Tag Archives: mental illness

Clinical Depression – So Much More Than ‘The Blues’

Somehow in our modern, rapidly progressing world, there still remains a cloud of stigma hanging over those who suffer from mental health conditions. This prejudice is founded on ignorance, so the best way to combat ignorance? Facts, education and awareness. Because of said ignorance, many people think of depression in completely the wrong terms. They may perceive a loved one’s diagnosis of clinical depression to be nothing more than a spell of ‘the blues’. Asking the sufferer, why can’t you just snap out of it? Well believe us, people who struggle with depressive disorder are so sick of hearing these tired clichés, and simply want their health condition to be as widely accepted and understood as physical conditions like diabetes are.

So What is Depressive Disorder?

Depression in itself, a short bout of sadness and despair caused by the loss of a loved one or another acutely troubling event, is encountered by nearly everyone at some point in life. A depressive disorder, however, go far beyond a short period of sadness. Depressive disorders, also known as clinical depression, last more than 2 weeks but often lasts much longer. It can range from intermittent waves of despair, guilt and hopelessness, to an all-encompassing physiological condition, affecting the brain as well as the rest of the body. Untreated major depression may lead to self-harm, or suicidal thoughts or tendencies which can be life-threatening if left unattended.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is a serious health condition resulting from neurochemical changes in the brain, but is most often caused by combination of factors including: nutrient deficiencies, the inability to cope with devastating events or circumstances, a chronic or life-threatening illness, genetics, hormonal imbalances, medication (such as certain severe acne treatments) or chronic stress, to name a few.

What Symptoms Does Depression Cause?

As with almost any illness, symptoms of clinical depression vary from person to person, however some of the most commonly experienced symptoms include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, apathy, distress or emptiness
  • An ever-present ‘blue mood’ that you often can’t shake off
  • Mood or personality changes such as becoming more easily irritable or angry
  • Newfound insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy such as hobbies, work or love life
  • Fixation on negative thoughts
  • Loss of desire to engage in social activities
  • Or reliving past failures, constantly blaming yourself for things that weren’t your fault
  • Weight loss or weight gain (sometimes loss of interest in food)
  • Generalized pain or discomfort, limb or back pain
  • Psychomotor changes
  • Concentration and focus problems
  • Thoughts of self-harm or death

Is Depression Treatable?

Thankfully, yes! Depression is a highly treatable condition that almost always responds well to a combination of medical and therapeutic treatments and lifestyle changes. There is a wide range of medications available today to successfully treat depression. Unfortunately, people often don’t seek help when depressed, and if you don’t seek help, depression could get worse and worse. Undiagnosed or untreated major depressive disorder can be very dangerous, so if you have any of the above-listed symptoms it is very important to talk to your doctor soon about a treatment plan that best suits your condition.

Stay tuned for our next post where we will be taking a look at how diet changes may help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. For more mental health resources check out our article: Sobering Statistics About Mental Health Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Sobering Statistics About Mental Illness

Unfortunately, like many other invisible disabilities, mental illness still bears the weight of unfair societal stigma, even though no one has “perfect” mental health. Mental health is a spectrum onto which we all fit somewhere. So why do we have compassion for people going through (visible) physical illnesses but often only suspicion, impatience or frustration toward those going through serious mental illnesses? Perhaps more awareness is key. Let’s examine some of the sobering facts of how strongly mental illness impacts America:

  • Over 60 million Americans (1 in 4) will battle with mental illness annually.
  • More than 13 million suffer a serious mental disability such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comprise the most common mental illnesses in the United States, afflicting over 42 million Americans.
  • Rape survivors (of both genders) are most likely to experience PTSD. It affects 65% of male rape survivors and nearly 50% of female rape survivors.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a condition marked by extreme worry, often about inconsequential, irrational or highly unlikely things, that occupies abnormally large portions of the sufferer’s life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, GAD affects about 6.8 million Americans (predominantly women).
  • Approximately one in eight children will develop an anxiety disorder that will likely cause them to feel socially alienated, distracted at school and be more likely to participate in early substance abuse. Know the signs of children and anxiety disorders.
  • Tragically, 20% of suicide victims are American veterans (even though veterans only make up 1% of the entire United States population).
  • Suicide more common than homicide in the United States, and is the leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults.
  • Depression, like many mental illnesses, is a highly treatable condition with combinations of medications and types of therapy, but unfortunately, too many people don’t get the help they need.
  • Approximately 5 million Americans have a substance abuse problem, an issue that often goes hand-in-hand with mental illness. Some turn to recreational drugs or alcohol because of the torment of a mental illness, while others may develop a mental health condition such as depression partially because of a substance problem.
  • Over 60% of homeless shelter patrons are plagued by severe mental illness or substance abuse problems.
  • According to the University of Washington ‘Mental Health Reporting’ most of those who commit suicide were suffering from undiagnosed, untreated or undertreated depression.
  • Similar to depression, anxiety disorders are also very treatable, but unfortunately less than one-third of anxiety disorder sufferers get the treatment they require.
  • Mental illnesses are often comorbid. Approximately 50% of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with a neighboring anxiety disorder.
  • According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly 20% of prisoners have a history of mental illness, and a whopping 70% of juvenile offenders have at least one mental health condition.

