The London Psychiatry Centre | Treatment of Mental Health Problems
The London Psychiatry Centre is a leading private psychiatric care clinic in Harley Street that provides cutting-edge treatments for mental health problems. Follow us to keep up with advice on improving your mental health.
How to make yourself happier in under a minute. It may sound too good to be true, but research has shown that there are a number of strategies you can implement that can increase your happiness. Busy lifestyles, stressful jobs, the pressures of modern day life – there’s a lot that demands focus in our lives. Why not take a moment to focus on yourself and boost your mood?
So, what is happiness? According to the Oxford Dictionary:
The state of being happy.
Contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, joyousness, delight, enjoyment. Whatever word you use to describe it, happiness is generally considered to be a combination of positive emotion and how satisfied you are with your life.
It’s perfectly normal for levels of happiness to fluctuate – that’s a natural part of the ups and downs of life. If you’re suffering with depression or anxiety, you’ve probably noticed that you feel low for much of the time. Whether you have a mental illness of not, you can be confident that with the below scientifically proven strategies and techniques for boosting your mood, you can feel happier in less time than it takes to boil the kettle.
In a world where busy lifestyles are the norm, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on one’s own happiness. By practicing these evidence-based tips consistently they can become habits which can have a real lasting impact on your emotional and mental wellbeing.
Ready to feel happier and more positive? What are you waiting for?
1. Sit up straight
Self esteem – confidence in one’s worth – is heavily intertwined with happiness. When we have low self esteem we tend to feel negatively about ourselves and life, but people with high self esteem tend to feel happier and have a more positive outlook on life.
Much research has been conducted over the years and confirms the relationship between posture and self esteem. Nair et al, completed a study in 2014 which analysed whether upright postures affect stress responses and found that adopting an upright posture in the face of stress can help to reduce negative mood, increase positive mood and also maintain self-esteem.
How are you sitting at the moment? What’s your posture like? Are you hunched over? Next time you’re feeling low, take note of how you’re sitting and try to sit tall!
2. Give us a smile
Grin and bear it. Fake it until you make it. Remember these old sayings? Well, it seems that they may actually have some truth behind them after all.
The act of smiling activates happiness-inducing chemicals – dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – in the body, which help to elevate mood. In fact, British researchers (Hewlett Packard and Dr David Lewis) found that just one genuine smile triggers the brain’s reward mechanism and can result in the same level of pleasure and brain stimulation as eating up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.
Smiling also has benefits beyond this that are advantageous for health so it’s a win win situation! Research by Kraft and Pressman has shown that smiling during stressful times can influence our physical state by lowering heart rate and the intensity of the stress response. Less anxiety. Less stress. Happy days!
3. Feel gratitude
How often do you stop and consider all the things that you are grateful for? Multiple studies support a strong positive association between gratitude and greater happiness. For example, one study by Emmons and McCullough examined three groups of people: One group was asked to keep a note of negative thoughts, moods and life events each day, a second group was asked to keep note of neutral thoughts, moods and events, whilst the third was asked to write down only positive occurrences. The group that noted positive thoughts, moods and life events reported better wellbeing in comparison to the other two groups – they felt more optimistic and contented with their lives.
Take a moment to consider the things today that you feel grateful for. Often it’s the little things that bring pleasure. Did you relish your breakfast this morning? Did you enjoy your time reading your book on the train to work? Did you eat lunch in the park instead of in the office? Gratitude can help you appreciate the experiences you’ve had, and can also help you to feel more positive. Why not write down three good things that happened to you today, no matter how small.
4. Listen to music
Sound is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to our emotions. It can manipulate mood by affecting the body’s autonomic nervous system which controls the heartbeat, feelings and emotions, as well as the limbic system.
Just as listening to slow, relaxing music can help you to relax before bed, listening to upbeat music can have a positive impact on mood and lift the spirits. Listening to music releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain which is released as a response to rewarding and pleasurable activity. One study found that levels of dopamine in subjects rose by 9% rise when listening to music that they enjoyed. Next time you’re feeling a little low, pop those headphones in and press play to listen to songs that make you feel joyful.
5. Get up and walk
The benefits of exercise for boosting mood are profound and well documented. Science shows that exercise can make you feel happier by increasing the feel-good chemicals – serotonin and dopamine – in the brain. These help to boost mood, relieve depression and anxiety, and are also a useful tool in stress reduction. Exercise also has the additional benefit of helping you sleep better and giving you more energy.
The good news is that you don’t have to head to the gym; just five minutes of exercise can make a difference. Simply getting up from your desk and having a walk around the building can have a positive impact on your happiness.
Got a little longer that five minutes? The University of Vermont found that 20 minutes of exercise can have mood-boosting benefits for up to 12 hours!
6. Write down what you’re going to do today
A habit that has been linked to increased happiness is that of goal setting. Setting goals, or positive intentions, for the day can be a really fantastic tool for putting you in control and increasing happiness.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that progressing with our goals – no matter how small – can provide a sense of purpose, feeling of achievement, and can help us to feel more satisfied with life. Goal-setting doesn’t need to be time consuming, you can simply add your intentions into your diary or scribble them on a post-it note.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue, don’t delay in getting help. With the right support you can be back to your normal self. Here at The London Psychiatry Centre we provide help without the wait. Our psychiatrists, psychotherapists and psychologists are all highly experienced and you can be confident you will receive the very best care. If you have any questions or would like to book a consultation, simply call our admin team on 020 7580 4224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve been feeling low for a prolonged period of time after the birth of your baby, you could have postnatal depression. This is a type of depression that, not only mothers but fathers and partners can experience too. Unfortunately, postnatal depression often goes unreported and many suffer in silence. The charity Mind reports that a shocking 30% of new mums with perinatal mental health problems have never talked about it to a doctor or specialist. And, according to NCT, 10-20% of new parents have depression and anxiety after birth – that’s a significant number.
To raise awareness of the illness and the help that’s available, we sat down with one of our Consultant Psychiatrists, Dr Rafael Euba, to ask him some of the most common questions about postnatal depression.
