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 a previous 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…

Diabetes may double risk of developing depression

Two of the primary risk factors for the disease are obesity and lack of exercise

Diabetes may double risk of developing depressionDiabetes is one of the leading health problems affecting North America today and is rapidly on the rise. It is also well known that this disease can cause serious health complications such as vision loss and amputation as well as life-threatening problems like stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Indeed, diabetes, which affects the body’s…

Genetics strongly influence our predisposition to mental illness

It is becoming increasingly clear that our genes influence everything from our personality traits to specific psychiatric disorders

Genetics strongly influence our predisposition to mental illnessNature has been pitted against nurture for centuries. People have always pondered the question of whether human behaviour is primarily dictated by genetic hard-wiring or by our experiences and environmental factors. The debate has lasted so long because we know comparatively little about the functioning of the human brain. As a result, disorders of the…

Clinical trials important to ensure patient safety

All new treatments used in Canada and the U.S. must go through a rigorous clinical trial process before approval

Clinical trials important to ensure patient safetyIn this age of fast advancing technology and almost-daily medical discoveries, researching new treatments with clinical trials is of critical importance in assuring their safety and effectiveness. It is important to learn how well new treatments work and also to compare them with established techniques and medications to learn where there are advantages and disadvantages…

How to spot the narcissists among us

Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty

How to spot the narcissists among us  Is narcissism actually a disorder or is it just a description of someone who happens to be more self-absorbed than most? We all know people who seem to focus almost solely on themselves with little interest in the feelings or contributions of others. But where does selfishness end and narcissistic personality disorder begin? Narcissistic…

The high cost of pathological gambling

Are the profits from government sponsored gambling worth the cost in human lives, broken relationships and misery?

The high cost of pathological gamblingSince the early 1990s permanent casinos have been springing up in communities all across Canada. Our government has relaxed its views on gambling and made it much more accessible to adults everywhere. In more recent years this has expanded to include government-run online gambling portals as well. With this increase in availability has come an…

De-institutionalization of mental illness a costly mistake

Governments reneged on their promise to implement new, community-based treatment programs for the mentally ill

De-institutionalization of mental illness a costly mistakeIt used to be that individuals with serious mental illnesses were sent to live in institutions for extended periods and often their entire lives. Since there were few effective treatments, most patients would be sedated or physically restrained to control disordered behaviour. This environment was the norm for mental health patients who were completely separated…

The stigma of mental illness

If you think you suffer from a mental illness, resist succumbing to stigma and ask your doctor about getting treatment

The stigma of mental illnessGetting treatment for a mental illness is often a lot more difficult than simply calling up your doctor and making an appointment. For many people it involves a painful process of accepting that they have a problem and being willing to expose themselves. Many people who come to be treated for the first time say…

Tips to unravelling the complicated language of disability insurance

Whether you are covered or not is really not up to your doctor

Tips to unravelling the complicated language of disability insuranceA lot of people come to me hoping I can help them in their attempt to leave an unsatisfying work situation and receive disability insurance because of the stress or depression their job is causing. Unfortunately, disability insurance is not as straight forward as is sometimes thought and is intended only for fairly specific reasons…

Brain stimulation used to treat depression, but without the side effects

New treatments show promise and further our understanding of the disease – without the nasty baggage of side effects

Brain stimulation used to treat depression, but without the side effectsIt's no secret that depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. But medical science is making headway in treating this serious, chronic condition. Several effective treatments are available but they don’t work for everyone all the time. And the medications can cause troubling side effects. As well, many people remain chronically depressed in spite of…

The right psychiatric care depends on proper diagnosis

Identifying the disorder and acting appropriately can be difficult when symptoms overlap

The right psychiatric care depends on proper diagnosisWhen psychiatric symptoms overlap, making the right diagnosis and determining the best course of care can be difficult. But careful observation of the patient over time can help bring clarity to medical professionals. In medicine, many names for different conditions sound very similar and this can be confusing. One of the more confusing and even…

Blood/injection/injury phobias easy to treat

It is important to face one’s fears in order to get over them

Blood/injection/injury phobias easy to treatAlmost everyone has a friend or family member who claims to faint whenever they need to get a vaccination or to have a blood sample taken. Sometimes these individuals are seen as overly squeamish about something that really isn’t very serious. In reality, a lot of people suffer from a phobia of blood, injections and…

The biology behind learning and memory

What happens inside the human brain when a person learns new behaviour

The biology behind learning and memoryIn order to advance our ability to treat psychiatric illness, it is important for scientists to continue increasing our understanding of the biology that makes the human brain function. The more we understand, the more it will be possible to develop specific and effective treatments for mental disorders. One major step toward this understanding is…

Battling the myths and stereotypes of psychiatry

Dr. Paul Latimer helps minimize some of the misconceptions about seeking psychiatric help

Battling the myths and stereotypes of psychiatryIt seems that practically every person who comes in for treatment has a different idea of what constitutes psychiatry and what they should expect when seeing a psychiatrist. Many stereotypical impressions of psychiatry arise out of television shows or books. In these stories, patients are portrayed lying prostrate on a couch, delving into the deep…

Brain scan studies shed light on ADHD

It's increasingly clear that ADHD is not just the result of bad parenting, but a disorder with biological and genetic contributors

Brain scan studies shed light on ADHDBrain imaging is advancing research into the biological underpinnings of many psychiatric conditions. And as we understand more, we find new directions for effective treatments. In attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), some of this research points toward new treatments that don’t rely solely on the traditional stimulant medications. One study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)…
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