Available Help

There are many organizations in existence to help prevent, treat or provide guidance to those suffering mental health conditions or suicidal tendencies, but unfortunately not enough sufferers avail of these services for a range of reasons. If you or a loved one is struggling with an undiagnosed or untreated mental health condition, please talk to your doctor immediately to get a treatment plan in place. Other resources you can utilize include:

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The Many Faces of Anxiety

When you think of anxiety, you may think of frantic worrying, erratic thoughts and hair-pulling stress, but anxiety can manifest itself in different ways for different people.

Is Anxiety Another Word For ‘Worry’?

Anxiety can be limited to uncontained worries, but it can also encompass such emotional symptoms as general feeling of unease or apprehension, nervousness (typically because of an upcoming an event or issue), concern, fear, agitation, angst, tension, or even disorientation. Anxiety is often described as the feeling of “butterflies” in one’s stomach. Most fleeting, or isolated anxiety bouts are because of stressful events such as family or friend conflicts, moving, losing or gaining a job, or losing relationships through death or insurmountable conflict (for example divorce). Certain situations such as living and coping with a serious medical illness or a perpetually over-demanding job may lead to long-term stress and anxiety which may require treatment.

The Many Symptoms of Anxiety

Concentrated or prolonged anxiety can have physical effects on the body. Anxiety goes hand-in-hand with stress, which we all know causes physical strain as well as mental. Some physical symptoms of acute or persistent anxiety include:

  • Tension headaches
  • An elevated “pounding” heartrate
  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Forgetfulness or confusion
  • Diaphoresis (excessive sweating)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bouts of dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal or urinary problems

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should check in with your doctor or one of our certified DocChat physicians, as some of them can be related to other potentially serious health conditions.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

So are your worries just worries? Or is something larger at play? Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a condition marked by constant, and disproportionate or irrational worry about various areas of life. On average, someone who is acutely anxious spends approximately an hour a day focused on a couple particular stressors that are going on in life, while someone with GAD may spend over 5 hours a day worrying and obsessing about an array of topics. Such topics may include: how others feel towards them, if their pet is okay, if everyone they love is okay, if they may have said something to offend the cashier earlier, if there is something unknown wrong with their physical health, and the list goes on. The lives of GAD sufferers can be severely impacted by uncontrolled anxiety and often require medication or other therapy.

Other Types Of Anxiety Disorders

  1. Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder, where a person is extremely fearful and apprehensive of social situations. This doesn’t include people who are just socially awkward or would rather stay home to watch Netflix. It usually involves serious fear and worry about interacting with others, to the point that a person may need exposure or talk therapy or medication to undergo even menial social tasks such as shopping at the mall.
  2. Panic disorder is an anxiety-based condition where frequent and often unfounded panic attacks occur. There are varying degrees of this disorder, ranging from infrequent spontaneous attacks to debilitation, where the sufferer lives in constant stress and fear of when the next attack may strike. Often medication is prescribed when the disorder begins to interfere with the person’s day-to-day activities.
  3. Phobia disorders are also classified as anxiety disorders. An example would be agoraphobia: the intense, debilitating fear of leaving the comfort and shelter of one’s home. This phobia is usually comorbid with social anxiety.

Is Anxiety Ruling Your Life?

If you are experiencing more than just the occasional bout of anxiety and you feel like it is impeding on your life or preventing you from keeping up with daily activities, it is time to speak to your doctor or one of DocChat’s highly qualified physicians. A doctor can talk to you about potential treatment options such as therapy, medications, or other stress management tactics that may help you control your anxiety instead of having it controlling you.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Keep an eye out for a future post on ways to cope with anxiety!


Cold Prevention – Tips And Tidbits (Part 1)

Young businesswoman with a seasonal cold and flu


A sick person can sneeze literally millions of virus particles into the air, which can make cold prevention pretty tricky. But luckily there are things we can do to minimize our chances of getting sick during cold and flu season.

Steer Clear Of Obvious Carriers

Adults catch 2-3 colds on average annually, but perhaps those numbers could be decreased a little if we all took more preventative measures. If you work in an office or another public environment, be sure to wash your hands (for about 20 seconds) several times throughout the day, especially before eating or touching your face. If you succumb to the germy habit of nail-biting, stop now. We all know to steer clear of those who are coughing and sneezing, but many people don’t realize just how easily viruses are transmitted. About 80% of contagious illnesses are spread through person-to-person contact. A gesture as simple as a handshake or high five with an infected person can gain you a cold. Even touching an infected surface and touching your face can do the job.

