Category: Mental Health

Should You Be Screened for Depression? YES.

00Mental Health, Prevention
Stock Photo by Sean Locke

Stock Photo by Sean Locke

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation is in – screen ALL adults for depression.

Depression is a Community-Wide Issue
Considering that depression is one of the leading causes of disability in adults, it makes sense, right? And because the effects of depression reach far beyond the individual (families, businesses, and society can be negatively impacted by this disease) mental health should be regarded as a community-wide issue.

An important part of this recommendation is that it is Grade B, which means that anyone can be screened without any qualifications. Basically, you don’t have to “prove” anything to “earn” a depression screening. Additionally, the USPSTF says that an accurate diagnosis should be followed by effective treatment, and concluded with appropriate follow-up. In other words, the diagnosis is just the beginning of the journey.

Just as with other health conditions, depression symptoms can be reduced or relieved when treated correctly and in a timely fashion. If you need help, medical professionals can create a treatment plan that involves medication, therapy, or both.

9Health Fair: A Place to Start
Adding a new aspect to your healthcare routine can be daunting. If you don’t know where to start, just go to a 9Health Fair! Many locations offer a free stress management screening, which would be a great way to see if further evaluation is needed – without spending any money.

Many people are already in the habit of including weight and blood pressure in their annual preventive health plan. Adding a mental health evaluation paints a more inclusive picture of your overall wellness. By screening all adults for depression, this new USPSTF recommendation encourages our community to bring mental health issues into the light.

The Four R’s of Change

01Mental HealthTags: ,

Time to change concept

Change is hard. But, when you want to turn a healthy action into a healthy habit, most likely, change is necessary.

Our mental health expert, Dr. Max Wachtel, understands the struggle. A few years ago, he had the itch to start working out. To help himself change his habit of not working out, he focused his efforts on the “4 R’s of Change.” Soon, he found himself enjoying his daily workouts – some days he was even eager to get to the gym!

Let’s say you’ve noticed that your mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be.  In an effort to engage your brain more often, you decide you want to complete a crossword puzzle during lunch every day. Here’s an example of how you can relate the “4 R’s of Change” to this goal:

  1. Reminder. Remember to make the change you desire. (Put the crossword book next to your toothbrush so you remember each morning!)
  2. Routine. Develop a routine! (You set aside some time every day during lunch.)
  3. Reward. You’ve got to reward yourself. (After a successful week, buy yourself a bouquet of flowers to celebrate!)
  4. Reflect. Think about what worked and what didn’t. (It didn’t work when you were busy.)

After a few weeks of lunchtime puzzles, you may find yourself reaching for your crossword when the clock strikes noon! If that’s the case, treat yourself! Or, if you realize a roadblock that seems to always get in your way each day, adjust your goal – perhaps completing a crossword puzzle every other day is more realistic, and still makes your mind just as engaged.

Inevitably, life will throw you a curveball and your routine will get thrown off. Whether it be travel for work, an illness, or something else unexpected, that’s okay! Dr. Max throws in a “bonus R” – Resist the urge to beat yourself up. Life happens! Give yourself a break and then get back on track.

When you realize that forming a new habit can improve your health, it’s important to be mindful about the process of change. Don’t just “wing it.” When you have a productive way to analyze something, you’re able to think more clearly about your success (or lack thereof.)

3 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health Today

00Mental Health

carefree-man-laying-in-grass-iStock-2x3When it comes to your overall health, keeping tabs on your mental health is just as important as getting plenty of sleep and exercise. Your mental health can affect every aspect of your life. If you’re struggling in this area, whether it be from anxiety, depression or self-image, just to name a few, you may find yourself struggling elsewhere in your life. Maybe it causes you to have trouble sleeping (or sleep too much). Maybe you have no motivation to exercise and eat healthy. Or maybe you begin to isolate yourself from others.

We all experience low points in our lives. Before you get down too far, try these tips to boost your mental wellness:

1. Value Yourself

The University of Michigan student health center points out how important it is to respect yourself. You may have heard this before, but be kind to yourself. Remember, we all make mistakes. We all have bad days. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you can’t recover from a bad day. Make time every day to do something you enjoy. Then you’ll always have something to look forward to in your day.

