Psychiatric links at the heart of fibromyalgia’s pain

Psychiatric symptoms commonly associated with fibromyalgia make the condition worse for those who experience pain and depression or anxiety

Psychiatric links at the heart of fibromyalgia’s painFibromyalgia has stumped health-care professionals for years. Patients experience chronic and sometimes excruciating pain with no obvious physical reason. It's long been understood that fibromyalgia is somehow connected with co-existing psychiatric conditions. New research has examined this relationship more closely. Fibromyalgia is the existence of widespread pain throughout the body. In order to be diagnosed…

Healthy body, healthy mind: a double payoff for exercise

The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented, and even moderate sadness and feelings of anxiety can be improved

Healthy body, healthy mind: a double payoff for exerciseNot only is exercise good for our bodies, it’s also good for our minds. Most people with a regular exercise routine will tell you that it makes you feel good physically and is a helpful way of reducing stress, improving confidence and self-esteem, and increasing energy. It adds to a general sense of well-being. Although most fitness…

Anxiety disorder can weigh down your life

But there are strategies — and medications — that will help you control this all-too-common condition

Anxiety disorder can weigh down your lifeDo you worry constantly about your family, money, health or work? Does this uneasiness affect your sleep or your ability to function? These are a few of the common hallmarks of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). We all worry to a certain degree about the well-being of our families, our financial situation or jobs, but it isn’t an anxiety…

How willing are you to stretch your comfort zone?

Fear has the power to hijack our thoughts and behaviours, even when a new path makes sense or is harmless

How willing are you to stretch your comfort zone?I’m often fascinated by how rigidly some folks cling to the familiar, especially when it comes to being asked to do something novel. Not something dangerous – just unfamiliar. In my former career, this came up a lot, with leaders standing up in meetings and asking for “out of the box thinkers.” Then they would point…

Some memory loss as we get older is normal

But memory loss can also be a symptom of treatable disorders such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse

Some memory loss as we get older is normalA very common concern among my patients aged 45 and older is a fear that they are losing their memory and may be on their way to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Although these are possibilities, some memory loss is common as we age and not associated with a degenerative dementia. This kind of memory…

The reward for treating your agoraphobia is freedom

Agoraphobia literally means ‘fear of open or public places’

The reward for treating your agoraphobia is freedomOne condition that commonly exists alongside panic disorder is agoraphobia. Agoraphobia literally means ‘fear of open or public places’. However, in a clinical setting it is defined as a fear of situations from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or in which help may not be available in the event of a panic attack.…

Moving from pandemonium to peace in uncertain times

Our stressful, crazy world can lead to insomnia and worse. But there are ways to cope

Moving from pandemonium to peace in uncertain timesInsomnia could be called the 21st century disease. Falling asleep, staying asleep and getting enough sleep is ever more difficult, especially as one gets older – and everyone is getting older. Couple this with the increasing number of studies that show that lack of sufficient sleep is a major contributor to ill health. Now we…

Coping with the uber angst of the modern world

Nothing in modern history has felt as tribal and reckless as what’s unfolding now

Coping with the uber angst of the modern worldCan you remember a time as crazy as this? If you’re 60-something like me, you can flash back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Martin Luther King Jr. and brothers John and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, the Age of Aquarius, the Vietnam War, the Summer of Love, Mikhail Gorbachev and the end of Russian communism. But…

Coping with panic attacks

Getting enough sleep and regular exercise and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine are among the effective treatments available for panic disorder

Coping with panic attacksPanic. Your heart races, palms sweat and body shakes. You feel as though you’re choking and losing your breath as a bout of dizziness overtakes you. This is out of control. Imagine feeling this way on a regular basis. People with an anxiety disorder called panic disorder experience recurring panic attacks – brief but intense…

Mental illness can exacerbate marital problems

Although separation and divorce are always painful, it may be the best option for some couples and their families

Mental illness can exacerbate marital problemsIn the unstable world of mental illness, it is not surprising that existing marital problems can complicate things further, or that new marital tensions can be created. Many of my patients who come to me with anxiety or depression also have significant problems in their marriages. Whether they recognize it or not, these difficulties are…

Overcoming mental health issues – and the stigma surrounding them

We have a long way to go in improving the understanding of mental health issues and in serving those who have them, but people like DeMar DeRozan are helping

Overcoming mental health issues – and the stigma surrounding themIt’s becoming more clear than ever that mental health issues are very real and very prevalent in our society. There are few of us who aren’t impacted, either by living or working with people who struggle, or dealing with our own mental well-being. Mental health issues are nothing new. Soldiers returned from war 100 years…

Severe shyness can be an indication of several anxiety disorders

Even with treatment, people with these disorders will not become the life of the party

Severe shyness can be an indication of several anxiety disordersShyness is something many people experience both as children and adults. Most of us probably feel somewhat unsettled when we meet new people or are expected to give a presentation to our peers. However, severe shyness can be a hallmark of several anxiety disorders and can cause real problems in work and social settings. Social…

Child abuse linked to depression, anxiety in later life

Childhood abuse or neglect can permanently alter an individual’s physiology

Child abuse linked to depression, anxiety in later lifeIn my last column, I pointed out that nature and nurture should not be regarded as enemies or polar opposites. Rather, they are two intertwined realities that work together to make up the human experience. Nature was designed for nurture. Many studies in recent years have documented the effects that early childhood experience can have…

Block the pop-ups: think less, think better

Stop feeding your mind worthless thoughts and negative emotions. If you want peace, restrain your mind and strengthen your will power

Block the pop-ups: think less, think betterMy friend’s mom worried her entire life about her five children. Every aspect of their existence was material for her fertile imagination. Potential hazards were always on her mind – from her toddlers catching a deadly virus to her school-age boys being snatched to her children marrying the wrong person two decades down the road.…

Breaking technology’s pernicious grip on our children

The formative years with our children only come once. When we make them the highest priorities in our lives, we give them the message that they’re worthwhile

Breaking technology’s pernicious grip on our childrenTechnology is everywhere. But is it all good for us and – particularly – is it good for our children? The last 50 years have seen tremendous technological advancement. The 1960s television comedy Get Smart featured a mobile phone that the main character wore in his shoe. We laughed because it seemed impossible. Today, 95…