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Categories: depression

Las Vegas health officials see rise in mental health issues, addiction amid pandemic

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A little over a year into the pandemic and we're getting a fuller look at the local impact on mental health.

Seven Hills Hospital in Henderson is the state's only hospital with a licensed opiate treatment program.

Dr. Tarik Alshaikh is a psychiatrist and addiction specialist at the hospital.

“In general what we’re providing is just this supportive environment with licensed professionals and peers who have similar struggles," Dr. Alshaikh said.

He said opioid addiction can take many different forms and mentions some of the signs of abuse to notice.

“You can find people who have maybe empty pill bottles lying around, maybe they’re not caring for their grooming or hygiene like they once did, they become social isolative, retreating to their room. Maybe not engaging with their family and friends like they used to," Dr. Alshaikh said.

Their program encourages patients to pursue outpatient services like therapy and strongly encourage medication-assisted treatment, like naltrexone.

"Vivitrol ... is a naltrexone injectable, so this is an opioid blocker. That can be used for opioid cravings and can lower a person’s risk of relapse while also preventing them from feeling any effects if they did have a slip up into opioids," Dr. Alshaikh

The hospital is open 24/7. Dr. Alshaikh said they are ready and willing to help.

"At anytime a person can come in and be assessed for our services and they can meet with a professional who can determine what their needs are at that moment. You’re always going to be at risk for relapse when you’re in the throes of withdrawal and that’s where we come in to offer our acute detoxification," he said.

At e7 Health, a chain of clinics in the valley, CEO Dr. Jonathan Baktari said they're seeing a rise in eating disorders.

“Some people actually lose weight, some people gain weight, it takes all forms of manifestations but they’re all classified as eating disorders,” Dr. Baktari said.

He said the pandemic is having an impact on the amount of patients they're seeing.

"We see a lot of people that have gained a lot of weight and we see a lot of people that are unusually stressed," he said.

He said the proximity you are to your kitchen and the lack of exercise is leading to the rise.

“You’re about 50 feet away from the fridge at all times, that alone is kind of unique. Cause when you’re at work you don’t have that kind of access so one you have access to it and if you’re already predisposed to underlying eating disorders that can only make it worse. You’re not going to the gym, you’re also potentially going through financial hardship," Dr. Baktari said.

He said one thing that needs to be addressed is drinking alcohol.

“Alcohol consumption has severely gone up during the pandemic by all measures, and I think addressing that is going to be a big part of getting people back to normal," Dr. Baktari said.

New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show just how broad the pandemic's impact on mental health might be.

He recommends you get back to a routine as soon and as safely as you can.

"Any habit or routine takes weeks before it becomes a part of you, so don’t give up early, stick with it. Keep pushing until you get back to where you were,” Dr. Baktari said.

If you need help with a mental or substance abuse disorder, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.


Honest, good-hearted, love to write ,love to smile, I'm a mental health advocate and I believe in the lord

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