The sexual side of antidepressants

Anti-depressant medications can cause some sexual side effects like decreased sexual desire, orgasm problems, and erectile dysfunction. If you experience any of these symptoms, feel comfortable to talk to your pharmacist because we are here to help you out. Do not stop taking your antidepressants altogether or do not try strategies like skipping the antidepressant doses or “weekend holidays” due to possible risk of depressive symptoms returning.

Here are some of possible approaches which may help you with sexual symptoms. You may need to try more than one before you find something that is effective.

Stick with your mediations:  It’s often worth sticking with your medications for a month or two to see if the symptoms improve. Understand that anxiety or depression can also lead to reduced sexual desire and treating the underlying condition may actually help.

Consider timing: If you take antidepressants once a day, you may be able to solve the issue by taking your medicine after the time of day you normally engage in sexual activity. Waiting until after you’ve had sex to take medications may help reduce the sexual side effects, as you’re engaging in intimacy when the levels of the drugs in your body are lowest. 

Exercising before sexual activity: This can help to counter the sexual side effects of anti-depressant medications.

Ask about a lower dose: With guidance from your pharmacist and doctor, you may be able to take a lower dose of your antidepressant. Some people find this change is enough to reduce the sexual side effects while still effectively treating their depression. 

Switching to another antidepressant:  Talk with your pharmacist or doctor about lower risk alternative options especially if your current antidepressant does not seem to be helping. Pharmacogenomics testing is also available to help you discover what the BEST antidepressant would be according to your DNA profile.

Adding a medication to treat sexual dysfunction: This might be an option if you are doing well on the current antidepressant.

Avoid the decline…

Brain health and heart health go hand in hand, so nourish both to keep on ticking and to keep on a thinking.

It’s kind of a boring list BUT all things you can do from home and DON’T have to buy online or curbside. I’ll try to jazz it up for you:

  1. Shake your booty (even sex counts as physical activity and dancing certainly does).
  2. Quit inhaling that sh*t.
  3. Pretend you are in Greece and join Shirley V. on the beach for some fish and a Greek salad.
  4. Don’t stop talking….on the phone or online. Try on some new words for size; like aliquot or snuffleupagous; or make some new ones up – lol.
  5. Stay calm. A daily glass of wine IS medicinal.
  6. Have some vigorous sex, then sleep well – both will do you copious good.
  7. Protect your noggin…it doesn’t bounce back well.

Go forth and be a brainiac…it’s not just about drugs; it’s about LIFE!

Cannabis & Psychiatric Side Effects

It’s so easy to buy cannabis products now, but should you use them? There is mounting evidence that psychiatric side effects are a greater concern for edible and high-potency cannabis products. Some forms and doses of cannabis pose greater risks, and should be avoided altogether.

Reports suggest that over 40% of recreational cannabis users consume edible products. Despite their popularity, ambiguous dosing and delayed effects can be a major problem, increasing the risk for unintended side effects and overdose. While inhaling cannabis results in an immediate effect, edible products may not produce effects for more than 3 hours, which can then last for many more hours. You should be cautious about this delayed effect –  consuming more cannabis while waiting for the initial effect can increase your risk of toxicity. You should be aware and understand that psychiatric and cardiovascular (heart) side effects appear to be more common with edible products. And edible products containing 50 mg of THC or more have been linked to psychosis, anxiety, and heart attack.

High-potency cannabis products are also becoming a major concern, particularly for adolescents. These products are increasingly available. Research shows that inhaling cannabis products containing 10% or more of THC is linked to increased risk for anxiety and cannabis use disorders. Adolescent users should understand these risks. And people with existing psychiatric disorders might be more likely to have their symptoms worsen, no matter what form of cannabis used. There’s a fair amount of observational evidence supporting this concern, despite the fact that cannabis is often recommended to help manage psychiatric disorders.

In general, chronic cannabis use is a growing concern. It’s important to learn and consider the risks of dependence and potential psychiatric effects, particularly for those already at risk for a psychiatric illness. It’s advisable to steer clear of high-potency products, and to use caution with edibles. And if pregnant, be aware that using cannabis in any form is unsafe – it’s been linked to developmental problems in baby, including lower intelligence and emotional problems.

Due Diligence

Last week I was asked what’s the “best” deal I could give someone on 6 months of medication. Well if this was birdseed or cell phone minutes I wouldn’t mind bartering, but when it comes to healthcare I think the “due diligence” should be WHO do you trust to advise you. Who do you trust to give you wellness advice? Who do you trust to help decide if you should or could stop a medication? The fabric of good health includes affordability, but includes much, much more.

If you CARE about your health, I invite you to visit my Apothecary and ask the above questions….and more. Before decided way to BUY your medications, I would challenge you to first trust the healthcare professional behind the counter or the one by your side.

As I’ve said before: It’s not just about drugs….it’s about LIFE!

A Calming Room

WHAT IS IT? A quiet, soothing place designed to encourage relaxation and thoughtful de-stressing. It is a place to recharge and prevent stressors from getting to you. It’s a “time-out” room for adults.

WHAT DOES IT DO? A calming room works by letting your senses fully absorb a quiet space with soothing sounds and ambient lighting to create a sense of peace, with textures and comfortable seating to help your body relax and feel safe.

WHO IS IT FOR? Everyone. Whether you feel anxious a lot of the time or just want to be quiet for a while at the end of your week, the Calming Room is your space to get away without leaving town.

WHAT DOES IT TREAT? In some ways, the Calming Room’s therapeutic effects are attained proactively by conditioning the body’s response to stress. It can also be used after a crisis has passed, to help you return to equilibrium.

WHERE CAN I RELAX IN ONE? This fall, I will have one ready for use at my Apothecary.

