the fact that some people may experience “long-lasting withdrawal symptoms on and after stopping antidepressants.”

READ MORE: More children and teens are having suicidal thoughts, but experts can’t pinpoint why

The authors recommend patients be tapered off the drugs under doctor supervision, and that researchers should “develop clear evidence-based and pharmacologically-informed recommendations to help guide gradual withdrawal from antidepressant use.”

The report echoes sentiments of what many antidepressant users have been saying for years.

In a recent op-ed in the Guardian, writer Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett described how when coming off the drugs, she experienced “panic attacks, dizziness, headaches, irrational fury, dramatic mood swings, suicidal thoughts and exhaustion.”

WATCH BELOW: Lifelong skills to overcome & manage anxiety





“Luckily, I have a doctor in my family, who, after my ill-judged initial attempt to go cold turkey ended in hospital, recommended that I take it slowly by cutting my pills in half and reducing down to every other day, then every three days and so on,” she wrote.

“I am now drug-free and fine, but it was no picnic: not for me, and not for the people I love, who had to be around me.”

Antidepressant side effects

For some people, withdrawal symptoms are so debilitating they seek comfort through mental health support groups. On Facebook, there are public and private groups where members discuss their experiences coming off antidepressants, as well as how they feel on the drugs.

On these forums, many people describe symptoms ranging from changes in weight, irritability, nightmares and changes in sex drives. Others seek the counsel of other users because they say their doctors did not inform them of adverse side effects.

READ MORE: Ketamine for depression divides experts: ‘I’ve seen these drugs come and go’

Dr. Donna Stewart, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, said there are two main types of popular antidepressants that are commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRIs).

These antidepressants treat depression by increasing the number of certain brain chemicals, like serotonin, which carries messages between brain cells.

Popular SSRIs include Prozac (known generically as fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Lexapro (escitalopram).

SNRIs include venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), levomilnacipran (Fetzima) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) outlines.

WATCH BELOW: New app helps relieve anxiety





When coming off these drugs, Stewart says common side effects can include dizziness, abnormal sensations, digestive symptoms, flu-like symptoms, depression, anxiety, sweating and poor sleep.

She also says people may experience what they describe as a “brain zap,” which feels like an electric shock of sorts. “Brain shocks frighten people,” she added.

While withdrawal can be alarming, Stewart says that many people experience minimal or no side effects when coming off their medication.

But for others, the withdrawal symptoms can be so alarming that they go back on the medications or stop trying to go off them altogether. This happened to Elizabeth the first few times she tried to get off her meds.

READ MORE: 8 signs your child may be going through depression

“The first time I attempted to go off, I had dropped my dosage by half for a week, and then the next week, I tried going every other day. Unfortunately, once I was off, I started experiencing anxiety again and decided to go back on probably two weeks after,” she said.

“The second time, probably a few months later, I decided to go cold turkey and I lasted three days before I needed to go back on.”

Stewart says it’s important for patients to know the difference between withdrawal symptoms and signs of their depression or anxiety. A recent study published in medical journal The Lancet found that if withdrawal symptoms are mistaken for recurrence of a mental health issue, like depression, it can lead to “long-term unnecessary medication.”

Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within days of stopping medication and last several days to weeks, Stewart says. “They are less common if the med withdrawal is tapered,” she explained.

WATCH BELOW: Different ways our bodies react to anxiety





Withdrawal also often includes symptoms that you normally don’t experience with your anxiety or depression, like flu-like symptoms or “brain zaps.”

A symptom of a mental health condition, on the other hand, can come on weeks or months after stopping the medication.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of your mental health condition again, or are unsure of your symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor, Stewart says.

What antidepressants should be used for

According to the World Health Organization, 4.4 per cent of the world’s population suffers from depression.

CAMH defines clinical depression as a “complex mood disorder caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, personality, stress and brain chemistry.” It can range in severity, and affect people at different points in their lives.

For people with mild depression, Stewart says that antidepressants should not be first-line treatment; psychotherapy and environmental changes should be explored first.

