Tag Archives: depression


Posted by: Grant M. Waldman, MA, CCC, CIAS III on February 25, 2019 10:21 am

Dave feels alone in the world. He no longer connects with his family and has few friends. He spends too many hours contemplating the darkness of his days, with no motivation to change his mindset. Day after day, he ruminates about how terrible his life has been; his voicemail tends to be full because Dave does not return the frequent calls from collection agencies.

It seems to me that there are many individuals in Dave’s situation across Canada. The levels of depression and anxiety are at epidemic levels, and the only entities  gaining from this increase are the pharmaceutical companies that are, in my opinion, putting a band-aid on the issue. What people like Dave require is a connection with others. On the one hand, he needs to be validated and provided with insights as to how he can lift himself up and feel more positive on the other.

Many years ago, one of my supervisors said to me, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” When I think about this concept in relation to Dave, I wonder how many people are drifting aimlessly in our communities because they do not have a plan. How many people are alone because they lack structure and discipline in their lives? I can hear some respondents saying, “People who are depressed lack the motivation to get up and go.” I agree with this statement, and I also believe that it is through inertia that people change; that people need to go to work, or be in school, volunteer, or go on dates to be connected.

Dave needs purpose in his life to get out of bed; he needs a mission to move him forward. In my opinion, this is what individuals who find themselves alone sitting in the dark need to lift themselves up. Dave also needs to stay present rather than churning up his past that is gone or worrying about the future that has yet to happen. By being present, Dave can focus on his current tasks step by step in a way that he can manage.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Wild West of Psychobiotics

Posted by: Trudi Wyatt on November 12, 2015 11:22 am

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the nervous system connection between the gut and the mind—primarily, about the importance of the vagus nerve that connects the GI system to the brain, and whose branches orchestrate whether we respond to changes in the environment via social engagement, fight or flight, or shutting down. This past Saturday however I was reminded of another gut-mind connection when I noticed an emailed Wellness Tip from The Cleveland Clinic that mentioned that “Over time, your microbiome may influence everything from your weight to your risk of chronic illness — including your mental health.”

What is your microbmicrobesiome? It refers to the genetic material of the vast collection of microbes (bacteria) that line your GI system and that also live on your body. (1) This collection can weigh up to 6 pounds, has 2 million genes (vs. our own humble 23,000), and can be thought of as another organ with potentially diverse functions still to be discovered and confirmed.

I first read about the microbiome in The New York Times Magazine’s June 28, 2015 mental health edition, in an article entitled Gut Feelings, by Peter Andrey Smith. Gut Feelings described a compelling hypothesis currently being investigated that suggests that gut microbes might influence mental states like anxiety and depression, and explored some possible mechanisms of action of this influence. This hypothesis seems plausible to me, as many clients with depressive and anxious (especially anxious) symptoms also report GI symptoms; and, as the article describes, intestinal disorders “coincide with high levels of major depression and anxiety”. So compelling is this hypothesis that the US Taxpayer-funded National Institute of Mental Health in September 2014 offered four grants of $1 million each to support research on the gut microbiome’s role in mental disorders.

“Somehow” the article describes, “micro-organisms in the gut tickle a sensory nerve ending in the… intestine and carry that electrical impulse up the vagus nerve and into the deep-brain structures thought to be responsible for elemental emotions like anxiety.” The article explains that neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA—the same ones that are thought to communicate and regulate mood in the brain, and that are often targeted with antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications—are actually also secreted by these microbes in the intestinal tract. Thus, much of our supply of neurochemicals may originate in the gut; and thus, these bacteria might affect the brain and mental health. And hence, neuroscientists John Cryan and Ted Dinan have named these potentially mind-altering microbes ‘psychobiotics’.

What are the implications? Will changing someone’s bacteria one day be a treatment option for mental health issues? For example, in one experiment by Cryan and Dinan, mice fed bacteria kept swimming longer when placed in water than their counterparts, who gave up sooner and just floated in “behavioural despair” (or “immobilized woe”).

This treatment application is perhaps plausible, but still very far from supported, as the research is still in its infancy. But, certainly food for thought!

Trudi Wyatt, MA, RP, CCC is a Registered Psychotherapist and Canadian Certified Counsellor in Private Practice in downtown Toronto. She has been practising for over six years and currently works with individual adults on a variety of life challenges such as depression, anxiety, anger, trauma issues, and career choices.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

On Accessing Psychotherapy

Posted by: Trudi Wyatt on June 17, 2015 8:26 am

Open Minds is a recent Globe and Mail series exploring mental health in Canada. One topic is paying for psychotherapy, and one of the articles under this umbrella, “The case for publicly funded therapy”, by Erin Anderssen, is explored and reviewed in this post.

