Posts Tagged "Anxiety"

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.

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.




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29Jan

Super Awesome Science Show recap: Sharing stress – National

by BBG Hub


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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

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




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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.”

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




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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.

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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.




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