Posts Tagged "Therapy"


‘Instagram therapy’ is on the rise, but experts say it could be harmful – National

by BBG Hub

Caroline was in an abusive marriage for 27 years.

The 50-year-old got divorced about six years ago, but as a result of the abuse, Caroline, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, was left with severe depression. The diagnosis affected her diet, weight and sleep, and she has been hospitalized three times.

“He spent a large part of our marriage gaslighting me,” she told Global News. “I had often been suspicious of his behaviour, but he always had a good, convincing explanation — which I’d fall for. It’s only with hindsight that I realize to what extent he’d lied and cheated on me.

“I lost a lot of weight and hope.”

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Watch: Selfie dysmorphia, explained

In the time since she and her husband divorced, Caroline has focused on getting better. She’s tried both in-person and video therapy but prefers the latter because she can do it in the comfort of her own home.

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As part of her recovery process, Caroline started using Twitter as a way to raise awareness around abusive relationships. In the process, she stumbled upon a large community of men and women with similar experiences.

“I post daily … I prepare my own graphics and choose a quote that speaks to me on that day,” she said. “We support each other through comments and sometimes via [direct message].”

“We know each others’ stories, we provide helpful advice and feedback and we generally just root for each other on our healing journeys.”

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In Caroline’s experience, Twitter has proven to be an “amazing” place to share educational information and inspiring quotes with others.

How to join the social media conversation during the federal election

How to join the social media conversation during the federal election

“It has really helped me on my healing journey,” she said.

Like Caroline, many people have found solace in online communities.

While they are typically considered positive interactions, sometimes the discussions between peers are misrepresented as a form of therapy.

It’s a phenomenon happening across all social media platforms, but it’s commonly referred to as “Instagram therapy” — and experts worry it could be doing more harm than good.

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Online support groups aren’t the same as therapy

Online peer-to-peer support groups can be an amazing place to find community.

“The benefits of this are, obviously, hearing that other people are going through a similar struggle,” said Miriam Kirmayer, a therapist in Montreal. “That can be very validating, normalizing and reduce feelings of shame.”

However, Kirmayer emphasizes that support groups are not the same as therapy.

READ MORE: Instagram can be bad for mental health — but this company wants to fix that

“Therapy doesn’t happen over social media, and it shouldn’t,” she said.

“Just because it’s not therapy doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to be helpful or healing.”

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In her experience, Kirmayer has seen folks like Caroline share articles that they’ve read or tips that work for them, ultimately cultivating a warm, accepting environment.

What you need to know about mental health and EMDR therapy

What you need to know about mental health and EMDR therapy

“There’s certainly a space for that,” she said. “But therapy is much more than meaningful quotes … it’s about having a very personal safe space where there’s an element of collaboration [with your therapist].”

It’s important to Kirmayer that a distinction is clearly drawn between therapy and what’s happening online.

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She uses social media to “share information that will help normalize hardships and common struggles people go through,” but what she does in her practice is very different.

READ MORE: Unplugged — Why these people deleted social media and prefer life offline

“We work together to figure out what your individual or unique experience has been as opposed to this kind of collective struggle we’re talking about online,” she said.

Registered psychotherapist Joshua Peters agrees: “You’re receiving advice [online] but you’re not actually contextualizing it to your experience, which is at the core of therapy.

“No one rule is going to make everyone’s life good.”

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Aimée Morrison, social media expert and associate professor at the University of Waterloo, says pseudo-therapy on social media lacks any room for reality or negativity, which can lead to unrealistic expectations for one’s own life.

ParityBOT uses AI to combat abusive tweets to female election candidates

ParityBOT uses AI to combat abusive tweets to female election candidates

“The virtue of the platform [Instagram] doesn’t let you do anything that’s ugly. You can’t be real on Instagram,” she said.

“We know that has negative effects, and it’s getting increasingly more prominent with this generation and how intensely they’re curating things.”

The spread of misinformation

Inspirational meme accounts are a growing trend on social media, and they can be a great tool for finding connection.

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However, Kirmayer is worried that some online spaces advertised as being similar to therapy are actually devoid of any licensed mental health-care professionals.

This can leave such groups more susceptible to the spread of misinformation.

READ MORE: Social media marks new battleground as Canada’s federal election looms

“This is why you see more and more licensed mental health professionals stepping into the online [space],” said Kirmayer.

“There’s this feeling that this is [the] way people are getting and sharing information, and [we need] to make it a space with accurate information.”

