Mental Health: Be Your Best Self
Many people have been suffering with anxiety, depression, mood swings, poor sleep, or are survivors of trauma that still impacts them. Some have never explored care before, and others have seemingly tried everything and struggled to find someone who listens and can help.
Often people wonder if their level of struggle requires care. Do they need medication? Would the doctor believe them if they asked for it? Would they need to take it forever? View my video answering these questions. The short answer is that is you find your mental health impacts your relationship, your work, or other aspects of your life, you deserve to have it addressed -- just as you would if a physical issue was interfering. There are a range of tools that can help you manage your mental health including counseling, medication, sleep improvement, exercise, and more. Dr Roth has spent over a decade working in mental health. Her approach is non-judgmental and emphasizes listening, partnering with patients, and working together to find the best solution for each individual. When diagnosed and treated correctly, you can be your best self.
One of the most common mental health struggles is depression. This mood disorder is characterized by low mood, low energy, and lack of enjoyment. Chronically feeling low can lead to negative thought spirals and/or behavioral changes or suicidal thoughts. Generally, key components of the diagnosis include recent or remote illness, family history, medications, alcohol use, and of course environmental stressors and events. A common tool used to assess for depression is called the PHQ-9 (shown below) where scores of 10+ indicate moderate to severe depression. Consultation with an experienced physician can give you an idea of your options and you will have the authority to choose the treatment route that is right for you.
The opposite side of the coin from depression is anxiety. Often coupled with depression, anxiety is the sense of constant stress, overwhelm, and worry even when there is no identifiable reason. Sometimes this comes to a head with anxiety attacks or panic that can land people in the Emergency room because they feel so physical. There is a similar diagnostic tool for anxiety that can be used (GAD-7 below). Treatment is available in the form of medication (as-needed or regularly), therapy, and more. The doctor and you together can sort through how much can be managed by environmental change and when medication can be right for you, but it is possible to get rid of the constant worry.
3. Bipolar vs Borderline Personality Disorder
These are two very different disorders that can be confused on the surface because they both involve mood swings. In both cases-- there is usually longstanding depression as the main feature. However the periods of "mania" are quite different.
In Bipolar Disorder, these periods can last more than 4 days or even for a few weeks. They may feel elevated mood or irritability, a decreased need for sleep, and hyper-productivity, but also more risk-taking behaviors like speeding, overspending/poor decisions, or risky sexual interactions that are not characteristic of the person. Often they have a history of getting in arguments in these periods, and/or losing jobs during them. These things happen during periods of days to weeks and then subside into feeling depressed again.
Borderline Personality appears more as a pattern of rapidly fluctuating mood shifting from very happy to very angry to very sad over the course of a day. There is often a deep fear of abandonment and a history of struggling with relationships. It is usually a result of childhood trauma. Both issues are treatable but it is very important to differentiate between them with a physician, as they are treated differently.
Post-traumatic stress disorder results from a stressful situation that might have occurred in the past. It is characterized by nightmares, flashbacks, or other uncontrollable thoughts about the event. There is often but not always an identifiable trigger, and sometimes people find themselves actively avoiding that trigger. As in the other conditions, PTSD can be addressed with a combination of specialized therapy and medication treatment.
We list insomnia here because of how widespread this is. It can be the result of any of the mental health issues listed above, or sometimes it is a cause or contributor to those symptoms or diagnosis. Poor sleep can significantly impact the quality of life, be it in terms of work, relationship, or ability to self-care. Sleep hygiene, exercise, and proper eating form the basis of sleep health, but there are many non-habit-forming options for treatment including identifying the primary cause and targeting the symptoms of sleep difficulty themselves.