2. Maintain Good Hygiene

It may seem obvious, but as Mental Health America explains, it’s “important for social, medical and psychological reasons in that it not only reduces the risk of illness, but it also improves the way others view you and how you view yourself.” So make sure you shower regularly and brush and floss your teeth twice a day. It’s amazing how much clean teeth can make you feel so good!

3. Exercise

The Mayo Clinic recommends exercising as a way to keep your mental health up. Even if it’s a light activity such as gardening or walking, exercise can go a long way to keep your mind sharp. It can manage symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.  Find an activity you enjoy and make it part of your daily routine.

Remember, good mental health is one of the keys to overall happiness in life. When you’re mentally healthy, you’re better prepared for anything that may come your way, and you’re better prepared to help those around you who made need it, too.

9 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

00Mental Health

Alzheimers-DiseaseImagine an entire city full of people unsuccessfully battling an incurable and unforgiving disease. That is the reality of Alzheimer’s in our country. According to data from the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 700,000 people age 65 or older will die with Alzheimer’s this year in the United States alone – this is close to the population of Detroit!

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. It’s a time to shine a purple light for the millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Debilitating and devastating for all involved, Alzheimer’s affects the brain, causing memory loss and motor control loss in the body. A person with this disease will experience brain cells dying, resulting in a decline of memory and ability to function on a daily basis.

Scientists believe that the cause is a combination of genetics, a person’s lifestyle and their environment. Although uncommon (less than 5 percent of the time), some people can develop it through a genetic mutation that will almost always guarantee the disease.

Watch for Warning Signs

If you have just an ounce of suspicion that a loved one’s memory may be slipping, it is important to pay attention to warning signs. Below are the nine most important signs to look for.

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. This may include forgetting names or appointments, but then remembering them later when it’s too late.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. An example of this could be handling a problem in a much different way than what is normal to them.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. When this sign is evident, your loved one may need help using the settings on a microwave or need help remembering which button to push on the remote control.

4. Confusion with time or place. This is a common sign, especially as the disease progresses. They may become confused about the day of the week, but then they figure it out later.

5. New problems with words, speaking or writing. Many have trouble finding the right word or may even mix up thoughts and topics within a sentence.

6. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. They look all around over and over for something they cannot find. When they don’t remember where they have looked, the search begins again in the same places.

7. Decreased or poor judgement. Making a bad decision with something they typically would always make good choices with.

8. Withdrawal from work or social activities. This is very common in that once they feel there is something wrong, they close up and avoid social settings.

9. Changes in mood and personality. Irritability is a very common and noticeable sign. They become more set in their ways and begin to have very set ways of doing things.


The greatest risk factors — age, genes and family history — are beyond our control. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to improve your odds.

A new report published in Alzheimers & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association outlines the latest evidence that certain modifiable risk factors play a role in who’s most likely to develop memory and thinking problems as they age.

While the report concludes that more research is needed on risk reduction, prevention, and brain health, it concludes scientists now know enough to make these two key recommendations:

1. Regular physical activity and management of cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes, obesity, smoking, and hypertension) have been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and may reduce the risk of dementia

2. A healthy diet and lifelong learning/cognitive training may also reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

How to Spread Awareness

Alzheimer’s disease is not quite understood, but the effect it has on the brain is clear. Visit and learn more about the disease, its symptoms and the impact it has on caregivers and society in general. It is also important to be proactive. Call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900 if you have questions, need help or just need someone to talk to for support.

Just How Stressed Out Are You?

00Mental Health

Are so you overwhelmed with everything going on in your life that you just need a mental health day? A day to check out – no work, no responsibilities, no to-do lists. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Stress has become embedded in our culture

It seems like there’s a social mentality that if we’re not crazy busy and stressed out all the time, then we’re not working hard enough. It’s an idea that’s prevalent in our workplaces (Stress: a social issue). We have 40 hour a week jobs, but let’s be honest, most of us are working at least 45 hours a week because we’re working through our lunch breaks. You hear people venting all the time because their employer is constantly increasing their workload. Because of this pressure, not only are we plowing through our lunch breaks while mindlessly stuffing our faces with either fast food or a frozen meal we microwaved; we put off important things like going to the doctor, especially if it’s for preventive care. We wouldn’t want our employer to think we’re not committed or reliable, or worse, ask why we’re going to the doctor. And really, our jobs are one of our greatest stresses. We stress about how secure our jobs are, whether we’re performing to the high expectations set upon us by our bosses and, of course, work-life balance.

