Your Mental Health Matters: How to Get Started
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage our patients to remember that fostering a healthy mind is just as vital to our overall wellbeing as maintaining our physical health. When our bodies hurt, we seek treatment so that we can begin to heal. When our emotions are out of balance, the solution might not seem as straightforward or obvious.
Mental health is easy to neglect. It’s common to fall into a pattern of telling yourself you’re feeling this way as a result of your own choices or perceived shortcomings. “Maybe if I work harder, wait longer, maybe if I try to ignore these feelings, this will go away.” It’s also common to feel stuck or helpless due to circumstances beyond your control. You might find yourself saying, “I’m NOT depressed! I just hate where I am right now and I’m not sure how to get out.”
It’s important to know you’re not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), roughly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences some form of mental illness each year. Anxiety and depression are extremely common and highly treatable, but sadly, more than half of people suffering from anxiety and half of people suffering from depression do not receive treatment.
Mental disorders can permeate your life, sap the joy from your relationships, and affect your ability to function normally. As with any illness, mental disorders require your attention so that you can heal. You don’t have to feel this way forever, but you do have to take the first step yourself. If you or one of your loved ones is hurting, we hope that this information will inspire you to find treatments that work for you.
Try an app
Medical News Today recently came out with a list of the 10 best mental health apps available for Android and iPhone. Apps can be a great way to reduce stress or make an initial self-diagnosis, especially if you’re not exactly sure what the problem is. We tried them, and these were our favorites:
- 7 Cups
Get moving (especially outside!)
Exercise has been proven to be an effective treatment for depression. "For some people it works as well as antidepressants, although exercise alone isn't enough for someone with severe depression," says Dr. Michael Craig Miller of Harvard Medical School. Physical activity releases endorphins (pleasure hormones) which can help with depression, anxiety and other disorders. If you’re feeling blue, try starting a routine of a physical activity you enjoy. Even 10 minutes a day can have a positive effect!
Try a supplement
Research suggests that these supplements can be beneficial to mental health:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
Recent studies have shown that probiotic supplements may be effective in reducing the symptoms of mild depression. While we can’t speak to its effectiveness in this regard, some members of our team have had a good experience taking this one for overall women’s health.
Try a “crunchy” supplement
Most of these can be found at a natural food store near you. If you’re not sure about the safety or effectiveness of any product, feel free to ask your Women’s Health CT provider for their professional opinion.
Made from a plant native to South America and often sold as a liquid, passionflower is used to treat insomnia and anxiety. According to WebMd, passionflower was once available as an over the counter sleep aid in the U.S.
GABA stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. It is a naturally occurring substance in the brain that acts as a primary neurotransmitter, meaning it can calm your central nervous system. Some people take GABA to help manage stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and relieve symptoms associated with PMS.
Available for decades, this homeopathic standby is famous for being a safe and simple stress-reliever.
Melatonin is a hormone that lets your body know when it’s time to sleep. Melatonin can help with occasional sleeplessness so that you can function optimally during the day.
CBD is the new kid on the mental-health-support block. Derived from cannabis, this oil is believed to help relieve anxiety without giving the user a high. Currently, it’s only available in specialty shops and on the internet, so make sure to do your research and talk to your healthcare provider before ordering.
Repeat a mantra
Find a phrase that’s meaningful to you. Think on words of encouragement that you’ve received from friends or family. Pinterest and Instagram are also great places to find sayings to lift your spirits. Here are some to start with:
- It’s not your fault that you feel this way. Brain chemistry is weird!
- It’s okay to lean on others.
- This is temporary. You will recover, and things will get better.
- You’re not broken. You are worthy of love.
- You deserve an EXCESS of happiness in your life.
- Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
Talk to someone
Stress and sadness can be hard to talk about, but just as you would visit your doctor to determine the cause of a physical ailment, you can see a licensed therapist or counselor to help you figure out why you’re feeling what you’re feeling and guide you through treatment. The experience can open doors to other options you might not have considered. If you don’t click with the first therapist you try, it’s ok to “shop around” for someone else you’re more compatible with. Not sure where to start? Your Ob/Gyn or primary care provider can recommend someone.
If a support group setting appeals to you or if you need advice on how to help a friend or family member, visit namict.org to find groups and speakers near you.
If you need it, this free crisis text line allows you to talk to a trained volunteer at any time of day or night. (Crisis can mean any painful emotion for which you need support.)
Visit your Women’s Health CT provider
Our providers care about treating the whole patient. You can talk with your Ob/Gyn about anything that is affecting your health. This practice has a special interest in mental health and offers supplemental wellness programs:
Women’s Health Primary Care Shoreline
This new primary care practice offers a wide range of services including annual health screenings and management of anxiety and depression. “I want to really understand what’s going on in a patient’s life.” says Kristen Stehle, MSN, APRN, NP-C. “Anxiety and depression can permeate everything and I’m here to listen and to provide some initial steps to help, whether that involves medication or developing a plan that includes therapy and alternative treatments.”
Kristen and Allison Kilmer, MSN, APRN, NP-C, will be hosting a series of classes and seminars on topics such as nutrition, fitness, and yoga for mental health support.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Health By The Numbers. https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Facts & Statistics. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics#
Holmes, Lindsay. "11 Statistics That Will Change The Way You Think About Depression." The Huffington Post. Huffpost Lifestyle. Updated Jan. 21, 2015, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/20/depression-statistics_n_6480412.html
Harvard Health Publishing. “Exercise Is an All-Natural Treatment to Fight Depression” Harvard Health Blog, Apr. 2018, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression.