Healthy Habits Lead to a Better Body and Mind

Primary Care Physicians Urge Patients to Make Mental Health a Priority

DAYTON, Ohio (December 27, 2011) – When people think about their health, mental health often times isn’t part of the equation. As more studies reveal that people in the United States are affected by mental illness, Premier HealthNet is reminding patients that it’s imperative to work with their primary care physician to maintain good mental health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 25 percent of adults in the U.S. have a mental illness and nearly 50 percent will develop at least one mental illness in their lifetime. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than 50 percent of individuals who sought treatment for a mental health issue did so through a primary care physician.

Common mental health issues include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mental health issues can be caused by a number of factors including genetically-inherited traits, traumatic life experiences and imbalances in brain chemistry. Individuals suffering from mental health issues may experience a variety of symptoms including fatigue, body aches, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, changes in weight and mood swings.

“Symptoms of mental health issues vary—it isn’t always just ‘I feel depressed,’ ” said Dr. Nicholas Davis of Centerville Family Medicine. “What used to be viewed as personal, character flaws, we now know are more complex biochemical issues that can be diagnosed and treated.”

Although mental health issues are more frequently diagnosed, they are very treatable. Medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and low dose antipsychotics can be prescribed to treat a number of conditions. Therapy is another option individuals can participate in to help them cope with mental health issues. There are even things individuals can do that don’t require a prescription that have been proven to improve mental health, including a healthy diet, exercise and getting exposure to sunlight.

“People can impact their mental health by simply leading a healthier lifestyle,” said Dr. Davis. “People who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and cut out things like smoking and alcohol tend to report being happier and have much better mental health.”

Yearly visits to a primary care physician are crucial to the detection and management of mental health issues. Primary care physicians will work with their patients to identify warning signs and risk factors of mental health issues. In some cases, the best course of a patient's treatment is determined by a team.

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