Ms. Anderssen’s case is built on two premises: that psychotherapy is an effective intervention for mental health issues — especially depression and anxiety; and, that because not everyone has the resources to pay for it, it should be paid for with tax dollars.

The first premise is obvious to me, though I admit my bias! As a Psychotherapist, I see on an almost daily basis how helpful this intervention can be. More broadly, as Ms. Anderssen points out, “Research has found that psychotherapy is as effective as medication – and in some cases works better,” “In randomly controlled trials, drugs often perform only marginally better than sugar pills”, and “we have 100 clinical trials [in support of talk therapy] and no one believes us”.

In building the second premise, Ms. Anderssen points out that not everyone is able to afford psychotherapy, or enough psychotherapy. She illustrates a range of scenarios: from people who can’t pay and are on public wait lists, to people with some but limited private insurance coverage, to people with ample coverage (including federal public servants, paid with tax payers’ money).

She also indicates where dollars (about $2-billion annually) are being spent on psychotherapy in Canada: About half are tax-collected dollars and go to physicians, including about $350-million to family physicians who may not be well-trained in psychotherapy, and about $650-million to psychiatrists who may maintain small practices that serve higher-functioning, higher-income patients, perhaps for years. Contrast this with Australia, Britain, and the United States, where publicly-funded psychiatrists serve more as consultants on severe cases (as other specialists do) than as psychotherapy providers.


The other $1-billion is spent by private insurance / workers’ compensation, and individuals directly (“out-of-pocket”). But despite $2-billion being spent ($272 per Canadian if one in five suffers from mental illness) (1,3), not everyone in need is receiving treatment.
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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Use of Creative Therapies in Treating Depression

Posted by: Priya Senroy on May 5, 2015 8:54 am

As front-line counsellors, we spend a lot of our expertise with our clients and I think it’s important to share the successes with other practitioners too. Not only contributing via articles, journals and chapters adds to the CEC piece but it also helps to stay abreast of the current trends, researchers and best practices in our fields.

This spring has been a exciting time for me as a counsellor from a professional development point of view. I have been working on 2 chapters for some time and it’s exciting to see they have been published. Use of Creative Therapies in Treating Depression, edited by Stephanie Brooke and Charles Myers is a comprehensive work that examines the use of art, play, music, dance/movement, drama, and animals as creative approaches to treating depression.lg9780398081485

The book can be viewed at http://www.ccthomas.com/details.cfm?P_ISBN13=9780398081485

The editors’ primary purpose is to examine treatment approaches, which cover the broad spectrum of the creative art therapies and the reader is provided with a snapshot of how these various creative art therapies are used to treat children and adults diagnosed with depression.  The book is extremely resourceful, insightful and draws from evidence based practice and research.  I had the honor of sharing my work in the form of a case study using masks and the sesame approach of drama therapy with South Asian women recovering from depression.

So my encouragement to my fellow counsellors would be to please share your work with a broader audience and take up writing and contributing. The labor is worth it when you see your work being published and used as references. It is also worth it to know that the work, the client groups and the career we have chosen are validated.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Increasing Importance of Mental Health Professionals in the School Setting

Posted by: Peter Persad on April 28, 2015 12:00 pm

The disturbing and tragic news a few days ago in Barcelona, Spain unfortunately serves as a reminder of the necessity of mental health practitioners in our schools. (“Crossbow attack kills teacher, wounds four others at Barcelona school” The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2015) Indeed, as I learned at the Mental Health Symposium sponsored by the British Columbia Principals and Vice-Principals Association in October of 2014, “Mental Health is the #1 issue facing children today as stress, anxiety and depression have become increasingly prevalent in the lives of children today.” As an educator for the last 20 years with 5 years as a school counsellor and 7 as an administrator, I can attest to this alarming trend first-hand. More and more children, it seems, are having difficulty functioning in schools and ultimately in a broader social context. Studies have shown that fully 50% of mental health issues begin by age 15 and that, if treated appropriately and early enough, 70% of these issues may be mitigated to the point where they will not have a lasting impact during adulthood. For me, this engenders a very clear responsibility on both federal and provincial governments to create structures in our schools that deal specifically with adolescent mental health. Indeed, I believe that schools are the best places to deal with this issue as professionals within the schools enjoy a unique advantage in their ability to see children on a daily basis and develop the essential baseline behavioural data. Furthermore, as respected professionals who deal with children on a regular basis, we have the opportunity to be effective and to help children and families get the care they need so as to offset the detrimental impact of mental illness and possibly avoid the all-too-frequent tragedies that seem to plague our schools. Having both a counselling background and the skillset of a certified counsellor as a school-based administrator has been extremely beneficial to me in helping students and their families who are struggling with mental illness. We will need more professionals with this background and skillset working with in our schools if we are to adequately address the needs of our students.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Failure or Opportunity? The Benefits of Shifting Our Views on the Meaning of School

Posted by: Anna Coutts on April 10, 2015 10:44 am

Learn /lərn/: to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.learn

School is supposed be about learning. Unfortunately, it often seems our society is forgetting what learning is all about. In my practice, I’ve worked with increasing numbers of bright, talented and eager-to-learn youth who are unable to “succeed” at school. Many have become so overwhelmed by depression and anxiety about having to excel academically that they’ve ended up in hospital or have simply stopped attending.