Part of the reason why so many Canadians are on antidepressants is because there’s not enough publicly funded mental health services, Stewart said. For people with mild depression, “a good government-sponsored psychotherapy program” would be helpful, she said.

Instead, many patients are prescribed drugs for symptoms that may be manageable through therapy.

READ MORE: ‘I hated myself’: Maisie Williams says fame harmed her mental health

But when it comes to moderate to severe depression, antidepressants can be incredibly helpful and often a necessary part of treatment.

CAMH says that most people who use antidepressants need to take them for at least a year.

For patients with moderate to severe depression, Stewart says they may need to be on antidepressants for two years or longer, depending on their condition and how many depressive episodes they have. (It’s important to note that everyone’s treatment plan is unique to them.)

Stewart also points out that antidepressants are often used to treat anxiety disorders as well, and can be helpful in managing conditions like panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

How to go off antidepressants

If you’re on antidepressants and want to get off them, Stewart says it’s important you talk to your health-care provider. They should be able to inform you on how to lower your dose, tapering you off the medication safely.

It can be very dangerous to stop taking prescription medication on your own, or go “cold turkey.” Apart from withdrawal symptoms, people should be educated on possible mental health concerns.

READ MORE: Men suffer from eating disorders, too — so why do we ignore them?

Stewart says there’s still a lot of stigma around mental health conditions, making it hard for some people to seek help. She says it’s important for anyone suffering from anxiety or depression to speak to a health-care professional.

Elizabeth says while she is off antidepressants today, the medication helped her when she needed it.

“I have never considered using [antidepressants] again, but I am thankful for the freedom they gave me,” she said.

“[They helped] me learn about myself and learn how to cope with change and stressful situations while having assistance from the medication.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868  all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




Source link

14Apr

Ketamine for depression divides experts: ‘I’ve seen these drugs come and go’ – National

by BBG Hub

Depression can be completely debilitating, making it difficult to do even the simplest tasks — like getting out of bed or brushing one’s teeth.

Unfortunately, it’s very common. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people around the world are currently suffering from depression.

Now, there may be a new way to treat the illness: ketamine.

READ MORE: ‘Emotionally draining’: The effect depression has on tasks like brushing hair, showering

Ketamine is commonly used as an anesthetic and painkiller in animal and human surgery. It also rose to popularity as a party drug in the 1990s. Now, it’s being lauded as a possible cure for treatment-resistant depression.

“We have a large sub population in our country with depression who can’t work… they just can’t break this vicious cycle,” said Dr. Roger McIntyre, president of the Canadian Rapid Treatment Centre of Excellence (CRTCE).

McIntyre hopes ketamine can break that cycle.

The CRTCE, which administers rapid onset treatments for depression in the form of ketamine injections, is the first of its kind in Canada.

How does the treatment work?

At the CRTCE, ketamine is delivered through intravenous infusion. According to the clinic’s website, “the protocol for administering ketamine is still being refined. Nonetheless… most individuals will receive four infusions (i.e. two infusions per week for two weeks).”

The cost of this treatment at the CRTCE is $3,000, and it is not paid for by the public health plan of Ontario (OHIP).

The process is overseen by a physician trained in anesthesia, as well as a nurse.

“The dose of ketamine by someone on the street… is about 10 times higher than the dose [you would be given] if you went to the hospital this afternoon for a procedure that required anesthesia,” said McIntyre. “The dose that we use to treat depression is about one-10th… of the dose used in anesthesia. So we’re using ‘sub-anesthetic doses.”

According to McIntyre, this does not mean the process is without safety concerns.

WATCH BELOW: ‘He likes to give hugs’: Man says emotional support alligator helps his depression





“[We] know it’s generally well received by patients, but it would be inaccurate to say that you don’t get any side effects,” said McIntyre. 

According to Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), ketamine can produce “vivid dreams and a feeling that the mind is separated from the body.” This effect is known as “dissociation.”

The intensity of the effects depend on several factors, including: your age, your body weight, how much you take, how often you take it, how you take the drug and more.

“Some people do become addicted, and continue to use ketamine even when they plan not to or despite its negative effects,” as stated on the CAMH website.

