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The Connection Between Mental Health and Physical Health

How Treating Depression Aids Both Mental Health and Physical Health

When a person is living with depression, it can impact their everyday quality of life. It can also impact their physical health. The connectionmental health and physical health between mental health and physical health is strong. And just as chronic illness may lead to depression, depression can deepen the symptoms of physical illness. If you treat depression effectively it can actually help to alleviate some physical discomforts associated with chronic medical conditions.

The mental health and physical health link works in both directions. If you have untreated depression, you are more susceptible to some physical conditions such as heart disease, irritable bowel, stroke, back pain or certain kinds of cancer. On the flip side, patients living with these kinds of chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to developing depression. Thus, whichever came first, the association between mental health and physical health persists.

By treating your depression you can significantly impact your physical health and your quality of life. Treatment for depression may include use of antidepressant medication, but not necessarily. Sometimes, lifestyle changes such as adding moderate exercise into your daily schedule and paying attention to your sleep routine (sleep hygiene) can be enough to turn things around. A short-term course of cognitive behavioral therapy which helps you learn to take charge of thought patterns is another way to help clear the fog of depression.

What matters most is that you realize the importance of addressing depression. It could trigger other health matters or make existing health matters worse. Either way, taking steps to address your depression is a smart move. At Family Guidance Center we can help you find the treatment which will be most effective in dealing with your depression. Call us today and take the first step toward a better quality of life.

Changes in Delivery of Mental Health Care Affects Patients

The statin drugs used to lower cholesterol are now the most commonly prescribed medications in America.Get-Help-Now3 But right behind them are antidepressants. Doctors wrote 254 million prescriptions for antidepressants last year and Americans spend around $10 billion annually buying them. Mental health experts suggest this is largely due to some changes in the way healthcare is delivered.

Integrated Healthcare
Over the past dozen years there has been many changes in the way Americans receive their healthcare. One positive change has been the improved integration of behavioral health and primary health care. Mental health is no longer viewed solely as a sub-specialty but has been incorporated into the mainstream of well-care.

Today, primary care physicians write seven percent of all antidepressant prescriptions. It sounds like a small number, but it represents millions of prescriptions. And if estimates are correct, depression affects around 10 percent of the general population. It seems as though primary care providers are more aware of depression and are doing a better job of treating the condition. Yet, not all of the news is rosy.

Mental Health Shares Physical Health Care Delivery Challenges
One of the downsides to greater integration is that mental health now shares some of the very same challenges that are troubling physical health care. A visit to a psychiatrist, for instance, averages 30 minutes while most primary care consults last a mere 13 minutes. And while the psychiatric visit is focused entirely on mental health issues, the primary care visit will spend only a portion of the time focused on mental health concerns. Thus, most of those antidepressant prescriptions written by the primary care doctor are unconnected to any kind of specific diagnosis.

It is a good thing when patients are able to get help for mental health issues. However, if they are asking the primary care provider for treatment because their insurance doesn’t cover mental health care or because there is no psychiatrist in the area, they probably aren’t receiving adequate mental health care. At Family Guidance we work hand-in-hand with primary care providers to make sure that patients have a correct diagnosis and supportive treatment and not just a prescription for antidepressants. Call us and see how we can help.

Mental Health Risks With Diabetes Underline the Connections Between Physical Health and Depression

Depression 7When a person’s emotional well-being is jeopardized, it can lead to physical problems and vice versa. So it is with physical health and depression – there is a very definite connection between the two. In fact, the American Diabetes Association has reported on the likelihood that patients with diabetes may also face episodes of depression.

Diabetes a Common Illness
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects roughly 10 percent of Americans. For Americans above the age of 60, that figure spikes to 23 percent. This is an illness that cannot be resolved with a quick round of medication. It is a lifelong reality that will require ongoing self-management. Usually, that management requires at least making some personal changes in diet and exercise. Other times, it means a new regimen of medication.

