Posts Tagged "Anxiety"

2Nov

Men struggle to keep friends — and it’s hurting their mental health – National

by BBG Hub

Friendships are an important part of a healthy life, but research shows men struggle to keep them.

Men often have fewer close friends as they age, experts say, which directly impacts their mental well-being.

According to a 2016 survey by U.K.’s Movember organization, men lack “social connectedness.” The survey found one in 10 men couldn’t recall the last time they made contact with their friends, and older men were at greater risk of social isolation.

What’s more, over half of the men surveyed reported having two or less friends they would discuss “a serious topic” with, and 19 per cent of men over 55 said they lacked a close friend — period.

READ MORE: 28 per cent of men believe they could lose their job if they discuss mental health at work

“Men tend to not have deep friendships in the way that many women do, which denies them the opportunity to share deeply personal and emotionally sensitive information with others,” said John Ogrodniczuk, the director of the University of British Columbia’s psychotherapy program and founder of men’s depression resource HeadsUpGuy.

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“Because of this, many men can end up feeling lonely, even though they may indicate that they have friends in their lives. In fact, after surveying more than 5,000 men who had visited HeadsUpGuys, we learned that loneliness is one of the most frequent stressors in men’s lives.”

Why friends are important

A lack of close friendships can negatively affect not only men’s mental health, but overall well-being, says Dr. Ari Zaretsky, the psychiatrist-in-chief at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“Having a social support system has been shown to promote resilience, not only for mental illness but even for physical illness,” Zaretsky said.






How to help take care of your mental health while in school


How to help take care of your mental health while in school

Research also shows that social interactions have a positive effect on life satisfaction.

A recent study on the role of friends found that good-quality friendships help people feel supported. When people have less frequent social interactions, researchers found, they reported lower life satisfaction.

Joshua Beharry, a B.C.-based mental health advocate and project coordinator at HeadsUpGuys, experienced this first-hand. When he was dealing with severe depression 10 years ago, he hid his symptoms from his friends.

He believed he could handle his mental health issues on his own, even as his condition worsened.

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“This led me to basically waiting until I was so sick that I couldn’t hide my symptoms anymore,” Beharry said.

Beharry says his friends realized something was wrong when he kept cancelling plans and became increasingly withdrawn. Once he admitted he was struggling with depression and sought treatment, his friends were supportive.

READ MORE: Cancer can severely damage your mental health. Why don’t we talk about it?

“Instead of having to continue to hide how sick I was from my friends, I could finally be open with them,” Beharry said.


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“They were much more supportive and understanding than I had expected, asking lots of questions about what I was going through and what they could do to help.”

This is not surprising to Zaretsky, who says social support is key to dealing with mental health issues like depression.

While Zaretsky believes in a comprehensive approach when it comes to tackling mental health issues — which can include medication and psychotherapy — friendships are an integral part of the recovery process.






Focusing on men’s mental health


Focusing on men’s mental health

And you don’t need a large group of friends to notice the benefits, Ogrodniczuk points out. The amount of friends one has is less important than the quality of those friendships.

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“Strength is demonstrated by actually allowing yourself to be vulnerable,” Ogrodniczuk said.

“It’s often a very scary thing for many men, but when they actually do open up to others, they find that they deepen their relationships and have a stronger sense of self.”

Why men may have fewer friends

There are a few reasons men may have fewer friendships — especially as they age.

When men get into romantic partnerships, they often become inclined to lean on their spouse for emotional support and therefore put less emphasis on maintaining outside friendships.

READ MORE: Vast majority of workers with mental health issues keep it secret from their boss

“A lot of guys recognize that friendships are important, but don’t make the maintenance of such relationships a priority in their lives, instead prioritizing other things like work and family,” Ogrodniczuk said.

Men may also rely on their partner’s social network, meaning should a separation occur, they are left with fewer close relationships.

Notions of masculinity are also factors. Experts say it’s common for men to view mental health struggles as signs of weakness, and avoid talking to friends about problems as a result.

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Ogrodniczuk says the influence of “masculine socialization” can cause men to doubt what is “permissible” in friendships. For example, men may question whether or not it is OK to tell a friend they need help or open up to them about something serious.

This can lead to more surface-level friendships or acquaintances rather than deep, meaningful friendships. Casual friendships may be harder to maintain, too, experts say.






New study says more men are working themselves to an early grave


New study says more men are working themselves to an early grave

Zaretsky echoes this, adding when men do speak about their issues with others, they’re often self-conscious.

“They sometimes do it reluctantly,” he explained, “and I think that they have difficulty many times with talking about feelings and thoughts.”

How can men improve friendships

So how can more men move past these factors and develop meaningful connections? In order to improve and maintain friendships, men need to recognize the importance of close relationships and make them a priority, Ogrodniczuk said.

If a man is struggling with mental health issues, Ogrodniczuk suggests starting a conversation with someone they trust.

READ MORE: ‘It feels like failure’: Why Canadian workplaces should offer stress leave

“Sometimes it’s as simple as saying something like, ‘I’ve been feeling like sh-t lately and I’m not really sure what’s going on. Can I run some things by you to get your take on them?’” he said.

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Plus, Beharry says stigma around mental health issues is slowly eroding, and there’s less taboo around talking about struggles today than there was 10 years ago.

“There are a lot of male celebrities and athletes who have spoken out about depression as well, which I think goes a long way in opening up important conversations and helping to shed ideas that associate mental health issues with weakness,” he added.

Beharry now understands the benefit of opening up.






Becoming a dad can take a toll on men’s mental health


Becoming a dad can take a toll on men’s mental health

He says since being upfront about his mental health struggles, more men have reached out to him with similar experiences, too.