Ketamine works faster than other treatments

If a patient presents with intense suicidal thoughts, ketamine may be a more effective short-term treatment than other antidepressant medication.

“Most antidepressants take approximately four, six or even eight weeks to work. That’s a long time,” said McIntyre. “If you’re suffering, ketamine can work within one day.”

Dr. David Gratzer, a psychiatrist at CAMH, is hopeful about the effects of ketamine on depression for this reason.

READ MORE: 8 signs your child may be going through depression

“We are looking for a way of providing more rapid relief of depression than one might ordinarily see with Prozac and [similar] drugs,” said Gratzer.

“The evidence is there but we have to take it with a grain of salt because it’s early days. That being said, we do seem to find evidence that it helps people very quickly, particularly people who have many thoughts of suicide.”

Ketamine is a last-ditch effort for those who have tried everything else

Depression is difficult to understand — even for medical professionals.

“As with most diseases in physical medicine and mental health, we have a sense of what’s involved but we don’t exactly know,” said Gratzer.

According to Gratzer, doctors do know that family history and certain traumatic life events are connected with a higher risk of depression.

“However, two people can be raised in the same household and eat the same foods and have a relatively similar childhood and one can get heart disease while the other doesn’t,” said Gratzer.

WATCH BELOW: Study links exposure to infection in the womb to increased risk of autism, depression





“Likewise, you can get [depression] and your sibling may not. So, while we do recognize there’s a strong genetic component… it’s not 100 per cent. There’s more going on.”

Because of the evasive nature of depression, finding a treatment that works can be difficult.

Once someone is diagnosed, they are usually prescribed one of or a combination of three kinds of treatment: exercise, talk therapy and medication. According to Gratzer, patients “do the best” when they do all three.

READ MORE: Is ASMR an effective way to treat anxiety and depression?

But, for some patients, none of these treatments work. And that’s where ketamine can be an exciting option.

“Ketamine is one of a handful of medications that is out of the box,” said Gratzer. 

To be eligible for treatment at the CRTCE, there are three criteria: you are over the age of 18, you are medically stable and you have had a minimum of two other treatments for your depression.

‘Early reports are good, but now we need to take it to the next step’

McIntyre admits that the full effects (positive and negative) of the drug are unknown.

An issue McIntyre and his team are paying close attention to is the impact ketamine can have on other organs, like the kidney or the bladder.

Another is whether ketamine can act as a gateway to other, more severe drug abuse, said McIntyre. 

The CRTCE website states that, “it is critical to understand that ketamine researchers are still exploring a multitude of ways that ketamine infusions impact the human brain. They are working towards understanding why this form of treatment works so quickly and effectively.”

Despite its positive impact thus far, Gratzer isn’t ready to call ketamine a “wonder drug” yet.

WATCH BELOW: 5 ways to help a friend with postpartum depression





“I’m optimistic, but I’ve got a few gray hairs, so I’ve seen these wonder drugs come and go,” he said.

“We need to take it to the next step… can we use it on more people safely? What sort of side effects do they get? Are the effects [on depression] we see with ketamine lasting?”

Gratzer is interested to see whether the effects of ketamine can remain beyond the days after it’s injected.

“It’s great that some people might see relief… if you’ve got a pain on your left hand, it’s great that you feel better with a Tylenol. But that tends to fade and maybe what you really have is a little infection of the skin and what you should really take is antibiotics,” said Gratzer. 

“I hope this is working out because it will be helpful, but I don’t really know and I don’t want to be too optimistic. Like a lot of private healthcare, the sales pitch may not be as good as the reality.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




Source link

29Jan

Super Awesome Science Show recap: Sharing stress – National

by BBG Hub


View link »

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Podcasts

Have you ever had a great day in which nothing can go wrong, and then out of nowhere, a stressed person enters the room and your good feelings are replaced with feelings of anxiety and nervousness? You’re not alone. We may not realize it but stress is contagious and on this week’s episode of The Super Awesome Science Show, we find out how this happens.

We first start with Dr. Stephanie Preston at the University of Michigan. She has studied how our compassion, known as empathy, can be a trigger for sharing someone else’s stress. She’ll help us to appreciate how our ability to care for someone else can work against us.