“It’s not just about drugs…it’s about LIFE”

Writing credit: Jesse Harms

Just Breathe

It’s harder than you think….especially if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (aka. COPD) or asthma. If you or someone you know relies on an inhaler to help with shortness of breath or wheezing, the please send them this important information about salbutamol inhalers (aka. Ventolin or rescue inhaler).

  1. It is important that you take your regular maintenance inhaled medication as prescribed. This will keep your symptoms of COPD under control and reduce your NEED for the rescue inhaler.
  2. Ensure that you have a one month supply of COPD maintenance inhalers at home. Keep track of your medication supply and leave additional time to obtain your refills from the pharmacy.
  3. Consider having the pharmacy or a trusted person deliver the medications to you so you can continue to stay at home and practice physical distancing.
  4. There IS a shortage of salbutamol inhalers in Canada, if you do not need it, do not attempt to refill your prescription.
  5. When refilling your inhaler, you should expect to receive only a 1-month supply. This is in response to inventory control measures put in place to help as many people as possible.
  6. You should carefully track doses of salbutamol by dose counting.
  7. You should use all salbutamol inhalers that you may have in various locations before refilling one. If you have multiple salbutamol inhalers use the one with the earliest expiry date first.
  8. Not discarded recently expired inhalers (e.g., expired in the last 6 months) may be used until replaced, BUT they may not be as effective. Seek out medical attention whenever necessary.
  9. Use the diskus inhaler even if it was removed from the wrapper more than 60 days ago.
  10. If you need help understanding or modifying your COPD or asthma treatment plan, please call or message Dr. Lisa.

Blind Passion

So what do you want to BE when you grow up? Funny thing is “growing up” is a lifelong process. I changed my career at 27 years old, when I finally recognized the passion in me for science, medicine, and helping people. When “passion” is in the drivers seat, get ready for a wild ride! Following your passion, doesn’t always have a clear path and it may lead down blind allies. When I passionately decided to make my mark on the City of Morden, spread my winds, and build my own building on Stephen Street in 2017, I never could have predicted this challenge of 2020. Of course, this is a common thread of conversation as we ARE all in this together – worldwide togetherness.

Passion can still exist during a pandemic….like not giving up on procuring much needed supplies for our community. Like being resourceful with homemade masks and reusing elastics. Like bleach washing customer areas for extra protection. Like helping out those in more need with discounts and waiving of fees. Like talking and sharing stories so we really know that we are NOT alone in our fears. And even, like when I have to defend myself to others who doubt my commitment and question my motives over “one month supply” restrictions on prescriptions. And passion even shows up when you have to decide who to pay and who will have to wait when the funds are limited. Following your passion does not mean an easy street. In fact, giving up would be a whole lot easier if I wasn’t invested with my heart in being an apothecary…a Doctor of Pharmacy. Giving up is easy when it’s not the wind beneath your wings.

So, what I really want to say is: “just because someone is passionate, it doesn’t mean their decisions are easy”.

Safe Travels

Travelling safely is more than just booking your trip at a deep discount and packing the sunscreen. We all crave for the hot sun during our very long winter wonderland BUT our four seasons do protect us from a lot – like: Zika Virus, dengue fever, typhoid fever, and hepatitis A to name a few. Have you heard about these lovelies: cutaneous larva migrans, ciguatara fish poisoning, or leptospirosis? All of these illnesses are present in Cuba, along with West Nile Virus, rabies, and the all popular… Traveler’s Diarrhea. Knowing these health risks ALMOST makes you want to save your travel dollars for a hot tub! But, if you ARE destined for Cuba or any other hot spot, you SHOULD plan ahead….6 weeks is ideal.

As a Certified Travel Health Practitioner, I can assist you with your plans to weigh the known health and safety risks of travel against the need to go south. Nothing spoils a memorable trip more than making another trip to the ER. Why risk it?

I know you’re thinking it WON’T happen to me, but believe me it does happen! Pet a friendly dog – get bitten – get rabies. Walk bare feet around a picturesque lake near a farm – get leptospirosis. Forget your bug spray – get West Nile. Eat the yummy snapper at the beach front bar – get ciguatara. It ALL can happen to someone who is not prepared.

Book – Prepare – Enjoy!

The Spectrum

I was recently reminded that health care is a total spectrum of services, and as a pharmacist I provide a narrow but assuredly important range of expertise – as do other professions. No one aspect of patient care is less or more important than another. As the infamous Max Ehrmann said “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” We must not assume that everyone follows the same paradigms or that all patients living in Canada place value on the same measures of quality of life. Canadians brag about tolerance – perhaps that tolerance needs to extend into the healthcare system as well.

I have taken a financial and professional leap of faith in my community to BE collaborative with alternative health practitioners. Because…patients deserve choices in how they manage their personal health journey. The corporately funded pharmaceuticals will always be available as a choice, but natural medicines and alternative treatments need to be on the map as well. Just because it’s not Big Pharma sponsored, it doesn’t mean that there is no evidence.

We have copious research on the appropriate use of natural products: Natural Medicines Database and Herbs & Natural Supplements by L. Braun et. al.; both providing guidance and EVIDENCE for therapeutic use of natural products. As a Doctor of Pharmacy, I was trained to view evidence critically and thoroughly for both our science-based pharmaceuticals and plant-based remedies. Also as a Doctor of Pharmacy, my emphasis is on patient-centered care which may require looking at alternative treatments for select patients. In today’s environment of medical cannabis – which has very little science-based evidence – practitioners are now faced with a new/old approach to prescribing: FIRST CAUSE NO HARM! When good evidence is lacking – we are still on the line for the harms – which BTW pharmaceuticals have caused much! Today, patients are well educated and VERY aware of this harm; and are demanding better – careful – care.

Own your health…need I say more?