“No matter how prepared you are, having a baby is a huge change to your life. Your body is adjusting to the trauma of birth, you’re getting much less sleep that you’re used to, and hormones are adjusting. In the first few days after birth, over half of mothers have what is known as the ‘baby blues’ which normally only lasts a few weeks. The baby blues can make you feel teary and emotional; it is thought to be caused by the hormones in the body changing after you’ve given birth.
“If you’re feeling low for more than a few weeks you could have postnatal depression, also known as postpartum depression. If the feelings continue for a prolonged period, it’s time to see your GP or a specialist for some support and treatment. Although timing varies between individuals, postnatal depression can start any time after the baby blues up to a year post-birth and is often (though not always) accompanied by anxiety.”
The London Psychiatry Centre offers private treatment for postnatal depression in London without the wait. Find out more on our website or call the clinic on 020 7580 4224 to ask any questions or book an initial consultation.
What is postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression is a type of depression that parents can experience after the birth of their baby, making them feel detached from their newborn and making it difficult to bond. It is different to the baby blues, which only lasts a few weeks, and can start any time in the first year after birth (but usually after the baby blues period); it can also last much longer.
“Postnatal depression is not a weakness, and it’s not your fault – it’s an illness. Getting treatment quickly can mean you’re still able to bond with your baby.” explains Dr Euba.
What causes postnatal depression?
According to the Mental Health Foundation, it is thought that postnatal depression might be caused by a combination of biological factors like hormones and genetics, and that psychosocial factors like stress and personal vulnerabilities can contribute.
“I would strongly agree that factors like stress or trauma can be a catalyst for the illness. In my years of experience treating patients I have seen time and time again how an incident like a distressing birth can trigger postnatal depression in a parent. However, that being said, sometimes it is the case that there is no clear cause or trigger.” says Dr Euba.
How long does postnatal depression last?
Postnatal depression can be a long-term problem. A longitudinal study in the Harvard Medical Journal, which looked at the findings of postnatal depression research (1985-2012), found that more than a third of women with postnatal depression experienced chronic symptoms. Half the women undergoing treatment were still receiving it a year after birth and a third were still depressed three years after birth.
Dr Euba adds: “It is unlikely that postnatal depression will improve without intervention, and so taking action to get treatment as early as possible can help to focus on what’s important – bonding with your baby.”
How can you prevent postpartum depression?
“There isn’t anything that you can do to prevent postnatal depression, but all parents-to-be can prepare for the potential that it may affect them.
“Establishing a good support network of family and friends before birth, along with maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise and social calendar – whether that’s baby groups or coffee with friends – will be beneficial, as will familiarising yourself with the symptoms of postnatal depression so you can seek treatment if needed.” explains Dr Euba.
What are the signs of postnatal depression?
There’s a lot of pressure to feel like having a baby is one of the happiest times of your life. It is quite normal for new parents to experience a wide range of emotions, including fear and excitement, but it’s also common to experience anxiety and depression.
Similar to depression at other times of life, symptoms of postnatal depression can include feeling low and withdrawn and unable to concentrate. You might feel detached from your baby, have difficulty bonding and feel like you’re missing out on motherhood or fatherhood. It can feel difficult to work out what your baby needs and you may feel like you don’t love them and feel guilty because of this.
Tiredness and feelings of worthlessness are also symptoms of postpartum depression, as are feeling teary, sleep problems, anger and irritability, changes to diet like overeating, and lowered sex drive. Some mothers experience thoughts about harming their baby and/or themselves, although this is much less common.
Postnatal depression can develop gradually and as such, it can be difficult to realise if you have symptoms. It’s never too late to get help. Once you do recognise the signs, it’s important that you seek help from your GP, health visitor or a mental health specialist at the soonest possible opportunity as symptoms can get worse if left untreated and could impact your relationship with your baby, your partner and your family at a time where support is incredibly important. It can also influence your child’s development.
In rare cases some women experience postpartum psychosis, which can start within hours of birth and can involve seeing or hearing things that are not there. Immediate medical attention should be sought in this instance.
Am I at risk of postnatal depression?
Anyone can develop postnatal depression after birth. However, some recent research has suggested that a woman’s chance of developing postnatal depression rises by 79% if she has a boy, when compared to girls.
You can’t know if you will get postnatal depression or not but studies have shown there are certain factors that can increase your risk of getting it. These include having a family history of depression or postnatal depression, having antenatal anxiety, low social support and having experienced traumatic life events.
What treatment is there for postnatal depression?
There are two main approaches to treating postnatal depression: Talking therapies and medication.
Talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be useful in providing patients with techniques for managing their symptoms, but there are often long waiting lists for this type of treatment when going through your GP.
Another treatment method that is often prescribed for postnatal depression is antidepressants which some people find very effective, but they are not without side effects and have potential risks for the foetus.
The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most women will make a full recovery.
If you’re experiencing signs of postnatal depression and would like effective treatment without the wait, please don’t hesitate to call our admin team on 020 7580 4224 if you have any questions or if you would like to book a consultation.
It’s not unusual to experience the odd night where it’s difficult to fall or stay asleep, but the inability to sleep for an extended period of time is called insomnia. It is thought that around a third of Brits will have insomnia at some point in their lives. Sleep and mental health are closely linked; not getting enough sleep leads to fatigue and reduced quality of life which in turn can have an influence on your mental wellbeing. If you already suffer with anxiety or depression, sleep deprivation can prove particularly difficult.
Typically we spend around a third of our lives sleeping. Although it’s often recommended that we need at least eight hours of sleep a night, the Mental Health Foundation Sleep Report states that the amount of time an average adult needs to sleep actually differs from person to person, and can range between five and 11 hours.
Sleep improves learning and memory capabilities, and helps emotional health. When you sleep your brain processes information from the day, and your body heals and recuperates. When sleep is disturbed, the body is unable to do these things sufficiently.
Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and affect our psychological state, contributing to us feeling anxious and stressed. Symptoms of insomnia include:
Insomnia isn’t just a symptom of some psychiatric illnesses, it can fuel them and make them worse. Insomnia is prevalent in those with anxiety and depression; although it’s estimated that between 15-40% of those with depression can also experience oversleeping (though this doesn’t mean they feel any less tired). Anxiety, which is often seen alongside depression, can cause racing thoughts and in turn disturb sleep.
“The impact of insomnia on mental health and wellbeing is significant. A problem sleeping is often a sign that something is wrong. And whilst an issue sleeping on its own is unlikely to cause mental health issues, it can certainly be a contributing factor. The relationship between lack of sleep and mental health is cyclical – one can feed the other and vice versa.” explains Dr Rafael Euba, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre.
“It is a vicious cycle of poor sleep, unhelpful behaviours and thought patterns, but with the right help and a targeted approach, this can be treated effectively. Treatments like antidepressants can disrupt sleep and so at The London Psychiatry Centre, if appropriate, we may look to treat depression with repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS).”
The diagram here highlights the circular relationship between sleep and mental health.
Treatment for depression and anxiety
It’s essential to ensure you’re getting effective treatment for your depression and/or anxiety. The team at The London Psychiatry Centre are highly experienced at treating both of these, and can help you take control of your life again.
We often see patients at the clinic who have both anxiety and depression. Our psychiatrists and therapists may prescribe a mixture of medication (either temporarily or long term) for anxiety, along with specialised counselling.
There are a number of treatment options for depression. Dr Euba explains: “Some people find antidepressants, combined with psychotherapy, effective, but many struggle with side effects. At The London Psychiatry Centre we have successfully treated many patients who didn’t respond to antidepressants with rTMS.”
rTMS is a non-invasive drug-free treatment for depression which has long-lasting results and often helps with sleep problems. rTMS treatment for depression is an alternative to traditional treatment and has a very high success rate when administered at The London Psychiatry Centre.
“We have seen that ⅔ of patients recover from depression with rTMS at The London Psychiatry Centre. It’s great to see such compelling results and to see how this treatment has changed the life of so many.” says Dr Euba. Indeed, the clinic has treated the most patients in the UK and also has the highest success rates in the UK.
Tips for better sleep
Dr Euba says: “Alongside seeking treatment for depression and anxiety, it’s useful to take steps to improve your quality of sleep by keeping good sleep hygiene. Putting a bedtime routine into place that involves cutting out caffeine after midday, not using screens for an hour before you sleep, maintaining a regular bedtime, and ensuring the room is cool and dark are all steps that can be implemented.
“Ultimately, one of the most important things you can do is to get help for any underlying mental illness; whether it’s depression, anxiety or another psychiatric illness, our specialists can support you on the road to recovery and give you the help you need.”
Get help for depression without the wait. If you’ve any questions you’d like answered, or would like to book a consultation with one of our rTMS specialists, please call our administration team on 020 7580 4224.
If you’re one of the 8.2 million people in the UK who suffers from depression and anxiety each year you’ll know coping with anxiety at Christmas can be exhausting. Knowing how to manage anxiety at Christmas can help to reduce stress and make you feel more able to cope.
There are many reasons you may feel anxious at Christmas time, including:
Expectation that it’s the happiest time of the year.
Expectation that you should be doing certain things.
Reminder of lost loved ones.
Increased pressure to socialise.
The pressure of buying presents: Will they like it? Can I afford it?
Feeling like you should, or have to, socialise with people you may not want to socialise with.
Whatever the reason for your anxiety, we understand that December can be a minefield for anxiety sufferers. Even with anxiety medication it’s important to have coping strategies and techniques for when you need them. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be a really useful tool for combating anxious thoughts and this, combined with medication can prove effective strategy for reducing anxiety.
Dr Irina Panihhidina, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre, is highly experienced with complex cases of anxiety. She says: “There’s a pressure to make time to see all our family and friends over the Christmas period, which doesn’t leave much time for ourselves. But, if you’re suffering with anxiety, it’s crucial to set time aside to do things that you enjoy. Whether that’s listening to music or reading a book, try to be forgiving to yourself. Taking care of yourself at Christmas should be your main priority.”
Don’t let anxiety ruin your life. The team at The London Psychiatry Centre are experienced at working with patients with complex anxiety disorders. To find out if we can help you, call 020 7580 4224.
Tips to reduce anxiety
Get some extra sleep
With the busy lives we lead poor sleep is increasingly common, and lack of sleep can have a considerable effect on anxiety levels. When we are asleep our body recharges. Getting enough sleep also helps to keep cortisol levels (the stress hormone that causes the fight or flight response) lowered, which in turn helps to keep feelings of dread and danger to a minimum.
Whether it’s having a lie-in, taking time for an early night or even grabbing a nap in the afternoon, getting some extra Zs can have a positive impact on anxiety levels.
Try not to overindulge
It’s easy to get caught up in the indulgence of Christmas. Mince pies, After Eights – and don’t forget that giant box of Roses. But remember that many foods and drinks are filled with sugar and caffeine which have an almost immediate impact on the body and mood. Sugar and caffeine can make us feel great in the short term, but after you will experience the crash, which has a negative effect both physically and emotionally.
“Whilst being a bit more relaxed than usual about food over Christmas can be good for you, try not to throw all your caution to the wind – enjoy things in moderation to keep a handle on your anxiety.” adds Dr Panihhidina.
Be present in the moment
Focussing on the past or future can make you feel apprehensive, guilty or a myriad of other emotions that will stop you from enjoying the moment. You can use some simple breathing and meditation techniques to help you focus on the here and now so you can enjoy the connection that Christmas time brings. Take a few minutes to try breathing deeply into your belly, counting up to 5, then breathing out and counting back down to 1. This is a great technique for helping to reduce stress and bring you into the present moment when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Have a plan
It pays to be prepared. When at social events it can be helpful to let a trusted friend know about your anxiety so they can have your back if you need some space or to make a quick exit. It can also be effective to seek out somewhere you can retreat to should you need some personal space – whether it’s a quiet bedroom, the garden or even the bathroom.
