Ask the Doctors

Ask The Psych Docs…

on June 2015 | in Health | with 1 Comment

Are you having recurring panic attacks or feeling stressed and depressed on occasion? These issues are more common today than you might realize. If you have a question about mental health or how to find help, here are a couple of commonly asked questions that should assist in seeking help immediately. It’s not as daunting as you might think and often people are reluctant or embarrassed, but it is best not to put it off.

Q. I am really worried about my husband. He has been acting differently lately and says he wants to talk to someone. I’m so confused about where we should go for help?

A. Navigating the mental health system can be very intimidating. There are many options available for people, but it can be a challenge to find the best option for you. If you are in a crisis or emergency situation it is best to go directly to the ER at your local hospital.

For non-emergency situations begin with your family physician or your local psychologists. Psychologists empathically assess, diagnose and treat mental health conditions while working collaboratively with other medical pro- fessionals. Psychologists in Ontario do not require a referral. For people with limited funds and no coverage, there are many community-based services that work on a sliding scale. You can contact your local community mental health service provider for details.

When deciding where to seek treatment, remember to consider the following:

  • Fees associated with the service you require
  • Training level and credentials of the professional you wish to see
  • Do they offer after work or early morning appointments?
  • How long does each counselling session last?
  • What is the cancellation policy

There are many services available in Ontario. Finding the right one for you is key!

Q. I have been feeling more anxious than usual. I think something is wrong with me. I am having pressure in my chest, it’s hard to breathe, my heart has been racing, i can’t sleep and i have been feeling really on edge. I thought i was having a heart attack but my doctor says there is nothing physically wrong with me. Please help?

A. We’re glad you ruled out a medical cause so now we can focus on anxiety and stress. First of all, people having panic attacks can experience many symptoms that can feel like there is something physically wrong. When people feel these symptoms, they may believe they are dying or worry that they may be ‘losing it’. All or some of these symptoms are possible when experiencing a panic attack.

Understanding what is actually happening to you is important. Reminding yourself that it is a panic attack and it is not dangerous! Panic is a physiological way your brain expresses that it is under distress. The first steps of treatment include learning relaxation techniques that combat these physical symptoms of stress. Learning calm breathing techniques is also vital to learning how to control anxiety. A good place to start is with the help of some phone apps (e.g. Breathe2Relax, MindShift). Additionally, reading about panic attacks on reputable websites like www.anxietybc.com can be helpful. Anxiety is a combination of nature and nurture and therefore requires a combination of treatment options to overcome it. A good treatment team is important, including an experienced clinical psychologist to help determine the underlying cause of your panic and conduct therapy to resolve your symptoms.

There are many services available in Ontario. Finding the right one for you is key!


Dr. Arbus and Dr. Weidenfelder are Clinical Psychologists and the co-founders of Vaughan Psychologists and Psychology North. To book an appointment please call 416.801.8889 or visit their websites at VaughanPsych.com or PsychNorth.com. They can be reached by email at drs@vppn.ca

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One Response to Ask The Psych Docs…

  1. Jennifer S. says:

    How do I ask a question of the Psychdocs? I love this column.

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