“I have actually heard couples get into arguments about who is busier and who is more tired,” says  psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel. “It is like they are competing with each other to be the family’s hardest worker…there is pressure to be busy and to work hard…It comes from an expectation, either internal or external, that we be perfect in every way. We have to be perfect at work, and we need to be the perfect parents, and we have to have fantastic social lives. Every moment ends up getting booked, and all of a sudden, we find ourselves folding laundry at 1:00 in the morning because we’ve run out of time.”

Stress is not the same as busy

It’s important to note the distinction between being busy and being stressed. Just because you are really busy, doesn’t necessarily mean you are stressed out. Stress is when we feel like things have just become too much to deal with. Some stress can actually be good for you. It can get you going or save your life (think “fight or flight”). But when the stress starts to take a toll on your mental and physical health, that’s when it becomes a problem (What is Stress? How to Deal with Stress).

How stress affects your body

Stress can affect your body in many ways, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can cause headaches, anxiety and even impact eating habits by causing you to overeat or not eat enough. Some symptoms of stress can lead to even more health problems if you don’t address the causes of your stress. (50 Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress)

According to Dr. Wachtel, stress can really cause us to be less productive. “Stress can actually cause us to be less efficient–if we are exhausted and feeling overwhelmed, it can be hard to figure out how to prioritize and get tasks done…It seems counterintuitive, but if we try to accomplish fewer tasks, we tend to get more done in a day and we tend to complete those tasks more effectively.”

Ways to de-stress

If you really are stressed out, it’s time to seriously think about ways to alleviate it. You can’t keep putting the issues off or have the mindset that “this is just how it is for everyone.”

“You need to prioritize,” says Dr. Wachtel. “You can’t get everything done that you want to finish in one day, so pick the top three tasks, and focus on those. Also, realize you don’t need to have every moment of your life completely booked–some down time to relax is okay, and it will probably help you to get more done in the long run. It is extremely important to carve out some time for yourself, too. Focus on an old hobby you used to enjoy or try learning a new skill. Exercise, meditation, prayer, yoga–those are all great for stress too.”

Do you need help coming up with ways to unplug and recharge? Here are a few more suggestions:

Rent a funny movie.
Laughter is the best medicine. Someone once said that, didn’t they? Not to mention, renting a funny movie can provide you with another positive opportunity – family bonding time! (10 Tips to Help You De-Stress)

Listen to relaxing music.
This is a great one because whether you’re in the car or at the office you can usually put some music on. Choose something with a slow tempo and preferably with no lyrics. Think spa music. (Stress Relief: 8 Ways to De-Stress Your Life)

Identify your stress triggers
This one is especially important. By identifying what stresses you out, you can be prepared to deal with it ahead of time. You may not be able to eliminate the stress trigger, but just knowing what it is, when it’s likely to occur and how you plan to deal with it is a huge part of the battle. (10 Ways to De-Stress Your Mind and Body)

When to seek professional help
“If you are trying to de-stress and still struggling, professional help may be a good idea. A therapist can help you prioritize and understand how to relax,” adds Dr. Wachtel. If you feel you would like to speak with a professional check to see if your employer has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) or call your insurance for referral or go to one of our 9Health Fairs for a stress screening.

Here are some signs you may need professional help dealing with stress, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Experiencing a marked decline in work/school performance
  • Excess anxiety
  • Misuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Unable to cope with demands of daily life
  • Having irrational fears
  • Experiencing significant change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Having suicidal thoughts or urge to hurt others
  • Engaging in self-mutilation, self-destructive or dangerous behavior
  • Having a sustained withdrawn mood or behavior

What’s your favorite way to de-stress?