Should You Be Screened for Depression? YES.

00Mental Health, Prevention
Stock Photo by Sean Locke www.digitalplanetdesign.com

Stock Photo by Sean Locke
www.digitalplanetdesign.com

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.

Prevention

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 www.alz.org 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.