Diagnosis is based on ongoing interviews, rating scales and meeting DSM 5 criteria. Treatment may be medication related, therapy (at Catalyst or referral to an outside therapist) or both medications and therapy.
Dr. Hamilton strongly believes that without an accurate diagnosis there is little chance for proper treatment. Your diagnosis is reached through detailed interviews, ongoing questionnaires and assessment. Diagnosis is based on DSM 5 criteria.
Catalyst Psychiatry believes to achieve your best life, all aspects of your life should be considered and improved upon, if needed. This includes looking at your habits such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, including marijuana.
There are specific nutrients that might be beneficial to support your mood. These include folate, iron, Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA), magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and Zinc. Your doctor may suggest supplementation to improve mood and functioning.
Exercise has a significant influence on mood. It is probably the cheapest and easiest antidepressant. Exercise has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is a gene that codes for a protein that modulates serotonin and increases the brain’s ability to create new neurons. Exercise also helps lower stress and improve overall physical health which can then positively influence your mental health. We recommend exercise be a part of your daily self-care habit to improve and support your mental health.
Sleep is also highly influential in mood disorders. People with depression are 5 times more likely to suffer from sleep disordered breathing problems like obstructive sleep apnea than those without depression. And we all know that when we don’t sleep well, it can negatively impact our mood. We will discuss your sleep habits at most visits and discuss ways to improve your sleep if needed.
Alcohol often feels like it has short term benefits on mood, but studies have shown that long term alcohol use has negative effects on both mood and physical health. The recommended limits for drinking are one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. However, if you are coming to Catalyst seeking treatment for mental health problems, our recommendation will be to severely limit your drinking, as alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol use can also worsen anxiety problems and it can interact negatively with medications we may prescribe.
Like alcohol, cannabis may seem initially as if it is helping improve your mood or anxiety, but it can also have significant negative effects on your mood, anxiety and ability to concentrate. Cannabis use has been associated with the development of schizophrenia and psychosis (when you believe you are seeing or hearing things, increased paranoia, etc.).1 The psychosis can remain, even after cannabis use is discontinued. Long term use can have a small but permanent effect on your ability to think and concentrate.2 The earlier you start using cannabis, the more at risk you are for developing a mental illness later in life.3 Cannabis can also interact with the medications we may prescribe to you, making them either more potent or less effective.
Tobacco also feels like it has benefits short term due to nicotine causing a release of dopamine which feels good in the moment. However, long term it causes the brain to switch off the natural supply of dopamine making people feel worse and increasing their desire to smoke more. Withdrawal symptoms between cigarettes may feel like worsening anxiety. And of course, the negative effects on your physical health are well known which can in turn affect your mental health.
Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world. Most people don’t think about caffeine having a negative affect on mood but it can. Caffeine can increase levels of alertness and energy, but too much caffeine can increase anxiety, jitteriness, irritability and insomnia.
While you are working with us at Catalyst, we will assess for the above habits and behaviors at your initial visit and ongoing because these can have such a significant impact on your mental and physical health.
2. World Health Organization. Cannabis: The Facts – Chronic health effects of cannabis use. www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/cannabis/en/
3. Frank. Cannabis. www.talktofrank.com/drug/cannabis (accessed 7th January 2020).