Exercise can fall by the wayside in the winter and it’s easy to see why – cold days, dark mornings… But exercise produces chemicals in the body that positively alter mood. It can also help you feel a sense of achievement, and increase self-esteem.
Not a fan of the gym? No problem! A walk around the park can be a good way to burn off some of that energy and trigger those endorphins. Need a moment to yourself after the chaos of Christmas dinner? Why not offer to walk the dog? Besides, a gentle walk will help the turkey go down. Exercise can also help you sleep better, and if you’re outdoors the vitamin D can also help to improve your mood.
There’s no need to cut out alcohol altogether, but drinking responsibly can make a difference to anxiety levels. Whilst drinking may help you to fall asleep, your quality of sleep (and in turn how you feel) will be impacted, and let’s not start on the hangover…
If you do drink, try to alternate with soft drinks to keep hydrated.
“Ultimately, it’s important to take care of yourself over the Christmas period and ensure you have copying techniques and strategies in place to help reduce anxiety.”
If you are feeling anxious and would like help to feel better, our team of experienced private consultant psychiatrists and psychologists are able to provide help. Call now on 020 7580 4224 to discuss booking a consultation.
Ever wondered how to improve your mental health? We are living in a world where 2 in 3 people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Mental and substance use disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide, and approximately 800,000 people die by suicide every year. So finding ways to improve your mental wellbeing can be incredibly beneficial.
But what is mental health? The World Health Organization (WHO) says that mental health is a state of wellbeing where you are able to:
Realise one’s own potential.
Cope with normal stresses of daily life.
Can work productively.
Can make contribution to the community.
Dr Christos Kouimtsidis, Consultant Psychiatrist here at The London Psychiatry Centre says, ‘Prevention is always better than the cure when it comes to mental health. The good news is that there are many things you can do to boost your mental wellbeing and protect against mental illness on a daily basis.’
Dr Kouimtsidis highlights seven ways to promote good mental health.
Talk about your feelings
‘I’m fine.’ It’s a phrase that’s all too common and is often used when we might not want to discuss how we are feeling with others. But talking about your feelings with someone you trust isn’t a sign of weakness; it can help you take charge of your feelings and help you work through problems or stresses that you may have otherwise been internalising and dealing with alone.
This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to have positive relationships with friends and family. Having friends who listen to you can help you to feel supported during challenging times, and can also help you to gain perspective on a situation.
Nutrition and mental health
Foods like caffeine, alcohol and sugar can have a significant effect on your mood – and can even aggravate mental health problems. Limiting caffeine and alcohol can have a beneficial effect and restricting sugar intake can help to reduce the yo-yoing mood swing effect.
A balanced diet plays a large part in not only sustaining energy levels but managing weight and, in turn, self-esteem. A good variety of food and plenty of water intake is essential for keeping your brain healthy – it’s just like all the other organs in your body.
If you are struggling with your nutrition, our naturopathic nutritionist, Tautvile Sliazaite can create a bespoke plan for you.
We hear about the positive influence exercise has on our physical health all the time. But just how beneficial is exercise to our mental wellbeing?
An international team of researchers – including King’s College London – pooled data from the UK, USA, Sweden and other countries to find out just this. The researchers discovered clear evidence that being active can lower the risk of developing depression – no matter what age you are.
Dr Kouimtsidis explains: ‘We really cannot underestimate the value that exercising has on our mental state. It’s one of the most effective natural ways to increase energy levels, manage stress and anger, improve sleep – and has been shown to boost confidence. That’s not to say you should be pounding the pavement every night, but any active hobbies you have – or simply going for a walk – can have a considerable positive impact.’
Make time for yourself
With the chaotic lives we lead it’s all too easy to overlook the importance of self care and put off taking time out for yourself. But ensuring you spend time relaxing and doing things you enjoy is essential to improving your mental wellbeing. Whether that’s taking time for a bath, playing football, painting your nails or reading. We all have own own preferred ways of relaxing.
Get lots of sunlight
Vitamin D is really important for our bodies – it helps our brains release serotonin and endorphin which improve our mood. It is recommended that 30 minutes of sunlight each day. However, in winter, when the nights draw in and there is less daylight, many suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because they cannot get enough sunlight. Research has shown that Vitamin D can treat the symptoms of SAD, So the benefits of a winter walk are double – exercise and vitamin D.
Being mindful is about taking time to be present; that means taking some time out from digital devices, being aware of what is happening at the current moment in time.
Mindfulness has many benefits which include steadying the heart and breath and helping to deal with both anxiety and depression. Five minutes of meditation or deep breathing can have a dramatic effect on mood – it can calm your mind which in turn increases physical relaxation.
Sleep – for some it’s allusive like the snow leopard, for others, it comes considerably easier. Most people need between five and eight hours of sleep each night, although this varies between individuals, but one thing that holds true for everyone is that sleep is crucial to maintaining mental wellbeing.
A lack of sleep has been linked to depression and misuse of medication so it’s important to try to get enough sleep each night. If you’ve not been getting much sleep you may notice difficulty concentrating, low mood, low energy, and you may also find it harder to remember things.
Dr Kouimtsidis highlights that here are many small changes you can make to help improve your sleep quality. These include:
Setting a bedtime routine: Wake and sleep at the same time each day.
Only sleep when you are in bed: Make the bedroom a sleep (and sex) only zone; watch TV, read or eat in a different place.
Get regular exercise: Exercise during the day can be great for helping you get more sleep but avoid doing anything strenuous right before bed as this can have the opposite effect.
Cut back on caffeine: Tea, coffee and chocolate all contain caffeine and will stimulate your mind and body, rather than relax it.
Avoid alcohol: Ever noticed that after a drink you keep waking up in the night? Whilst a glass of wine or a bottle of beer may help you to relax and get to sleep, it actually reduces your quality of sleep.
Practicing self care is vital to promoting mental wellbeing. If you are concerned you have a mental health problem, our team of experienced private consultant psychiatrists and psychologists are able to provide help. Call our team on 020 7580 4224 to discuss booking a consultation.
