Patients can suffer from multiple mental disorders

It is important for physicians to thoroughly screen for all conditions if the patient is to be treated properly

Patients can suffer from multiple mental disordersThere are two difficulties in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness: the fairly common occurrence of more than one diagnosis at the same time in the same patient, and the similarities and overlapping symptoms of many psychiatric disorders, making it difficult to make a clear distinction or choose appropriate treatment methods. These difficulties may…

Suffering from chronic pain? Don’t give up hope

Many people have ongoing pain where there is no obvious injury, or continue to have pain at the site of an injury long after it has healed

Suffering from chronic pain? Don’t give up hopeChronic pain impacts the lives of many Canadians every day. Thousands wake up every morning to pain, deal with it throughout the day and don’t even escape its clutches as they sleep. Neuropathic pain is a very common chronic condition that poses a challenge for doctors. It's the result of a primary lesion or dysfunction in…

Is a hypochondriac faking it?

A hypochondriac is suffering a disorder of the mind rather than a disorder of the body

Is a hypochondriac faking it?Almost every physician has got one – the person who repeatedly comes in with a concern about having or getting a serious illness. They obsess about health related issues and behaviours and may frequently check their body for signs of illness. Physicians often complain these patients, with their unending problems, are a nuisance and clog…

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…

Booze can trip up psychiatric diagnosis

When intoxicated, people often exhibit signs that can resemble psychiatric conditions

Booze can trip up psychiatric diagnosisWe’ve recently been covering topics involving the effects of substance use on psychiatric conditions. This week, we complete the series by touching on the effects of alcohol abuse on mental health. As with other mind-altering or inhibition lowering drugs, alcohol makes an initial psychiatric diagnosis very difficult. When people are intoxicated, they often exhibit signs…

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…

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…