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Chantix Neutralizes Nicotine’s Effect

Smoking related disease result in nearly 6 million deaths every year with tobacco claiming a human life every 5 seconds somewhere in the world. In the U.S. more than 16 million Americans lives with a smoking related disease. In addition, smoking accounts for 1 out of every 5 deaths in the United States. Chantix is a medication prescribed to help those addicted to nicotine stop smoking and begin living without the health risks and financial burdens directly related to smoking.

Chantix Helps People Quit Smoking

Chantix, varenicline tartrate, is a prescription medication that was developed specifically to assist those who want to quit smoking. Chantix has two unique qualities and works on two levels:

  • It mimics nicotine, giving the feeling of mild nicotine effects while it helps ease withdrawal symptoms
  • It blocks nicotine from binding with the nicotine receptors in the brain so that the smoker does not get a “nicotine boost or kick” making smoking feeling flat, bland or no longer pleasurable

Nicotine’s Effect on Brain Chemistry

Nicotine effects the brain’s chemistry within 7 seconds of the first puff on a cigarette. Nicotine attaches to receptors that not only affect breathing, and heart rate, but also influence other neurotransmitters that effect appetite, mood, and memory. When nicotine attaches to its brain receptors, dopamine is released, which is thought to be responsible for reinforcing the pleasure/reward associations with smoking.

Chantix Breaks Cycle

The chemical process that occurs with smoking is tied to nicotine addiction. Since the effects of nicotine on the brain wear off within minutes, smokers continue to “dose” themselves throughout the day to prevent withdrawal symptoms and to continue to feel the pleasurable effects of nicotine. Chantix may take hours to wear off easing withdrawal complaints; in addition, Chantix blocks the “feel good” dopamine boost if a person does smoke while taking Chantix.

Side Effects of Chantix

Some of the most common side effects reported include nausea, headache, vomiting, drowsiness, GI upset, trouble sleeping, changes in taste, feeling dizzy, or difficulty concentrating. Your psychiatrist can help you manage any side effects experienced with other medication, nicotine replacement treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, or adjunct therapy resources.

Stop Smoking Doctor

If you want to become an ex-smoker and enjoy the health and financial benefits that other non-smokers experience, call the office for a confidential appointment today.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Can Be Risky

Digital health smartphone apps have shown unprecedented growth in the medical field along with the development of mHealth (mobile health) technology. Psychiatry and mental health services are enjoying the potential of mHealth technology with Mobile mental health apps that put personal health information into easily accessible smartphones, smart watches, and personal health monitoring sensors.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Risk

With the explosion of smart apps that can be found and downloaded from the App Store or Google Play for example, come the question of the usefulness and risk of these mobile mental health apps. The majority of apps for mental health have been developed without research, lack of scientific evidence that shows proof of effectiveness, or may have poor protection of your personal data.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Evaluation

Digital health technology is still fairly new; however, the American Psychiatric Association has taken a proactive step by developing an App Evaluation Model to help guide clinicians and patients in the quality of a mobile mental health app or mHealth tool being considered.

Five Steps in App Evaluation Model

The APA’s App Evaluation Model has five steps where each step is a foundation for the next level. It is important to evaluate each app to make an informed decision before “trying it out.” Apps that make it through the fourth and fifth step are worth your consideration and review by you and your therapist for functional use in your treatment program.

Five Steps of Review in App Evaluation Model

  1. Background Information: Is there a fee for the app or is it free? If free how does it support its development? Who is the developer? Is there advertising within the app? What platforms does it work with? When it was last updated and what were the updates (security, glitches, added services, etc.)? Are there in-app purchases or upgrades?
  2. Risk, Security, and Privacy: Is there a privacy policy? What data is being collected? Is personal data de-identified? Can you opt-out of data collection? Are cookies placed on your device? What data is shared? Who is it shared with? Can your information be sold to third parties? Is data kept on the device or uploaded to the web or cloud? What are the security measures? Is data encrypted? Is the app HIPAA compliant?
  3. Evidence: If your app review has proven acceptable for the first two levels, then it is time to evaluate evidence for potential benefits. What does the app claim to do versus what it actually will do? Are there any peer reviews or published evidence about the tool or science behind the app? Is there any feedback from users available? Does the app appear to be of value for your needs?
  4. Ease of Use: Is it easy to access? Can it be used on a long-term basis? Can you customize the features? Do you need an active internet connection to use? Does it work on the platforms that you have? Is it appealing and simple to use? Apps that are difficult to understand or manage will most likely fail to be used.
  5. Interoperability: Can it work with other electronic tools and devices? Can you export or print the data from the app? Can you upload the data to an electronic health record that your psychiatrist or medical professional can use?