Depression a Common Symptom
Such long-term realities can trigger an episode of depression as the person contemplates all the changes which must be absorbed. Add in the new health risks that accompany diabetes and it can seem a bit overwhelming. It is not at all uncommon for a person with diabetes to find that they are struggling with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, insomnia and other symptoms of depression.

The physical health and depression connection flows in both directions actually, with some research suggesting that depression itself can lead to diabetes. A long range study of thousands of women found that depression increases the risk of developing diabetes.

Both Benefit From Treatment
The physical health and depression link is very real, but if you are a person with diabetes what really matters is that you not ignore symptoms of depression. When you feel like you just can’t get there on your own, we are here to help. Family Guidance Center counselors are well acquainted with the inter-relatedness of physical health and depression and have plenty of experience helping people just like you make the adjustments needed to regain a happy, healthy and hopeful life.

Addiction Takes a Toll

Drugs can interfere with a person’s ability to think and act clearly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there’s a biological reason for this – compounds in drugs disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain, flooding the brain with the feel good chemical dopamine. Over time, the person using drugs has to have more and more in order to achieve the same high as before. This is because the brain adjusts to the in pouring of dopamine and stops producing as much naturally. Over time, drugs can cause permanent damage to the parts of the brain that control reasoning, judgment, and learning, challenging the user’s ability to think rationally.

Those who engage in drug use may partake in risky behaviors that further put their health and protection in jeopardy. Examples include having sex with numerous partners or not using protection, sharing needles with others, driving while high, or stealing from others to support one’s drug habit, which could result in incarceration. Mental Illness 1

A drug habit makes it hard to focus on the world outside of drugs. It may be difficult to hold down a job or go to school. Parents may neglect their children. Relationships with family and friends suffer and lack of income and stability could result in homelessness.

While the effect of drugs may be pleasurable initially, overtime, they take a toll on a person’s physical and psychological health. Drugs like amphetamines cause double vision, sweating, sleep problems, hypertension, and increased breathing and heart rate. Over time, a person may experience paranoia and loss of touch with reality. Street drugs like cocaine and heroin cause extreme cravings that could lead to overdose. Even household drugs like cough medicines, when abused, can cause nausea, hypertension, deliria, unconsciousness, and permanent brain injury. Breathing inhalants like glue and paint thinners is also extremely toxic and could result in death.

Breaking the cycle of drug abuse is a difficult feat to tackle on one’s own. It requires a strong commitment to getting better and oftentimes, the help of a professional. Family Guidance Center offers both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment services. To learn more, visit familyguidance.org.


Mental Health Screenings Equally Important as Yearly Physicals

Mental Health 2Oftentimes mental health does not receive the same attention as physical heath. Patients regularly visit physicians for wellness checks such as annual physicals, but mental health screenings tend to be overlooked.

According to British research from the University of Cambridge, regular mental health evaluations are just as important as tending to one’s bodily aches and pains. According to a report presented by PsychCentral, mental health disorders are the primary reason for disability in the U.S., UK, and Canada. Every year a quarter of the adult population is diagnosed with some type of mental health issue, with depression and anxiety among the top concerns.

Barbara Sahakian, well-known UK neuroscientist and professor, presented study findings which uncovered that currently only two in five patients with dementia are even aware they have the disease. Early detection has also been shown to significantly save on healthcare expense. For instance, patients with Alzheimer’s disease who received early treatment and intervention reduced healthcare costs by an average of $12,000.

Devoting attention to one’s emotional health early on is important for the development of healthy coping mechanisms needed later in life. Another ignored fact is that mental health conditions can impact physical health and vice versa. Exercise, for instance, has lifelong benefits that boost physical as well as psychological wellbeing; studies even show that exercise can improve brain functioning.

Frequent mental health screenings can play a significant role in prevention and treatment. People who put off seeking help increase the chance of their disorder being harder to treat. The results of the study emphasize the importance of making mental health a focus of public health.

Family Guidance Center has a team of mental health professionals who can help with assessment, diagnosis and treatment strategies for conditions affecting mental health. With proper intervention, most mental health conditions are highly manageable. In addition to annual check-ups, regular mental health screenings offer the best prognosis for a long and healthy life.