A media announcement from The London Psychiatry Centre:
Bipolar News – Millions could benefit from bipolar breakthrough #Worldfirst
The lives of millions of bipolar sufferers around the world are about to change forever as The London Psychiatry Centre announced in Cape Town a brand-new discovery in the treatment of the crippling illness.
On Sunday 2 December representatives from The London Psychiatry Centre addressed a globally represented delegation at the 18th International Congress of Endocrinology conference. They unveiled the discovery and findings from 20 jaw-dropping cases treated at the Centre where patients had taken part in the new life-changing treatment of bipolar disorders – namely type 2 and subthreshold bipolar disorder – in patients who have four or more mood changes in a year (rapid cycling). These conditions worsen with the use of antidepressants (a further 100 cases will be prepared for publication).
The new breakthrough applies a concept known as ‘precision medicine’ to effectively predict and target the treatment of patients based on their genetic profile. The process uses a combination of rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) and high dose of thyroid hormone, alongside targeted genetic testing for thyroid activating enzymes which ensures the patient suffers minimal, if any side effects.
Precision medicine is when genetic testing is used to guide treatment and is currently being delivered in the treatment of some cancers. But this is the first time the technique has been successfully administered in mental health and specifically in bipolar disorder.
The use of precision medicine, whilst following UK prescribing guidelines for treating rapid cycling bipolar disorder has led to a ground-breaking discovery, which could signal a worldwide change in how millions of bipolar disorder sufferers are medically treated in the future.
Dr Andy Zamar (Consultant Psychiatrist), Dr Abbi Lulsegged (Consultant Endocrinologist), Dr Robin Roberts (Consultant Cardiologist) and their team at The London Psychiatry Centre have found through genetic testing that over 90% of the bipolar cases randomly and consecutively tested have a deficiency of one, two or both enzymes needed to activate thyroid hormone in the brain and the body.
“We believe we have cracked it!” said Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Andy Zamar of The London Psychiatry Centre.
The London Psychiatry Centre pioneered the effective combination of rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) and high dose thyroid hormone to specifically target in those sufferers who lack the activating enzymes Deiodinase 1 and Deiodinase 2. These patients are unable to activate normal doses of thyroid hormone. The team found that as a result, they can be treated with minimal or no side effects with high dose thyroid and rTMS, but some may need one additional drug as opposed to the usual requirement of a standard of 3 to 4 drugs which, as a rule, cause significant side effects.
Patients who had the combination of rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) and high dose thyroid combination saw their condition recover fully after years of unsuccessful treatment with drugs1, with the age ranges of patients being between 15 and 80 years old. This effective new process also displays generally a lack of or minimal side effects, which is wonderful news for patients receiving the treatment.
The fact these patients did not suffer side effects on High dose Thyroxine has been previously reported but the reasons were never understood, and the treatment was never targeted to a specific identifiable population as this was never linked to Deiodinase enzyme deficiency.
A large study conducted by the World Health Organisation in May 2008 found that in 15 countries bipolar disorder was 2-3 times more disabling than cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Subthreshold and type 2 bipolar disorders make up an estimated 3.4% of the US population according to a large study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the USA in 2007. The condition carries a high depression burden, a significant suicide rate, and divorce rates of up to 90%.
Dr Zamar continues: “This game-changing discovery is the result of more than a decade of work involving the treatment of nearly 400 people with genetic tests carried out in over 100 of these patients. We hope our findings result in a global transformation of how millions of people are treated for this debilitating illness and signals a reduction in their required medication and side effects.”
The London Psychiatry Centre operates three clinics in the UK with two clinics in London namely Harley Street and Canary Wharf in partnership with LycaHealth and one clinic in Newcastle upon Tyne in partnership with Newcastle Premier Health (NPH).
Around nine months ago the team started to investigate the genetic coding for the enzymes needed to activate thyroxine in order to predict and refine the treatment as well as avoid side effects. This came directly in response to the observation that a significant number of patients who were being treated by the team showed difficulty converting thyroxine (T4), the inactive precursor to the active thyroid hormone, Triiodothyronine (T3).
The team then looked at the genes coding for the activating enzymes to predict tolerability side effects and to better target the treatment for those patients, as they were clearly unique in being able to tolerate unusually high doses of thyroid hormone, which were recommended in guidelines.
Bipolar type 2 disorder is when sufferers have a mild elevation of mood (not mania) or a change of mood from depression to feeling well for four days or more followed by depression for a minimum of two weeks or longer.
Subthreshold bipolar is when sufferers have brief changes in mood which are less than four days, sometimes even for an hour then they feel depressed again. Another form of the illness is when people experience racing thoughts and or agitation together with severe depression.
rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is a type of brain magnetic stimulation therapy, introduced in the UK by The London Psychiatry Centre in 2013 which is used to treat depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia and migraine and has a strong neuroplastic effects. It is a way of generating and reinforcing new healthy brain pathways. This combined with the high dose thyroid hormone can overcome the genetic deficiency of activating enzymes in bipolar sufferers, giving them a normal life.
Are you taking care of your mental health? Stress can make you feel overwhelmed and burnt out, so it’s important to be able to recognise when you are stressed and take action to manage it. National Stress Awareness Day is on 1st November 2018, and so we have spoken with our Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Rafael Euba, here at The London Psychiatry Centre, to find 7 surprising signs of stress to broaden awareness. What is often brushed off as ‘just part of modern day life’ can actually have quite a serious impact on your mental health.
The largest known study of stress levels in the UK was recently undertaken by YouGov; it revealed that in the past year 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. The results of this survey bring to light just how common stress is and the significant number of people who are suffering with it. The study also found:
46% reported eating unhealthy food or too much food in response to stress.
29% reported they started drinking more in response to stress.
16% increased or started smoking in response to stress.
37% of those who reported being stressed also reported feeling lonely as a result.
51% of those who reported being stressed also felt depressed.
61% of those who reported being stressed also reported feeling anxious.