mHealth Psychiatric Treatment

Dr. Hege is a leader in offering convenient options such as video psychiatry, evening or weekend treatment scheduling, and use of new technology in providing the best psychiatric treatment available to you. Call the office today for a comprehensive evaluation of your needs. You may qualify for video sessions, so if that interests you please be sure to ask about it.

Abnormal Behavior and Failure to Function

There is no sharp line between what is considered normal or abnormal behavior; however, mental health professionals often look at how a person is able to function in society. When a person is unable to cope with life demands or perform the behaviors and tasks necessary for daily living, such as self-care, or meaningful interaction with others, they may be described as exhibiting abnormal or dysfunctional behavior.

Abnormal Behavior and Failure to Function

The following characteristics can be used to determine if a person is displaying a failure to function adequately. While experiencing any one from the list below may indicate the person may benefit from a psychological assessment and possible treatment, displaying several of these behaviors may be causing enough of a disruption in life that other people are recommending either medical or psychiatric evaluation.

  • Maladaptive behaviors or being a danger to themselves or others
  • Unpredictability and loss of control
  • Irrational behavior
  • Behaviors that cause others to be uncomfortable
  • Feeing personally distressed over behaviors
  • Behaviors that violate social, cultural, or moral standards
  • Feeling like you are suffering emotionally
  • Expressing incomprehensible or distorted thoughts or ideas
  • Behaviors or ideas that occur only rarely in society

Normal Behaviors in Comparison to Abnormal Ones

It is sometimes easier to define what is normal and look at what deviates from that point.  When looking at characteristics considered necessary to mental health the following list includes criteria that can be regarded as a base point for normal or ideal:

  • Positive view of self
  • The capability for growth and development of self
  • Feeling of autonomy and independence
  • Accurate perception of reality
  • Positive friendships and relationships
  • Ability to meet the changing demands of day-to-day life situations

Abnormal Psychiatric Evaluations

If you or your loved ones feel you are having difficulty functioning in daily life, are finding your behaviors and thoughts distressing, or are experiencing trouble in social situations, call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment today and bring your life back to a comfortable place.

Video Psychiatry Brings Sessions to You

The world today is fast paced, with often hectic and stressful schedules. Use of technology with smart phones, Wi-Fi tablets, Skype, and interactive video conferencing have transformed the way we live our lives and impact on how we connect personally, socially and professionally with others. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports Video Psychiatry, also called Tele-psychiatry, has become an accepted option in this high-tech world we live in. It may be a good option for you!

Ease of Access for Video Psychiatry

The availability to access video psychiatry sessions is more than a convenience and viable option to receiving needed mental health services – live video psychiatry sessions bring mental health services to those who are unable to travel due to medical, physical or emotional limitations, to those who are out of town, who have family or work obligations that make it difficult to schedule a workable time to come into the office.

Technology and Security of Video Sessions

Video psychiatric sessions can be set up from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection. Smart phones, laptops and computers can all be utilized for a session. The application used during set up of your session is secure and meets the federal government HIPAA requirements keeping your medical and personal privacy information safe.

Starting Video Mental Health Sessions

Dr. Hege, a leader in expanding his psychiatric practice to meet the needs and lifestyles of his patients, offers video psychiatric sessions. To receive this therapy option the doctor does require an initial in-office evaluation to determine what treatment plan will be most effective for you. While video sessions may be able to be arranged to begin by the second visit, some medical or psychological issues may require additional in-office visits — or may not be eligible. Be sure to ask about video sessions if this is something that interests you.

