The family physician might not be the first health professional who comes to mind when you think of mental health services, but family physicians like Chad Speth are well-equipped to provide mental health services for a range of conditions. This is the reason family physicians are one of the primary sources for mental health care in the U.S.
Mental Illness Affects 1 in 5 Adults
Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and accounts for 18.5% of the years of life that are lost to disability and premature mortality. For the majority of patients, primary care physicians are the main providers of mental health care services. Mental illness can complicate other medical conditions, including making them more expensive to manage and more challenging. This is why mental health services are so important. Let’s take a quick overview of some of the mental health conditions Chad Speth is experienced in addressing.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
A common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that a person feels the urge to repeat over and over. Symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, including work, school, and relationships.
Obsession symptoms include fear of germs or contamination, unwanted thoughts about forbidden or taboo things, aggressive thoughts about others or oneself, or a need to keep things symmetrical or perfectly in order. Compulsions commonly include excessive handwashing, ordering and arranging, repeatedly checking things like whether the door is locked or the stove is off, and counting.
Most patients diagnosed with OCD will benefit from mental health services, which can come in the form of medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that some people develop in the wake of a shocking, dangerous, or frightening experience, or sometimes after the unexpected death of a loved one. Most but not all people who go through a traumatic event will experience short-term symptoms, but the majority will not develop ongoing or chronic PTSD.
- An adult must exhibit all of the following for at least a month to be diagnosed with PTSD:
- At least one avoidance symptom (avoiding places, events, or objects or even thoughts or feelings relate dto the traumatic experience)
- At least one re-experiencing symptom (reliving the trauma in a flashback with physical symptoms like sweating or a racing heartbeat, bad dreams, or frightening thoughts)
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms (feeling tense, difficulty sleeping, angry outbursts, or being easily startled)
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms (negative thoughts, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, trouble remembering details of the traumatic event)
Mental health services for PTSD can include psychotherapy, medications, or both.
Getting a good night’s sleep is an overlooked but essential part of overall health, both mental and physical. Disorders affecting sleep could be medical in nature such as sleep apnea (a condition in which breathing is regularly interrupted during sleep, preventing the person from sleeping deeply and resulting in an array of health complications).
Sleep disorders could also be related to a mental health condition like depression or bipolar disorder. Roughly half of insomnia cases, for example, are related to depression, anxiety, or stress.
An anxiety disorder goes beyond temporary worry or fear over a stressful task or problem. The symptoms don’t go away and can worsen over time, interfering with daily activities in all aspects of life. There are different types of anxiety disorders, from generalized anxiety disorder to panic disorder to phobia-related disorders.
- Generalized anxiety disorder involves symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, uncontrolled feelings of worry, and sleep problems.
- Panic disorder involves recurrent and unexpected panic attacks (sudden periods of intense fear that can last several minutes), with symptoms like shaking, heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, feelings of impending doom, and not feeling in control.
- Phobia-related disorders involve fear that is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, with symptoms like an excessive worry about encountering the object of fear, taking steps to avoid it, and experiencing intense anxiety upon encountering it.
Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a common but serious mood disorder, with severe symptoms affecting how a person thinks, feels, and handles daily activities. For a diagnosis, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Symptoms include:
- A persistent sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
- Hopelessness or pessimism
- Loss of interest or enjoyment in hobbies
- Feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Difficulty getting to sleep or out of bed
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Aches or pains without a clear cause
Even the most severe cases of depression can be treated with mental health services. Treatment in mental health services may include psychotherapy, medications, or both.
The common misconception is that eating disorders are a choice, but they are actually serious (and, far too often, fatal) illnesses associated with severe disturbances in a person’s eating behaviors and their thoughts and feelings about food. Common eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating. The most deadly is anorexia, but all eating disorders are harmful to every system in the body. Complete recovery is possible with treatment through mental health services.
Mental Health Services at Abundant Family Practice
Family physicians such as Abundant Family Practice in North Logan, UT are in an excellent position to address their patients’ mental health concerns due to their close relationships with their patients and their high-quality training in this area. Mental health screening is an important strategy for decreasing morbidity (ill health), and mental health services lead to a more holistic approach to treating the patient when included alongside primary care services.