“Some people are better at listening and others are better at helping you out with tasks and keeping up with life,” he said.

“If the first person you talk to doesn’t really help, don’t get discouraged and shut down more; keep reaching out and building supports.”

[email protected]




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






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22Oct

Election hangover: How to cope with not getting the leader you wanted – National

by BBG Hub

The Liberals won the most seats in Monday’s election and Justin Trudeau was re-elected as Canada’s prime minister.

The Liberals will form a minority government — winning 157 seats — and will need to negotiate support from at least one other party in order to pass any legislation while they are in office.



The Conservatives took 121 seats, the Bloc Quebecois 32 seats and the NDP 24 seats. The Green Party won three seats and Jody Wilson-Raybould was the only independent candidate to capture a seat.

READ MORE: Live Canada election results 2019

For some, the results are welcomed. But those not happy with the outcome may be waking up with post-election stress and disappointment.

“I’ve heard people have extreme anxiety to the point of having severe panic attacks the day after the election when they realize who is going to be their new president or prime minister,” says Dr. Ingrid Söchting, a clinical psychologist and director of the University of British Columbia Psychology Clinic.

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According to Rana Khan, a Toronto-based registered psychotherapist, it is common for people to feel personally impacted by the results of an election.

“This is particularly true if the elected party has major implications for you as an individual, or it has major implications for a specific group that you belong to or interact with,” Khan says.

“Generally, people have feelings of uncertainty or a general sense of loss, defeat or hopelessness.”

Söchting says she’s seen such reactions in her clinical experience, too, and points to these types of responses south of the border following the 2016 U.S. federal election.

After Donald Trump became president, politics-induced anxiety was given the unofficial name of post-election stress disorder. Several mental health professionals also wrote a book called The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, which examines the “mental health consequences” of Trump’s presidency.






Federal Election 2019: Trudeau greets supporters at Metro station following election win


Federal Election 2019: Trudeau greets supporters at Metro station following election win

While these cases may be more extreme, Söchting says people may experience more general symptoms of depression, or feel demoralized and discouraged by election results.

So how can you cope with not getting the political outcome you desired? The first step is accepting your emotions.

Process and accept

“Absolutely pay attention to your feelings and give yourself permission to feel them,” Söchting says.

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Feelings are not permanent, Söchting says, and for people who do not have a pre-existing anxiety or mood disorder, these emotions are typically short-lasting.

READ MORE: Separatist talk renews in Alberta following Justin Trudeau Liberal victory

Still, it’s important people sit with their post-election feelings so they can process them. Ignoring them is not a helpful response.

“They may be kind of ugly feelings of anger or even despair, but don’t feel you have to rush into some kind of action mode or new belief about what people are like or our country is like,” Söchting says.

Avoid thinking traps

While dealing with disappointment or anxiety, it’s common to fall into “thinking traps,” Söchting says. These can include “black and white” thinking, catastrophizing or “fortune-telling,” which is when you think you can predict the future.

READ MORE: Trudeau won the most seats, but not a majority. What now?

“Human beings are prone to cognitive biases,” Söchting explains.

“We humans tend to catastrophize when we are feeling something intensely. So for elections, when the party we voted for doesn’t win, we may catastrophize and believe that our country will be ‘ruined’ or ‘pushed back into the dark ages’ or led ‘by immature people.’”

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It’s important for citizens to recognize these thinking traps and challenge them. These exaggerated ways of thinking are not helpful and usually not true, Söchting says.






Federal Election 2019: Justin Trudeau FULL victory speech


Federal Election 2019: Justin Trudeau FULL victory speech

“We need to de-catastrophize and remind ourselves we live in a strong democracy and we can influence, hold our politicians accountable and follow fair and responsible media outlets over the next four years before the next election,” she says.

Take a break from screens

Leading up to elections, TV and social media are flooded with political news. Once election results are revealed, it’s perfectly OK to take a break from your screens.

“When you are feeling raw and vulnerable, it’s never good to be too obsessed with media and social media,” Söchting says.

READ MORE: Full results of the 2019 federal election

“The election outcome has happened; there’s nothing you can do at this point. … The analysis and what people are saying, you don’t need to know all that on day one or two. It can wait.”

Practise self-care

It’s important to look after your well-being at all times, but especially when your mental health is suffering.

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To help cope with anxiety, sadness and feelings of disappointment, do things that make you feel good. This may be exercising, seeing friends or spending time doing something you enjoy, like baking.






Federal Election 2019: Jagmeet Singh full concession speech


Federal Election 2019: Jagmeet Singh full concession speech

“Get into your routine. Keep moving. Don’t neglect eating well [and] if you are prone to unhelpful ways of coping, maybe this is not a day to drink more,” Söchting says.

“Be really kind to your body and your mind.”

Söchting says it’s also important to spend time with people you trust, like family and friends. These people don’t need to vote the same way as you, but they should be folks whom you feel safe sharing your feelings with.

Khan echoes this, and says a sense of community can “go a long way in being able to deal with uncertainty, loss, defeat and hopelessness.”

Get involved

Once you’ve allowed yourself to process your emotions, you may want to take action.






Federal Election 2019: Andrew Scheer full concession speech


Federal Election 2019: Andrew Scheer full concession speech

If you’re unhappy with the election outcome, you can get involved in local political groups or grassroots organizations to spark change.

“What can you do on an individual or day-to-day level to contribute to the change that you want to see at the macro-level?” Khan says.

Picking a cause you care about can help ease feelings of powerlessness, Söchting adds.