A common example is the use of psychological disorders — like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder — in casual discourse.

“These labels are [often used to mean] something that isn’t exactly what they represent. It can be very stigmatizing,” said Kirmayer. She and other therapists have entered the online space with the goal of educating users about what these labels actually mean — and why they shouldn’t be used lightly.

Emergency room staff caution against taking photos there

Emergency room staff caution against taking photos there

Morrison fears that social media allows for mental illness to be trivialized. She recently learned that some young people are using meme culture as a defence mechanism.

“It’s a way of joking away serious things in this joke forum. There’s something kind of serious underlying that,” Morrison said. “It’s a way of having currency with your peers, where you’re like, ‘I’m so depressed’ with a Kermit meme or [something].

“It’s making light of mental health, which is a serious concern.”

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Calls for more regulation online

Peters says social media is often regarded as the “wild west” by those in his field.

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“It’s an unregulated area of therapy and psychology in general,” Peters said. “One of the major components that’s missing is that many of the regulatory boards [in Canada] haven’t created much guidance on the right end result.

“There are a lot of people out there giving therapeutic advice, [and] they themselves may not actually have the right accreditation.”

Peters worries the general public can’t differentiate between a licensed therapist and someone who is just sharing their thoughts online.

READ MORE: How does using social media affect our mental health?

“People confuse psycho-education with therapy,” he said. “When you’re scrolling through Instagram and there’s some post that gives you advice for living a better life, that’s psycho-educational, not therapeutic.”

This can trick users into thinking they’re receiving professional treatment, and as a result, placing them in danger.

Understanding ABA therapy for children with autism

Understanding ABA therapy for children with autism

“When people connect with those [accounts], they feel less lonely, but nothing actually changes,” he said.

“We want them to actually get to a point where they’re less lonely and they’re actually able to work through some of the stress with [the tools they learn in therapy].”

Peters is a firm believer that most people would benefit from actual therapy.

“Life is hard,” he said. “Human beings have an incredibly complex amount of variables thrown at them these days.”

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.

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

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Family therapy can make you feel ‘validated.’ Here’s what to expect – National

by BBG Hub

We all have assumptions about what a session of family therapy can look like: screaming matches, gaps of silence or just not being able to face the person in front of you.

Family therapy comes in all shapes and forms. It can be an intimate session for a couple or a larger session with parents and siblings in the room. A session can be done with a therapist, a psychologist, a counsellor or a social worker.

Michelle Baer, a registered psychotherapist and Canadian certified counsellor, focuses on child and family therapy. She told Global News that family therapy sessions are meant to be safe spaces.

READ MORE: Therapy is expensive — here’s how to make the most of your sessions

“You can expect to take away feeling witnessed and validated in a safe space where each family member is able to share their story, learn new skills to facilitate more positive interactions with family members, practise techniques for individual emotional regulation and gain new perspectives,” she explained.

“Family therapy can help your overall problems and concerns by expressing, exploring and resolving the underlying thoughts, feelings and experiences that are contributing to dysfunctions in relationship patterns and individual functioning.”

Family therapy can vary in price depending on where you live in the country and the limitations of your health insurance. For example, in Toronto, princes can range from $100 to $250 per session. Liz Ryckman, an office intake co-ordinator with Kells Counselling in Edmonton, said the typical price for a session in the city is $200.

Some common misconceptions

That being said, there are still misconceptions about going to family therapy.

Ryckman says a common one is the belief that family therapy has to last a lifetime.

“In reality, the goal is to equip clients to be strong on their own,” she explained.

Baer added that with teens in particular, there is often concern about opening up.

WATCH: What you need to know about mental health and EMDR therapy

“They are worried they will have to sit in a circle talking about all of their feelings, that it will end up in yelling and that they will be expected to change,” she said. “People fear they will have to admit all of their faults or be forced to address their deepest wounds with a stranger and in front of those they love.”

The purpose of family therapy is creating a safe space where all family members feel heard, she added.

What family therapy can address

Baer said family therapy can help people break down “complex family dynamics.”

“[This is] where relationship patterns are strained and members are experiencing challenges in their life and/or family transitions such as separation and divorce, grief and bereavement, trauma, medical or mental health diagnosis, attachment issues and parenting struggles,” she continued.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sessions can last about 50 minutes to an hour and family therapy is often short-term. Within the sessions, families (or couples) are guided on how to express their thoughts and emotions and solve problems in a productive manner.

READ MORE: As a person of colour, it’s a struggle to find therapists who look like you

“[In family therapy, you can also] explore family roles, rules and behaviour patterns to identify issues that contribute to conflict — and ways to work through these issues,” the clinic added.

Family therapy will also help you understand your family’s strengths and weaknesses and provide tips on how to confide in each other.

But it may not be a fit for everyone, Baer noted.

“It may not be of benefit for someone currently experiencing a severe mental health issue, such as psychosis, that limits participation in relational therapy or involving family members that perpetrated abuse against another member(s),” she explained.

Another limitation is when a family member is hesitant to attend the session.

“I find in my practice, especially with teens or an absent parent, presenting family therapy as an invitation to all feel better and work better together is often more readily accepted than demanding someone attend to change or to ‘fix’ something about themselves,” she continued.

“Family members willing to attend can also participate in some sessions on their own, and using creative arts therapies techniques such as role play, we might explore how best to address the family member who currently does not want to attend with the goal of having them participate down the road.”

How to find a family therapist

Often, family therapists, counsellors and social workers can be found through word of mouth, but online searches can also be a good starting point.

“Choosing the right one for your needs can best be done by speaking to a few therapists, having a consult or knowing what specific issues or ways of working would be most important to your family,” Baer said.

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

“Finding the best fit is important for the success of the therapy process, and sometimes, personalities just clash even though someone’s credentials and practice might sound perfect. You have to meet a therapist to get a sense of if this person is someone you trust and would feel comfortable supporting you and your family.”

Also, find out what kind of technique the professional uses, Baer says. This can include games, art, puppets and other forms of creative therapy.

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

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Therapy is expensive — here’s how to make the most of your sessions – National

by BBG Hub

Private therapy in Canada isn’t cheap — fees can range anywhere between $50 to $240 per hour — so it’s important that you get your money’s worth.

According to Dr. Lynda Ashbourne, associate professor at the University of Guelph, feeling heard is a telltale sign of a good therapy session.

“You should feel as if… the therapist heard and understood what you’ve talked about, what is important to you, who you are and something of your current situation — either what’s working or what’s troubling,” she said.

READ MORE: Psychotherapist vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist: Which one should you choose?

By the end of your first session with a new therapist, you should also have a solid grasp on “how they work and what to expect.”

“The questions that your therapist asks should be helpful to you in thinking about yourself, the broader picture of your life as well as the specifics of your concern,” said Ashbourne.

Don’t expect to have all of your problems resolved after one hour, but you should leave your initial appointment feeling like you have a clearer understanding of what you want to work on.

READ MORE: As a person of colour, it’s a struggle to find therapists who look like you

“How it’s affecting you, how it’s affecting others, what has worked for you in the past or in other contexts of your life that you might be able to learn from and apply… and how the therapist could be helpful to you” are all things you should feel good about when you finish your first session, said Ashbourne.

She defines a “good” therapy session as one which involves your therapist taking time to ask about and listen to “the unique context in which you live.” This includes what you understand to be your culture, age, gender identity and sexual orientation, spiritual or religious beliefs, values and priorities, life experience, ethnicity and class roots.

This is what a therapist should do, said Ashbourne — not “provide you with suggestions or prescriptions that seem oriented to a generic person or relationship.”

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All your subsequent sessions should give you both insight and action items that you can start working on as soon as you leave the room.

“[They] should leave you feeling that you have some new ideas and new insight into what’s going on for you and how you can address that,” she said. “[You should have] steps you can take [and tips for] how you can continue self-reflection in a constructive manner between sessions.”

Here are some things you can do to ensure you’re making the best of your next therapy session.

Before your first appointment…

Why are you going to therapy? Asking yourself that question (and answering it) will ensure your first session is productive, Ashbourne said.

“How do you understand the ‘problem’? What do you call it? How does it affect you? Who else does it affect? How will you know if it’s getting better or worse?” he said. “How will you know if therapy is helping? What are your expectations of therapy?”

She would also recommend keeping a list of all the questions you immediately have for your therapist, so you don’t get flustered and miss something.

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“That can include what training they have, what experience informs their work, what… they think is most helpful about therapy, how they work, the number of sessions” and more, said Ashbourne.

While there is some preparation necessary on your end, Ashbourne also recommends that you try to stay open-minded.

“Let the therapist do their job in understanding your current situation and inviting you to reflect on this differently or try something new in response,” she said.

READ MORE: Can cooking become a form of therapy?