READ MORE:
Working moms 40% more stressed than women without kids: study

Our next guest explains that stress can also be shared through our noses. Dr. Jaideep Bains at the University of Calgary has uncovered how the odours we make when stressed may have an influence on other people. While his studies are in mice, his proposal of an “alert pheromone” may offer some perspective as to why some people just smell stressed.

In our SASS class, we examine how we can help to avoid sharing stress by being around friends. Dr. Loren Martin from the University of Toronto Mississauga explains that stress can be buffered by having people around us and dividing up the effect.


READ MORE:
Kelowna RCMP test pilot project using animals to reduce work stress

If you enjoy The Super Awesome Science Show, please take a minute to rate it on Apple Podcasts and be sure to tell a friend about the show. Thanks to you, we’ve been nominated for a Canadian Podcast Award as Outstanding Science and Medicine Series. Let’s keep the awesome momentum going together!

Twitter: @JATetro

Email: [email protected]

Guests:
Dr. Stephanie Preston
https://lsa.umich.edu/psych/people/faculty/prestos.html
Twitter: @prestostwit

Dr. Jaideep Bains
University of Calgary
https://hbi.ucalgary.ca/profiles/dr-jaideep-bains
Twitter: @stressynomics

Dr. Loren Martin
University of Toronto Mississauga
https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/psychology/faculty-staff/martin-loren
Twitter: @_ljmartin

We LOVE that you are loving the “Super Awesome Science Show (SASS)” podcast! If you haven’t subscribed yet — what are you waiting for?

Subscribing’s easy! Here’s how…

On your iPad or iPhone:

  • Open the Apple Podcasts app, search for Super Awesome Science Show (SASS) and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the Super Awesome Science Show (SASS)’s page, click the “subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.

On your Android Phone or Tablet:

  • Open the Google Podcasts app, search for Super Awesome Science Show (SASS) and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the Super Awesome Science Show (SASS)’s page, click the “subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




Source link

26Nov

5 simple ways to manage your daily anxiety – National

by BBG Hub


When you have anxiety, sometimes it can be difficult to get through the day.

And with the holidays around the corner, some people with anxiety can feel pressure to feel or perform a certain way, said Jessica Borelli, associate professor of psychological science and the University of California, Irvine.

“Holiday schedules also change people’s routines. Both of these factors can increase anxiety,” she told Global News.  “Sometimes anxiety can be free-floating in that it can attach itself to anything passing by rather than being focused on the actual source of fear.”

READ MORE: How climate change can cause depression, anxiety – ‘We will all be affected’

For instance, she added, someone who is anxious about seeing an ex at a holiday party may worry excessively about running out of detergent a few days before the party and not having time to buy more.

“Even though solving the detergent issue itself should be relatively simple, the worry may be a result of these larger fears rather than actual fears about logistics,” she explained. “You can identify whether this is happening to you if your worry is a shape-shifting worry. Meaning that if you get rid of one worry, it is quickly replaced with another worry.”

Make time to talk to someone

Talking to a mental health expert can help you tackle some of these larger issues you have day to day. “Allowing yourself to experience and express those larger fears to a trusted person can help you move through them and resolve them for good,” Borelli said.

And with any type of anxiety, it’s important to reach out for help.  “I recommend reaching out for help when your anxiety starts to impact your daily living — your relationships, your work, your ability to manage daily tasks, or your general quality of life,” she continued.

READ MORE: Do your eyes twitch often? It could be a symptom of a mental health issue

“Or when you notice yourself engaging in or wanting to engage in unhealthy coping behaviours — drinking alcohol when you are stressed, over-exercising, restricting dietary intake, avoiding social contact, or engaging in other behavioral ‘numbing’ strategies.”

If you don’t have the option to access a professional, she also recommends reaching out to family or friends. “Talking about worries can help normalize the anxiety and cultivate the kinds of relationship connections in which negative emotions and experiences can be shared.”

5 ways to manage your anxiety

Besides taking a much-needed break, getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced diet, there are other ways to control your anxiety. Below, Borelli shares five things people with anxiety can do to manage it day-to-day.

