Why treating mental health issues is important 

The statements contained in this document are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CMS. The authors assume responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this document.

Are you taking care of your mental health? About one in four Medicare beneficiaries live with a mental condition such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But only 40–50% of those people seek treatment for these conditions.  

One reason people might not be seeking help is that older generations still stigmatize mental health issues. Many older adults may feel ashamed or embarrassed to get help for depression. They might think they just have to live with it or hope it gets better on its own. Certain life experiences, like illness, grief and loneliness can magnify their feelings of depression.  

When someone is physically ill or in pain, they know to go to the doctor. But when we have mental health issues, oftentimes, we suffer in silence. Just like you wouldn’t try walking off a broken leg, visiting a doctor for your mental health issue is essential to getting better. 

Mental and physical health are tied together 

We often put our mental and physical health into two categories, separate it into “mind” and “body.” But our mental and physical well-being are closely linked.  

Depression can affect you physically, causing aches and pains, headaches, digestion issues, tiredness or inability to sleep and appetite changes. Depression is also linked to chronic illness, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma and cancer. It also increases your chances of dying from cancer or heart disease.  

It’s no surprise that dealing with chronic disease or pain can lead to mental health problems as well. Chronic disease is tied to social isolation, loneliness, stress, depression and sleep problems.

How to take care of your mental health 

It’s important to visit the doctor and treat prolonged depression with medical help. And there are lifestyle changes you can make to improve your overall mental well-being and ease your symptoms. Work toward better mental health with these steps:  

  • Exercise regularly. Be physically active and engage in moderate exercise 3–4 times a week. It doesn’t have to be intense; do 20 minutes of light cardio in your living room. Exercise can improve your mood, give you more energy and help reduce anxiety and depression. It’s also good for your brain function and can improve your sleep. So, get out there and let those natural endorphins work in your favor.
  • Eat healthy. Eating healthy foods with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helps keep your brain strong Studies show that diets high in refined sugars or heavily processed foods can cause inflammation, impair our ability to think and increase symptoms of depression. People who prioritize healthy eating, including vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains and fish and seafood, have a 25–35% lower risk of depression. Don’t worry about giving up all your sweet treats just yet though. Instead of restricting what you eat, start by filling your diet with foods that support your brain health, like vegetables, fruits and lean protein. Pack your diet with healthy foods, and cut down portion sizes when it comes to refined sugars and processed foods.  
  • Get good sleep. Proper sleep is essential for our overall health and ability to function. It’s not surprising to anyone who’s felt cranky after sleeping poorly that lack of sleep can affect your mood and cause you to be more irritable. Inadequate sleep has also been associated with depression, stress and anxiety. To help you sleep, establish a routine where you go to bed at the same time every night. Be sure your bedroom is quiet and dark, and avoid heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol and electronic devices before bed. Try to get 7–9 hours of sleep a night.  

Find a healthcare team to help with your mental health issues  

Although you can make lifestyle changes to help improve your mental health, sometimes you need outside help. ilumed has a comprehensive wellness team to offer the support you need. At ilumed you’ll discover: 

  • Dedicated doctors: Find a doctor who can diagnose you and create a treatment plan, including medications. They can also refer you to a psychiatrist or behavioral health specialist to coordinate your care.  
  • Outreach staff: Provide support by scheduling appointments and rides. It helps when you’re feeling low and are having problems finding the energy to do everyday tasks.  
  • Case managers: Help you make lifestyle changes.  
  • Social workers: Connect you to different social organizations and services in your local community to help you find even more support for your specific needs.  

Discover ilumed and get the help you need 

If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, you don’t have to suffer in silence. You’re not alone, like many others who are dealing with depression or other mental health struggles, and ilumed is here to offer the help you need.  

You deserve to have great health, both physically and mentally. ilumed has designed a team to help you get the comprehensive care you deserve. Contact us today to get on the road to better physical and mental health.  

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