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“It’s always healthy to confront and to engage,” Söchting says.

“The worst is probably just to become detached and increasingly hopeless and isolated.”

— With a file from Amanda Connolly 

[email protected]




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






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10Sep

‘Depression meals’: How diets connect to mental health – National

by BBG Hub

Catherine was formally diagnosed with depression at 13 years old and anxiety at 17. Both have severely impacted her relationship with food.

“When I’m in a depressive episode, I tend towards disordered eating,” she told Global News. “Maybe I’ll have one meal instead of three. [I often] eat too much or too little.”

Catherine, whose last name has been withheld to protect her identity, also works as a line cook.

“I spend all day cooking for other people [and] I find it really hard to take care of myself in the same way,” she said.

READ MORE: Suicide kills one person every 40 seconds, WHO says

When she feels depressed, she tends to opt for things like a handful of crackers or ordering a pizza — “something that requires little to no food prep.”

“My ‘depression meal’ a lot of the time is ordering food out, but because that’s expensive, I also eat a lot of cereal.”

Catherine believes the food she eats when she’s depressed, which typically lacks any real nutrition, reinforces her symptoms, furthering her depression and contributing to poor health overall.

WATCH BELOW: The physical symptoms of being depressed





“I feel noticeably better when I eat something good and healthy, but it’s really tough to find the spoons to do that sometimes,” she said. “The junk food makes me feel worse.”

It’s more common for people with depression to experience a decrease in appetite, but research also shows that as many as 35 per cent of people may experience an increase, said Dr. Simon Sherry, a registered psychologist at CRUX Psychology in Halifax.

“Changes in appetite may very well be part of how depression is expressed within a given individual, and we cannot assume uniformity in response,” Sherry said.

Eating while depressed

Global News asked Twitter users to share their go-to “depression meals,” and the response was overwhelming.

The answers varied. A lot of people reach for junk food (“usually a tub of icing or peanut butter,” said Natalie Preddie), while others find it hard to even think about eating.

“My depression meal is no meal. I just can’t find the energy to make a meal and I lose all appetite and feel repulsed by the thought of eating,” Aqsa Hussain said.

However, most responses had two things in common: when people feel depressed, they often go for foods that are easy to procure and provide them with comfort.

For example, Emmie Harrison-West said she always goes for a treat her late grandfather used to buy her when she was a child.

“Whenever I’m depressed, I genuinely go to the nearest shop and buy a pork pie to eat on my way home,” she said. “Even though I shouldn’t eat pastry (hello gall stones at 14), it makes me feel a strange sort of comfort.”

WATCH BELOW: Advice for parents as students balance school pressure, anxiety and mental health issues





It’s common to use food as a coping mechanism for depression, according to Sherry.

“Depression can have appetite-promoting effects… and [these people will] describe something like an eating-to-cope pattern. This is sometimes known as emotional eating,” he said.

“They’re eating to try and regulate the often difficult emotions that go along with depression.”

Sherry also says eating can satisfy an “escape motive” for some people.

Food can be “escape from the intense self-criticism [and] the negative self-view that often characterizes depression,” Sherry said. “The experience of eating may help wipe out a higher order of negative thoughts of self.”

WATCH BELOW: How to reduce the risk of food allergies for babies





Depression is also a problem of “low motivation and low energy,” which can muddle a person’s desire to cook or make healthy dietary choices. Sherry says this could explain why some people crave junk food or takeout during depressive episodes.

“[Depression] often involves a massive challenge of self-regulation,” said Sherry. “It becomes hard to establish a routine, and absent a routine, regular sleeping, healthy eating and proper exercise become extremely difficult.”

How depression can change your diet

To understand how depression can affect one’s appetite, one needs to understand how depression may influence mood.

“When your brain is depressed, it may be that the reward circuitry within your brain is hyperactive,” said Sherry. “That could influence how your brain responds to food.”

For people who experience decreases in appetite, their brains may respond to food cues differently.

“In their case, you may not see the hyperactivity but the hypoactivity of the insular regions in the brain, and these insular regions within the brain are responsible for regulating your body’s physiological state,” he said.

READ MORE: Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

An expert in eating disorders, Sherry often sees mental health disorders like depression co-existing with disordered eating.

A high percentage of women with an eating disorder have an accompanying mood disorder, “usually some sort of serious diagnosable form of depression,” he said.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 32 to 39 per cent of people with anorexia nervosa, 36 to 50 per cent of people with bulimia nervosa and 33 per cent of people with binge eating disorder are also diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

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





“You’ll see depression and unhealthy eating involved in a vicious cycle,” Sherry said, although researchers have yet to determine which typically comes first.

“Some people have argued that… depression and unhealthy eating may have a reciprocal influence on one another, where they can lead to each other over time.”

Things you should remember

During a depressive episode, just finding your appetite can be difficult. For registered dietitian Abby Langer, simply eating is a step in the right direction.

“I would rather you eat [a box of macaroni and cheese] than nothing at all. That’s called harm reduction,” she said.

“The worst harm is not eating at all. The second worst is eating a bag of chips or [a box of macaroni and cheese]… They may not be the best thing for you, but they’re better than the alternative.”

READ MORE: Stop obsessing over weight loss — focus on these 4 goals instead

If depression suppresses your appetite, Langer says to focus on choosing “what feels good or looks good to you in the moment.”

However, there are some things you can keep in your kitchen at all times so you’re prepared for the next time a depressive episode hits. First, she suggests protein bars.

“They’re quick, they’re easy, they don’t need preparation and they’ll give you a boost without giving you too much sugar,” she said.

“We want things like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, but even unsweetened dried fruit is fine.”