It’s important to remember that what you’ve tried before wasn’t working, and that’s why you decided to go to therapy.

If your therapist attempts to use an unorthodox method, try it out before shutting it down — it could be the angle you’ve been missing.

“Sometimes the therapist might ask you about something that seems unrelated… it’s a good idea to let that conversation unfold for a bit as there may be ideas there that are linked to how you are seeing or responding to the current dilemma, or where you might be getting stuck,” said Ashbourne.

Use your time wisely, be nonjudgmental

Not only does an agenda keep a session on track, but it offers transparency and stability to both patient and clinician.

Dr. Christine Korol of the Vancouver Anxiety Centre always uses an agenda, and she likes it because it ensures that nothing is missed or skipped.

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“It doesn’t feel good when you wanted to talk about something in particular and you don’t get to it by the end of the session,” Korol said.

“[An agenda] makes sure that you’ve covered everything… and if there is too much to talk about in one session, you know that you can prioritize at the beginning.”

In a typical session, Korol allows a few minutes at the beginning for client and patient to “go over how the last week went.” Then, together, they make a plan for the rest of the session.

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

“[For example,] 10 minutes on homework, 15 minutes on a work situation, 15 minutes on an upcoming visit home, 10 minutes to review the session and make a plan for the next week,” she said.

It’s also a better use of your time if you’re completely honest and vulnerable from the outset.

“[Therapy] is where you can explore exactly how you have been feeling. This is especially important for those who are learning to set boundaries or set limits with others,” said Korol. “Telling yourself that something you’re feeling is bad or wrong will slow you down from exploring those feelings… [feelings which] may not be bad or wrong.”

Use a journal to track your thoughts and feelings

A therapist can start to feel like a friend after a few sessions, but talking about your day or your social outings are not an effective use of time.

“[Journals] can help you collect data and keep you on track in between sessions,” Korol said.

WATCH BELOW: Working women with children are up to 40% more stressed: study

Ashbourne agrees — writing down how you felt at the end of the last session will allow you to pick up where you left off with ease.

Use journal prompts like “what stuck with you from last time? What happened this week with regard to your problem that was different? What did you try that worked or didn’t work, and what do you think that tells you?” said Ashbourne.

If you’re still not getting what you want…

According to Ashbourne, you should feel like there have been some “beginning shifts” in how you are dealing with your concerns after three to four sessions.

If you don’t feel anything after that amount of time, it might be time to have an honest conversation with your therapist.

READ MORE: Tracking your symptoms might make you feel worse, experts say

“They may have ideas for doing something different, or they may suggest another therapist who might be a better fit for who you are,” said Ashbourne.

“Neither of these are indications that you or the therapist is flawed in some way… they simply reflect that we’re not all the same.”

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

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Can cooking become a form of therapy? – National

by BBG Hub

For many, baking has always been a relaxing retreat. A time to de-stress, focus and, well, eat.

But cooking can also become a therapeutic pastime, and some experts suggest it could be useful for people’s well-being. In a 2018 study by the National Institutes of Health, researchers looked at “cooking interventions” in therapeutic and rehabilitative settings.

While very little evidence linked cooking to better mental health, authors found it could “positively influence psychosocial outcomes,” although the evidence was preliminary and limited.

“Further qualitative and rigorous quantitative research are needed to identify mechanisms by which cooking interventions may improve psychosocial outcomes,” authors noted.

READ MORE:  Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

Author and health psychology expert Linda Wasmer Andrews wrote that culinary therapy in the U.S. has been used by several mental health professionals to combat “behavioural health conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD and addiction.”

“One obvious link between cooking and mental health is nutrition. It’s easier to control the quality of your diet when you prepare much of the food yourself. And there’s growing recognition that choosing a high-quality diet plays a major role in keeping your brain healthy.”

Cooking and mental health

But can cooking a healthy entree really help your mental health?

In a recent post for Psychology Today, Susan Krauss Whitbourne noted a special on CNN that suggested bringing therapists into the home to help you prepare a meal. The weekend special, Staying Well, implied being more mindful when you cook (with a therapist present) could be beneficial to your mental health.

But Whitbourne said there is very little evidence to suggest bringing a therapist home is the best way to achieve this.

“The real test of culinary therapy would involve controlled studies in which matched groups of patients are randomly assigned to treatment vs. either delayed treatment or some other type of therapy such as the conventional cognitive-behavioural approach,” she explained.

READ MORE: 5 simple ways to manage your daily anxiety

The author and professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts Amherst added that food-related activities like shopping, cooking and planning could be useful for some.