A study by Forth has suggested that 85% of UK adults are experiencing stress regularly, and 39% of UK adults admit they feel too stressed in their day to day lives. The most common causes of stress were cited as money, followed by work, health concerns, failure to get enough sleep and household chores.
Dr Euba comments: “Stress is a natural part of our lives. It feels counterintuitive, but it can be argued that we actually need a certain amount of psychological stress to be able to function and feel well. However, we all know that modern life can easily become too stressful. Work, family, social pressures, can all conspire to make our lives too difficult to manage.
“A specific difficulty we encounter in modern life is that we are not expected to switch off. We are constantly connected and always engaged.”
Stress often is seen alongside depression and anxiety – the three are very frequently connected. Our consultants at The London Psychiatry Centre are highly experienced in helping patients with a variety of mental health problems. If you feel like you need support, you can book a consultation by calling 020 7580 4224.
Why not take a few moments to be present, reflect, and think about how you feel? Dr Euba has outlined 7 surprising signs of stress below. If your answer is “yes” to these questions then you are probably stressed and need to re-evaluate your life and seek help.
Do I dread starting the day?
Morning anxiety can be improved by setting yourself a morning routine. This is an important technique for reducing that feeling of dread and anxiety. Simple things like waking up early enough that you don’t have to rush, and can take the time to sit and appreciate a cup of tea or coffee; the act of making your bed can encourage your brain to feel good for completing a task first thing in the morning; and a five or ten minute walk around the block will get your blood flowing and improve your mood instantly. Small changes like this can contribute to you to feeling more grounded, and more prepared, for the day ahead.
Do I have to multitask in order to be able to cope?
In the busy world that we live in, multitasking is somewhat of the norm. However the brain isn’t capable of intense multitasking on a long term basis and multitasking brings its own kind of cognitive stress.
In response to the stress of juggling multiple tasks, the brain sends stress hormones out which give you a burst of energy and concentration, but over an extended period of time, these stress hormones can have a negative impact on health, and can lead to chronic problems like heart disease and depression.
A group of Stanford researchers have shown that by doing less, you can achieve more. Unitasking, the act of working on a single thing at a time, has been shown to be more productive than multitasking. Focussing on fewer tasks at once allows full focus to be placed on the task at hand.
You can take some small steps towards unitasking by try keeping your phone or laptop out of sight when having face-to-face conversations, or even having the occasional technology-free meeting.
Am I always tense?
Take a moment to think about how your body feels right now. Is your jaw clenched? Are your shoulders up around your ears? Maybe you’ve noticed you’ve been getting headaches? When the body is stressed, its natural reaction is to tense up to protect against injury and pain. It’s normal for our bodies to hold tension, and whilst it’s beneficial to some degree, we can sometimes be so used to holding this tension that we don’t even realise we’re doing it.
Give your toes a wiggle. Now tense all the muscles in your feet, hold for a few seconds, then relax them. Move up your body, slowly tensing and relaxing each part of your body in turn. This can be an effective way of relieving some of the tension in the short term.
Do I have trouble sleeping?
Are you experiencing trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep? Insomnia can be a sign of stress and can cause a cycle whereby you can’t sleep because you are stressed, and the lack of sleep causes more stress.
If the insomnia is linked to stress, you should notice the symptoms fade as the stress passes. However, you can try some relaxation techniques like meditation which has been shown to improve insomnia. Even five to ten minutes a day before bed can be really beneficial.
Do I have trouble digesting my meals?
Have you noticed diarrhoea or constipation? Perhaps you’ve been feeling nauseous.
The stress response (fight or flight) can have a considerable impact on your digestion. Blood flow and contractions of the digestive muscles can both be affected by stress. It can also cause inflammation of your gastrointestinal system.
Eating a balanced diet that avoids sugar and alcohol can be beneficial, as can slowing down and relaxing when you are eating – instead of munching on the go, try to take the time to sit and savour your food.
Am I irritable with my partner?
Irritability is a stress emotion; it can make you feel grumpy and on edge. You may notice you get frustrated by small things that otherwise wouldn’t normally bother you.
You can reduce irritability by cutting back on your caffeine and alcohol intake – remember, even decaf drinks still have a small amount of caffeine in them, as does chocolate. Being physically active can also help to work off some of that energy, so grab your jacket and head outside for a quick walk or run. Alternatively, you could take some time to find somewhere quiet to disengage and take a break.
Do I have problems concentrating?
Trouble concentrating? Lack of focus? Whilst short term stress can actually heighten the senses and improve concentration, long term stress can impair the area of the brain responsible for short term learning and concentration.
Difficulty concentrating should subside when the stress passes, but in the short term you can try preventing distractions and using a timer to encourage periods of focus. You can also try breathing techniques: Breathe in for 5, hold for 2, breathe out for 7.
Stress relief: Advice for stress management
Dr Euba adds: “The most important aspect of stress management is recognition. We need to assess our lives and recognise the parts that are overloaded. We then need to either unload (if possible, of course) or otherwise seek support. It’s important to set our priorities and focus our efforts on important things only, and it’s also key that we learn to delegate and share responsibilities.”
If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed and would like help to feel better, our team of experienced private consultant psychiatrists and psychologists are able to provide help. Call now on 020 7580 4224 to discuss booking a consultation.
Organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), World Suicide Prevention Day is 10th September 2018. The day aims to raise awareness of the risks of suicide and spread knowledge of what you can do to help prevent suicide.
In London teenage suicides have risen by 107% – that’s more than four times the national rate, according to Brent Centre for Young People.
The impact of suicide reaches far wider than many realise; it is thought that 135 people are affected by each and every suicide – that’s the equivalent of 108 million bereaved worldwide each year.
What’s important is that we can all play a part in helping to reduce these numbers through learning how to spot the warning signs in friends and family. Although it doesn’t apply to everyone, it is a fact that most people who commit suicide are suffering from depression.
Myths about suicide
Myth: People who threaten suicide are just attention seeking.
Any threat of suicide should be taken seriously. Pay attention to any threats of suicide and help your friend to get support – you could just save their life.
Myth: Talking about suicide might give someone the idea to do it.
