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Mental Health Feature

Let’s Talk About It: Help End Stigma Around Mental Illness

Posted: August 2019

Despite scientific advancements in the understanding and treatment of mental illness, there continues to be a stigma associated with mental illness. In fact, the Surgeon General identified stigma as a public health concern.

Stigma stems at least in part from the fact that for hundreds of years, mental illness was perceived as something bad, like the mark of the devil or a type of moral punishment. Unfortunately, individuals with mental illness were ostracized and isolated; and most treatments were inhumane.

While we know more about mental illness today and can more effectively manage it with treatments and medications, people still tend to shy away from mental illness like it is taboo. Stigma also contributes to patients not seeking treatment that would improve their quality of life.

As providers, we can help change society’s perceptions about mental illness as well as an individual’s perceptions about their illness. We can help them understand they have an illness that can be treated and remind them that they are not alone. Encourage your patients to connect with organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Plus, as providers, we should be doing all that we can to debunk the stigma of mental illness by educating those around us. We can use respectful language to talk about mental illness, recognize the connection between mental and physical health, challenge misperceptions when we see them, and encourage all to see individuals rather than their condition.

References:

https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-illness-and-stigma-2337677

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1489832/

https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/october-2017/9-ways-to-fight-mental-health-stigma

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999. 

Resources:

Social media: Follow the #EndStigma hashtag and connect with others seeking to change perceptions about mental health.

 

 

 


Low Testosterone and its Effect on Mood and Behavior

Posted: June 2019

June is upon us and with that we often associate the warmer and sunnier days, outdoor activities, and “summer fun” with an improved mood. Unfortunately, these changes do not bring a better mood for all.

As we celebrate Men’s Health Month, it seems appropriate to take note of an often-missed contributor to mental health issues in the male population – specifically how low testosterone can impact mood and anxiety.

Low testosterone is a clinical condition that can be caused by chronic illnesses, medications, or can simply be part of the natural aging process. Regardless, symptoms can impact more than just libido – men may experience mood swings, depression, fatigue, and anxiety. Sometimes when men present with mood symptoms or problems with anxiety, clinicians are quick to treat with antidepressants or other psychiatric medications. This may not adequately address the problem, and men may be left with unresolved symptoms that are affecting their everyday lives.

While low testosterone is not the only possible differential diagnosis for mental health symptoms, it is one that should not be missed. This month let’s all make a special effort to consider the whole person with symptoms of depression or anxiety and rule out the physiologic possibilities before prescribing.

References:

Bain, J. The Many Faces of Testosterone, Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2007 Dec; 2(4): 567-576. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686330/

Resources:

 

 

 


Taking Care of Baby … and Mom: Maternal Mental Health in the "Fourth Trimester"

Posted: May 2019

As we settle into the spring season and enjoy a time of new beginnings, growth and restoration, may it also be a reminder to bringing awareness to our mental health and self-care.  

May is Mental Health Awareness month; and the internet and social media have covered thousands of stories from different women who have experienced post-partum depression. This brings awareness and hope to new moms everywhere because you too are not alone! 

According to the CDC, post-partum depression and anxiety are common disorders that affect 1 in 7 women, but only a small number of women will seek treatment. You do not have to have a history of depression to experience post-partum depression or anxiety.  Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth.  Symptoms may include feeling sadness, guilt, irritability, inadequacy, or difficulty connecting with your baby; and these symptoms can range in severity.

Regardless of clinical presentation, every woman should be assessed for depression in the post-partum period. Women are encouraged to speak to your certified PA or another healthcare provider about exactly how you are feeling. There are effective research-based treatment options available to help women recover.  

If at any point you have thoughts of harming yourself or baby, please call 911 or 1-800-SUICIDE to receive immediate care.  Here are a few resources for women in the perinatal and post-partum period to help guide you with more support through this journey. 

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

https://www.psychcongress.com/article/counseling-interventions-can-prevent-perinatal-depression

Resources:

1. My Wish for Women:  A social cause initiative to reduce the stigma of postpartum depression and anxiety

2. Social Media: Knowing you are not alone is very important to healing through this process.  Use #mywishformoms on Instagram to find women from all over the world who are telling their stories.

3. Postpartum Support International: Includes great patient and provider resources