“[These activities] can serve as useful tools for helping individuals feel better about themselves, enjoy shared experiences with others, and adopt desirable health habits. However, with unproven efficacy, it would be wise to wait until the data are in before you and your therapist put on your aprons.”

Seeing it in action

The 519 — a non-profit organization for Toronto’s LGBTQ2 communities — currently offers a cooking program for trans people of colour.

Soofia Mahmood, director of strategic communications and executive planning at The 518, said the project focuses on a peer leadership model. Four participants are peer leaders in training and other trans people of colour are invited on a weekly basis to take part in activities around cooking.

“Cooking is used as the core activity but an extensive program is built around that, including free training opportunities for diverse skill development on various personal and professional development topics, including cooking, anti-oppression, self-care, team building, harm reduction, HIV and relevant legislation,” she said. “Peers build on their existing lived experiences and develop new and exciting skills.”

Mahmood added that racialized trans women are one of the most vulnerable communities in the city and also experience food insecurity among other barriers.

“Food is a great way to connect the communities, who find shared experiences over food and connect with community in a safe and positive environment,” she explained.  “Our program focuses on emotional, mental, physical well-being, community building, increasing employability, and providing opportunities for peer leaders to take up community leadership.”

The program is also working on developing a cookbook around safe sex and healthy eating.

She said the program works because it focuses on nutritional needs.

“The meals planned and recipes developed also focus on healthy living for trans people of colour with similar lived experiences.”

READ MORE: Follow this one tip the next time you’re stressed, anxious or nervous

She said that for Canadians in general, classes like these are important for community building and mental health.

“Cooking together connects people on multiple levels — it gives people the opportunity to share and celebrate their culture and provides a way to exchange cultural wisdom connected with food. It also develops collective understanding of nutrition in addition to building a sense of community that is important in the context of emotional and mental well-being.”

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

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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.

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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Massage therapy isn’t just about relaxation. Here’s how to tell if it’s working – National

by BBG Hub

Most of us would love more massages in general, but some experts argue most adults are not getting as many massages as they need.

Ronald Boado, a registered massage therapist (RMT) at Lemon Water Wellness based in Toronto, said we should be getting at least one massage per month.

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But one massage per month may be out of reach — people tend to get massages under company benefit plans. If you don’t have insurance or you simply don’t have enough coverage, chances are you’re not getting 12 massages in the year either way.

READ MORE: Regular massage visits could help with headaches

Cecilia Fung, a RMT at Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic in Toronto said if you can’t get a massage once a month, aim for at least one every three months or one every quarter.

Both added it’s not just about relaxation either. “Massage therapy is good for your health,” Fund said. It increases blood circulation, while Boado added it can also improve digestion and posture.

Types of massages

According to VeryWellHealth, some of the most popular types of massages include deep tissue, Swedish, hot stone, Thai and aromatherapy. Fung said massages are incredibly individual — some people focus on relaxing or escaping, while others prefer getting deep into tight muscles.

Sports massages and pregnancy massages are also popular, she added, and key areas of focus, in general, include shoulders, neck and back.

WATCH: Benefits of massage therapy 

Boado said at the clinics he works at, hot stone therapy is common, especially in winter months.

Cupping is also in demand, he added. “Cupping massage basically is a cupping therapy using either a plastic or silicone cup and gliding it to the tissue,” he explained. “It’s a great soft-tissue release.”

What makes a good massage?

It’s really hard to determine what makes a good massage, experts say, and it really depends on what you ask for. A “good” massage is one that loosens tight or tangled muscles and offers relief to painful and stiff areas in the body.

Some people believe soreness the next day is a result of a good massage (others argue soreness means the RMT didn’t do the best job), but Fung said soreness is not a factor to determine a so-called good massage.

READ MORE: Michael Phelps sparks cupping craze, do you know what it is?

She explained soreness is a common side-effect of a massage, but if you’re sore, it probably means your muscles are weak or they just need more time going back to regular tension. People who are very active tend to not feel sore the next day because their bodies are used to muscle movement.

Boado said a good massage should be based on pressure. “I believe in preparing the tissue and letting the muscle let you sink in… it’s all about intuitive touch,” he said, adding this doesn’t mean every massage needs to be deep tissue.

“It’s about how the client feels after a massage — if range of motion gets better or if their muscle pain went away.”