Although talking about suicide is still considered controversial, the reality is that talking about it may actually help. People who are feeling suicidal may not want to worry anyone so tend not to discuss how they are feeling, but those who have felt suicidal have often reported relief when someone asks them about how they are feeling because it gives them permission to talk about it. So, opening up a dialogue could help to prevent suicide.
Risk factors for suicide
‘There is no simple reason for why someone may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. Suicide is very complex in nature, and is the result of a mixture of risk factors.’ explains Dr Rafael Euba, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre.
‘Certain factors can contribute to a person being at a higher risk of suicide; these include (but are not limited to) experience of trauma, genetic risk, and alcohol and/or drug abuse. Psychological factors like depression are strongly associated with suicidal risk.
‘A person may be at higher risk of suicide of they have previous history of attempts, are having suicidal thoughts or plans, experiencing agitation, lack of support and are feeling hopeless.’
Whether you are male or female also plays a part – around three-quarters of all suicides are male and it is more likely in those aged 30-50 (Samaritans).
What are the signs of depression?
Depression is heavily linked to risk of suicide. Recognising and understanding the signs of depression could help prevent a suicide; it’s important these are taken seriously. Phrases like ‘I feel like a burden…’, ‘The world would be better off without me’ should be considered a cry for help.
‘When someone is feeling depressed they may be unable to communicate this to others but you may notice changes in their behaviour that can indicate they need help,’ explains Dr Euba. Below is a list of some (by no means all) of the signs you may notice from someone with depression.
You may notice some (or all of) these behavioural signs:
Drinking or using drugs more
Talking about wanting to take one’s life
Talking about being in unbearable pain
Discussing being a burden to others
Drinking more than normal
Withdrawal from social activities
Seeing less and less of friends and family
Risk-taking that seems out of character
Giving away items of significance
You may notice some (or all of) the following physical signs:
Lack of energy
Change in eating habits
Weight gain (or loss)
Lack of personal hygiene
You may notice some (or all) of these emotional signs:
Extreme mood swings
What can you do to help?
‘Talking about feelings can provide someone who is depressed with relief and the opportunity to feel like they can open up which can lead to getting help and, in turn, reduce the risk of suicide. By having open conversations about feelings, suicide and mental health issues, we can help to broaden awareness of the issue and also help to reduce the number of suicides,’ explains Dr Euba.
There are things you can do to help if you are concerned about a friend of family member and these include:
1. Empathise with them – acknowledge how they are feeling, reassure them that they are not alone, and that what they are experiencing can be overcome.
2. Ask open ended questions to encourage them to talk to you. ‘Is everything ok? I’ve noticed…’; ‘I’m worried about you because…’; ‘What can I do to help?’; ‘I’m here if you would like to talk”.
3. Listen. You don’t always need to have answers, but simply listening without judgement can make a big difference.
4. Stay in touch. Reaching out frequently can help your friend to feel connected and supported. It’s often the little things that make the difference.
5. Try to give practical support where possible. If you know or think your friend may be suffering with a mental health issue, you can encourage them to seek treatment and help them to do so. Many people who die by suicide also have untreated mental health issues like depression, and so intervening and helping your friend to seek treatment for this could make all the difference.
Unfortunately there are a proportion of people who have tried both talking therapies and antidepressants but have found both unsuccessful. The good news is that there is still help available for those with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) in the form of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS).
rTMS is a drug-free, non-invasive treatment for depression that uses magnetic pulses to activate the are of the brain that regulates mood. This treatment has been very successful and here at The London Psychiatry Centre 60% of women and 69% of men who have been treated for TRD with rTMS have recovered.
If your friend is talking about the specifics of how they are planning to end their life and when they are going to do so, don’t handle the situation on your own. It is advised to call 111 who will put you in touch with the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment (CRHT) team. The CRHT will be able to assess your friend’s needs, assist with self-help strategies and offer help. If you are worried about their safety and feel they need immediate intervention, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Remember that helping someone with suicidal feelings may also have an impact you, and it’s vital that you take care of yourself, too.
If you are seeking support for any mental health problem, whether for yourself or someone else, our team of experienced private consultant psychiatrists and psychologists are able to provide help. Call our team on 020 7580 4224 to discuss booking a consultation.
Are you worried about a friend or relative’s mental health? Do you think they may be showing signs of depression? Here, we a look at how to help someone with depression and how to spot the signs.
Mental health can affect not only how we act in social situations, but how we deal with life stresses, relate to others, and the choices that we make. Being mentally well enables us to live our lives to the fullest, feel good about ourselves, make good life choices and have healthy and satisfying relationships with others, so you can see how important it is.
One of the first things you can do is to read up on depression to understand how it affects a person. With one in five people experiencing depression at some point in their lives, it is so important to understand depression – perhaps now more than ever before.
Dr Rafael Euba, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre, says: “Depression isn’t a phase or something you can just ‘snap out of’, and using those kinds of phrases can be really quite detrimental to someone suffering with this illness. Although not visible, depression is just as a real as a physical injury, and is a serious condition that can have life changing consequences.”
Depression can impact all areas of a person’s life: Emotional, social and psychological wellbeing. Depression makes it difficult to connect and often makes sufferers feel like they want to withdraw.
Remember that it’s nothing personal: Your friend may be acting differently towards you, saying hurtful things and lashing out but it is not on purpose – it’s the illness talking.
You won’t be able to fix it: As difficult as it is seeing a friend going through a tough time, you need to realise that there is no simple fix, and the desire to recover needs to be driven by the person who is suffering with depression.
What Causes Depression?
“The cause of depression is complex and there is no one simple answer. It can occur as a result of any combination of factors, and it’s not always possible to identify the cause. However, depression often occurs after persistent long term stress which can be triggered by an event, or by a combination of life events.” explains Dr Euba.
Long term difficulties in life can include finding it difficult to find a job, being unemployed for a period of time, prolonged stress at work or at home, mental abuse, physical abuse, and long periods of loneliness.
It is also thought that depression can be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, though there are various factors at play like vulnerability, medical issues, and life situations.