WATCH BELOW: New trend sees Canadians switch from meat to plant-based diets





Langer also recommends whole-grain cereals that are either unsweetened or sweetened very lightly, oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter in it or popcorn with peanut butter on it.

Registered dietitian Andrea Falcone also suggests keeping your pantry stocked with things like cans of tuna or oatmeal “to support a balanced intake.”

“Peanut butter or another type of nut or seed butter is a great item to also have, enjoyed on whole-grain crackers, a slice of whole-grain toast or with fruit,” she said.

“Simple is best… The key is to aim for a balanced meal including a protein, complex carbohydrate and healthy fat.”

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.




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24Aug

Why some people are afraid of the dentist – National

by BBG Hub

Very few people enjoy going to the dentist, but for some, the sound of a dental drill is enough to send shivers down their spine.

Anywhere from 48 per cent to nearly 60 per cent of the population experiences a form dental anxiety or extreme dental fear, according to studies.

While incredibly common, there are different types of dental dread that range in severity. Dental fear is most often a specific fear, like a fear of drills or needles, explains Lisa J. Heaton, an assistant professor of oral health sciences at the University of Washington.

READ MORE: How to find and provide dental care for children with autism

“Somebody might sit down in the dental chair and feel pretty OK, but when they see the needle on the tray in front of them… they become very fearful and their heart starts to race,” Heaton told Global News.

Dental anxiety, on the other hand, is general unease about going to the dentist. For these people, even thinking about the dentist can make them anxious, and they may put off scheduling appointments.

Dental phobia is an extreme fear of visiting the dentist, and it affects around five to 10 per cent of U.S. adults, Heaton said.

READ MORE: What stress is doing to your oral health

“They will avoid dental care even when they really need it,” Heaton said. “[It’s a] fear that is so extreme and severe that it gets in the way of people living their lives.”

Why people are afraid of the dentist

Most people are afraid of pain, and the dentist can represent unpleasant experiences in a vulnerable part of our body: our mouth.

Heaton says that people feel anxious about the idea of drilling or needles, and anything that could cause them discomfort. Sitting in a chair and having someone work on their teeth can also feel like a loss of control.

WATCH BELOW: Ask an Expert: Oral Health and Cannabis





“A lot of patients are concerned about giving up that control and not being able to stop the procedure when they want to,” she said.

There are also factors that go beyond discomfort.

According to a 2014 study out of the U.K., common reasons why people have dental fear include their own traumatic experiences, as well as vicarious learning through the experiences that significant others, like their parents, have faced. Other reasons include portrayal in the media, as well as biological factors and personality traits.

Other research suggests that dental fear may be an aspect of other phobias or anxiety disorders, including social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder (and a fear of germs), or panic disorder.

READ MORE: Three-quarters of older Canadians with hearing loss don’t know it: report

Research shows that fearing the dentist often begins in childhood. Heaton says that around 75 to 80 per cent of people with a fear of the dentist say they’ve felt that way for most of their lives.

“It’s very likely that something may have happened in childhood that has set them up to think that dentistry is scary,” she said.

When dental fear affects your health

Dental fear or phobia can have detrimental effects on oral health. Research shows that people who fear the dentist may be more inclined to avoid dental care, ultimately affecting their gums and teeth — which can become a vicious cycle.

WATCH BELOW: Do you grind your teeth? Here’s what you can do





For people with moderate to high dental fear, one Australian study found that nearly 40 per cent avoided going to the dentist for treatments. In comparison, for people with no dental fear, only less than one per cent avoided appointments.

Heaton says this “cycle of avoidance” only reinforces the idea that the dentist is a scary and harmful place.

“Somebody will have a negative dental experience and so they’ll say, ‘I’m never going back to the dentist.’ And then as they avoid the dentist, they start having more problems; they’ll more have more infection or they’ll have teeth that break,” she explained.

“They’ll avoid until they have one of these dental emergencies… and by the time that happens, it requires a much more invasive and involved treatment, which then reinforces the idea that every time you go to the dentist it’s invasive and terrible.”

READ MORE: Reality check: Do you really need that metal wire in your mouth?

Going to the dentist and having routine check-ups is important for oral health and for overall well-being. Heaton says tooth problems not only affect what you can and cannot eat, but can have social and professional repercussions.

“[People] might not date and they might not go for jobs they would like to interview for because they are embarrassed about the state of their teeth,” she said.

How to overcome dental fear

If your dental fear is so extreme it’s affecting your health, it’s best to get professional help.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can be an effective tool in overcoming dental fear, Heaton said. One British study found the therapy to be “an effective technique for helping dentally anxious patients receive treatment without sedation.”

WATCH BELOW: Boy in Texas speaks clearly for first time after dentist discovered he was tongue-tied





Heaton also recommends mindfulness exercises, like deep breathing.

It’s also important that dentists learn how to work with anxious patients, and create environments that feel safe. This can help people build positive experiences, and in turn, reduce the likelihood of dental phobia.

Lastly, finding a dentist you feel comfortable with is incredibly important. Heaton suggests making an appointment with a new dentist to just speak with them before sitting in the chair. That way, the first time you’re meeting them isn’t when you’re going in for a procedure.

When you’re at the dentist, let them know you have anxiety. This will help them be mindful of your fears. You can even develop a hand signal with them to be used if you need them to stop.

READ MORE: Reality check: Can flossing actually help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

“Dental fear — and especially dental phobia — is not one of those things that goes away overnight, but it’s something that’s built on a trusting relationship with the dentist,” Heaton said.

