The symptoms of anxiety can be so frightening, that people will do almost anything to avoid them. They begin to avoid people, places and activities that trigger these symptoms. Unknowingly, some of the strategies people use to try to manage anxiety such as excessive rest, avoiding triggers, and consuming recreational drugs and alcohol, may work in the short-term, but actually worsen anxiety symptoms in the long-term. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that has a solid grounding in science, with proven effectiveness in treating anxiety-related disorders such as Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, Health Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Agoraphobia, and Specific Phobias.
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion typically brought on by chronic stress in the workplace. Burnout has three features: Exhaustion: feeling emotionally drained, fatigued, and overwhelmed Cynicism: psychological distancing and a negative outlook towards your role, colleagues, and/or the person/people you are caring for. Inefficacy: reduced feelings of personal accomplishment and reduced performance. Many studies have found that burnout and depression are highly related and the two share symptoms, such as fatigue or loss of energy, sleep problems, and difficulty with thinking, concentrating, or making decisions. You may find it difficult to determine whether you are burnt out or if you are experiencing clinical depression, also called a major depressive episode.
Following a concussion, 80% of people recover within 7 to 14 days while for the other 20% it can take longer for post-concussion symptoms to resolve. There are a lot of horror stories in the news, on social media and online about people who take months or years to recover from a concussion or, even worse, people who never recover (as many of us know, Dr. Google is not great for calming our anxieties). While this is alarming, especially if you find yourself in this 20% membership group, there is a lot we have learned over the past several years about who is at risk for prolonged concussion recovery, what the barriers to recovery are and how to effectively target barriers to concussion recovery in treatment. To be clear, just because your symptoms have continued, it does not mean your brain has not healed. The more time that passes since the injury, the more likely it is that other factors prolong your recovery from symptoms.
Treatment guidelines for concussion with persistent symptoms: Neuropsychologists play an important role in treating persistent symptoms following concussion. Barriers to recovery and their impact on thinking abilities are identified in assessment (e.g., low mood, anxiety, trauma, pain, sleep problems), and are targeted using evidence-based treatment. Neuropsychologists are particularly well suited for concussion management as they can assess and treat both psychological and cognitive symptoms as they have specialized knowledge in brain function and rehabilitation.
Tips for keeping your brain healthy as you age: Stay physically active: Research shows that moderate physical exercise is important for brain function, as it increases oxygen supply to the brain as well as promotes the production of new neurons (brain cells). Regular physical exercise has also been associated with maintenance and sometimes improvement in thinking skills. Participate in any physical activity that you enjoy; walking briskly or even gardening can make a difference!
Neuropsychologists, as well as physicians, can diagnose concussions. Neuropsychologists can further provide a comprehensive evaluation of psychological and neurocognitive symptoms after injury. Barriers to recovery are identified during initial assessment. These barriers can include low mood, irritability, anxiety, trauma, exacerbation of some or all pre-injury mental health conditions, headaches, other ‘traveling pain’ in the body or head, sleep disruption, overfocusing on symptoms and related difficulties, avoidance (e.g., screens, activities, lights, noise), low stress tolerance and most importantly misinformation about concussion and recovery. As part of treatment, neuropsychologists can determine return to work readiness, create a return-to-work plan together with your input, and provide you with guidance over the course of your return-to-work plan to increase the likelihood of a successful return in the short and longer term.