The right pressure is also crucial because it allows RMTs to know which technique to use. “Each client has their own pain scale and some people can’t even take light pressure,” Fung said. “We have to be very careful, each person is different and we try to avoid very deep pressure.”

Fung argued the pain should never feel like an 8/10 (the standard scale of pain points RMTs follow is usually 7/10 she added). “Sometimes [clients] are stiff or very tight and RMTs add more pressure — this can cause bruising.”

People going for massages should always discuss their health history with the RMT as well, even the type of medication they take can alter a massage. Fung said this can affect the amount of pressure your muscles can handle.

Post-massage tips

A good massage also isn’t a one-off or luxury item, it allows you to make significant changes to your day-to-day. If your office chair, for example, is the cause of your stiffness or tightness, a massage is a good reminder to adjust your chair and workspace.

Author Paola Bassanese previously wrote in HuffPost U.K., a good massage means carrying the benefits of your massage long-term. “It is also a key component of injury prevention so if you are suffering from repetitive strain injuries, some targeted stretches would slow the build-up of tension and inflammation in the joints,” she said.

READ MORE: Gua Sha is the new ‘cupping’: What experts want you to know

Keeping treatments consistent is also key, as well as following up with stretches and exercise.

Sometimes, people try to give themselves massages using vibration tools, but Fung said it’s important to understand which muscles are tight, how your blood is circulating and where your nerves are positioned.

The last thing you want to do is injure yourself or further irritate tight muscles.

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

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As a person of colour, it’s a struggle to find therapists who look like you – National

by BBG Hub

“Depression” was not a word Sally Yue Lin ever learned in Mandarin.

There were euphemisms for things like anxiety, abuse or trauma, but Lin, 28, never thought about seeing a therapist.

She saw her first one at the age of 20, when she was living in Montreal with roommates.

“The therapist I saw was an older, white woman who gave me pamphlets on breathing exercises; there was no follow-up and I felt even more isolated and misunderstood.”

Lin spent years trying to find a therapist who was a person of colour (POC). Like many, it was important for the now-Victoria, B.C., resident to find someone who she could trust, but also, and more importantly, someone who would be able to recognize some of her lived experiences.

READ MORE: Living In Colour explores how race, ethnicity impacts the daily experience of PoCs

“My experience as a racialized Asian femme person made me more vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment,” she continued. “My Chinese culture and identity as a diasporic person is both a treasure and a burden.”

To complicate matters, Lin was estranged from her father, which was simultaneously difficult and liberating. For her, respecting one’s elders was a common belief in her household, something one of her white male therapists didn’t understand.

“It is a very sensitive topic for me and brings up a lot of memories of domestic abuse and trauma,” she said. “Despite my reluctance, the therapist asked me to imagine that my dad was sitting next to me in the room.”

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

It was the last time she saw that particular therapist.

“I wanted a therapist who was at least willing to acknowledge and learn, not… from me, their client, having to teach them,” she said. “I don’t need them to have the same experience, just the willingness to recognize my lived experience, my culture, and my heritage — both the good, the bad, and the grey.”

A mountain of hurdles

There are mountains of barriers for POC to find therapists of colour. Sometimes it’s about location; people like Lin who live in predominantly white Canadian cities have an especially hard time. Others have a hard time accessing therapists or paying for it.

Sometimes there are language barriers for immigrants who don’t speak English as their first language, so it can even be difficult to describe what you’re going through in your mother tongue.

For some, conversations around depression, anxiety or abuse don’t happen in the households, and the thought of telling a stranger can seem overwhelming. Some POC also fear that if they tell someone in their community their most personal traumas, it may somehow get back to their family members or friends.

There’s a larger problem within the profession itself with a lack of representation of POC — whether it’s in counselling, psychological or social services, said psychologist and educator Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos of the University of Toronto.

WATCH: Living In Colour: Mental health impact of discrimination

Stigma and stereotypes follow people who pursue psychotherapy in the first place, and the added weight of being a POC contributes to the difficulty.

“Specifically that there is something greatly wrong [with them],” he clarified.

In his work with the Indigenous community, Ansloos is a firm believer that therapy is often rooted in most communities of colour, but it doesn’t look like what we typically picture as “therapy.”

“It may not all look like psychotherapy, but I think there are natural helping roles that exist within every culture,” Ansloos explained. “We can do a lot even on the level of promoting mental health by really supporting diverse communities in elevating the value of these different roles that people hold.”