“Sometimes it takes a few attempts to find a dentist that you really click with, but I encourage people to talk to as many dentists as they need until they find one they really feel comfortable with.”

[email protected]

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




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6Aug

Becoming a father can negatively impact men’s mental health: survey – National

by BBG Hub

A new survey has found that becoming a father can be a more stressful, isolating experience than previously thought.

Conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Movember Foundation in June, the survey asked 4,000 fathers aged 18 to 75 in Canada and several other countries about their experiences as a new dad.

Of the respondents, who were also from the U.K., Australia and the U.S., 70 per cent said their stress levels increased in the 12 months after welcoming their first child.

READ MORE: Dad bias: Why are fathers disproportionately praised for parenting their kids?

Some 23 per cent of dads said they felt extremely isolated, too — 20 per cent reported losing a number of close friends in the same time period.

According to the results, new fatherhood also had a negative impact on physical health: 56 per cent of respondents said they experienced at least one new negative health behaviour in the year after becoming a dad. This included everything from exercising less to gaining weight to drinking more alcohol.

These results don’t come as a shock to Gregory Fabiano, a psychology professor at the University of Buffalo who specializes in fatherhood.

Stigma associated with having mental illness as a man

In his research, Fabiano found men are generally less likely to seek support from the healthcare system due to stigma.

“If you look at the research, women are much better [than men] at accessing and engaging with resources that might help them,” he explained. The research supports these claims: a 2016 study found that Canadian women were more likely than men to seek help from their primary healthcare provider.

It’s not unlikely that this discrepancy extends to parenthood. “If you have a new mother, they may be more open to and maybe even have more opportunities to engage with ways to learn about what might happen to them,” he said.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Involved dads are happier and healthier, these researchers say

Fabiano believes this could be because the healthcare system has been slow to adapt to the realities of modern parenting. In 1976, Canadian stay-at-home fathers accounted for 1.43 per cent of the primary caregiver population. By 2015, that number had risen to about 10 per cent.

Fabiano experienced this firsthand when he became a father.

“I was really energized to be a really good dad and [to] be really involved,” he said. “We had my son, and two weeks later we went to the first doctor’s appointment. When we got into the room, I realized there was only one chair.”

WATCH BELOW: Dad’s exercise before conception may help child’s lifelong health





Fabiano offered the chair to the baby’s mother. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, but once the appointment began, he felt largely underfoot. “They talked with the mom… there was really nowhere for a second parent to be so I thought, ‘I’m not going to go to these anymore,’” Fabiano said.

Mark Henick has had a similar experience. He’s a mental health expert and the principal and CEO of Strategic Mental Health Solutions based in Toronto, a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations and individuals provide meaningful, measurable mental health support.

READ MORE: Daddy bonus? UBC study finds dads make more than their childless peers

However, despite his knowledge of the mental health system in Canada, he still struggled to find support specifically for fathers after his second child arrived.

“I’ve worked in the mental health sector and I’ve been deeply involved for more than a decade,” said Henick. “When I had my second child, I definitely experienced some symptoms of postpartum depression. But even for me, being somebody who knows the system very well, it was difficult to navigate and difficult to find help and resources.”

WATCH BELOW: Tips for parents who hate parenting





“I think we do still see a significant amount of stigma,” he said. “For men in particular, there’s the societal view that men need to be the breadwinners, the survivors, the strong one in the family… so they can’t express their emotions.”

Although none of these stereotypes are true, they continue to prevent new fathers from opening up about their postpartum depression — even though the dangerous condition is a common issue for men. According to a recent meta-analysis of 43 studies, 10.4 per cent of new fathers experience postpartum depression within three to six months after a child is born.

This stigma can make fathers feel excluded from postpartum care, which can leave the mental health impacts of becoming a parent untreated and left to grow more severe.

The impacts of becoming a parent

For both men and women, there are several different ways first-time parenthood can impact your physical and psychological health.

“On the practical front, a lack of sleep is extremely detrimental for your mental health,” said Henick. “If you’re waking up every hour or two hours [with a new baby], many studies have shown that interrupted sleep is even worse than not getting much sleep at all.”

READ MORE: Signs of postpartum depression in dads are often mistaken or missed, study shows

After welcoming your first child, most parents also experience a huge shift in the way they understand their identity — a shift which can have big implications for your relationships and other parts of your life.

“You’ve spent the last 30, 35, 40 years of your life defining who you presently are, and then all of a sudden, that has to change,” said Henick. “Now you’re a mother or a father. Now you’re responsible for another life.”

WATCH BELOW: Expert says parents should throw away behaviour charts





Fabiano agrees. “Becoming a parent is a very stressful life event,” he said. “It’s a very joyous and happy and exhilarating life event, but it’s also incredibly stressful.”

Sleep deprivation, increased financial responsibility, strain on your personal relationships and the needs of your child are just some of your new potential sources of stress and anxiety as a new parent. “A lot of life changes very quickly,” said Fabiano.

In his view, fathers need exposure to these changes (and the best ways to handle them) long before the baby arrives in order to be better prepared.

What new fathers need

“Dads need to be involved not only when the child is born but also when they’re going to preschool, learning to read, developing friendships and making decisions about college and career,” said Fabiano.

Expectant fathers should be prepared to be “actively involved” in their child’s entire developmental trajectory. In Henick’s opinion, this requires more conversations with young men long before they’re even thinking about starting a family.

“I think that we need to do a better job of that from even school age, assuming that fathers are going to be equal parents,” he said. “I think we need to do a better job of shifting that cultural difference. It’s not just the mother’s responsibility to raise the child.”