For many kids, it isn’t this extreme. However, more and more youth are feeling the pressure to “get the grades.” Ask almost any teenager about what is more important, understanding the material or getting an A, and I guarantee you most would go with the latter. Yet it’s no wonder they feel so overwhelmed: all around them are frantic parents and teachers, instilling fear in youth that not getting the right grades will lead to failure in life. Failing a test, or worse, failing a class or a grade are seen as catastrophes that can destroy a person’s chance at a happy, prosperous life.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Laugh ‘Till I Die?

Posted by: Priya Senroy on September 8, 2014 10:07 am

Humor can be therapeutic or can be an excellent mask…For the last two days since depression and humor or comedy has been in the forefront of Hollywood, some of my clients who have been effected by depression have been posing lot of questions…and that has made me revisit the therapeutic nature of laughter-while it can be healing—perhaps it can be a smoking gun too!!! I have heard that famous comedy club in Los Angeles called the Laugh Factory has a as an in-house therapy program. Researching I have found that two nights a week, comics meet with psychologists in a private office upstairs, discussing their problems while lying on a therapy couch formerly owned by Groucho Marx. “Eighty percent of comedians come from a place of tragedy,” explains Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada. “They didn’t get enough love. They have to overcome their problems by making people laugh.”Further reading of Peter McGraw’s book on Humor Code brought some interesting perspective. The author talks about, that humor arises when something seems wrong or threatening but is simultaneously OK or safe. If comedians are going to mine their lives for material, they’re naturally going to start by looking for violations—the foibles, neuroses, and bad behaviors that are great for a laugh …So perhaps comedy as a therapy perhaps might not be funny at all sometimes.

R.I.P The Funny Ones!!!!!

By: Priya Senroy

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

How Can Creativity Be a Cure?

Posted by: Priya Senroy on October 25, 2013 4:01 pm

I recently felt a jolt of creative blah!!!!! And then slowly the blah began to shift…… and the shift came when a client reconnected after being hospitalized for severe depression. She said that the only thing which kept her going was making bracelets and necklaces for her ten year-old daughter who visited her each day with her mother. My client shared that, just when she thought that there was nothing else left, the simple pleasure of threading bracelets brought joy to her daughter and that made her reconnect with her inner soul which she felt was gone. This narrative couldn’t have come at a better time…not only to jolt me out of creative blah and try to look at simple things that could bring me joy in my life…like watching my own daughters making me bead bracelets or reading the book Creativity Cure  authored by  Carrie and Alton Barron. In a synopsis Carrie utilizes writing and meditation, and Alton emphasizes exercise and physical exploration as creative actions which lead to long-term happiness and well-being. One of their tools is using hands for happiness. Carrie  makes a powerful statement that purposeful hand use enhances well-being in a technologically saturated culture and backs it sharing that research has shown that hand activity from knitting to woodworking to growing vegetables or chopping them are useful for decreasing stress, relieving anxiety, and modifying depression. There is value in the routine action, the mind rest, and the purposeful creative, domestic or practical endeavor.  Functioning hands also foster a flow in the mind that leads to spontaneous joyful, creative thought. Peak moments occur as one putters, ponders and daydreams. One can be tickled, moved or transformed by a thought or idea along the way as well as by the endpoint. And trying it all together-a simple act of making bead necklaces is all it takes.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Emphasis on Fitness

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on April 24, 2012 4:38 pm

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  ~ World Health Organization

Fitness is a lifestyle.  It is a deliberate action which is directed by a purposeful intention.  If we desire for our children to live and lead healthier and happier lives, then we must conscientiously set out to model a positive example. 

“Western society is in a state of health never seen in history.  We are fatter, less productive, and at a higher risk of developing disease, early osteoporosis, and clinical depression than ever before.” (Brazier, 2009, p. 3)  What has caused the decay of our society’s health and wellbeing?  Is it that we are less driven or motivated?  Is it that our time is occupied with technological or occupational endeavors preventing us from being fit? Whatever our excuse, whatever the reason, we must learn to embrace the need for a healthier lifestyle. 

The lack of physical activity can compound our internal and external stressors.  “Chronic negative stress also is linked to insomnia, anxiety, and depression.” (Starr & McMillan, 2010, p. 297)

The benefits of fitness are countless.  Living a fit life will lead to having a healthier life.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA