Stressed Out? Problems Sleeping? Flashbacks? Anxious? Depressed?
Mental health problems are common. From just feeling stressed to more persistent problems like major depression or anxiety – mental health problems affect our health as well as our ability to enjoy our lives and reach our goals. According to NAMI, over 40 million adults have significant mental health problems each year, and more than half of them don’t get any treatment. That is a lot of suffering. Fortunately, there is an effective treatment for these problems.
There are many types of treatment that people can get for mental health issues and several kinds of professionals who treat it. Some people do counseling, and others use
Counseling is typically done by a person who has a degree in psychology, counseling or social work. There are many different types of therapy, and one of the most well-known methods is cognitive behavioral therapy – also called CBT. This method looks at how the way our thoughts affect our moods which in turn affect our behaviors. Other mental health professionals use psychoanalytic techniques.
While I do not do CBT, I do use motivational interviewing when working with patients to help facilitate behavior changes. I also frequently talk with patients about other tools such as journaling, meditation, yoga, and changes in diet and exercise to improve their mood. Sometimes in addition to behavioral changes I recommend medications.
There are many different types of medications that we use in treatment. SSRIs, SNRIs help restore a better balance of serotonin and norepinephrine (two neurotransmitters) in our brains. This balance can help improve a person’s mood, reduce anxiety and panic attacks. They are also used to treat PTSD and several other mental health problems. We also use medicines like Buspar and hydroxyzine to help with anxiety, and drugs like Seroquel and Abilify to treat bipolar disorder. Some physicians prescribe benzodiazepines (like Ativan or Xanax) to treat anxiety. Benzodiazepines can be addictive and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly. I do not prescribe benzodiazepines because I frequently have seen them cause more harm than good.
I have several years of experience working in addiction medicine and am a member of ASAM – the American Society of Addiction Medicine. I do not prescribe medications that have addictive potential on a long-term basis in my practice. I enjoy providing primary care services to people who are in recovery and encourage participation in Celebrate Recovery, NA and AA.
I encourage all my patients to be open and honest with where they are in their lives and what they are struggling with – whether it be problems sleeping, gambling, depression, emotional eating or other concerns. I hope that by having frank conversations, we can better work together towards their treatment goals. These conversations take time. Being able to get to know my patients is one of the most significant benefits I see in doing Direct Primary Care – that I have time to get to know you, and we can figure out together how you can reach your goals.
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