May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
Here in the South, we may share news with friends and family about a new health diagnosis and ask for good thoughts and prayers, and it’s not unusual for someone to bring over a casserole or a cake if a neighbor is sick. But when it comes to mental health, we’re less likely to seek help and reach out.
Recognize the Signs or Symptoms
Did you know that depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S.? People experience depression in different ways, but if you have been experiencing some of these signs or symptoms for more than two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Speak with your doctor if you are experiencing several of these symptoms.
If you’re a caregiver, you might be thinking: “well, I’m sleep deprived and fatigued and worried a lot, but that’s just par for the course.” But guess what…people in caregiving roles are actually more likely to experience depression than those who do not have caregiving responsibilities.
“people in caregiving roles are actually more likely to experience depression than those who do not have caregiving responsibilities”
There are many ways to practice self-care, and one of these is to recognize that depression is real, common, and treatable! Usually treatment includes therapy (counseling), medications, social support, education, or a combination of these. The earlier the treatment can begin, the better.
Looking for a place to start?
For general information about mental health, check out these helpful resources:
For a referral to a counselor or therapist, talk with your doctor, contact your health insurance, call your state/county mental health resources, or ask your friends, relatives, and pastors for referrals. You may be surprised to learn how many people you know are actually utilizing counseling but don’t talk about it!
If you are in Winston-Salem for medical treatment, consider these options:
- Talk with your healthcare team for advice and referrals.
- Speak with a chaplain. Chaplains are available 24/7 at both of Winston-Salem’s major medical facilities to offer help with spiritual and emotional concerns and just to listen. Chaplains at Wake Forest Baptist Health may be reached at 336-716-4745. Chaplains at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center may be reached at 336-718-5545.
- If you’re receiving treatment at Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, you can receive individual counseling with licensed counselors on site. For more information, call 336-716-7980.
And finally, if you’re preparing to head home…In North Carolina, we have a unique resource through the CareNet counseling network, affiliated with Wake Forest Baptist Health and with offices and affiliates throughout North Carolina. To learn more, call 336-716-7339 or check out this website: www.wakehealth.edu/CareNet/.
Wishing you well on your journey!
— Lindley S. Curtis, MDiv, MSW
Lindley is a theologically trained social worker and coordinates support services at the Family House. To speak with Lindley for one-on-one support and information about resources in Winston-Salem and in your home community, call 336.793.2822 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.