Mental Health Awareness

October is mental health awareness month and nearly 1 in 5 of US adults live with a mental illness. Dr. Timothy Hernandez with Entira Family Clinics stopped by to discuss more on mental health and suicide prevention.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in people ages 15-44. Recent statistics indicate over 16 million adults or about 7% of the population struggled with acute or recurrent major depressive disorder and another 1.5% have a more chronic form called Persistent Depressive Disorder. Anxiety is the most common form of mental health problem. Over 40 million adults struggle with anxiety type disorders. Anxiety can take several different forms from generalized anxiety to specific phobias. Risk factors for anxiety include genetics, family history, as well as life events. Because anxiety often shows up with many physical symptoms we see patients every day with anxiety.

Entira screens all adults for depression at every visit with a 2 question screening tool called the Patient Health Questionairre-2 or simply PHQ 2. If they screen positive then we administer a more precise version, the PHQ 9 as well as use a series of ancillary questions to determine who truly meets the criteria for a Major Depression diagnosis.

After they make the diagnosis they will work with patients to form a treatment plan. The plan could include counseling or psychotherapy for depression or anxiety or what is often called SBIRT, Screening Brief Intervention Referral for Treatment for Substance Use Disorder. Most Family Physicians are comfortable using medications, when appropriate, for depression or anxiety and some of us even have been trained to treat both Alcohol Use Disorder and Opiate Use Disorder with medications.

Ways to manage stress?

  1. Plan your time: try making a to-do list.
  2. Relax with deep breathing and mediation.
  3. Get active.
  4. Eat healthy foods.
  5. Talk to friends and family.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask a health professional for help if you need it.
  7. Engage in activities that you enjoy and make you happy—sports, gardening, music etc.
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