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Behavioral Health

Behavioral health is your overall mental and emotional well-being and the choices and actions you make that can affect your wellness. It includes your ability to enjoy life, to handle stress and to bounce back from setbacks.

Behavioral health problems cover a wide range of issues, including substance abuse and misuse. Other behavioral health problems include serious psychological distress and mental illness. Such problems are far-reaching and exact an enormous toll on individuals, their families and communities and the broader society.

Among the most common behavioral health problems is depression, an illness where feelings of sadness, loss, anger or frustration interfere with everyday life. Depression can make it harder to manage other chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma or heart disease.  Getting a diagnosis and the right treatment can help most people who suffer from major depression.

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What can patients do?

If you have been diagnosed with depression:  

  • Learn about depression and become an active participant in the management of your depression, including through counseling and medication.
  • Keep follow-up doctor appointments. If you are prescribed an antidepressant medication, you should take it for at least 12 weeks to allow time to feel better. To lower the chances that depression will become a chronic problem for you, stay on the prescribed antidepressants for at least six to nine months.
  • Ask your provider if a generic medication is available to reduce your costs.
  • Tell your doctor if you are having any problems with the medication.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any supplements.
  • Talk with your family and friends about your treatment plan so they can provide support.
  • Plan and engage in pleasant activities, including physical and social activities.
  • Develop a healthy sleep pattern and limit alcohol consumption.

What should your doctor do?

  • Screen you for major depression, especially if you are at high risk or have other chronic illnesses, using a standardized screening tool that asks questions about how you feel.
  • Talk with you about treatment options, including counseling and medication.
  • If you are diagnosed with depression, your doctor should contact you with first follow-up at one to two weeks, then every four to eight weeks.
  • If you are prescribed an antidepressant, carefully monitor your use of the medication and make necessary adjustments if you are not improving.

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