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Helen Laferriere

Helen Laferriere

It’s no secret that stress is a part of life and that we all can have a bad day. But when your mood begins to affect how you feel, think and behave, it can be something more significant.

In fact, according to the National Mental Health Institute, approximately one in six Americans deal with some type of mental health condition every year. Symptoms and severity vary by person, but the good news is that help is available.

The first step is recognizing that depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns aren’t a weakness and you can’t just “snap out of it.” There is no shame in having any medical condition or in seeking help for it. That includes mental health concerns.

Second, it’s important to communicate how you are feeling with friends or family. There is also a close tie between our physical health and our mental health. For example, the American Heart Association recommends that depression be considered a risk factor for patients with acute coronary symptoms. Eating right, drinking plenty of water, avoiding drugs and alcohol and getting in daily activity — even just a short walk — are good for both your mind and body.

Third, if symptoms continue to linger or start to interfere with everyday life, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider. Talking to your provider about symptoms of depression or anxiety that lasts more than a few days — and following a treatment plan — can help reduce symptoms.

Finally, if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 9-1-1 or phone the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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Helen Laferriere is a St. Vincent Healthcare nurse practitioner at SVP Internal Medicine Associates. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 406-238-6900. SVP Internal Medicine Associates is located in Billings at 2900 12th Ave. N. Suite 310W.

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