READ MORE: Check up on your mental health by asking yourself these questions

The end goal is to find a therapist you can connect with. For example, some young South Asian women may face greater pressure to get married, or Indigenous youth may experience inter-generational trauma or verbal abuse — these specific things impact mental health, and a therapist with the same experiences may be more understanding.

Ansloos said the good news is that POC’s perception of mental health and seeking help is shifting, and more want to openly discuss it.

The struggle to find one

But talking about it is hard when you can’t find a person to talk to. Sarp Kizir, 39, looked for a therapist of colour for nearly a decade. “I was checking names and last names. Sometimes I gave up and just went with whoever was available and accepting new clients,” he told Global News.

The Ottawa native, who is a child of immigrants, often felt vulnerable when he had to explain his experiences to a therapist. Today, he works with one who is nurturing. “There are things that I don’t feel pressured to over-explain because she just gets it.”

READ MORE: Depression leads to shorter lifespan — Canadian study

Emile Wickham, 32, of Markham, Ont., is still searching for a black therapist. In and out of therapy for 10 years, all of his therapists have been non-black. Paying for therapy has been his biggest hurdle.

I wanted to try the services of a therapist to specifically engage [in] my past,” he told Global News. He reached out to an acquaintance who was a therapist and with her network, found someone who offered a subsidized rate of $75 an hour.

“Even with that rate, I’ve been on and off for long periods because I simply couldn’t afford it.”

Jason Ip, 30, was looking for a queer POC therapist, and even in a city like Toronto, he found one person through a friend who fit the criteria. Today, he sees a white therapist who he feels comfortable with.

Credit: Getty Images

“I speak to him about my lived experience, he listens and empathizes, which is the best I can ask for, given the restrictions I had when I was originally doing my search.”

And even when POC find therapists who fit their needs, it’s often expensive or hard to schedule an appointment. Navi Gill of Vancouver tells Global News private practices range from $100 to $300 an hour, and psychologists in the past told her their practices were incredibly busy.

“There is a big shortage of Punjabi-speaking therapists out there.” She said South Asians in B.C. often turn to more community-based groups like the South Asian Mental Health Alliance and sometimes Gurdwaras (temples).

Tackling the problems

These are all struggles and loopholes that therapist Premala Matthen is familiar with. As a queer therapist of colour in Vancouver, she said clients often come to her seeking POC. She said there’s a larger problem of racism not being understood as a traumatic experience.

“When I went through counselling school, there was a little bit on multiculturalism, but not nearly enough,” she said. “I’ve had clients who tried to talk to white therapists about racism and not be understood or their experiences [were] minimized.”

Ansloos sees this problem within the educational system and added psychotherapy has predominately been developed by white mental-health experts and continues to be taught today. On top of this, there is an underrepresented number of POCs in graduate-level programs and this translates through a range of professions like social work, counselling and medicine.

“[There needs to be] more strategic recruitment and also funding,” he explained, adding another solution could be initiating alternative approaches to admissions targeting POCs.

READ MORE: Living with a mental health disorder in warmer months can be ‘suffocating’

Professional training needs to more broadly reflect people’s lived experiences, beyond white culture, he said. “That means when we have conversations about family, mental illness, identity, religion, spirituality or culture, people need to see their life more fully in what’s being taught.”

There’s also merit to further educate POC who may have unconventional roles in mental health. For example, Ansloos worked on a study that showed conservative Muslim women from countries like Jordan or Iraq were going to midwives for mental health-life services. “Does it make more sense to train the midwives? We need to be thinking more creatively.”

There’s often the criticism that any therapist, white or a POC, should be able to sit and speak with a POC seeking guidance — often as a blank slate. But he argued there are still valid reasons for POC to want therapists of colour.

Solutions for POC seeking help

But change like this takes time and funding from bodies of government plays a huge role. Plenty of organizations across Canada are doing the groundwork to promote mental health and support in their communities and larger organizations like Mental Health Commission of Canada recognize diversity in therapy is needed.

But these are all larger picture solutions. Sometimes, the biggest struggle is an isolated POC in a small city who is desperately needing the support of someone who looks like them. These are often the people that can’t afford therapy or talk to others about their mental health. So how do they get help?

Credit: Getty Images

Ansloos said it starts with recognizing you’re not trying to find someone who is exactly like you (he argued this type of therapy won’t be effective), but someone you can trust. “Trust doesn’t require sameness, but a relationship.” And even if you see a therapist who is white or a POC, be honest with them about what you are looking for.

“I encourage clients to tell me about their expectations and their concerns of beginning therapy — make that part of the process.”