Georgia Video Psychiatry Appointments

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment and evaluation of your needs. Weekend and evening appointments available. See if video psychiatry sessions are the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

Quit Smoking and Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

Addiction to nicotine is a difficult dependence to give up, and many smokers find themselves trying to quit smoking and kick the habit over and over again. Working with a knowledgeable mental health professional who can prescribe medication to not only help you quit, but help you manage withdrawal symptoms may be the only way you can finally succeed and break the hold nicotine has on your life.

Quit Smoking Statistics

If you are a smoker who wants desperately to quit smoking but have been unable to succeed on your own, you are not alone:

  • 70% of smokers want to quit
  • 40% of smokers will try to quit this year
  • 7% of those who try to quit will actually succeed on their first try; 93% will not
  • 50% of those who quit will relapse after drinking alcohol
  • 5% of smokers are able to quit cold turkey

If you are one of the 93% who are unable to quit the first time, second time, or successive times, it is time to seek the professional help you need in order to become an ex-smoker.

  • 90% of those who quit smoking before the age of 30 reduce their rate of death related to smoking
  • 50% of those who quit before the age of 50 reduce their rate of death from smoking

Signs of Severe Smoking Dependence

Smokers who are seriously dependent on nicotine may exhibit one or more of the following signs:

  • Smoking more than 1 pack of cigarettes a day
  • Smoking within 5 minutes of waking up in morning or from a nap
  • Continuing to smoke even when sick
  • Waking up at night to have a smoke
  • Smoking to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

If you have even a couple of these signs of smoking dependence enlisting the aid of an addiction psychiatrist is thebest plan for success in smoking cessation.

Prescription Medications to Stop Smoking

Your psychiatrist has numerous medications available to prescribe and can provide referrals to support and adjunct services when developing your treatment plan to stop smoking, end nicotine addiction, and reduce any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

The medications that may be prescribed include:

  • Chantix (varenicline) – this medication not only lessens the pleasure one gets from smoking by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain; it also reduces the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Chantix helps you lose your craving for smoking and nicotine.
  • Zyban, Wellbutrin or Aplenzin (bupropion) – the medication bupropion is known under three different brand names. It is an extended release anti-depressant that helps reduce cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
  • Nortriptyline – this is an older anti-depressant drug that helps reduce tobacco withdrawal symptoms
  • Clonidine – this medication, used to treat high blood pressure has also been shown to help people quit smoking. When used as part of a smoking cessation plan it is often given in pill or skin patch form.
  • Other medications and even anti-smoking vaccines are being tested in Europe and the United States but are not yet FDA approved. Your psychiatrist has access to the most effective medications and strategies for a successful program to quit smoking with the least interference from withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Addiction Psychiatrist

If you want to successfully quit smoking call Dr. Hege for a convenient evening or weekend appointment and begin a new life as an ex-smoker.

Opioid Addiction: Will You Become Hooked?

In the United States, approximately 2.5 million people are addicted to opioids. Opioid addiction has become a national concern with states already using a tracking system to enable physicians to check which patient is getting narcotics and if they are “doctor shopping” for medications. In addition, over half of the states in the U.S. are now also limiting the number of days an opioid can be prescribed in an attempt to decrease the numbers of those becoming addicted to, and over-dosing from opioids.

Recent Study on Opioid Addiction 

A recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in March of 2017 provided data regarding measurable clues that indicate what your chances of becoming addicted to opioid are. The clues involve the duration of a narcotic prescription and the type of narcotic prescribed. These two clues combined give a measurable indicator of one’s chance of becoming addicted.

Duration of Narcotic Prescription Clue to Addiction

In the study by the CDC reported in their Weekly Report, the duration of a prescription gave clues on how long a person may end up using a narcotic painkiller. Results show that if an opioid is used for only one day, there is a 6% chance of still using that drug a year later. Using that medication for a period of 31 days increases the chance of developing long term opioid use to 29.9%.

Type of Opioid Prescribed Indicator of Addiction Odds

Use of long-acting or extended release opioids were an indicator of developing issues with long term use. People who received a prescription for extended release narcotics had a 27.3% chance to still be using that painkiller a year later, and a 20.5% chance of using it three years later. Comparatively, those adults who were started on a prescription using a short-acting opioid only had a 8.9% chance of addiction one year later and a 5.3% chance three years later.

Opioid Addiction Psychiatrist

Prescription and illegal opioids are commonly abused because they are so addictive. Recovery is often impossible without a good support system and medications that assist with the withdrawal symptoms.

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment and start the journey back to a full life without the gnawing cravings of opioid addiction.

Withdrawal Drug Antabuse Effective for Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal is a difficult feat to accomplish with the intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can torment a person for weeks and weeks. The odds for beating cocaine addiction dramatically increase with proper psychiatric care and cocaine withdrawal medication management. Working with an experienced psychiatrist trained in addiction and recovery can help you reach and maintain recovery from a life controlled by cocaine cravings.

Cocaine Withdrawal Medication Antabuse Effective

Working with a specialist with decades of experience treating patients with primary and secondary substance abuse and addiction issues is paramount to a recovery plan that is successful. One of the medications that may be prescribed to help manage cocaine addiction withdrawal symptoms is:

  • Antabuse / Disulfiram: This medication will help to minimize cocaine cravings and has been shown to improve abstinence and the recovery rates during the first three months of recovery. While Antabuse is generally used in the treatment of alcohol abuse it has shown positive results in the treatment of cocaine addiction as well.

Antabuse Effects on Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine primarily affects the neurotransmitter dopamine which directly affects the reward center of the brain – cocaine dramatically increases the level of dopamine in the brain which in turn causes feelings of euphoria that is commonly associated with the drug. In addition to increasing dopamine levels, cocaine increases norepinephrine which makes one feel they are full of energy. Euphoria combined with high energy makes cocaine addiction doubly difficult to recover from.

Use of Antabuse / Disulfiram blocks a specific form of dopamine which is an essential component in the body’s production of norepinephrine; Antabuse has a dual effect on the effects of cocaine use attacking the two main effects it has one the brain and body. Use of Antabuse makes using cocaine an unpleasant experience. While research data is bringing better understanding to the use of Antabuse with cocaine withdrawal, use of this medication is proving to be an effective part of a cocaine recovery treatment plan.

Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment Locally

Dr. Hege, a specialist in addiction and recovery, is a psychiatrist with over 25 years of successful treatment experience. The time has come to start on the road to your recovery. Call the office for a confidential appointment and comprehensive evaluation.

Myth and Misconception Behind Psychiatric Sessions

Many people who have never seen a psychiatrist or mental health professional often have misguided perceptions or believe a myth about what to expect. If your idea of what goes on in a psychiatrist’s office comes from what you have seen on soap operas or in the movies you may have a set of expectations that could actually limit the ability of the therapist to do their best for you.

Pre-Appointment Mind Set

While it is important to make that appointment for help with any emotional, psychological or behavioral issues you or a loved one may be having, it is equally important to have an accurate idea of what to expect during your psychiatric session times. Having accurate perceptions in place will allow you to get the most out of each session and facilitate an active one-on-one working relationship where your therapist can develop and implement a successful individualized plan of treatment.

Common Myths about Therapy

Understanding what reality versus a myth is can let you take full benefit from your mental health services. Some of the most common misconceptions are:

  • “Therapy is supposed to make me happy.” While you may feel that you are happier with life and more comfortable overall, the intent of therapy is to assist you in becoming fully functional and connected with family, friends, work situations, school.
  • “I want to be cured in one session.” The entire process of therapy takes time with no quick fixes. Each person is unique with their own needs, perceptions, and motivation for change. The therapist needs to develop an individualized plan, making changes as progress evolves. Many people have more than one issue or concern which may require a higher level of coordination of services, or use of more than one type of medication.
  • “I want to be told what I need to do.” Many people go into a therapy session expecting to be told what to do to change their life or solve their problems. While a mental health professional will explore options, outcomes, or may refer for adjunct or group services, a therapist will guide rather than tell you what you need to do.
  • “Talking to friends and family is just as good as seeing a psychiatrist.” Having a good support base is important when you are going through a rough time, but mental health professionals have the training and experience to understand and treat basic to complex problems. A therapeutic relationship is also confidential, where you can feel free to discuss things you have never been able to talk about before.
  • “Only people that are crazy go see a psychiatrist.” Life is often stressful and full of challenging events and changes. In today’s world, getting help for psychological or behavioral issues is seen as part of keeping oneself healthy in both mind and body.
  • “If I try harder I should be able to get better on my own.” Sometimes people struggle for months and years before seeing psychological help. A medical, biological or behavioral component to some disorders require more than just trying harder to get better.

