When is it Time to Get Help?

Understanding Anxiety and Depression

DepressionMental health issues are on the rise throughout the United States. In fact, findings from the recent Lakeland Health Community Health Needs Assessment revealed mental health was among the top health priorities for community members in Berrien County. If left untreated, mental health issues can have a significant impact on a person’s relationships, education, career, or social life.

Two of the most common mental health conditions treated by counselors at Southwestern Medical Clinic Christian Counseling and Psychological Services are anxiety and depression. An anxiety disorder causes intense feelings of panic and fear. These feelings may arise for no apparent reason and they tend to recur again and again. Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects your whole body, including your mood and thoughts.

Although the causes for both conditions vary, from heredity and childhood circumstances, to cumulative stress or short-term triggers such as loss or significant life changes, treatment considerations are often the same.

“Patients who suffer from anxiety and depression will often benefit from counseling, medication, or a combination of the two,” said Marcia Wiinamaki, PsyD. “You may believe that nothing can help you. Or, you might fear what others may think. But most anxiety and depression symptoms can be eased to help you live a healthier life.”

Counseling or “talk therapy” has been shown to provide a number of benefits for patients including:

  • Guidance in developing a “life treatment plan” – it’s not only what someone shouldn’t be doing to avoid triggering an episode. Often times, the focus is on what patients should be doing such as getting an adequate amount of sleep or participating in activities that used to bring them joy.
  • Identify anxiety and depression triggers – learning what brings on stress or anxiety in your life is the first step toward managing it. An in-depth assessment into your current work situation and recent major life events will help you identify your “triggers.” From there, you can develop a plan of how to effectively deal with those situations as they arise.
  • Receive feedback from an objective perspective – family and friends who are closely involved in your life, or may even be a cause of your anxiety or depression, may have difficulty providing feedback or advice that is unbiased.
  • Learn skills to help deal with anxiety and depression – it’s also important to learn to avoid patterns that make anxiety or depression more likely to reoccur.
  • Emotional support – many times simply opening up and talking through your problems with someone who is actively listening can make a big difference in overcoming symptoms.

Medications are another effective treatment consideration and have been shown to increase quality of life for patients. There are a variety of medications available to treat both anxiety and depression. It’s important to consult with your primary care provider about which is the best course of treatment for you.

Mental Health First Aid

Community Health and Wellness at Lakeland Health offers a series of free classes to help to take the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems and provide tools to help those in crisis. Visit www.lakelandhealth.org/events to view upcoming class dates.

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