The Rural Pharmacist: Life Balance and Mental Health
-Henry Tempelman, Pharmacist & Owner
Mental illness and addiction can present in a variety of ways. Although everyone feels worried or anxious from time to time, mental illness gets in the way of thinking, relating to others or day-to-day functions. There are many types of mental illness, and each affects a person in a different way, with unique challenges. Examples include: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, PTSD, ADHD and several others. A mental illness diagnosis can be temporary or last a lifetime while being effectively managed through treatment.
When it comes to addiction most think of substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, etc), but addiction can also include addiction to a lifestyle such as gambling, food/eating, sex, shopping, internet, etc. People with mental illness are twice as likely to suffer from an addiction, which is one of many reasons to seek help early and talk with a friend or health professional. Turning to addictive behavior as a coping mechanism for mental illness will move you further away from a position of recovery.
Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians each year, and by the time each Canadian turns forty 1 in 2 have- or have had– a mental illness, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). After reading stats like this, it becomes clear that there is probably someone in your circle who has faced, or is currently dealing with, a mental illness. Mental illness affects male and female, young and elderly, low and high income earners and everyone in between.
Besides its emotional effects, mental illness can have physical effects and vice versa. For example, a diabetes diagnosis can lead to drastic lifestyle changes and subsequent depression. On the other hand, untreated depression can have a negative impact on heart disease. It’s important to take care of our mental health just as much as we take care of our physical health.
People may worry that asking for help means admitting something is “wrong”, that they are “weak” or that their family or friends may think differently of them. Reaching out for help is the first step towards improving your mental health and recovery. Many people agree that the stigma has been reduced in recent years, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Approximately 40% of Ontarians state that they have dealt with anxiety or depression, but did not seek medical help for it... and that number is likely low; the truth is that mental illness is still underreported for a variety of reasons.
To start, you can reach out to supportive family members or friends or be that lending ear for another person. Don’t be afraid to talk about it! You can also talk to a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your mental health. Our pharmacists are accessible and available to talk privately in-person or over the phone. If you ever feel unsafe, you can reach out to emergency crisis lines at anytime, such as the Canadian Mental Health Associations’ Crisis Response Service at 1-888-269-3100.
There are numerous effective approaches to treat and manage a mental illness depending on the severity and diagnosis. Treatment ranges from open conversations with a friend or family member, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with a health professional, lifestyle changes or medications. It’s important to talk with a health professional and be involved in your treatment plan.
If medication is required, don’t hesitate to ask questions about treatment timelines, desired effects and common side effects. Some anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants can take a few weeks until they start working so it is important to have appropriate expectations. If you decide to self-medicate and try an over the counter option then talk with your pharmacist about how whether it is the best option for you. For example, St John’s Wort is available over-the-counter to treat depression, but it can have significant drug interactions with other prescription medications.
Join us at the Rural Health Fair to Learn More
On Saturday, May 26th Norwest Community Health Centres will host the 6th annual Rural Health Fair at the Kakabeka Falls Legion with a focus on mental health and life balance. This free event will run from 12pm-3pm and is a great opportunity to explore different resources to help support your mental health along with other health resources available in your community. Rosslyn Pharmacy and Kakabeka Falls Pharmacy will have a booth along with up to 40 other exhibitors.
Food will be available for purchase. Also, we will be collecting donations at both of our locations for the Rural Cupboard Food Bank food drive in the weeks leading up to the Rural Health Fair. If you’re not able to drop off any non-perishable items at our locations then feel free to bring some items to the Health Fair!
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