Month: March 2018

Let's Talk About Men(tal Health)

Let's Talk About Men(tal Health)

Unfortunately mental health issues have always been attached to some degree of stigma, and although this has reduced dramatically in recent years, one group are still at serious risk – men. With rates of male suicide at their highest for centuries, we want to break down the barriers and understand how and why it is important to break down the stigma associated with men and their mental health.
The media portrays the ideal man as strong, unbreakable, and often heartless. For generations, young boys have been told that they shouldn’t cry, that they should “man-up” and that any feeling which isn’t aggression or pride is not for them. Men are repeatedly taught that any sign of weakness is not manly, asking for help is for women, and their mental health is not important. Despite men holding the most power on a global scale, they are all too often held back by a prevailing stigma that men should not express their feelings, should not feel pain or sadness, and should never seek help.
This is a dangerous attitude to have, however it is the one most commonly portrayed on our TV screens, in the paper, and even by those closest to us. It is the kind of attitude which has left men helpless and vulnerable, with many have spiralled into self-destructive behaviour such as alcoholism, drug abuse or even suicide as a result. With young male suicide rates at a record high, but positive progressions in mental health amongst most other groups, isn’t it time we encouraged men to talk about mental health, and end the stigma once and for all?

With 75% of suicides committed by men, we want to encourage men of all kinds to come forward and talk about their mental health. But we know that this is a hard first step to take at first, so our advice is this.
Arm yourself with information: Find out about support in and around your area available to you (if this is lacking, look into online video therapy such as Dr Julian)Find your Vice: discover something that makes you feel calmer and use it to your advantage – e.g. running, writing or cycling – this may help you to clear your head and realise that speaking out needn’t be stressful.Share the load: open up to someone, be it your doctor, work colleague, sister, brother mother, father or friend. The hardest step is the first one, but many people say it is the one that makes the most difference.
And last but not least, support the men around you. Listening to someone else can make all the difference to them, and the likelihood is you know someone struggling. Let’s end male suicide for good. Let’s make “manning up” and opening up the same thing.

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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The Health Benefits (and Risks) Associated With Drinking Coffee

The Health Benefits (and Risks) Associated With Drinking Coffee

Coffee is becoming an increasingly large part of our everyday lives, where in the UK recent figures suggest that around 70 million cups are consumed daily. In recent years, there has been a huge surge of new coffee shops – but what is it that makes coffee so popular, and how does it affect our mental and physical health?
Coffee drinking can be dated back to the 15th century, where individuals in Yemen would use it to stay awake during religious ceremonies. Nowadays, many use coffee for its energising properties, due to being notably high in caffeine. This caffeine works on the brain by boosting the effects of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine, which all act to reduce tiredness. Caffeine also increases the release of chemicals such as adrenaline, which makes the heart beat faster and cues greater blood flow to the muscles. This can have positive effects on mood and energy, and thus for many people coffee may help reduce feelings of sluggishness associated with mental health issues like depression. However, in large quantities caffeine can also stimulate the body to respond much as it would in a dangerous situation (aka “fight or flight”), such that coffee may increase or cue feelings of anxiety.
In Arabic, coffee is called “qahiya” which means “to lack hunger” thanks to its appetite-suppressing qualities. Coffee also speeds up the metabolism, meaning that (without sugar or cream) coffee may be used as a supplement to weight loss, as well as a helpful energiser for exercise. According to experts, the best time to drink coffee is around 1 hour before exercise, as this is the point when it has the most effect, and may help boost performance. Its physical effects therefore are obvious, however this subsequent exercise may also help to improve many mental health issues, such as depression or OCD.
Research has also found a link between coffee and Parkinson’s disease, which suggests that drinking coffee may actually reduce one’s risk of developing this condition in later life. This has been consistently replicated, and the effect appears strong even when coffee is decaffeinated, suggesting that there is something very special about coffee itself. Parkinson’s disease is characterised by stiff slow movements and involuntary shaking, and is believed to be caused by a loss of nerve cells within the brain which are responsible for the release of dopamine. Drinking a cup of coffee a day may reduce the chance of these cells dying, and therefore increase health and subsequent happiness in your later years.
However, excessive coffee consumption may also lead to health complications, such as high blood pressure, headaches and sleep disorders. Evidently, there are pros and cons associated with this drink, however one thing which must be taken into account are the effects of caffeine. Like any other drug, caffeine can have both long and short term effects on the body, and not all of these are clear. Caffeine can also become addictive, and if overused can cause complications, however one or two cups a day shouldn’t do any harm for most people. However, without caffeine coffee still has many of its health benefits, including reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and speeding up the metabolism, without any of the nasty side-effects. Therefore, if you’re looking to get the most benefit from your morning brew, switch to black, unsweetened decaf – however that vanilla latte may also have the potential to boost your mood.

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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What is dissociation? What’s the dissociative spectrum?

What is dissociation? What’s the dissociative spectrum?

At the present time, the realisation that childhood abuse has happened to many certain terms like dissociation is being mentioned more. Even when a counsellor or psychotherapist may have explained what it is, confusion can occur over the explanation. This is quite normal after one hears what symptoms can indicate whether for a physical or emotional reason. So, what is dissociation and what’s in the spectrum?
Dissociation is the way the brain can try to protect someone who has gone through some traumatic events in childhood usually before the age of 8. If a child is not rescued and helped at the time, as many are and were not as abuse is hidden, then it can become a normal way for dealing with future traumas. Dissociation is a normal reaction that we may have when we are driving or even walking through hallways; you may realise you pasts roads or pictures on the wall but probably forgot. The symptoms for someone who had early trauma may be forgetfulness of the event as the brain is helping protect you by helping to psychologically flee from the situation. Everyone does forget some parts of their childhood, especially the early years, but forgetting almost all events before 12 or 15 is not normal.
There are various areas to the dissociative spectrum between what is normal and what is quite extreme levels. Some people may mostly have one of these but some have a mixture of many depending of the severity of childhood abuse. People with dissociation often have issues with memory which can be seen in dissociative amnesia which is more than normal forgetting so a person may leave their home and then forget where they live or may forget events from earlier in the day even when reminded. Depersonalisation can be a feeling that your less real, and feeling that they are not their normal self. Derealisation is when your environment feels sort of alien to you so you may be siting in your home thinking that it is not your home.
The complex dissociative disorders, which doesn’t mean the ones already mentioned are less scary, are DDNOS (dissociative disorder not otherwise specified) which are feelings or ideas that feel quite separate inside you but haven’t taken the shape of a separate personality. DID (dissociative identity disorder) is when the distinct personalities can have their own histories that were in one’s life but completely not known. It can be really scary and even normal events can appear absent from memory; yes, trauma maybe held by another personality but things like getting married or going on holiday in adult life may also feel alien even when looking at pictures that prove they are real. Some people have many personalities which can be hidden until they go to counselling and get a teamwork approach for the many. People can have DID and keep up full time jobs such as teachers, nurses, researchers, counsellors and doctors, others may need time off to recover from awful childhood lives. Less rare but important to mention is polyfragmented DID for those people that has 100 or more personalities or parts. These people would have had the most abusive childhoods where they were harmed by numerous people possibly in and outside people they know.
Dissociation does take longer to recover from as there were so many realise so many traumatic events were involved. So, when going for counselling ask what a possible counsellor knows about trauma as the dissociation may not have been named yet. Those who do recover can do so much more with their life.
Olivia Djouadi UKCP psychotherapist at Dr. J
www.dr-julian.com

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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Recreational Drugs and Mental Health: A Bad Combination?

Recreational Drugs and Mental Health: A Bad Combination?