READ MORE: Postpartum euphoria is more than just feeling happy — experts say it can be a ‘lethal condition’

It also means encouraging more discussion about how men are affected by mental illness more generally — something that has yet to happen on a large scale.

“How to actually identify what emotions you’re feeling, what to call them and how to deal with them,” Henick said. “Generally speaking, we don’t have that conversation [with boys and men].”

Parenting coach Julie Romanowski outlines a three-pronged approach to preparing men for fatherhood.

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





“The first one is giving them the lowdown. “Saying, ‘hey, this is what you can expect,’” she said. She believes it’s crucial for the expectant father’s support network to be honest about how all-consuming the first few years of parenthood can be — especially since this is typically something only taught to women.

“Giving the father that information up front is ideal…. nothing is worse than fear of the unknown,” she said.

The second skill Romanowski teaches her clients is how to reassure oneself.  “Who reassures us parents? Nobody,” she said. “Learning how to tell yourself, ‘it’s going to be okay — we got this’ is crucial.”

READ MORE: Nearly one quarter of moms experience postpartum depression or anxiety: StatsCan

The third prenatal lesson every father needs is how to maintain his self-esteem. “There’s nothing like being a new parent that will shatter your confidence,” said Romanowski.

“Take time for yourself to develop and maintain that ]self-care] relationship,” she said.

Henick wants anyone struggling with mental health issues to know that “there’s hope out there.”

“People need to realize that… they should reach out for help and that there are people out there who can who can help them. These feelings are not forever,” he said.

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.




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8Jul

More people are giving CBD oil to their pets, but experts aren’t sure it’s safe – National

by BBG Hub

CBD oil, or cannabidiol, has become a popular cannabis product since legalization in October.

It lacks the psychoactive characteristics of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — meaning it won’t get you high — and it can help with myriad health issues, including inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.

Now, some users want to see if the oil can offer similar benefits to their pets.

READ MORE: Pot for pets? Canadian veterinarians say it’s time

According to Dr. Scott Bainbridge, co-owner of Dundas West Animal Hospital in Toronto, there is little research on the topic — but what studies have been done suggest that CBD can have some positive effects for animals.

“I think it’s fair to say that… what works in medicine is usually applicable to animal medicine,” Bainbridge told Global News. “But we are talking about a different species… and the amount of receptors for CBD that a human has may vary from a dog or a cat.”

READ MORE: Vets to lobby MPs over extending medical cannabis laws to cats, dogs

‘We do need to do more research’

Hardly anything is known about how cannabis interacts with an animal’s brain. For this reason, Canadian veterinarians aren’t included in the Cannabis Act as practitioners who can prescribe cannabis products. In fact, there aren’t even any legal CBD products on the market for animals.

In Bainbridge’s view, a lot more research needs to happen before it can be safely incorporated into treatment plans.

“I can see potential for [treating] things like anxiety, arthritis or chronic pain… but we do need to do more research in the area,” he said.

WATCH BELOW: Puppy collapses after ingesting THC on morning walk





Two major studies have researched the effects of CBD on dogs.

A recent study out of Cornell University tested the treatment of arthritis in dogs with CBD, and found a significant decrease in pain, an increase in activity and no observable side effects.

Likewise, a study at Colorado State University from June assessed the efficacy of CBD when treating epilepsy in dogs. Results were similar: 89 per cent of dogs who received CBD had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

READ MORE: Effects of weed may depend on area of brain it’s acting on: Western researchers

However, just 16 dogs participated in the clinical trial at Colorado State — a sample size which isn’t large enough to provide reliable evidence for the benefits of CBD on dogs with epilepsy.

“It’s kind of a dangerous gray area,” said Sam Hocker, assistant professor of medical oncology at the Ontario Veterinary College.

“We have a lot of people using it and very little evidence to tell us how it works in these different settings and what effect it has on the body.”

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s stance

Currently, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) doesn’t endorse the administration of cannabis — neither CBD or THC — to pets.

According to Dr. Enid Stiles, the vice president of the CVMA, this is due to the limited scope of research. However, more studies are underway now that marijuana is legal in Canada.

“We’ve been working judiciously in the past couple of years — ever since we knew legalization was coming — to determine what ways we might be able to help veterinarians,” Stiles told Global News.

WATCH BELOW: Industry experts: Education on cannabis edibles needed





“Health Canada is in the midst of doing research… but I think it’ll be a few more years before [veterinarians] are actually able to prescribe.”

In the meantime, Stiles is worried that the policy for cannabis and pets varies from province to province.

For example, the Ontario Veterinarian Medical Association (OVMA) has forbidden its members from even discussing the use of cannabis with patients.

READ MORE: Wait, There’s More podcast: How Canada’s legal weed can get you banned from the U.S.

“We can’t legally discuss it… we’re not allowed to make recommendations,” said Hocker. “What I tell patients when they bring it up is that we just don’t have a lot of evidence at this point to tell us its impacts or ill effects.”

This concerns Stiles because she believes pet owners will continue to give their pets CBD regardless of the law — and she thinks it would be safer if they could at least consult a veterinarian before doing so.

“As a practitioner, I would much rather have a conversation than a pet going home and somebody giving him or her a product that could be harmful,” she said.

WATCH BELOW: Keeping pets out of hot vehicles





But I think that time is going to change that… It wouldn’t surprise me if the regulatory bodies were going to be changing [their stances] pretty shortly. Not being part of that conversation… there’s far more risk with that.”

In January 2018, the CVMA provided feedback to Health Canada on proposed changes under the Cannabis Act.

In it, the group argued that veterinarians should be included under the definition of “medical practitioner,’ which would grant them access to prescribe cannabis to their patients. The group also wrote that human cannabis products should have labelling that includes messages to protect the safety of animals.

