Anxiety and depression affect more than 40 million adults in the United States. It is not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. In fact, nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. As with any illness, treatment should be tailored to a specific diagnosis and can include the following:
- Psychotherapy (psychological treatment without medical treatment) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) work to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones. These treatments focus on facing one’s fears as part of the pathway to recovery and do not involve medication.
- Medications can be useful for symptoms of depression and anxiety, as both respond to treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) medications.
- Support groups, relaxation/meditation techniques, therapy and regular exercise can also help to reduce mild symptoms of depression and anxiety.
So how does your mental health factor in with your health insurance? Under the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), all individual and small-group plans are required to cover ten essential health benefits with no annual or lifetime dollar limits. Mental health and addiction treatment (collectively referred to as behavioral health services) are among the essential health benefits.
You can find guides to treatment, resources for support and tips for helping friends and relatives at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website, www.adaa.org.
Vitamin D is not called the “sunshine vitamin” for nothing — symptoms of deficiency can include unexplained fatigue, loss of focus, sleep disorders, weakness and even depression. But do not worry if you have not been taking your multivitamins regularly — you can get plenty of vitamin D from food and even exposure to the sun. Here are a few ways to beat vitamin D deficiency:
A little light spurs the body to make vitamin D, but use caution: only about 20 or 25 minutes in the sunlight is helpful. Be mindful of prolonged sun exposure and make sure to use sunscreen if you will be out for any longer.
Fish like mackerel, salmon, tuna, and eel are all rich in vitamin D, along with mushrooms, fortified milks, orange juice and cereals, and egg yolks.
Vitamin D3 supplements along with cod liver oil can help increase vitamin D levels. It is important to note that vitamin D3 supplements are not vegetarian, and some part of the production might occur outside the United States. One more point is that supplements are not regulated by the FDA.
Today I’m grateful for…
The world is a busy place and as you go to work, come home, work out, make dinner, and go to sleep, it’s easy to let everyday matters overwhelm your thoughts. However, taking a few moments each day to stop what you are doing, acknowledge where your mind is, and appreciate what you have, who you are, and where you are can make a big difference in minimizing negativity.
If you are wondering whether mindfulness and practicing gratitude really works, mindfulness has been shown in research to decrease professional burnout and compassion fatigue and raise distress tolerance (Krasner et al., 2009). Mindfulness practice also leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density (Hölzel et al., 2011). A large body of research has established the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing symptoms of several disorders such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and chronic pain, as well ese as improving well-being and quality of life (Hölzel et al., 2011).
Practicing gratitude is simply the act of recognizing the good things, appreciating them, and showing gratitude for them. But how do you start?
Start a gratitude journal. Journals made specifically for practicing gratitude are available to purchase, but any journal or notebook will do. You can write in long form, bullet form, draw—whatever way speaks to you, as long as you are conveying things you are grateful for.
Listen to a gratitude podcast. Some gratitude podcasts focus on learning to recognize negativity and training the mind to become more aware, while others simply talk about gratitude itself. Do your research to find a podcast that best suits your needs. If a 30-minute talk on gratitude will be a more relaxing fit in your schedule, then listen to that one instead of forcing yourself to listen to an hour-long episode that will only create more negativity within you.
Create gratitude reminders. Setting yourself a reminder to pause and find something to express gratitude toward is a great way to practice gratefulness. This is another option that depends on the individual finding what works best. Some ways to create gratitude reminders are:
- Setting a reminder or alarm on your phone for a certain time every day.
- Writing on a sticky note.
- Writing a message on your bathroom mirror in dry-erase marker that you can see every morning and change as needed.
- Setting a gratitude quote or phrase as your phone wallpaper—something you will look at whenever you check the time.
Practicing gratitude starts with mindfulness and awareness. Find a method that will help you recognize where you are mentally and emotionally, then take that first step to acknowledge what you are grateful for.
If you would like additional information on emotional and mental health, you can confidentially contact me at the information below.