Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

During the holiday season, the healthcare industry sees an uptick in mental health inquiries. Researchers believe this is due to a variety of stressors such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Over-commercialization of holiday times
  • Financial Stress
  • Inability to be with one’s family and friends

With a global pandemic still looming, many families are opting to pass on gatherings this year. This can increase feelings of loneliness and depression. Reducing, eliminating, or finding creative ways to deal with holiday-specific demands on your time, energy, and emotions is important and working with a therapist or accessing other resources on coping with depression may help.

Your A&M System benefits include mental health resources if you are ever in need of them. ComPsych GuidanceResources provides guidance on work/life balance topics such as financial stress, mental health, marriage and family relationships, grief counseling, and more. They prepared a Healthy Holidays toolkit to help you stay cheery through the holiday season.

Go to Guidanceresources.com and register under your institution or agency listing. Use code ‘TAMUS’. They suggest these coping tips to help manage your feelings of depression during and after the holidays:

  1. Talk to a professional. If the blues you are feeling linger for several weeks and are interfering with your ability to enjoy life and function effectively, seek help. A therapist can assist you in exploring your feelings. You can talk to a behavioral health specialist on MDLIVE as well!
  2. Find support in others. Try confiding in trusted family members and friends about how you have been feeling. Be honest with others about what you are experiencing instead of covering up your emotions. An understanding loved one can give you the strength and support you need to help cope with depressive feelings.
  3. Manage your stress. Learn effective ways to reduce your stress and anxiety, which may minimize your feelings of depression.
  4. Exercise regularly. Regular fitness activities can improve your mood and boost your self-esteem. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is right for you. Because a lack of sunlight may be contributing to your depression, exercise outdoors for a double benefit.
  5. Eat right. Discipline yourself not to overeat. Avoid junk foods and environments that may encourage binging. Stick to a nutritionally balanced diet. Avoid alcohol, which is a depressant.
  6. Get the proper amount of sleep. Experts recommend at least seven to eight hours a night. Resist the urge to oversleep, and try to maintain a regular sleeping schedule.
  7. Make more time for recreational, fun activities. Try to spend more time outdoors, especially on sunny days.
  8. Be more social. Stay in touch with friends and family.
  9. Consider using a light box. These devices have been used successfully to treat seasonal affective disorder. Talk with your doctor or therapist about whether the increased amount of light could be helpful to you.
  10. Educate yourself. Learn all you can about depression, support groups in your area and ways to manage your feelings.

 

Resources: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – www.nimh.nih.gov;National Institutes of Health (NIH) – http://health.nih.gov; Mental Health America- www.nmha.org; Guidanceresources.com.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Regular eyes exams can help detect serious health issues. For example, prediabetes is when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Blurred vision is one of the first indicators of diabetes, so an eye exam may show you are in a prediabetes state.

Over time, diabetes can cause damage to your eyes and lead to diabetic eye disease. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. They can lead to eye damage or in more serious cases, blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

People who have diabetes or poor blood sugar are at risk for a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when increased blood glucose causes tiny blood vessels in the retina to break, swell, leak, or grow abnormally. If the disease gets worse, some blood vessels close off, which causes new blood vessels to grow, or proliferate, on the surface of the retina. This can lead to serious vision problems.

Diabetic Macular Edema

The part of your retina that you need for reading, driving, and seeing faces is called the macula. Diabetes can lead to swelling in the macula, which is called diabetic macular edema. Over time, this disease can destroy the sharp vision in this part of the eye, leading to partial vision loss or blindness. Macular edema usually develops in people who already have other signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve by a build-up of fluid in the front part of the eye. Diabetes doubles the chances of having glaucoma, which can lead to vision loss and blindness if not treated early. According to Mayo Clinic, Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60.

Cataracts

The lenses within our eyes are clear structures that help provide sharp vision—but they tend to become cloudy as we age. Also, if your blood sugar levels change quickly, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision. Researchers believe that excess blood sugar from diabetes can cause cataracts. People with diabetes can develop cataracts at an earlier age than people without diabetes.

If you are enrolled in the vision plan, one comprehensive eye exam every year is covered at 100%, after a $10 copay. If there is a problem with your blood sugar, sometimes your eye doctor is the first person to detect an issue. It’s especially crucial for people with diabetes to get their eyes examined regularly, as they can develop more serious conditions without realizing the symptoms.

Check out the infographic below to learn more about diabetic eye disease.

 

Using the BCBS Cost Estimator

You may not think about comparing prices when you are using your health care benefits. But prices vary in health care, too. By doing some research before you go to the doctor, you can make changes in how much you might pay out-of-pocket for health care. For example, according to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX), an MRI might cost $475 from one provider and the same service may cost $2517 from another. BCBSTX encourages you to be a smart healthcare consumer by using their Cost Estimator tool before scheduling your appointments.

  1. Log in to Blue Access for Members (BAM) through https://bcbstx.com/tamus or directly through your MyEvive account.
  2. From BAM, scroll down to the bottom-left of the screen and click on Cost Estimator.
  3. The Provider Finder and Cost Estimator tool will open.
  4. From the Browse drop-down menu, select Cost Estimates.
  5. Select the service category you are interested reviewing.
  6. Review estimated costs of providers in the area offering those health care services.

Please keep in mind that costs are estimates. Make sure you are logged in so your search displays in-network providers on your health plan.