If you still want to try giving your pet cannabis

Bainbridge’s first recommendation is to consult your veterinarian before administering anything. If you live in a jurisdiction where veterinarians aren’t allowed to offer advice about cannabis, proceed with extreme caution.

“You want to make sure you’re not dosing it too heavily,” said Bainbridge.

Consuming too much cannabis can cause excess sleepiness, depression, wobbling, pacing and agitation, as well as salivation and vomiting, among other symptoms.

READ MORE: How a weed conviction at 18 got a man banned at the U.S. border — 37 years later

However, these symptoms are caused more often by the consumption of THC rather than by CBD. Ensure that you haven’t left THC products in a place where your pet could reach and potentially consume it.

Should your pet need a new medication or surgery, be completely honest with your veterinarian about what you’ve given him or her. “There can be interactions between CBD and other drugs,” said Bainbridge.

Bainbridge, Hocker and Stiles all emphasize the need for harm reduction, at least until more is known about how cannabis interacts with animals.

READ MORE: Cannabis during pregnancy linked to higher risk of pre-term birth: study

“Probably one of the biggest concerns about CBD is that it comes from hemp… which is a weed,” Bainbridge said.

“You have to be really careful where it’s been planted because it sucks all the toxins out of the soil.”

Bainbridge is actually more worried about your dog consuming other toxins found in soil — like heavy metals — than he is about the CBD.

“There’s not a lot of regulation right now… At this point, I’m not comfortable recommending a product.”

— With files from Caley Bedore, Robyn Crawford and Simon Little

[email protected]

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




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6Jun

New to working out? Here’s how to overcome exercise anxiety – National

by BBG Hub

While working out is a stress reliever, getting to the gym can cause some people a lot of anxiety.

The fear around working out often stems from not knowing how to use certain exercise equipment. Others feel judged or intimidated by gyms — especially if a space is focused on weight loss.

“The gym is known as a place people go to ‘fix’ or ‘change’ their bodies,” said Jenna Doak, a certified personal trainer and founder of Body Positive Fitness.

READ MORE: Stop obsessing over weight loss — focus on these 4 goals instead

“Most gyms do not help this situation by [conducting] an ‘assessment’ on members as they join, which includes measurements of various parts of the body, weighing the client and ‘calculating their body fat’ — which is [often] an inaccurate read.”

When it comes to boutique fitness studios or workout classes, Doak says many can be “cliquey” and promote certain body ideals. This can foster an “exclusive” members-only attitude that makes outsiders feel intimidated.

“I see [from social media] that many gyms and studios only have — or are only featuring — clients who look very fit, beautiful, well-dressed and athletic,” Doak explained.

READ MORE: From group training to ditching booze, here are 2019’s top health trends

“As a person who is new to exercise or doesn’t have what the fitness industry considers an ‘ideal body,’ this can create a lot of hesitation to join and work out in this space.”

Why working out can cause anxiety

On top of weight-loss focused gyms, Doak says that people also get anxious if they’ve never been to the gym before, or it’s been a while since they’ve worked out.

It can be incredibly hard to know how to start a fitness routine if you don’t already have one.

WATCH BELOW: 3 fitness band exercises to do with a partner





Sarah Taylor, a certified personal trainer and founder of Fitness by Sarah Taylor, says that most people just head for the treadmill or elliptical machines because that’s all they’re comfortable doing.

Taylor, who is also a plus-size model and body-positive advocate, says people who are new to exercise rarely understand how to target different muscle groups, which can add to their gym anxiety.

“When it comes to strength training, they don’t know how to do proper form,” she said. “They don’t even know how to build an exercise program, so they just kind of stick to a cardio machine — and that can be really boring.”

Find someone to help you

To help combat a lack of knowledge, Taylor says it’s important to find a reliable source to learn from.

If you’re able to afford it, Taylor says working with a personal trainer can be a great way to learn the basics. She says if an ongoing trainer is out of your budget, one or two sessions can still be helpful.

READ MORE: 10 minutes of low-intensity activity boosts brain health in older adults: Western study

“I’ll go with [people] to their gym and show them how to use their equipment, and we’ll record the session so that they have an idea of how to actually do [the exercises] when I’m not with them,” Taylor said.

Doak agrees, and says that even one to five sessions with a personal trainer can “teach you a lot of what you can use forever.”

What’s important, both experts said, is to work with someone who understands your goals and is going to make you feel good about exercise — not bad.

Join a community

Outside of a trainer, Doak says joining a class or fitness studio that has a welcoming and body-positive mentality is key.

Research shows working out with others can increase motivation and improve performance. Another study found that group fitness can decrease stress and promote well-being.

WATCH BELOW: Working out to boost confidence





If you’re new to a certain workout or type of exercise, joining a beginner’s class or six-week training program is a good way to start. Taylor says that she always offers modifications to her clients, which is important since everybody moves differently.

Small group training classes are also a good way to learn strength training fundamentals, as coaches should teach form, and walk clients through proper technique.

“If somebody were to come [to classes] for six months, for example, they would get a really good understanding of how to do everything and they could continue on their own,” Taylor adds.

READ MORE: Does going to the gym counteract your desk job? It can help, doctors say

Doak adds that a good fitness community can also change your relationship with exercise.

“I want to create spaces where all people can just experience joy in movement, lifting, stretching and sweating, and do it all with like-minded individuals in a body-positive, diet-free space,” Doak said.

“I always want my clients to come to a class or training [session] only because they want to; I never want a client to feel like they have to be there.”