According to a recent report the last few years have seen an unexpected increase in the prevalence of recreational drug use, particularly amongst young people, with substances such as ecstasy and ketamine making a comeback. And, although the continued use of these substances may have clear physical affects, very little is understood about the psychological affects recreational drug use can have on an individual. This is an especially important concern, especially when we consider that one of the main reasons people list for trying these substances is a desire to lift their mood (e.g. when feeling down or depressed).
Generally, recreational drugs fall into three categories: depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens. Depressants tend to make the user feel more relaxed, stimulants induce a sense of alertness and energy and hallucinogens induce perceptual distortions. Most have some effect of the dopaminergic (reward) system, such that they induce feelings of pleasure, however stimulating drugs (such as ecstasy) are also preceded by a comedown; a sudden deterioration of mood caused by a decrease of certain neurotransmitters. Symptoms during a comedown have been likened to those witnessed during a mild episode of bipolar disorder, and mood swings often follow similar patterns. This can happen to anyone, and is very common, even if it is your first time using these kinds of drugs. And, as drug use increases, so do the length and intensity of comedowns.
So, at least in short term there are some psychological effects of recreational drug use – but what about long term? We already know that comedowns can get worse with increased regular drug use, where this is partly due to a need for more of a substance after initial use. This is because the body gets used to a certain dosage, and as such needs more in order to obtain the same reaction. According to Mind, the psychological effects of drug use can be complex, and dependent on a mixture of things – such as age of use, the amount you take, your mental state at the time, and whether the drug has been mixed with other substances, and what these other substances are. However, they also point out that the effects of drugs can be unpleasant, similar to those experienced as part of a mental health problem, and most importantly do not always fully wear off. If someone experiences feelings of anxiety while taking a particular drug for example, this can continue even after the drug is out of their system.
Why this happens is not clear, however psychologists put forward many arguments as to why drugs may cause detrimental psychological effects. One reason is that the body begins to expect a constant supply of these substances, and as such produces less of chemicals such as dopamine, meaning a constantly lower mood when drugs are not present in the system. This can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and what many people describe as a feeling of “general emptiness”, as the brain lacks the chemicals needed for motivation and enjoyment.
Those who frequently use recreational drugs also often report feelings of anxiety and/or paranoia; whereby they find it difficult to relax, and may find even informal environments to be highly uncomfortable or scary. In more severe conditions such as schizophrenia, substances may mimic the effects of these conditions (e.g. hallucinogens causing hallucinations) which may not only heighten the negative effects of schizophrenia in patients, but also induce these effects in those without a diagnosis. In other words, taking certain drugs may make you appear to have schizophrenia, and these symptoms may not disappear when the substance has left your body.
While we are fairly confident about the areas of the brain that certain substances affect, it is difficult to conclusively say for certain what the long term affects are. This is because in many cases, and especially where drugs are illegal, it is difficult to be sure about the quality and combination of drugs that are used. However it is clear that not all of the effects of recreational drugs are enjoyable, with many experiencing “bad-trips” which can continue even when drugs are no longer present. It seems the case that the more often drugs are used, the more likely an individual will experience some kind of negative symptoms or comedowns – which can present much like mental health issues. At least in some cases these symptoms do not go away, and therefore the individual may require therapy or counselling to re-establish feeling themselves again. Clearly, it is worth thinking about your mental health before engaging in recreational drug use.

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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Side Effect: Making Your Medicine More Manageable

Side Effect: Making Your Medicine More Manageable

Over the last few decades, a huge amount of progress has been made in the field of medicine. With loads of new discoveries, improved research methods, and more people than ever before working towards solutions to humanity’s problems, it’s easy to see how these steps are being taken. Of course, though, as one of the biggest issues with this field, very little can be done to make many existing medicines more manageable when you’re trying to live a normal life. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the best ways to make modern medicine easier to live with.

 

Why Is It Hard?

Before you start looking at ways to improve this side of your life, it will be important to spend some time thinking about what makes it hard in the first place. For some people, time will be the biggest struggle they have, with a busy lifestyle getting in the way of complex and time-consuming treatments. Others, though, will have far biggest issues to face, with the side effects which medicine can often bring with it being unbearable, in some cases. There are other problems which can make this side of your life into a trial, but they can all be overcome when you follow the right steps.

 

Finding Your Solution

The first stage of this process will involve finding a solution to the issue you’re facing. Of course, though, before you can dive into this, you will need to pin down the parts of your life which the medicine you’re taking is negatively impacting. For example, if you’re taking pain medication, you may find yourself feeling sleepier than usual. While this isn’t a huge issue to contend with, it is something which most people will struggle to live with, and will be worth changing for something which has a smaller impact on you.

Once you have a good idea of the issue you’re struggling with, finding the solution shouldn’t take too much work. There are loads of resources around the web which are designed to help people to manage their medication. With loads of people having to go through the process of trying different treatments, you can easily find information which will push you in the right direction, and blogs are one of the best places to achieve this goal. When you’re approaching this, you should always try to look at content from both professionals in the field and those who have experienced the same issues as you first hand.

It might take some time before you land on something which will be a good tool for you to use. In the case of not having time for your treatments, for example, finding faster options might not be possible, making it worth looking for a different role which will be more flexible. It’s a same to have to change other parts of your life to make this work, but this can often be the only option people have, and the quality of your lifestyle is more important. This means that it can be well worth making changes like this when it means that you will see benefits from it.

