Dr. Giorgio Ilacqua, Toronto psychologist, co-authored a chapter in a new book

Dr. Giorgio Ilacqua, Toronto psychologist, co-authored a chapter entitled “Resilience and Resourcefulness as Facilitators of Adjustment in Immigrants during Times of Adversity” in the 2012 “Mass Trauma: Impact and Recovery Issues” book. For more information, please visit https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=33320&osCsid=0050eab59e6fd4c543cdb5854576a29e

What is a Psychological Assessment?

A psychological assessment can be useful in identifying or diagnosing psychological issues through the evaluation of personality, cognitive, social and emotional functioning.

Upon entering our Toronto or Hamilton office, the client and the psychologist discuss the nature, purpose and procedure of the psychological assessment, issues of confidentiality and its limits, as well as consent to release information. The client is encouraged to ask questions at any time.

A psychological evaluation typically includes a clinical interview, psychological testing, observations, file review and, at times, collateral interviews (e.g. with family members or other professionals involved in the person’s care). A clinical interview may touch upon family history, medical history, education, work, socio-emotional functioning and other important areas of the client’s life. Psychological tests are chosen based on the purpose of the psychological assessment as well as the individual factors of the client.

Upon completion of the psychological assessment, a report is prepared by the psychologist outlining the results, diagnostic impressions and recommendations. A feedback interview allows the client and the psychologist to discuss the findings of the psychological assessment as well as the practical application of any recommendations.

Consequences of Insomnia

The prevalence of insomnia has been reported to be as high as 30% in the general population; however, fewer than 20% of people suffering from this sleep disorder ever discuss it with their doctors. There is a prevailing misconception that insomnia isn’t really a medical condition and that it will simply “go away on its own.” Meanwhile, those suffering from lack of sleep are at extremely high risk of serious consequences in their personal lives, at work and particularly on the roads.

In the United States, conservative estimates of the total annual direct and indirect costs of sleep related difficulties was calculated at $92 to $107 billion (Wake Up America, 1993). Direct costs include prescription and non-prescription medications, physician visits, physician training and knowledge, psychologists, hospitalization, and medical insurance. Indirect costs include loss of productivity due to missed work, decreased work performance, and accidents related to the side effects of drug treatment (Stoller, 1994).

WHAT DEFINES INSOMNIA?

Chronic insomnia can be defined in terms of the following symptoms:

a) subjective complaints of poor sleep,

b) difficulties in initiating (sleep onset latency is greater than 30 minutes) and/or maintaining sleep (sleep efficiency, time asleep divided by time in bed is lower than 85%),

c) sleep difficulties are present three or more nights per week,

d) duration of the problem is greater than 6 months,

e) subjective reporting of daytime fatigue, performance impairment or mood disturbances, and

f) an impairment in social or occupational functioning.

WHAT ARE THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF POOR SLEEP?

Sleep deprivation impairs a person’s ability to function mentally. Common consequences include reduction in attention, memory, reaction time, problem solving and cognitive skills.

ARE THESE CONSEQUENCES SERIOUS?

Some of the most catastrophic disasters in our history can be attributed to human error caused by sleep deprivation and fatigue, including:

  • The Space Shuttle
  • Challenger Explosion
  • Exxon Valdez grounding
  • Three Mile Island
  • Chernobyl nuclear power plants’ near meltdown

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION IN THE WORKPLACE?

Sleep deprivation has a significant impact on productivity and workplace safety. Studies indicated that 53% of workplace accidents are caused by excessive daytime fatigue and that people suffering from insomnia have a 1.5 times greater chance of being involved in a workplace accident than the general population.

HOW DOES SLEEP DEPRIVATION AFFECT DRIVERS?

It is believed that sleep deprivation has the same detrimental effect on a person’s ability to drive safely as drinking alcohol and that a person suffering lack of sleep is three times more likely to be involved in an accident than someone who is properly rested. A Canadian survey in 2005 indicated that one in five drivers admitted to having fallen asleep while driving. Data from the American National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that an estimated 100,000 car accidents per year are caused by driver fatigue, resulting in 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries. Studies also state that 20% of serious car accidents and 57% of fatal accidents are associated with driver sleepiness.

SHOULD PEOPLE WITH SLEEP DISORDERS TAKE SLEEPING PILLS?

Many people are under the misconception that sleeping pills or other organic “cures” are the only treatment for sleep disorders.  In fact, taking this route is often just masking the problem and some sleep-aids can become addictive. People who suffer from lack of sleep should discuss the problem with their doctor and request an assessment of the possible treatments.

Appropriate assessment and therapeutic interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have proven to be successful in the treatment of chronic insomnia. CBT (either individually or in groups) is a psychotherapeutic approach that treats the behavioural and cognitive disruptions associated with insomnia.

 

Article originally published in ONBOARD, Fall 2011

Insomnia

Can’t sleep, well you are not alone.  The prevalence of insomnia has been reported to be as high as 30% in the general population; however, fewer than 20% of individuals with insomnia ever discuss it with their doctors or proceed with treatment.

In order to understand insomnia, one must ask, what is insomnia?  Chronic insomnia can be defined in terms of the following symptoms: a) subjective complaints of poor sleep, b) difficulties in initiating (sleep onset latency is greater than 30 minutes) and/or maintaining sleep (sleep efficiency, time asleep divided by time in bed is lower than 85%), c) sleep difficulties are present three or more nights per week, d) duration of the problem is greater than 6 months, e) subjective reporting of daytime fatigue, performance impairment or mood disturbances, and f) an impairment in social or occupational functioning.

There are public misconceptions regarding insomnia.  One is that insomnia is not really a medical problem and “it will go away on its own.”  Another is that chronic insomnia can only be treated by using sleeping pills. The truth of the matter is that for some people, insomnia will not go away on its own.  Sleeping pills are not the only form of treatment available for insomnia or sleep problems.  If you are having trouble sleeping and are wondering if there is a cure for insomnia or how to cure insomnia, treatment is available.  Sleep problems and sleeplessness can be addressed. Appropriate assessment and therapeutic interventions such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have proven to be successful in the treatment of chronic insomnia.  CBT (either individually or in groups) is a psychotherapeutic approach which treats the behavioural and cognitive disruptions associated with insomnia.    Consulting with a sleep clinic can also help assess other sleep related problems such as sleep apnea, snoring, periodic limb movement, and narcolepsy.  Meeting with a psychologist can also help you on how to get to sleep and deal with the nightmares of being sleep deprived.