READ MORE: 5 simple ways to manage your daily anxiety

He, along with Matthen, believe in the importance of POC speaking with other POC about their search. Share information about the therapists you find and for therapists of colour, create a reference list for other people in the community you can refer to. Ansloos said for clients, doing research through Psychology Today, colleges of social workers, therapists of psychologists and even more grassroots organizations is helpful.  

Matthen said for people in more remote communities, plenty of therapists of colour offer sessions over video. Apps, forums or groups on social media can be beneficial (and less expensive). Sometimes, just speaking with family and friends is a start.

But both experts recognize finances are the biggest reason people don’t seek help and one of the main reasons therapy is so inaccessible to POC. Therapy can start at $80 and can shoot up to $250 depending on the profession. Many Canadians also have insurance that covers forms of therapy, but this is often limited.

Credit: Getty Images

Ansloos said for people on tight budgets, group therapy or low-fee clinics with trainees may be options. “But we need to be thinking more broadly. How do we integrate mental health practices in an everyday setting?” While he understands these options may not be available for all POCs, it’s the ongoing open conversations about mental health at places like work, school or home that need to continue.

READ MORE: Depression and romantic relationships — how to support someone you love

But for some, the wait is worth it. Today, Lin sees a therapist of colour who works with the LGBTQ+ community. “I always leave the session feeling supported, understood, seen, and like I have tangible steps forward towards improved mental health.”

[email protected]

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

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Dialectical behavior therapy: Selena Gomez is an advocate, but what is it? – National

by BBG Hub

Pop singer Selena Gomez recently entered a treatment facility to address her ongoing issues related to anxiety and depression, and is reportedly receiving dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a complex type of therapy that was first developed to treat borderline personality disorder but is now used to treat a host of mental health conditions.

The 26-year-old was hospitalized twice in late September and early October, and has suffered from “an emotional breakdown.” Gomez is now reportedly at an east coast psychiatric facility and is receiving DBT — something she has talked about in the past.

WATCH BELOW: Selena Gomez suffers emotional ‘breakdown,’ enters psychiatric facility

“DBT has completely changed my life,” she told Vogue in March 2017. “I wish more people would talk about therapy.”

But what exactly is DBT, and how does it differ from other forms of therapy? According to Dr. Shelley McMain, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the head of the Borderline Personality Disorder Clinic at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), DBT is “a broad-based cognitive behaviour therapy” that has a “strong focus on acceptance.”

What is DBT?

DBT was originally developed by American psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan in the 80s to treat patients with borderline personality disorder and chronic suicidal ideation. McMain said the first treatment study of DBT was published in 1991, which showed it was an effective treatment for people with borderline personality disorder — something people thought was previously untreatable.

DBT treatment, according to McMain, integrates two seemingly opposite strategies: acceptance of experiences and behaviours, and the skills to make change and better manage emotion.

“In practice, DBT therapists tend to move very rapidly between very opposite ways of engaging,” McMain told Global News. “On the one hand [they’re] conveying a very strong message of acceptance, and coupling that with a very strong emphasis or message to the individual that they need to make changes.”

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

How does DBT work?

DBT is based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), a popular form of psychotherapy used to treat many mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, CAMH says. With CBT, people are taught to challenge and change their thoughts and behaviours. But with DBT, people are instead taught to accept their thoughts and feelings, while also learning techniques to deal with them.

DBT programs often require a one-year commitment, according to CAMH. There are shorter programs, however, which can help people manage their emotions.

READ MORE: Falling out of love can happen, but some still make marriage work

When someone is undergoing DBT, they typically have both one-on-one counselling and group therapy. This is also what differs it from many other types of therapy, which are typically done in a patient/therapist-only environment.

“As it was originally designed, standard DBT is a comprehensive multimodal treatment, and there are four core modules,” McMain said.

“There’s individual therapy, there’s skills training — which is done in the often in groups — there’s also after-hour coaching so clients have the ability to contact therapists outside of regular hours, and there’s also a consultation meeting for clinicians which is held once a week, and that’s designed to treat the therapist.”

What is DBT used for?

DBT is now more widely used to treat other mental health issues including self-harm, depression, PTSD, eating disorders and substance abuse issues.

“Often, DBT is really geared towards people who have multiple, often complex, disorders,” McMain said. “Many individuals being treated with DBT may have comorbid personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, and meet criteria for a mood disorder or anxiety disorder.”

[email protected]

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

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