 

Pushing It Into Place

The hardest part of this process will always be pushing the medical organisations you have access to to make changes on your behalf. Groups like this are often extremely busy and underfunded, making it hard for them to do things quickly, and leaving important issues to go unresolved. Of course, though, despite the challenges they face, it is essential that you’re able to get the help you need. Below, you can find some examples of the sorts of routes which can be taken when you’re going through this sort of process.

A Different Doctor: Some doctors are better at keeping on top of their work than others, and you will often find that they have different connections within their field. This means that changing to someone new can make a lot of sense. To achieve this, you need only talk to the practice which you see each time, requesting that you see someone else on your next visit. At the very least, this will show your old doctor that you’re unhappy with the service they’ve provided, and don’t trust them to give you the help they are offering.

A New Company: Along with there being plenty of doctors out there, there are also loads of different medical groups offering services in this field. If you are suffering with something like cancer, for example, a practice which specialises in CAR-T candidates could be a great place to go. When a company has been working with a condition for a long time, they will have the best resources available to fight it painlessly, and will even be able to offer advice to help you as time goes on. It’s always worth taking this step if you feel like you’re not being treated well enough.

Make Some Noise: Medical issues are very important to society on the whole, and many people feel very passionate about giving others the support they need. This makes it very easy to use modern tools like Facebook to get people rallying behind you. Not only does this sort of approach make it easier to get your voice heard, but it will also almost certainly be seen by someone important. This can often be enough to see the change you want put into place, while also helping others in the future.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of making your medicine more manageable. A lot of people struggle in this area, and have to live with things which will cause discomfort or pain. This is rarely the only option, though, with thousands of different treatments on offer, and loads of doctors around the world who want to make patient’s lives are pleasant as they possibly can. Of course, though, you will need to work hard to make these changes fall into place.

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How the NHS Would Benefit From Utilizing Online Therapy

How the NHS Would Benefit From Utilizing Online Therapy

According to recent statistics, those requiring mental health services from the NHS have risen yet again, however recent IAPT reforms are failing to meet the workload. Hundreds of people are put on waiting lists for services every day, however for many this just isn’t good enough – with mental health being allowed to deteriorate while they await these services. However, with online therapy technology, the number of people struggling could be significantly reduced, with some startling benefits and a surprising lack of pitfalls. Here’s how we think the NHS could benefit from utilising this new technology in the age of online.
Firstly, and potentially most importantly with new cuts, is that online therapy has the ability to significantly reduce costs of services. Offering online therapy to those who seek advice from their GP about mental health not only reduces the costs of running a therapy centre or office, but also has the potential to reduce the working hours required to book an individual into a therapy slot. With a referral code from your GP, you could book your own sessions in your own time – reducing the need for several middle-men. Further, as therapists themselves could work from home, this reduces the need for a special space designed for therapy, which in turn would reduce rent, heating and electricity bills of a building by 100%.
However, it is also important to consider not just costs, but the benefits that online therapy potentially provides in terms of mental wellbeing. By allowing people to book their own appointments, the service becomes tailored to the individual, meaning that sessions can better fit into a person’s life with little disruption. As opposed to waiting months for an appointment, and then having to take time out to attend, individuals can choose a time that suits them, which may have the additional benefit of reducing no-shows. Often, when people fail to turn up to an appointment it is for one of two reasons: the appointment is not convenient, or there are physical boundaries stopping them. With online therapy which can be received from the comfort of one’s own home, both of these issues are less likely to occur – thus reducing wasted time and money. Further, if there is a cancellation mobile therapy would allow for cancelled appointments to be rapidly utilised or offered to other individuals, rather than wasting an entire session. Again, this has benefits not just in terms of costs, but in terms of allowing the NHS to run as efficiently as possible.
Several studies have shown that online therapy gives the same results as an equivalent face-to-face therapy, but appears to have huge differences in terms of running costs and convenience. Not only would it encourage people to take control of their own mental health, but is significantly more accessible and time-effective. Further, if we take into account that a common symptom of several mental health complaints is a reluctance to leave the house, it offers a safe alternative which may help individuals to take those first steps. Mobile therapy is possibly one of the most easily implementable changes which may reform the way our NHS deals with mental health, and significantly change people’s lives for the better.

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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