Month: February 2018

Eating Disorders, and How they Affect More Than Just Teenage Girls

Eating Disorders, and How they Affect More Than Just Teenage Girls

According to the charity Beat, approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. Of those affected, between 11-25% are male, with numbers increasing each year of both sexes across a range of age groups. And, while individuals are more likely to be diagnosed during adolescence, there is evidence to suggest that this may be due to a lack of understanding and awareness of eating disorders in other age groups. Eating disorders can develop at any time in a person’s life, from childhood through to old age.
Ask someone to picture someone with an eating disorder, and the likely image that comes to mind is of a thin, young girl – however in reality cases are not always so typical. Despite common opinion, eating disorders exist not just in young women, but in men and women of all ages. The charity MGEDT (Men get eating disorders too) is dedicated to raising awareness of how men too can get eating disorders, and emphasize just how importance it is that professionals recognise this. At Dr Julian, we ensure that no one feels ashamed or embarrassed, no matter what their problem, and our service is 100% confidential.
The top eating disorders listed by the DSM are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder (BED) – where anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental health issues. In every case, eating disorders severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and those that care for them, however often individuals suffer for several years before their disorder is recognised. Often this is the case because, despite common opinion, you cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them. While those with anorexia often show dramatic weight loss, it may be difficult to identify whether or not weight loss is healthy, or accompanied by an eating disorder. Further, with eating disorders such as BED, symptoms may include gaining or maintaining weight; therefore it is impossible to determine simply from one’s appearance if they are suffering or not.
If you, or someone else you know may be suffering with a complicated relationship with food, or self-esteem issues, speak to one of our therapists today or check out the symptoms using our SCOFF criteria. Remember, you are never alone, and you CAN beat this.

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SCOFF Eating Disorder Criteria

The SCOFF screening tool is often used to indicate a possible eating disorder, where a score of two or more positive answers indicates an eating disorder may be present.
Do you ever make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?Have you recently lost more than One stone in a three month period?Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?Would you say that Food dominates your life?

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Why We Need To Talk Abut Postnatal Depression

When a child is born, the mother and father are often inundated with congratulations, cards and visitors wishing to meet the new addition. In amongst all the excitement however, it can often be hard to identify if a mother (or father) is struggling with their mental health – however statistics tell us that 1 in 10 women experience symptoms of postnatal depression within the first year of their child’s life, with many fathers also suffering. But, despite its prevalence, there still seems to be a level of awkwardness surrounding this topic, however as we will argue, it is something that should be spoken about more.
Postnatal depression is characterised by the usual symptoms of depression – persistent low mood, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating etc, lasting more than 2 weeks. It can start any time in the first year after birth, however is most likely to begin in the first 6 months. One of the reasons postnatal depression often goes under the radar is that in many ways its symptoms are also likely in new mothers who aren’t depressed. For example, with a new baby in the house it is unlikely that any mother is getting sufficient sleep, or feeling particularly energised, and it may not be surprising that they are choosing to stay in more, or turning down nights out. However, it is important to consider that these may all also be warning signs of postnatal depression, and that if they continue for long periods, this could have a detrimental effect on both the parent and their child, not to mention their other relationships.
For many women, they do not even notice postnatal depression in themselves, especially if this is their first time having a child, or if their symptoms develop gradually. Further, many women have admitted to feeling ashamed of their feelings, where they often report intense guilt that their child is not providing them with unlimited joy, such that they repress or disguise their feelings. This guilt is completely normal in those with postnatal depression, however it is something that is also completely unnecessary. No one should ever feel guilty for how they feel, and being open and honest about your feelings is the best way to ensure they don’t continue. In many ways, feeling this guilt is testament to how much you love and care for your child – but the best way to care for them is to also care for yourself.
Often, women worry about coming forward about their postnatal depression in the fear that they will be considered ungrateful, heartless, or even crazy – but it is important to consider that this is far from reality. Medical professionals realise that it is very common, and empathise with this position, and contrary to common belief, your baby will not be taken away from you, nor your parenting questioned if you admit to needing help. Postnatal depression has been around for as long as women have been having babies, but for some reason it is one of the least spoken about mental concerns. Although, when you begin to talk and ask about it, you begin to realise just how common it is. You will also begin to realise that it does not last forever – and that many of the mothers and fathers you aspire to be like have fought with it and won. Just like any other mental complaint, postnatal depression can become manageable and often goes away with the correct treatment, it is just a case of seeking it.
So, why aren’t we talking about postnatal depression? If so many women (and men) are struggling, and there are simple solutions out there – why is it still a sensitive subject? The truth is, there is not a straightforward answer. As with most mental health issues, it is something that takes time, openness and understanding before people begin to completely understand it, but eventually they will – as many people already do. And remember, you are never alone – with 1 in 10 women experiencing symptoms every year, it is unlikely that you will have to travel further than the birthing ward to find someone who knows what you are going through. So start the conversation. Talk about it with someone you trust. Talk about it with your family, colleagues, and friends. Spread the word that postnatal depression is common, treatable and doesn’t make you a bad parent. Because being open about how you are feeling may help not just you, but your child, your sister, your best friend, or any woman who has gone through it themselves.
Full symptoms of postnatal depression can be found here.
Please let us know of your experiences, by commenting and sharing – and let other women know that it’s okay if they are struggling. Talk to Someone. Talk to Us.
On our Dr Julian app you can find lots of therapists who specialize in post-natal depression and other conditions. To see our full list of therapists and read their biographies see here.

