HEALTH FIRST EXPERTS: Stop Telling Yourself How Bad it is. Start Telling a Professional

By  //  May 26, 2021

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Health First's Behavioral Wellness offers talk therapy

“We need to give ourselves room to worry, to grieve the loss of others, of plans, time lost,” said Alyce Clark Webster, LCSW and Behavioral Care Manager with Health First’s Collaborative Care program. “Getting stuck in that loss is when we should talk to someone about how to take our first steps back out.”

Health First’s Behavioral Wellness offers talk therapy and evidence-based treatments to help make summer’s longer days truly sunnier, too.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Do you feel happier or sadder since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring? If you’re like most Americans, worry and stress related to this public health crisis has had a negative impact on your mental health.

More than 42% of people surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in December reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, an increase of 11% over the same survey a year earlier. Now is the time to take stock and consider your options.

“It’s important not to minimize your emotional distress,” says DeAnn Collins, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Program Manager at Health First Behavioral Wellness. “When you get needed support in a timely manner, you’re less likely to need higher or acute care.”

Behavioral Wellness’s Intensive Outpatient Program helps clients manage symptoms of distress, improve coping skills and raise overall feelings of well-being. Whether in group settings or one-on-one (or family therapy), the program delivers treatment both in-person and virtually, and psychiatrists are there to medically evaluate clients for physical care and to coordinate drug therapies.

“We need to give ourselves room to worry, to grieve the loss of others, of plans, time lost,” said Alyce Clark Webster, LCSW and Behavioral Care Manager with Health First’s Collaborative Care program. “Getting stuck in that loss is when we should talk to someone about how to take our first steps back out.”

“It’s important not to minimize your emotional distress,” says DeAnn Collins, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Program Manager at Health First Behavioral Wellness. “When you get needed support in a timely manner, you’re less likely to need higher or acute care.” (Health First image)

Spotting the Signs

As we may be ending a period of isolation that may have brought on new challenges in people’s mental health, it’s important to recognize the signs of mental illness and seek proper care.

■ General symptoms of depression may include feelings of hopelessness, lack of motivation and sadness. Signs may include changes in appetite or weight, fatigue, energy levels. It’s also common to have loss of interest in hobbies or other things you once enjoyed.

■ Anxiety is often described as uncontrollable worries or fears, even a sense of panic. Signs include tension and increased heart rate, as well as fluctuations in appetite and loss of interest in things.

■ Other shared symptoms include trouble sleeping and concentrating, as well as being irritable.

■ It’s very common for anxiety and depression to occur at the same time. Half of people with either anxiety or depression are found to have the other condition as well.

“One of the challenges delivering mental health services is that there continues to be a stigma around seeking out professional mental health help,” Collins says.

“We wouldn’t think twice placing that call to a cardiologist’s office after feeling our heart flutter, but some of our best patients today agonized over making that first call to Behavioral Wellness.”

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Collins offers several quick tips for managing anxiety and depression symptoms, but if you only choose one, make sure it’s the first:

■ See a doctor/mental health therapist. The earlier you’re seen, the sooner you can begin treatment with demonstrable benefits for your condition and begin the journey to managing your symptoms. No referral is needed.

■ Stay active. Participating in exercise, activities, social interactions and hobbies can help re-establish that these activities comprise who you are at your core – not your current feelings.

■ Provide yourself structure by establishing some sort of daily routine. This will allow you to feel more in control of your day-to-day life and help with management of your symptoms.

■ Establish a sleep routine and try to choose healthier foods and drink. Alcohol, despite its momentary benefits or relief, is harmful to anyone suffering from depression or anxiety.

■ Write it down. If you can’t talk to a doctor, therapist or trusted loved one, writing your feelings and thoughts in a journal is a great way to let your thoughts out and process what you’re experiencing.

To learn more, or to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our clinicians, call 321.434.7604 or visit HF.org/BehavioralWellness to learn more.

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