Personal factors can also contribute to depression, and can range from being predisposed to depression (if it runs in the family, your friend may be more vulnerable to it), drink and drugs, chronic illness, giving birth, and being overly negative and critical may also contribute.
Depression Symptoms: Signs of Depression To look For
There are some common signs of depression that you may have already noticed in your friend:
They may seem withdrawn, and show no interest in doing things they once enjoyed
They may be struggling to complete tasks at work
You may have noticed them finding it difficult to concentrate
You may have seen them drinking more or taking drugs
They may have gained or lost weight
They may seem tired all the time
They may be more irritable and intolerant of others
You may have noticed they have a bleaker outlook on life than usual
How To Talk To Someone About Depression
Talking to someone you think may be depressed can be tricky, there’s no doubt about that. They may not even know they have depression. It can be a very isolating illness, and often, those suffering with it may not feel like they can talk about it. Whilst you can’t fix depression for your friend you can be there for them and offer support.
Not sure where to start? “You’ve not seemed like yourself for a while – is everything OK?” Explain why you are concerned and let your friend know you’re there if they want to have a conversation about it. Sometimes just being there is the most important thing you can do.
Advice For Helping A Friend With Depression
There are many things you can to do to help your friend with depression feel supported:
Don’t offer advice
Help them to feel understood
Ask how you can support them
Maintain a caring relationship
Compliment them (people who are depressed often have low self esteem)
Be available to talk to and be supportive
Don’t judge or shame them
Learn more about depression
What Treatment Is Available For Depression?
Dr Euba says: “There are a number of approaches to treatment for depression. As depression is so complex, and no two people are the same, different treatments – and combinations of treatments – work for different people.”
At The London Psychiatry Centre every patient has a treatment plan tailored to them.
Antidepressants: There are many different types of antidepressants, but SSRIs are some of the more commonly prescribed ones. They work to regulate the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain by keeping the serotonin in your system for longer. However, results vary from person to person, and antidepressants often have better, longer-lasting results when combined with psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy: There are different types of talking therapies which including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Used to identify unhelpful behaviour patterns and release negative feelings, CBT can really benefit patients. Talking therapies can help patients to build positive strategies. Unfortunately, there is still a percentage of people who do not respond to antidepressants or talking therapies.
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS): rTMS is a depression treatment for treatment resistant depression – for those who do not respond to antidepressants or talking therapies. This groundbreaking treatment for depression is highly effective and drug-free. rTMS works by using magnetic energy to stimulate the area of the brain that regulates mood. The London Psychiatry Centre is a pioneer of rTMS in the UK; we have the highest remission rate for TRD of any clinic in the UK – 60% of women and 69% of men who have been treated at The London Psychiatry Centre have recovered.
To find out more about what help we can provide, or to book a consultation please don’t hesitate to speak to a member of our administration team by calling 020 7580 4224.
But how often is it three, four – or more? Have you ever stopped and considered: ‘Am I addicted to alcohol?’ In this article we look at the signs of alcohol addiction.
Alcohol is all around us. And it’s nothing if not mainstream. Think about it – every day we see TV adverts and supermarkets pushing cheap booze, implying that drinking is the key to having a good time. It’s no wonder that so many people are addicted to alcohol.
During the summer months the warm weather makes it difficult to say no to drinking. With barbeques and after work events going on almost every week, it can be difficult to say no.
Dr Christos Kouimtsidis, Consultant Psychiatrist, at The London Psychiatry Centre, specialises in helping patients with addiction, and says: “It can sometimes be difficult for people to pinpoint when they begin to have a problem with drink, because it can happen gradually over a period of time. Alcohol addiction is when drinking becomes counterproductive, but nevertheless, we cannot resist.”
Want to know if you are addicted to alcohol? If you feel an overwhelming need to drink and the inability to stop once you’ve started, you could be developing signs of alcohol dependency. Below are some of the early symptoms of alcohol dependency that you can look out for:
A preoccupation with drinking or the following if you don’t have a drink:
If you find yourself drinking more than you feel you should, there are some simple techniques for reducing your alcohol intake whilst still enjoying a full social life this summer.
Hold your own BBQ that doesn’t centre around alcohol.
Arrange events where drinking alcohol isn’t the norm.
Keep your hands – and your glass – full. Always have a (non-alcoholic) drink in your hand at events to prevent people offering to buy you drinks.
Find a new favourite non-alcoholic drink. Virgin raspberry mojito, anyone?
Make sure a few key people know you are trying to cut back on your drink.
Offer to drive.
Alcohol addiction treatment
If you are worried you may have an alcohol dependency problem, or feel like your drinking is out of your control, we recommend seeking help and treatment for alcohol addiction.
The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem. “People who are asking for help to overcome an addiction deserve to be respected,” says Dr Kouimtsidis. “Potentially all of us could develop an addiction; only the brave ones try to change an addictive behaviour.”
Recovery from an addictive behaviour requires personal strength and social support. Alcohol addiction treatment at The London Psychiatry Centre begins with understanding the patient’s social environment, strengths, aims, as well any related mental health issues.
“We then formulate a clear treatment plan consisting of pharmacological and psychological interventions. This is structured to capitalise on the patient’s and family’s understanding, pragmatic expectations and strengths. Any addiction treatment involves working towards achievable steps in the right direction. Change of an addictive behaviour does not happen from the outside and is not given by others. It is a process of unlearning a behaviour, of developing appropriate ways of coping with life. Patients need to be prepared for the change, need to be empowered and guided, and so it’s important to have the patient in the driver’s seat with the guidance and support of the clinic.
“We are designed to learn habits but unlearning them is the difficult part and it is far more difficult to do. My approach is to work towards regaining control. Having an addiction is like having a third person in your relationship. It is a fine balance empowering people to understand their behaviour and help them to move on with their lives.”
If you would like the guidance and support of Dr Kouimtsidis to help you take control of your drinking, please don’t hesitate to call our clinic on 020 7580 4224 to speak with a member of our administration team who will be able to book you in for an initial consultation.