Before you undertake any form of mental health counseling, you have to first rule out any medical condition that might be an underlying issue. If you do have a medical condition, sometimes addressing that will cause your other symptoms to lessen or disappear.
For example, if you are a 40’s something year-old male who is suffering from low testosterone levels – depression is very often a symptom. If you’re a male and 28 years old or older, getting your testosterone levels checked is something that should be part of your initial visit with a medical doctor. Also, please make sure that the
levels you have are appropriate for your age group. Some doctors will tell you that your levels are just within the “normal” range for men. Well, that’s fine, but a 40 year-old should not have the testosterone levels of a 70-year old.
Other conditions that could be an underlying issue for depression may include: diabetes, irregular hormone levels in both men and women, sleep apnea, alcoholism, a virus, drug dependency, and post-partum. There are others as well that are less understood, but the best advice is to get into your medical doctor first before doing anything else.
If, after you’ve been diagnosed, you find that you are still suffering from depression, anxiety, stress or anger, we have to take a look at other factors that could exacerbate your mental health symptoms. These include your lifestyle, your social interactions and/or your environment.
Eating and drinking to excess, lying on the couch all day and never going out to pursue hobbies or pleasurable activities are great ways to hasten depression, anxiety, anger or stress. Here are some things I want you to think about:
1. How much and how often do you drink alcohol?
2. How would you categorize your activity levels? Sedentary, a little active, athletic?
3. Do you have any hobbies or talents that you engage in?
4. What social interaction do you participate in? Are you a member of any clubs or organizations? Do you have friends that you enjoy engaging with?
5. How do you get along with your family, both immediate and extended?
6. How is your work-life? Do you enjoy the work but hate the demands placed on you?
7. Do you have any sort of life philosophy or spirituality? Even if you don’t believe in anything, what thoughts do you have on life in general or the world around you.
8. How would you classify your eating habits? Healthy, junk food oriented, occasional binging?
9. What kind of sleep do you get? Are you constantly waking up, getting only a couple hours a night, going to bed at various times? Do you feel refreshed in the morning?
10. What is your appearance like? Do you neglect personal hygiene or go without showering/bathing for long periods of time? How do you present yourself to other people and does this image show what you want to project?
Write down your thoughts on the above and see if there’s anything you may have overlooked. In the next article, I’ll talk about these ten factors and explain them in more detail.
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