Scheduling ‘worry time:’ “Promise yourself that you will put away your worries for now and come back to them later… at a predetermined time.” This time should not be right before bedtime, she added, because that could lead to a disrupted sleep. “Finding a way to confine worrying to a certain time or place can help contain the power of the worry.”

Reaching out to trusted people: “Even if you don’t feel comfortable talking about the anxiety, calling an old friend to reconnect and talk about other things,” Borelli said. “Simply connecting with a trusted person could reduce your anxiety.”

READ MORE: How to manage panic attacks – and why you should never ignore them

Go to a place that or a person who evokes a strong sense of calm and safety: “If you can’t visit that place/person in real life, do it in your imagination.” Recall a time when you felt incredibly safe and comfortable and try to evoke those feelings again as you imagine the situation, she added.

Coming up with a list of empowering thoughts: Try to replace anxious thoughts that you have with these non-anxious, empowering ones. “These should be specific to you and should be thoughts that reliably help you relax.” You can tell yourself things like, “I can get through this, just like I’ve gotten through so many hard things before,” or, “It’s just another day in a string of days.”

Distract yourself: “Listening to music that’s relaxing or watching a funny episode [of a show you like] will help.”

[email protected]

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




Source link

3Oct

This school voted to swap clapping for ‘jazz hands’ to help students with anxiety, sensory issues – National

by BBG Hub

Students at the University of Manchester have voted to swap loud clapping for “jazz hands” at certain school events in an effort to accommodate people with anxiety or sensory issues.

The university’s student union decided they’ll hold applause, cheering and whooping at their gatherings and replace it with the British Sign Language equivalent: a wave of both hands, the BBC reported. The student union said the wave, commonly referred to as “jazz hands,” will make events more accessible and inclusive for people who have autism or are deaf.

WATCH BELOW: Cities improving beach wheelchair accessibility






In a statement, the University of Manchester Students’ Union said that they are not outright banning audible clapping at all school events, and are instead encouraging “the use of British Sign Language (BSL) clapping during our democratic events.” These events include meetings where members are invited to participate in decision making, the union said.

The student union will now encourage student groups and societies to do the same as part of inclusion training, said union member Sara Khan per the Irish Times.

READ MORE: Boy speaks clearly for first time after dentist notices he’s tongue-tied

According to Tanya Titchkosky, a professor of disability studies in the department of social justice at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, acknowledging accessibility issues on campus is an important thing for universities to do. Many Canadian schools have a long way to go when it comes to accommodating students, she said.

Titchkosky said there are lots of different conditions people could have, like autism, anxiety or a medical condition, for which the use of “jazz hands” would be beneficial. While this population may be small, she said, addressing the varying needs of students is a move in the right direction.

“There’s so little that’s done on university campuses to recognize the diversity of the student body in terms of disability,” Titchkosky told Global News. “So little is done collectively, [and] almost everything is always [done by] an individual with a disability who goes and seeks their private accommodations.”

READ MORE: Are you suffering from mental fatigue? Here’s what to look for

The students’ vote initially received backlash when it was thought that they outright banned clapping on campus. Clapping, after all, is a large part of how society responds to people and events, and is key component of concerts, sporting games and debates.

Some people on Twitter said that the university had gone too far, and were upset over the idea of silent applause.

Following the backlash, the students clarified their position on clapping.

“We are not banning audible clapping,” the union said in their statement. “Nor are we applying this motion to all events held at the Students’ Union. The Union holds a huge number of events, including gigs, theatre productions and sport. This policy has no bearing on those events which make up the majority of a packed calendar at the Students’ Union.”

While Titchkosky said the vote by Manchester students is commendable, she said it’s important for people with other accessibility needs to be considered, too. Students who are blind, for example, should be included in accommodations.

“Accommodations have to continue to be imagined as being inclusive to whoever happens to be present,” she said. “But personally given what I’ve experienced, … I really think it’s fantastic that students are bringing the possibility of imagining a diverse student body for faculty, students and staff.”

“I jazz hands them for that.”

[email protected]

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




Source link