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Why mental health and the economy go hand in hand

Why mental health and the economy go hand in hand

To most people, prioritising the economy and prioritising the mental health of the population are likely considered to be two very separate goals, however in actual fact the two go hand in hand. Arguably, positive mental health can improve business and prosperity not just on a local scale, but nationally and even globally – and here’s how.
Corporate Social Responsibility and It’s Benefits
The idea of corporate social responsibility is likely familiar to anyone who has had to design a business model, and refers to a company’s initiatives to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and society. This umbrella term also very much includes initiatives to ensure the wellbeing of their staff, however often companies overlook this element – which may be a huge mistake. Allowing staff to take time off for their mental health (sometimes referred to as “mental health sick days”), or making allowances when individuals are struggling, not only makes you a more responsible employer but sends a message about the values of your company which others will hear loud and clear. And, as is well understood in the business world, employers who provide a comfortable workplace for their employees also benefit from more high quality applicants, a higher degree of staff and client loyalty, and better relations with other businesses.
Increased Productivity
Arguably, a more comfortable and employee-friendly workplace also encourages better performance and productivity. It is a common symptom of many mental health issues to lose motivation, lack commitment and struggle focusing – meaning that a workforce who feel overworked, or are struggling with their mental health for any reason, are unlikely to be as productive as they could be. However, simply by providing employees with a ‘safety net’ or assurance that they will not be penalised for coming forward with mental health concerns not only increases short-term productivity for that specific employee, but increases desire to work for your company. This may increase competitiveness for positions, and therefore encourage a higher standard of productivity in the long-term, from employees who feel lucky to be working for such an open-minded and forward-thinking company, especially where other companies are not providing the same support.
Providing Mental Health Services to Employees May Be Cost-Effective in the Long Run
Arguably, reduced productivity due to poor mental health also likely contributes to increased costs and greater company losses. According to the office for national statistics, mental health issues account for 11.8% of sick days (that we know of), which equates to 15.8 million days lost over the course of a year. Imagine the effect this may have on productivity and performance, and one begins to realise how important providing mental health services may be from a business perspective. By providing mental health services within the workplace, or as a work-related benefit, this problem may be eradicated before it has begun. Considering that 1 in 4 individuals experiences a mental health problem, it seems nonsensical that this is not already common practise.
Correlation on a global scale
On a more global scale, advances in mental health correlate with increased prosperity across a number of business types. And, while we cannot argue cause and effect, it become clear from looking at the issue from a larger scale that businesses who implement policies to improve the mental health of their staff are not losing out; quite the opposite. On a global scale, the companies with the largest earnings and greatest brand success generally are also those who provide the most benefits to their staff, including opportunities for therapy/counselling through the business itself. Just some of those already providing mental health services to their employees include American Express, Unilever and Predential – who are leading the way to a more productive, and positive future for businesses.
One way that employers may make improvements in this area is by pre-purchasing a number of hours of online video therapy sessions, which may be allocated to employees depending on their individual needs, and taken during office hours or in their own personal time. Although this has some short-term costs, these are arguably less than the potential long-term problems caused by poor mental health in the workplace, and is an upfront fixed cost which provides a level of assurance for the future. Dr Julian is just one of the companies working to make this possible for employers and their staff, in an affordable and convenient way. For more details on how you can join the growing number of successful businesses putting mental health at its forefront, contact: info@dr-julian.com