Cold Carrier Etiquette

If you are sick with the common cold, you should stay at home to rest up while it is in full swing until you can better control those coughs and sneezes. When you do go to work, clean and sterilize surfaces frequently and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching your face, or if you must make contact with another person. When at home, be sure to throw out contaminated tissues directly after use. This may seem like a weird tip but tissues left lying around will create a germ free-for-all, putting your family members at greater risk of catching your bug.

General Lifestyle Tips

Exercise, diet, and sleep also have bearing on the common cold, just as they do with almost any illness. It is always a good idea to maintain a healthy lifestyle including getting routine exercise and making sure you are getting enough sleep and rest. Diet is also an important factor, there are various vitamin and mineral rich foods you should be adding to your plate such as leafy green veggies and vitamin rich fruit. A tip-top system will be better at staving off infectious intruders.

Kids And Colds

Young kids are the most frequent catchers of colds, racking up approximately 6-10 a year! According to Pulsus, “Young children have more colds than older children and adults because they haven’t built up immunity (defenses) to the more than 100 different cold viruses that are around.” Young children also catch more colds than adolescents or adults because of such close proximity to their little peers in elementary schools paired with the fact that young children simply aren’t that concerned about preventative hygiene.

Teaching Children Preventative Habits

It is no secret that children are usually the culprits in contracting and spreading the family cold, but there are measures you can take to keep your child (and your family) safer against viruses. Many children don’t wash their hands correctly – or even at all after using the bathroom or getting them dirty. It’s important to instill proper hygiene habits in our little ones, such as how to wash their hands with soap under warm water for about the time it takes to sing 2 run-throughs of the happy birthday song in their heads. We can also stress to them the importance of removing themselves from a group of other kids if they have to cough or sneeze, or if one of the kids in the group is openly coughing and sneezing.

Educate Little Ones About Major Germ Hiding Places

According to WebMD, “A 2005 study of germs in schools found that classroom water fountain spigots and plastic cafeteria trays were the germiest spots in school. The spigot had 2,700,000 and the tray 33,800 bacteria per square inch, compared with 3,200 on the restroom toilet seat.” This statistic illustrates just how important it is to educate our little ones about taking precautions in very germy areas such as fountains. Try filling up a water bottle for the child to cut down on exposure to such places.

Thanks for visiting DocChat for our cold prevention tips. For suggestions on what to do when you can’t prevent a cold, be sure to check back tomorrow for cold management tips and tidbits!


Five Health Risks Associated With Depression


Depression does not only affect your cognitive health, but also your physical health. Untreated depression can trigger several health complications, ranging from heart disease to digestive disorders. Here are the top 5 health risks associated with depression:

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the most common health problems noted in people suffering from depression. When a depressed person experiences some form of heart disease, it can make them miserable. According to medical experts, when depression is coupled with heart disease, the patient’s lifespan can decrease considerably. Besides getting treatment for your depression, engaging in exercise can help you counter the depression and maintain a good heart health.

2. Digestive Disorder

Depression can lead to digestive disorder by negatively impacting your appetite. Depressed individuals have the tendency to eat too much. Increase in weight can lead to obesity, which can in turn trigger diseases like type 2 diabetes. It has also been noted that some depressed people experience loss of appetite and eat very little food. These people can suffer from stomach spasms, stomach pain, undernourishment and constipation.

3. Diabetes

Depressed individuals face a hard time maintaining healthy eating and exercising habits. This can make them susceptible to diabetes. Studies suggest that people with diabetes are prone to become even more depressed. Meanwhile, researchers have yet to unveil the correlation between the two factors, however, it has been established that one of these disorders can increase the intensity of the other.

4. Obesity

Depression can also make the patient more vulnerable to obesity, which can further aggravate the condition. Studies have unveiled that depressed people fail to understand the long-lasting health benefits of maintaining good health habits, such as cutting down on sugary foods and exercising regularly. Thus, they continue eating unhealthy foods without noticing increase in their weight.

5. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis has also found to be a major health risk associated with depression. According to experts, both older and younger women suffering from depression are more at risk of contracting osteoporosis, a serious health condition that makes the bones weaker and may lead to bone fracture. Researchers say that depression has the tendency to decrease calcium and other mineral deposits from the bones, which may result in lower bone mass. As you age, and the depression gets worse, the bone mass can further weaken and you may experience a bone fracture. It has also been found that the use of anti-depression medications for longer periods can also trigger osteoporosis.

Depression is a condition that is extremely common but unfortunately is not taken that seriously. However, as indicated above, it can give rise to some serious problems. So if you have depression or similar symptoms, get in touch with us today so we can help you overcome this condition.