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|

SAD: It’s More Common Than You Think

Have you experienced changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, low energy, and difficulty concentrating? How about feeling sad or not like your usual self? Do you notice feeling a bit down as the fall/winter arrives and days get shorter? If so, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (also know as “the winter blues”). and it’s more common than you may think. What is SAD? SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is a form of seasonal depression most apparent by changes in your mood and behavior when the seasons change. For most cases of SAD, symptoms begin in late fall or early winter and go away in spring and summer. This is referred to as winter-pattern SAD. Some experience depressive episodes in the spring and summer called summer-pattern SAD. One important thing to remember is that it is more common than you think.  Who gets SAD? It is estimated to affect 10 million people yearly. SAD occurs more often in women than men, and more often in people who live further north of the equator. Amongst these millions, many may experience the symptoms, but not know they have it. What can I do if I am experiencing symptoms of SAD? If you experience symptoms, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider and/or mental health counselor. If you are comfortable confiding in [...]

2022-11-07T09:56:14-05:00November 7th, 2022|Awareness, Depression, Mental Health|

Screen for Depression Regularly

Depression – we have all heard the word many times. In the past three years, we have all felt sadness. Feeling sad, unmotivated, or hopeless is common in daily life.  But what is the difference between sadness and depression? Feeling sad does not last as long as depression. In depression, you might also experience things like not feeling hungry or feeling hungrier than usual. You may also be sleeping a lot or not enough, and feeling hopeless. Hopelessness feels like the things that you used to enjoy are no longer fun. These feelings are different from normal sadness when they last for long periods of time – from a couple of weeks to many months.  It is important to screen for depression regularly. You can ask your doctor about depression during regular care appointments, sick appointments, after scary experiences, or after childbirth. These are not the only times to screen for depression, though. You should always let your doctor know if you begin to feel the symptoms of depression. It is important to check in with your doctor or someone you trust about these feelings to prevent yourself from experiencing a more serious form of depression. Serious symptoms of depression can lead to fatal outcomes, such as suicide.  Depression screenings ask a lot of questions. You can expect to be [...]

2022-09-28T18:06:39-04:00October 1st, 2022|Depression, Suicide Prevention|

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|
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