Smoking alleviates psychiatric symptoms

Smoking cigarettes seems to have a positive effect on some of the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia

Smoking alleviates psychiatric symptomsSome of you might be wondering exactly what smoking has to do with psychiatric illness or mental health at all. You’re not alone; this topic has not been widely discussed or considered in psychiatric circles until fairly recently. However, as new research emerges it becomes clear that the two subjects are more linked than we…

Coping with borderline personality disorder

For the two per cent of Canadians with this disorder, life is chaotic – often moving from one crisis to the next

Coping with borderline personality disorderAngry outbursts, unstable relationships and mood swings could describe symptoms of several psychiatric conditions. Bipolar disorder, discussed in last week’s column, is just one of them. Another particularly troublesome condition often associated with these traits is borderline personality disorder (BPD). For the two per cent of Canadians with this disorder, life is chaotic – often…

Are you suffering mood swings or bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder affects between one and two per cent of the adult population

Are you suffering mood swings or bipolar disorder?Many of us have a friend or family member we wonder about because they seem to shift unpredictably from one mood to another. We are often worried or in awe of them because they can be on a high one day and despondent the next. While it certainly isn’t always the case, people like this…

Not all hallucinations or delusions are caused by mental illness

Psychotic episodes can occur for a variety of reasons, not all of them having to do with mental illness

Not all hallucinations or delusions are caused by mental illnessHallucinations and delusions are the first things many people imagine when they hear about mental illness. They think of people who hear voices, see imaginary people or think they are someone they’re not. While hallucinations and delusions are not the hallmark of every mental illness, they can occur as a symptom of several disorders. Schizophrenia…

The power of the placebo effect

A patient sometimes perceives a positive result, even from a fake drug

The power of the placebo effectMedical knowledge and treatments have advanced more quickly in the last 50 years than ever before, but the powerful effects of placebo treatments are still reported and are not fully understood. Simply put, a placebo is a medicine or medical treatment that has no active pharmacological ingredient. The term often refers to the inactive treatments…

4 per cent of adult population experience Attention Deficit disorders

Sufferers twice as likely to die of accidental causes as people without

4 per cent of adult population experience Attention Deficit disordersAlthough awareness has increased steadily for the past several years, there is still a lot of misinformation circulating about Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADD/ADHD). This common disorder, which affects many school-aged children, is not only a childhood condition. While many believe it is a condition children grow out of, experience shows that…

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…
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