Getting treatment for anxiety, depression starts at your annual check-up

It can be hard enough to get people to see their doctor when they're hurt, and when they're struggling with mental health, making that appointment can be even more difficult.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It can be hard enough to get people to see their doctor when they're hurt, and when they're struggling with mental health, making that appointment can be even more difficult.

But there's something going on at CHI St. Vincent that may help.

Americans get stressed, now more than ever. Federal health data shows more than eight million people suffer from 'serious psychological distress.'

"It can affect your energy levels, your concentration at work or school. It can affect your appetite. Some eat more, some eat a lot less," said family physician Mark Viegas.

That stress can, and often does, lead to anxiety and depression.

"They are connected," Dr. Viegas said.

An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected by anxiety every year. Only one third get treated.

CHI Saint Vincent is trying to change that.

"Don't feel bad about coming to the doctor because a lot of people have depression and anxiety and there are so many ways that we can help you," Viegas said.

At every annual visit, your primary care physicians will ask questions about how you're feeling. Maybe even if you've had any thoughts of hurting yourself.

"Because that could be an emergency," he said.

To be ready for that emergency, St. Vincent has moved clinical physicians into primary care clinics. 

"Body and mind are not really separate," explained psychologist Dr. Lisa McNeir. She's now in-house and will come talk to the patient immediately, instead of waiting days for an appointment.

"People are afraid people are going to say this is all in your head," she said. "The truth is you can feel bad physically and a huge mental health component."

She, like all doctors, will tell you it can affect anyone. 

"I just lost my job," she gave as an example, "my kids are struggling in school. And they start crying. That's an appropriate time to talk about meeting with a psychologist.

Dr. Viegas said there are several ways they can treat anxiety and depression, sometimes without medicine.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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