Blue Monday: Doctors warn anxiety is on the rise

Today is Blue Monday, the so-called most depressing day of the year. While the science behind Blue Monday may be anectodal, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been proven. In fact, the Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that the disorder affects up to 15% of Canadians to some degree. This year, with the ongoing pandemic and lockdown orders in some regions, Blue Monday is expected to be worse than previous years and doctors are warning that as patient numbers rise, less are seeking help.

“In the studies that I’m aware of, there are marked increases in both anxiety and depression in the general population. These are some studies showing an astronomical doubling of rates of anxiety and depression since March 2020” says Dr. Murray Stein, MD, MPH, FRCPC, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health, Vice Chair for Clinical Research in Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), Staff Psychiatrist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and newly appointed Senior Medical Consultant at Canada’s EmpowerPharm.

Stein adds that while it’s not clear whether anxiety and depression will subside as vaccines come around, recovery from this mental health crisis will be long-term.

Further, Dr. Stein notes that many of his patients have incomplete responses to existing anxiety therapies. “I do see the need for alternatives to current anxiety therapies. At least half our patients with anxiety disorders get some benefits from the things we’re doing and the medications we have right now at our disposal. But many have incomplete responses. So, there’s definitely a need for new, efficacious treatments. That’s true for anxiety, and it’s true for depression.”

EmpowerPharm Inc., a wholly Canadian-owned and operated pharmaceutical company helmed by some of Canada’s best-known pharmaceutical pioneers, is developing a first-of-its-kind prescription tablet containing synthetic CBD to help Canada fill the gap left by existing therapies.

“We are hearing from physicians on our medical advisory board that there are as many as 40% of patients not being well served by existing anxiety therapies,” says Aubrey Dan, Executive Chairman & Co-Founder. “EmpowerPharm is seeking to provide a scientifically-proven alternative for patients who aren’t satisfied with traditional anxiety therapies, such as benzodiazepines, which come with a number of unwanted side-effects and can be become addictive.”

Pending clinical research results, EmpowerCBD™ may help Canadians manage future anxiety and mental health crises. Containing synthetic CBD as the active ingredient (API), the EmpowerCBD™ tablets will be 99.9% pure and contain no THC.

EmpowerPharm will be going through the rigorous clinical studies for approval by national regulatory authorities including Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Once EmpowerCBD™ is proven safe and effective through rigorous clinical research, a Drug Identification Number (DIN) will be sought from Health Canada. When approved, the prescription drug EmpowerCBD™ will be sold exclusively through pharmacies or dispensed in hospitals by qualified health professionals. EmpowerPharm Inc. will pursue both private and public coverage, ensuring that treatment costs for many patients will be reimbursed by insurance companies and/or provincial drug plans for wide patient accessibility.

EmpowerPharm is led by three prominent leaders who pioneered Canada’s generic pharmaceutical industry, helped scale the industry globally and created thousands of Canadian jobs. Each member of the senior management team brings an average 30 years of industry experience to the company. Aubrey Dan, O.C., Executive Chairman & Co-Founder is a former pharmaceutical executive at Novopharm Ltd., President of Wampole Canada Inc. and Order of Canada recipient, Peter Billiaert President & Co-Founder is a former Vice President with Novopharm Ltd. and Teva Pharmaceuticals and Jack Kay, Vice Chairman, is the former President and CEO of Apotex Inc.