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Why Not Getting Enough Sleep Could Be the Root of Your Depression

Why Not Getting Enough Sleep Could Be the Root of Your Depression

An extensive study reveals that Brits are some of the worst sleepers in the world. In fact, nearly four out of ten people in the UK are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, as compared to three out of ten in France and just one out of ten in China. India ranks the lowest among the countries studied, with just 7% of its population reporting any lack of sleep. Sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley suggests that one powerful influence on British sleeping behaviour is our culture, saying, “One reason why the U.K. has such a problem with sleep is because we’ve created a 24-hour society more than any country in Europe. We have overnight television, supermarkets like Tesco are open all night and 10-15 years ago our government passed a law saying pubs could open for 24 hours a day.” These practices are in stark contrast to those in many other European countries, where you’d be hard-pressed to find a meal past 10 pm and most shops close early. Sleep deprivation costs the UK economy as much as £40 billion every year in productivity, but the toll lack of sleep takes on our health is even more grievous. Because sleep is a basic human need, sleep deprivation has a myriad of adverse effects on the mind and body. One of the most serious, and in some cases lethal, is depression.
Sleep and depression
One of the most extensive studies on sleep deprivation and depression worked with nearly 4,000 students from across the UK and revealed that better sleep – aided by cognitive behavioural therapy – can lead to significant reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as paranoia and hallucinations. This helps better explain the connection between sleep and depression: Sleep deprivation is just as much a cause of mental health problems as it is a symptom of them. The results have been replicated in a dozen other smaller studies, and more groups are contributing to the body of knowledge on the relationship. For instance, sleep has been found to affect the way our brain forms observations and memories. This contributes to depressive feelings of irritability, worthlessness, and paranoia, which Leesa has nicknamed ‘slangry’, an amalgam of ‘sleep’ and ‘angry’. Studies have found that people are twice as likely to form strong negative memories than positive or neutral ones when they’re sleep deprived, giving them more negative thoughts throughout the day.
Tackling depression in the UK
The positive aspect of the studies is the implication that it’s possible to help people get a good night’s sleep, and that people suffering from insomnia and mental health have a way to improve their well-being. These findings are all the more crucial today, when there’s an increasing number of people suffering from mental health issues. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks the British as some of the most depressed people in the Western world, ranking seventh overall. Therefore, it is important to take steps to solve the pressing issue of mental health in the UK. While the government and civil organisations do what they can to help people suffering from depression and other illnesses, make sure to check up with friends and family to see if they need treatment as well. Moreover, check out the five signs that you should see a therapist, all of which were tackled in a previous article here on Dr Julian blog. A better understanding of such factors is vital to the prevention, or at least early detection, of mental conditions.
Dr Julian www.dr-julian.com offers confidential online therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home. Speak to one of our therapists today about your mental health. The Dr Julian app is available for free on the App Store.

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