WATCH BELOW: What’s your fitness age?: Adaptive fitness





Taylor says that her clients not only encourage one another, but they’ve also developed friendships outside of working out.

“The great thing about group fitness is that there’s motivation in the community,” she said. “It’s not just about going to the gym by yourself.”

Focus on how you feel — not the scale

People’s relationships with exercise can become complicated when weight loss is the sole focus.

Doak says it’s important that people see fitness as part of a healthy lifestyle, and understand working out is about making you feel good in your own skin.

WATCH BELOW: Improve your relationship through exercise





“Taking away… measuring, weighing — the things the fitness industry has revolved around for so long to make money — ensures that the only reason people are coming to the gym is because they want to, and this is the end goal,” Doak said.

Plus, when you actually learn proper exercises and enjoy working out, you become more motivated, Taylor says.

“It’s really learning to feel good and focusing on that,” Taylor said.

“It’s about having a holistic approach to fitness because, in most gyms, it’s about an aesthetic and looking a certain way — [but] our weight doesn’t dictate our value or our worth.”

[email protected]

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




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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.




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9May

Urges to pee and other ways our bodies react to anxiety – National

by BBG Hub

We’ve all been there.

Moments of anxiety, nervousness or high stress when it feels like our bodies have a mind of their own. Whether it’s an urgent need to urinate or a knot in your stomach that becomes painful, anxiety can impact our bodies in physical ways.

Jim Folk, founder and president of Anxietycentre.com based in Calgary, told Global News our bodies’ sympathetic nervous system responds to the stressful thoughts or moods we may have, including anger, worry or fear.

READ MORE: 5 simple ways to manage your daily anxiety

“When we think we are in danger, the brain can send off an alarm,” he said. “When we think something is going to harm us, it sets off the stress response.”

An urge to pee? It happens

In a piece for Anxiety Centre in April, Folk wrote that an urge to urinate is a common stress response for people with anxiety disorders.

“This symptom may occur rarely, intermittently, or persistently. For example, one day you may visit the washroom numerous times, and the next day follow a more regular pattern,” he said.

“Behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat.”

Unless your doctor specifies you have a bladder condition that can also cause frequent urination, Folk said anxiety can have this effect too.

Credit: Laura Whelan

Sometimes, your body may indicate you need to pee, even though you don’t want to, he added.

Dr. Ardesheer Talati, an assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University, headed a study in 2008 on why patients with anxiety disorders were more likely to frequently urinate.

Looking at 693 subjects (219 had a diagnosis of panic disorder or a history of anxiety in the family), Talati and his team found participants with panic disorders were eight times more likely to experience “interstitial cystitis.” In other words, they were more likely to experience bladder pain and an urgency to urinate, he told Global News.

“Previous studies have found that panic disorder and social anxiety disorder often run in families. Thus, the researchers proposed, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder might share a common genetic basis, but then serve as independent risk factors for the development of specific medical conditions — say, by activating the autonomic nervous system,” the American Psychiatric Association noted.

In a recent article in HuffPost, a woman named Laura based in New York told the site when it came to preparing for a trade show, she often gets nervous. “When I get nervous or anxious, I get an extreme urge to pee, so that whole day I was just freaking myself out that I was going to pee.”

Other ways our body reacts to anxiety

And besides frequently peeing, there are other ways our bodies react to anxiety.

Demian Brown, a Toronto-based psychotherapist and registered clinical social worker, previously told Global News twitching of your face and body is a common symptom of anxiety.

“When you’re under stress, physiological things start to happen to the body,” Brown said. “Your adrenaline and noradrenaline levels increase as if your body is preparing for some kind of danger. … That takes more blood away from your extremities, and puts it more in the middle of your body.”

Brown added this type of response increases your muscle tone and prepares your body for what is perceived to come in its way.

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

For some, anxiety or stress can also cause diarrhea. According to Verywell Health, when we’re stressed, diarrhea (or urinating) is our body’s response to handling it.

“When you come across something that you perceive as threatening, your body reacts with a variety of physical changes: heart rate and respiration increase, your muscles tense up, blood is directed toward your extremities, and most relevant to the current discussion, your colon contractions speed up. In some cases, this increase in colon activity can result in the symptom of diarrhea,” the site noted.

Folk added anxiety or stress can even “shut the digestive system down,” and some people can feel constipated as well.

Folk said other common physical reactions include sweating, sweaty palms or knots in the stomach.

“Rapid heart rate is one of the common ones because stimulus gets the heart going,” he explained. “People can experience skipped beats when the heart is sort of jolted by the stress response”

Another common response is tightness in the throat.

“And they think they can’t swallow because they would choke.”

Other ways our body reacts to anxiety

But for some people, these types of reactions happen as one-offs or every time they get nervous. For others, Folk said, it can become chronic and this is when you should speak to a doctor or therapist to find ways to manage the symptoms.

“If symptoms are starting to become impairments… seek help,” he said. “If you’re not going to go out because you don’t feel good, that’s an impairment.”

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

Sometimes, we can manage these symptoms. If you’re the type of person who gets anxious or nervous before a presentation and often have to pee or feel tightness in your muscles, it’s about learning to calm down. “Calming yourself down is going to slow the body down,” he said.

In this scenario, Folk suggested coming into a meeting room 20 minutes before the presentation and try deep breathing. And if you’re worried about an urge to urinate, don’t drink fluids two hours before your presentation.

“If a person is doing regular relaxation techniques, meditation or [another method], you can keep your body calm and it’s going to function way better.”

— with files from Laura Hensley

[email protected]

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




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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.

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“[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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.

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“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]

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