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Use these tips to help relieve the debilitating symptoms of depression.

Managing depression is one of the most common reasons people seek mental health treatment. Life presents each of us with unique challenges that can affect our mental state negatively. Therefore, we all feel sad now and then. But when that sadness persists for long periods of time, depression may be to blame. 

Here are a few tips for managing depression and feeling like yourself again. 

Set Realistic Expectations 

Although there are numerous treatments for treating depression effectively, it’s important to set realistic expectations about your treatment. There is no “one size fits all” approach to treating depression, and effective treatments require time and patience. People with depression often need to try several types of treatments or medications to find the ones that help the most.  

A patient with depression probably won’t see results right away. Recovering from depression is an ongoing process, not something that happens overnight. Progress may seem slow at first, but we encourage our patients not to give up. 

People suffering from depression may find it helpful to seek the support of family and friends during the treatment process. Words of encouragement from a trusted friend or family member can help a patient with depression realize there is hope.  

With some persistence and dedication throughout this process, a person with depression can begin to enjoy a happier lifestyle. 

Regular, restful sleep helps minimize depression symptoms.

Managing Depression with Good Sleep Hygiene 

Keeping good mental and physical health depends, in part, on the duration and quality of one’s sleep. If you feel exhausted after a night of poor sleep, chances are your mood is subpar too. 

Sleep disturbances are common in people with depression, and the two conditions are linked closely.  Poor sleep quality can lead to depression and vice versa. 

“Poor sleep may create difficulties regulating emotions that, in turn, may leave you more vulnerable to depression in the future—months or even years from now. And depression itself is associated with sleep difficulties such as shortening the amount of restorative slow-wave sleep a person gets each night,’ wrote Dr. Patrick Finan, a sleep expert at Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Here are some tips for practicing better sleep hygiene: 

Once you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll probably notice an improvement in your mood and overall well-being. 

Stay Organized 

People with depression often feel overwhelmed with managing day-to-day responsibilities. The stress that comes with feeling overwhelmed can lead to depression and make any existing depression feel worse. 

One way to relieve this type of stress is by creating a daily routine. The structure and predictability of a regular daily schedule can help a person feel in control of his or her life. 

Organizational skills also help us take on challenging tasks by breaking them into smaller, more manageable ones. For example, cleaning your entire house might seem daunting. Instead of considering the big picture all at once, try focusing on the most heavily trafficked rooms first. Then, think about the most important tasks to complete in each of those rooms.  

This “cleaning house” example is a prescient one for people suffering from depression. Research has shown cluttered living spaces can contribute to depression by worsening stress and anxiety. On the other hand, a clean, organized environment promotes serenity and a better mood. 

There are many resources for developing better organizational skills. Your local library probably has multiple books dedicated to the subject, and a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (see the next section) can offer suggestions too.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can teach you several techniques and strategies to manage your depression.

Managing Depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of evidence-based psychotherapy that has been shown to be effective in treating depression and other mental health conditions. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thoughts and behaviors, including those that contribute to depression. The goal with CBT is to help people learn new coping skills and develop more positive ways of thinking, which can improve their mood and reduce depression symptoms. 

CBT helps people with depression to recognize any negative thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to depression. Some examples of these types of thoughts include pessimism, self-criticism, and negative self-talk. By participating in CBT, a person can learn not to trust those negative thoughts and beliefs, and replace them with positive and realistic ones. 

Through CBT, a patient with depression can learn to manage stress and negative emotions by practicing relaxation techniques, problem-solving skills, and other strategies. CBT is often used in conjunction with medication to treat people with depression. 

Practice Self-Care 

People battling depression sometimes neglect their own needs and struggle to take care of themselves. However, by engaging in self-care, a person with depression can improve emotional well-being and alleviate depression symptoms. 

To practice self-care, you must first identify what self-care means to you. Some common self-care activities include meditation, exercise, taking a relaxing bath, getting a massage, reading, and journaling. The idea here is to think about the activities you can do to help you feel relaxed and stress-free. Once you’ve identified a few, make them part of your regular routine.  

Committing to regular self-care can go a long way toward alleviating the severity of depression symptoms. 

Mindfulness meditation is just one of several non-prescription methods for relieving anxiety and stress.

At KindlyMD, we see many patients who have a desire to reduce or eliminate their use of certain prescription medications. For example, a person suffering from anxiety may want to reduce or cease using a benzodiazepine (sedative) like Xanax.

According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, as many as 44% of chronic benzodiazepine users become dependent on those drugs. We recognize benzodiazepines have an important place in treating anxiety, and they can be the most appropriate treatment for a given patient.

We also recognize that many patients don’t want to be dependent on prescriptions like Xanax for the treatment of stress or anxiety. Fortunately, there’s a long list of proven techniques that can reduce the strain and worries that we each face throughout our lives.

Let’s look at a few of the non-prescription options that can improve quality of life for people with stress and anxiety.

About Anxiety, Stress, and Medical Cannabis

As you're probably aware, people use Medical Cannabis to treat a broad range of conditions, including stress and anxiety. In fact, stress and anxiety are among the most cited reasons for using cannabis to seek relief.

We’ll note that most Medical Cannabis programs in the United States do not recognize stress or anxiety as qualifying conditions. However, another qualifying condition–such as pain or cancer–may be the underlying source of stress or anxiety. In cases like these, a qualifying patient can use cannabis to treat multiple conditions at once.

Products high in cannabidiol (CBD) are perhaps the best option for people seeking relief from stress or anxiety through cannabis. Preclinical and animal research has shown CBD is quite effective in treating stress-related anxiety and lingering anxiety.

Research has also shown low doses of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be effective in relieving stress and anxiety. It’s important to note, however, that THC is “biphasic.” This means THC can have one effect at smaller doses and the opposite effect at higher doses. Because of its biphasic nature, THC can actually induce anxiety when used at higher doses.

We always recommend the “start low and go slow” approach for patients beginning a Medical Cannabis treatment regimen. Please refer to our “Find Your ‘Just Right’ Dose” guide for using Medical Cannabis effectively. The guide will help you learn your minimum effective dose and significantly reduce the risk of unpleasant side effects.

CBN Blend gummies by KindlyMD are specially formulated to produce tranquility and relaxation.

The Best CBD and THC Gummies for Anxiety and Stress

KindlyMD recently launched its own line of gummies made with hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. Our CBN Blend gummies are ideal for people suffering from stress or anxiety. Research shows cannabinol (CBN) has sedative and anti-anxiety effects.

The 9:1:1 ratio of CBD, CBN, and THC in CBN Blend gummies promotes tranquility and relaxation. Click here for more information on CBN Blend and other gummy products available exclusively through KindlyMD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is widely used to treat stress and anxiety. It aims to change the way a person thinks and behaves, by identifying negative or unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and replacing them with more positive ones.

CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that involves regular sessions with a trained therapist. During these sessions, the therapist works with the patient to identify triggers for their stress or anxiety and develop coping strategies to manage them. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and that by changing one, we can change the others.

CBT has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety, and can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with medication. This is a practical and evidence-based approach that empowers patients to take control of their thoughts and behaviors and can help them to live happier, healthier lives.

We invite KindlyMD patients to discuss the benefits of CBT with one of our Behavioral Health Clinicians.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgment. This practice can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which can reduce stress and anxiety. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can improve mood, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve overall well-being.

To practice mindfulness meditation, sit or lie down in a quiet place and focus your attention on your breath. As you inhale and exhale, bring your attention back to your breath whenever your mind wanders.

Exercise causes the body to release endorphins, which act as pain relievers and promote a feeling well-being.

Relieving Anxiety and Stress Through Exercise

Exercise is a powerful stress reliever that can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that promote feelings of well-being. Research has shown that exercise can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, along with improving one’s overall well-being.

To get started with exercise, choose an activity that you enjoy, such as walking, running, swimming, or cycling. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. You can also try group exercise classes like yoga, Pilates, or spin classes.

Dr. Jamie Bustamante directs the behavioral health program at KindlyMD.

KindlyMD recently expanded its services to include behavioral healthcare, among other offerings. We talked with Dr. Jamie Bustamante, Behavioral Health Director at KindlyMD, about the advantages of behavioral healthcare for our patients. 

Although the behavioral healthcare services at KindlyMD don't replace traditional therapy, they're helpful in managing conditions like pain and PTSD.

Read on for Dr. Bustamante’s answers to questions about pain, PTSD, and behavioral healthcare in general. 

What types of behavioral healthcare services does KindlyMD offer?  

KindlyMD offers psychiatric medication management and traditional therapy to treat adults with a variety of mental health issues. We offer a safe and accepting environment to help patients find the right medications, alternative treatments, and mental health interventions that work best for them.  

KindlyMD also offers brief, solution focused therapy in conjunction with medication management appointments to help patients manage life stressors and improve overall health and wellness.  

Are there any types of therapies that KindlyMD hopes to offer in the future? 

Yes, we hope to offer ketamine and other alternative treatments to improve mental health in the future. We’re also interested in the mental health benefits of MDMA and psilocybin. With any luck, our state legislature will legalize MDMA and psilocybin for therapeutic use at some point in the future. 

How can a Behavioral Health Clinician (BHC) help someone who is suffering from a physical health problem? 

The BHC can offer realistic strategies to help patients improve their overall health and functioning. This includes specific strategies to improve quality of life for those who are managing chronic pain, improving sleep, diet strategies, stress management, and everything in between. They provide support and encouragement during each visit, and they work with the patients' needs to develop attainable goals and improve physical and mental health.   

A BHC can help you develop strategies to overcome the negative emotional symptoms of conditions like chronic pain and PTSD.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on changing people's thoughts and emotions to improve their daily experience and behaviors. CBT interventions are used to challenge and change negative belief patterns to improve the patient's mental health. KindlyMD uses CBT in conjunction with mindfulness other therapeutic interventions to meet the needs of the patient. We believe that each patient will respond differently and we seek to find the appropriate intervention and the appropriate medication that is tailored to the patient's individual needs.  

What are the most common ways behavior affects the perception of pain? 

Pain often limits a person's ability to participate in the experiences that create meaning in their life. People suffering from pain often reduce the time they spend participating in hobbies, relationships, and meaningful work. This can lead to increased focus on pain and negatively impact mental health. 

Which behavioral healthcare therapies do you find most effective for treating pain?  

KindlyMD focuses not only on treating pain with traditional and alternative medication but also uses behavior strategies to improve overall quality of life. These strategies include working with the patient to understand their limitations, to help them participate in activities within those limitations. We also work to help people change their self-concept and increase their ability to find meaning in their lives by helping them to improve relationships and find new ways to enjoy life.  

Can a person’s thoughts affect the perception of pain? 

Absolutely, if someone identifies with their pain and how it limits them, pain can be the dominant experience in their life. Pain can become much more manageable through a combination of behavioral strategies, traditional and alternative treatments, and developing better thinking habits. If a person is focused less on pain by increasing positive experiences in their life, pain is no longer the dominant experience.  

Behavioral Health Clinicians employ a number of strategies to help patients struggling with PTSD.

What are the most common sources of PTSD? 

People diagnosed with PTSD have experienced real or perceived threats to their lives, sexual violence, or witnessed violence. Traumatic events like these often result in accompanying symptoms that impact functioning. Most commonly, I treat PTSD as a result of sexual assault or childhood trauma. We also see people who have experienced combat trauma or other traumatic events in their lives. 

Which behavioral healthcare therapies do you find most effective for treating PTSD? 

Evidence-based, trauma-focused treatments are most effective for PTSD. These include Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and others. In order to treat and heal trauma, the individual has to essentially re-experience the trauma in a safe environment. Providing a safe and collaborative therapeutic environment and focusing on the therapeutic relationship is essential to effective PTSD treatment. 

Are there ways to neutralize PTSD triggers? 

Yes, desensitization through exposure therapy and trauma processing can significantly reduce PTSD triggers.  

What does Trauma Informed Care look like? 

With Trauma Informed Care, the clinician focuses on what happened to the patient rather than what is wrong with the patient. This therapy focuses on understanding that everyone has painful life experiences (either expressed or private). These experiences can affect a person's ability to function physically, emotionally, and mentally. We aim to treat everyone with empathy, respect, and transparency. This helps our patients by avoiding re-traumatization and creating a safe environment where they feel heard and understood. 

How a Short Quiz Can Help Determine Medical Card Eligibility

Utah residents diagnosed with certain qualifying conditions are eligible to apply for Medical Cards that give them access to certain types of herbal medicines. Given that KindlyMD operates a number of pain clinics here in Utah, we can also help patients apply for their cards. One of the tools we rely on to get the process started is a short quiz designed to quickly determine Medical Card eligibility

While the quiz is only a preliminary determination, the patient completes the quiz and submits it electronically. We can determine, from the answers given, whether a patient is likely to qualify. If so, the patient can then make an appointment to see one of our qualified medical providers (QMPs).