Having the courage to know you need professional assistance and seek out a psychiatrist to help you lead a full functional life is a sign of strength. Take the first step toward feeling better and making a positive change in your life – call the office for an appointment.

Stop Smoking: Anxiety, Craving Areas of Brain Activated

The American Cancer Society reports that 20%, or over 40 million American adults currently smoke. With public education efforts it is well known that smoking has a multitude of damaging effects on the body including heart disease, stroke, oral cancer, colon cancer, or emphysema. In addition 90% of lung cancers can be linked to smoking. The difficulty with quitting is that smoking is both a physical and mental process; the addictive qualities of nicotine compare to heroin addiction.

Quitting Without Medication

Research data show that only 4 to 6 percent of adults who try to quit by themselves succeed. Use of nicotine replacement therapy, support groups or quit-smoking aids brings the success rate up to 16 to 24 percent. That number increases to between 25 and 33 percent when medications like Zyban or Chantix are added into a medically monitored treatment plan. Being able to quit smoking is a difficult task best tackled with a physician or psychiatrist who understands the addiction and the medications that work.

The Addiction of Nicotine

Two recent prominent studies have reported results that pinpoint specific regions of the brain that make it difficult for some people to be successful at quitting smoking. The one region, interpeduncular nucleus, is packed with nicotine receptors, with this area triggering anxiety responses during nicotine withdrawal. The other region of the brain, the insula, a large region that is viewed as the seat of addictive urges and cravings.  The insula becomes active when a smoker not only craves a cigarette, but when they are just thinking about smoking — a double-edged sword of anxiety and cravings to face when trying to quit smoking.

Quit Smoking with Nicotine Withdrawal Doctor

Call Dr. Darvin Hege to break the physical and psychological addiction that nicotine has on you. He may prescribe medications, nicotine replacement treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychological support adjunct groups or other individualized treatment options to help you succeed and break the nicotine habit. Call the office today.

Opioid Addiction: Power Beyond Death

Opioid addiction has a powerful pull on those who use them, whether legally through prescription drug use or through illegal drugs such as heroin. Once addicted to opioids, a person typically requires professional intervention with medications such as Suboxone, as well as family and community support systems to beat the addiction. While the general public may not understand the intense addictive qualities of opioids, new research documentation may lead to greater awareness of the growing problem of opioid addiction in our society.

Addictive Cravings Detectable After Death

The Medical University of Vienna, Department of Forensic Medicine, published results in December 2016 that demonstrated addictive craving for opioid stimulation continues to exist up to nine days after a person has died. A protein in the brain’s reward center is altered with opioid use, making it more stable and able to react to an opioid stimulus in a type of memory function – this addictive craving can still be detected after death, indicating not only the power opioid addiction has, but the difficulty an addict has in trying to withdrawal from and quit opioids.

Post-Mortem Dependence Memory

The Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy reports on a study showing that the effects of chronic opioid stimulus can be identified post-mortem. The brain protein FosB that has been altered by opioid use, turns into DeltaFosB which becomes increasingly stimulated with chronic use and opioid addiction. DeltaFosB is found in the region where memory is formed which may make addiction and withdrawal all the more harder to achieve. DeltaFosB shows stimulation continues to exist nine days after the person has died – researchers believe that in living addicts the effect may last for months, making professional help all the more critical.

Psychiatric Opioid Addiction Treatment

When addictive cravings persist in the brain for months during and following withdrawal it is imperative to seek psychiatric opioid addiction treatment options. Call the office for a confidential appointment and expert care.