Published by vnahealthdeve August 17, 2022

Anxiety and depression are the two most common forms of mental health issues affecting people today. An estimated 18.1% of the adult population or 43.6 million people in the United States suffer from mental illnesses. In any given year, 21 million adults have at least one depressive episode while about 14.8 million adults in the country suffer from depression with severe impairment.

Often, physicians or nurse practitioners at a family practice are the first to diagnose, identify and begin treatment for depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. The most common type of referral in case of anxiety and depression is mental health counseling. Unfortunately, less than 50% of people suffering from mental illnesses in 2021 received any mental health care.

This post will highlight the mental and physical health benefits of visiting a family practice provider if you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, chronic stress, high blood pressure, or wish to learn how to deal with stress and anxiety of everyday life.

Do You Need a Doctor to Deal with Stress, Anxiety, or Depression?

The majority of people don’t realize that help is available when they are feeling constantly low or stressed out. In many cases, a younger person that experiences stress or depression may be more willing to get help, while people in the older age groups are sometimes reluctant to address their concerns because of the stigma and misunderstanding associated with depression.

Having bad days or weeks and struggling in response to a setback is perfectly normal. However, you should seek help if feelings of depression last for more than a week. This is even more important if you have repetitive thoughts of suicide or self-harm. You should immediately speak with a doctor and seek help.

There are unique symptoms with every mental illness. Moreover, there are certain common symptoms that indicate something might be wrong. These may include:

  • Having negative thoughts about yourself.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Moodiness or irritability.
  • Feeling anxiety or worry frequently.
  • Having trouble concentrating.
  • Finding everyday activities difficult, such as going to work or getting out of bed.
  • Not enjoying life or activities that you used to like.
  • Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping.
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there.

You should consider making an appointment with your family doctor or nurse practitioner if you noticed any of these symptoms or other changes over the last few weeks.

What Can a Family Doctor or Nurse Practitioner Do for You?

You may feel more comfortable speaking with your healthcare provider than a complete stranger about any emotional or mental problems. A family practitioner can help you with symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. They can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Your family doctor or primary care physician or nurse practitioner may ask questions about your feelings and thoughts that can shed light on what you are going through.
  • They will be able to reassure you that you are not just unhappy, but have a medical issue that they can help you address.
  • They will be able to help you with counseling options and other available resources and support.
  • They may offer you prescription drugs if they think it is appropriate.
  • They may guide you about muscle tension relaxation techniques, stress management, deep breathing techniques, and how to deal with stress responses.
  • They will be able to recommend lifestyle changes like a healthy diet or more social interaction for improving your mental health.
  • Family practice providers can refer patients to specialists if they think it would be more helpful.
  • They will see you at follow-ups to monitor how you are responding to treatment.

Getting help is as easy as seeing your primary care provider. You don’t need to suffer the symptoms or struggle with mental or physical health problems. There are simple and healthy ways available to manage stress, build a positive attitude, and even achieve disease control over a serious illness in some cases.

Reasons to Consult at a Family Practice Provider Before Visiting a Therapist

Most mental and emotional issues have an underlying cause. It is important to be able to speak with someone you can trust when you feel stressed. You should not overlook a family practice when dealing with anxiety, stress, depression or any other mental health concern for the following reasons:

1. General physicians have experience dealing with mental disorders

Family practice providers are accustomed to being the first line of defense against certain mental health conditions, such as depression, stress, and anxiety. In fact, all primary care physicians and nurse practitioners have training for dealing with the symptoms of depression. The provider will refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist if your symptoms are severe.

2. Your family doctor knows your history

You may be able to express your emotions easier with a family doctor or nurse practitioner you know than with a new mental health provider. The fact that you have probably visited your healthcare provider at least a few times will give you a certain level of comfort to discuss your problems more openly. You would not have to waste a few sessions in finding the right mental health provider if you are already comfortable speaking with your regular healthcare provider.

Family doctors and nurse practitioners also have the added benefit of already knowing your medical history. They would know whether there is any heart condition or diabetes coexisting with depression. They would also be aware of other things that could affect your condition, such as a history of substance abuse.

3. They are familiar with your drug interactions and medications

Your family practice provider is most likely aware of the medications you are taking. They would know which drugs contribute to your anxiety and depression. Certain medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, can cause depression. Illicit drugs, alcohol, and ill-timed caffeine can cause chemical changes in the body that contribute to despair, depression, anxiety, and stress.

A family practice provider will be able to help you make the necessary lifestyle changes and provide useful techniques since they would have a more in-depth perspective.

4. They are aware of your family dynamics

Family practice doctors and nurse practitioners have a better understanding of your family dynamic compared to a new physician you just met. In most cases, patients are not aware of the problem and how the family contributes to it. Speaking to your healthcare provider will be able to help you attain fresh perspectives on your issues.

Depression usually affects everyone within a family, especially if it is following a major loss or setback. There are multiple players involved and a complex mix of emotions. A family practice doctor or nurse practitioner may be better equipped for intervening in such situations.

5. Family doctors have multiple tools to address problems

If your family practice provider is unable to help you with your problem, they would be able to suggest other options. They may link you with support groups or refer you to another provider. They may also suggest lifestyle changes and encourage you to follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and maintain healthy physical activity as part of your treatment and recovery process.

Steps to Take Before Seeking Help

Having problems with mental health can affect you in multiple ways. It may make everything seem more difficult. You may have trouble speaking to your family or doctor to seek help. Mental conditions can also affect concentration and memory. This can make it difficult to remember what your healthcare provider told you.

You may find yourself slipping at your school or job responsibilities. This is why you should always write things down before you go to a doctor. This will ensure that you don’t forget to discuss anything during your appointment. You can also consider bringing a friend or family to the consultation.

It’s vital to remember that you may need to take certain steps. You would have to be open to seeking help. Your primary care provider can help you choose medications if applicable and other techniques for managing and improving your mental health for a safe recovery.

Visit VNA Health Care for a Confidential Consultation

Family practice doctors are experienced in treating anxiety, depression, stress, and other types of emotional distress. The qualified team at VNA Health Care understands what you or your loved one is going through. Schedule an appointment with one of our experienced physicians or nurse practitioners today. Give us a call at (630) 892-4355 or (847) 717-6455 or fill out this online appointment form.