Can Your Family Doctor Diagnose Depression and Anxiety?

Mental health conditions such as depression, panic, stress, and anxiety are extremely common and affect one out of every five persons living in the United States. Substance use disorders affect approximately one in every 10 people. Although these conditions can be very distressing, they are also highly treatable.  But can your family doctor diagnose depression or anxiety? Many persons living with mental health conditions initially seek treatment within primary care. Indeed, it is estimated that up to 70 percent of primary care visits are due to concerns related to mental health. This is due to many factors, including the fact that many people prefer to get treatment from their primary care provider who they know and trust, but also due to concerns about stigma associated with mental health treatment. Additionally, a shortage of mental health professionals in some parts of the United States increases the difficulty of getting into treatment with a mental health clinician.  Because of their training, most primary care clinicians are familiar with how to diagnose and begin treatment for common mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, panic, and stress-related issues. This can involve administering a screening instrument such as the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9). They can start appropriate treatment such as medications and make referrals to other mental health clinicians (psychologists, licensed counselors, [...]

2022-11-16T21:11:45-05:00December 12th, 2022|Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health|

No Feeling Is Final

Imagine you are at your doctor’s office. The nurse takes you back to see the doctor – what do they do next?  “Let me get your temperature, blood pressure, check your height and weight.” A process we are all used to: checking vital signs  Imagine you’re a client of mine now (I’m a psychotherapist, or simply, a therapist). You come into my office. I’ll check your mental health vital signs: How are you sleeping? How's your appetite? Your mood? Are you having fun? Are you hanging out with people?  So far, pretty straightforward, right? Next question might get people nervous: Have you had thoughts of wanting to be dead or harming yourself? Why am I having suicidal thoughts? Suicidal thoughts happen for a lot of different reasons. Maybe it's stress that feels neverending. We may feel like a burden to someone or not fit in anywhere. For BIPOC (black/indigineous/people of color) folks, racism can cause suicidal thoughts. Whatever the reason, please know that help is available. How can I take care of myself? First, tell someone about your stressors! The right people can be just what we need. If you don’t have a trusted person in your corner, call 9-8-8, the new crisis support number. Keep doing the basics: Get enough sleep, eat all your meals, keep up with your [...]

2022-08-22T20:45:40-04:00September 12th, 2022|Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health, Stress, Suicide Prevention|

Breathing Exercise

Ariana Grande’s popular song "breathin’" is an anthem to anxiety that speaks to a simple solution with a multitude of benefits. “Don’t know what else to try, but you tell me every time, just keep breathin’ and breathin’” chants the pop superstar. Unfortunately, most of us weren’t taught the simple techniques and range of positive outcomes that come with—well—simply breathing. It happens to all of us. Feelings like anxiety, stress, and fear cause our breathing to be shallow, irregular, or rapid. It’s entirely normal. Our body’s automatic response is to protect itself. The trick is to focus not on what’s happening around us, but to what is happening within us. We are breathing. It’s our most basic instinct. Practicing steady, deep breathing delivers more oxygen to the body and brain, reduces your heart rate and decreases the release of cortisol—better known as the stress hormone. Deep breathing also releases endorphins. This in turn increases a sense of calm and can combat pain. Other known benefits of deep breathing include: Lower blood pressure –Relaxation opens the blood vessels and improves circulation More energy—From increased oxygen to the circulatory system Less headache pain - Due to reduced tension locked in the shoulders and neck (you’ll rest better, too!) Practice Makes Perfect Getting back to steadier breaths is within reach. All it takes [...]

2022-04-29T14:55:06-04:00May 1st, 2022|Anxiety, Mental Health, Self-Help, Stress|

Boost Your Mental Health with Exercise

Mental Health Awareness Month offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on and reprioritize our mental health and wellness. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking time for reflection is important; knowing what drains our energy and what gives us energy strengthens our ability to honor and take care of ourselves. I want to highlight one tool within our mental health and wellness toolbox:  Exercise.   Exercise is an excellent tool for relieving stress, increasing energy, and promoting positive wellbeing. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity. However, you do not need to push through a session at the gym to receive the perks associated with regular physical activity. Walks around your neighborhood, opting to take stairs, and even doing squats while your brush your teeth can all provide benefits. Studies show that regardless of age or fitness level, exercise can provide some mental health benefits, such as: Promoting happiness  Exercise releases endorphins, creating feelings of happiness and euphoria. Research has shown that, in some cases, exercise works as well as medication in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression – and the effects can be long-lasting. One vigorous exercise session can alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.  Preventing cognitive decline The brain [...]

2022-04-29T09:56:39-04:00May 1st, 2022|Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health|
Go to Top