We Need to Verify Two Things

For KindlyMD QMPs to make a Medical Card recommendation, we need to verify two things. Our preliminary quiz helps us here by giving us some basic information. A patient's answers can give us a sense of their overall health and any health problems.

Here is what we need to verify:

To verify these two things, our quiz asks some basic questions. One of the questions relates to the condition for which you are seeking treatment. Chronic pain is one of the options you can choose. But we also ask:

The answers you provide tell us a great deal. We can learn a lot more by sitting down and talking things over in-person, but the quiz is a very useful preliminary screening tool. It helps both KindlyMD and its patients get a better idea of whether a Medical Card is worth investigating further.

We Are HIPAA Compliant

Patients interested in visiting our QMPs to obtain their Medical Cards can complete our quiz online. It only takes a minute or so. If you are concerned about submitting information online, know that KindlyMD is HIPAA compliant. You might even notice a small seal at the bottom of the quiz designating as much.

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In a nutshell, HIPAA is a 1996 federal law that requires healthcare providers to protect their patients’ sensitive medical information.

We take every precaution possible to protect patient data. We comply with all state and federal mandates relating to collecting and storing information online. But even if the legal mandates weren't there, we would still do our best to protect our patients. Your safety and security are important to us.

Take the Quiz Today

We assume you have visited the KindlyMD website because you are looking to visit a pain management doctor. If that's the case, we encourage you to take our Utah Medical Card eligibility quiz today. It may be that getting a Medical Card isn't your best option. But perhaps it is. There's no way to know without first visiting with a QMP. Our quiz is the starting point.

Believe it or not, taking the brief quiz accomplishes a lot. It gives us vital information we need to determine whether we can help you get your card.

Slow and Steady Is a Good Approach with Plant-Based Medicine

We are firm believers in plant-based medicine here at KindlyMD. Other types of medicine certainly have their place at the table, but we believe plant-based medicine is terribly underutilized. If you are new to the whole concept, you might even be a little bit worried that you don't really know how to approach it.

Plant-based medicine is rooted in the fundamental principle that nature provides most of what we need to maintain good health. Even in the area of pain management, nature provides plants that we can harness to manage pain. It is a matter of discovering what works and then helping patients learn how to utilize it.

It has been our experience that “slow and steady” is a good approach with plant-based medicine. What do we mean by this? It is pretty simple: start slowly with herbal medicines and see how it goes. See what works and what doesn't. As you listen to your body and observe how it responds, you make adjustments.

Listening to Your Body

Listening to your body is arguably the most important aspect of plant-based medicine from the patient's perspective. You start a treatment that you and your doctor agreed on. Then you listen to what your body says in response. In other words, you pay close attention to how you feel after each treatment. Paying attention to the signals your body sends gives you an idea of whether a given therapy is doing anything.

By contrast, the pharmacological approach to medicine assumes that whatever the doctor prescribes will work. So instead of listening to your body, you are listening to what the doctor says. Do not misunderstand. Listening to your doctor is important. But so is listening to what your body is telling you in response.

Herbal Medicines and Dosing

Plant-based medicine requires proper dosing. It is no different from the pharmacological approach in this regard. Taking a slow and steady approach suggests starting with the lowest possible dosage and then observing how you react. There is no point to plunging in and maximizing dosage when you are not sure how your body will respond.

In a pain management scenario, you're looking to see how your body responds to the smallest dose possible. How does it make you feel? Does it offer any relief at all? If the minimum dose has no effect, you increase your dose the next day. Then you observe.

Once you discover the minimum dose for which you actually feel the effects of the medicine, you stick with that dose for a time. Then you gradually increase until you find that sweet spot of maximum pain relief with minimal side effects.

Work With Your Medical Provider

What we just described is a basic overview of the slow and steady approach to plant-based pain management. It is not intended as medical advice. For that kind of advice, you want to work closely with your medical provider. They can help guide you along your journey to better pain management with plant-based medicines.

Keeping detailed records of the medicines you use, your daily dosage, and how you feel go a long way toward helping your medical provider understand what is going on with you. We recommend tracking your use of plant-based medicine on a daily basis. Write things down and share the information with your medical provider.

With the slow and steady approach, it is possible to develop a treatment plan that works for you. It's possible to find the right medicines at the right doses to provide the pain relief you are looking for.

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