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Are You Anxious or Depressed? — March 2020

Are You Anxious or Depressed? — March 2020


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Know the Signs to Find Relief

If you feel anxious or depressed, you are not alone. Everyone feels down or anxious from time to time. It’s a normal response to stress and other situations that arise in our lives. But ongoing feelings of depression and anxiety may signal a problem. In 2017, an estimated 17.3 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode. About a third of the population will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives (NIH). 

Woman comforting friend
Woman consoling another woman

Being anxious and/or depressed is draining. It can affect everything: your mood, view of the world, appetite, sleep, family relationships, social life, and job. The good news is that knowing the signs is the first step towards finding relief and regaining control of your life.

Depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and act. It’s not a matter of just “snapping out of it.” It is not a weakness, but rather a condition that can make doing everyday activities difficult. The signs of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, tearful, empty, hopeless, worthless, guilty.
  • Loss of interest in activities.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Anxiety, anger, agitation or restlessness.
  • Unexplained physical problems like back pain and headaches.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
  • Stress eating or lack of appetite.
  • Thoughts of death.

If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, it’s time to act. Depression is highly treatable with a combination of self-help efforts, therapy, and sometimes, medication.

As you may have noticed, anxiety is one of the signs of depression. Likewise, people with anxiety often suffer from depression. Anxiety is a normal reaction to life’s stressors. It can be motivating at times, for getting things done or to alert us to dangers. Occasionally feeling nervous or anxious is different from having an anxiety disorder, which involves strong fears or anxiety that interferes with the ability to function. Common signs of anxiety include:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  • Having a sense of impending, doom, panic or danger; difficulty controlling worry; trouble with sleeping.
  • Avoiding things that trigger anxiety.
  • An increased heart rate, breathing rapidly (hyperventilating), sweating, trembling.
  • Feeling weak or tired, difficulty concentrating on anything other than the present worry.
  • Experiencing nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Depression and Anxiety at Work

Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate. They can affect us at home, with our friends and family, and on the job. Mental health illnesses have been associated with absences from work, performance issues and unemployment (study).

Maybe you’ve been showing up late for meetings (or missing them altogether) and avoiding eye contact with others in the hallway. Misunderstandings with co-workers, doing less than expected, and making careless errors are ways that depression and anxiety affect our work. If you recognize the symptoms of depression and/or anxiety in your daily life, reach out for help before they have a negative impact on your job (and the rest of your life).

Helping Co-Workers and Others

If you see co-workers, friends or family struggling with anxiety and/or depression, check in with them. Asking someone how they are doing can help them identify and cope with stress and sadness.

Your kindness may remind the important people in your life that they are not alone. Listening to someone’s concerns or bringing them a (healthy!) snack is a great way to show you care and give them a boost. You may even be able to help them problem-solve … or join them for a fun activity … or be an exercise-buddy.

Encourage co-workers and friends to renew their interest in activities they once enjoyed. Dusting off a musical instrument, picking up a knitting project, taking a bike ride, or engaging in some other activity can help lift mood and manage stress.

Remind friends that it’s okay to ask for help, and better to seek it than to continue to suffer. Sometimes people need to know that someone won’t judge them for needing help.

Taking the First Step

If you have symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, the first step is always the hardest — the things that help the most are often the things that are the most difficult to do. Start by talking to someone you trust, like your doctor, therapist, friend, religious person, or family member. Tell them how you are suffering and ask them for their support. They don’t have to “fix” you, but just be a good listener. Next is to try some of the tried and true self-help techniques below. Let your trusted person(s) in on the strategies you are trying so they can back you up.

Stay in contact with people. Meet an old friend for coffee, join a club or help someone else by volunteering. People contact helps you keep perspective and boosts mood. Minimize contact with negative people.

Do things you enjoy (or used to). Even if you don’t feel like it, push yourself to do things you used to enjoy, or something new. Pickup a sport or hobby, visit a museum, create your own art or start a journal. Doing enjoyable activities focuses your energies.

Set yourself up for success with sleep and stress reduction. Practice good sleep hygiene so you sleep 7-9 hours a night. Turn off screens, darken the room and lower the temperature. Try stress management techniques like spending time in nature, taking a bath, playing with a pet or listening to music.

Get moving. Exercise is powerful depression medicine. You can do something physical right now and see an improvement in your mood! Start with small goals and work up to 30 minutes a day. You can spread the 30 minutes out into three 10 minutes sessions. Take the stairs, dance, garden or walk at break time (BTW, fresh air and sunlight add to the benefits of exercise).

Eat depression-fighting foods. Foods rich in B vitamins like folic acid and B12 are helpful for fighting depression. Citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken and eggs are vitamin B-rich. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, herring, anchovies, tuna and flaxseed help stabilize mood too. Avoid sugary snacks, baked goods, pasta, fries and other “feel-good” foods because they cause a drop in mood and energy. Remember that alcohol is a depressant and caffeine can contribute to anxiety. Eat something every 3-4 hours to avoid getting tired and irritable. Stay hydrated!

Know when to seek professional help. You may need some help along the way to push aside negative thoughts and lift the cloud. You have many options. Your employer may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) staffed by trained professionals who can guide you through difficult times. You can reach out to your provider, see a counselor or therapist, and/or join a support group (in-person or online). Depending upon your situation and health history, you may benefit from taking an anti-depression medication. Talk with your provider to explore whether this is an option for you. If you are thinking about death and suicide, call a trusted person or 911 immediately. Or, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800/273-8255.

KnovaSolutions can help too. Our clinicians will listen with an empathetic ear, help you make some changes and share useful resources. Let us help! Give us a call at 800/355-0885, Monday to Friday, 8 am-8 pm, Mountain Time.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


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Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019

Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019


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Plus, Healthcare Tips When Traveling

The holidays are here, it’s cold and flu season, and you’re leaving town to visit family. What happens if you or a family member gets sick at night, at home or away?

Assuming you are reading this when you don’t have immediate needs for medical care, you probably have time to plan for off-hour medical situations. That’s right, with a little bit of research, you can be better prepared to make decisions about seeking the most cost-effective option for the situation.

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Pass the Tissues! — November 2019

Pass the Tissues! — November 2019


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How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold, the Flu and Allergies

It’s that season again. When you first start to feel lousy, it’s sometimes hard to know whether it’s a cold, the flu or allergies acting up. Knowing the difference may help you pick the best treatment. All three ailments affect the respiratory system and can make it harder to breathe.

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Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019

Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019


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What Changes Are Happening Inside You?

Being 50 or older can be a fulfilling time of life. You are more experienced and wiser. You have a broader view of the world and may be able to take challenges in stride more effectively. If you’ve raised children, they are likely on their feet, or getting there. You may even be enjoying grandchildren or having more time to pursue your interests.

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Believing You Can Cope — September 2019

Believing You Can Cope — September 2019


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Is Half the Battle When Facing Life’s Challenges

In the children’s story, The Little Engine that Could, the little engine agrees to pull a long, broken-down train over a high mountain after larger, more powerful engines refuse. “I think I can, I think I can,” said the little engine. And when it’s successfully coming down the other side, he said, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

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Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019

Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019


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Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy

Do you ever wonder how the blueberries or chicken you eat get broken down into fuel for the body? The digestive system is made up of organs that each have different roles in processing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and liquids. Each organ works to break food into smaller parts and move nutrients to where they can be absorbed. Spoiler: the next section describes the digestion process; skip if you don’t want the details!

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Work-Life Integration — July 2019

Work-Life Integration — July 2019


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A 21st Century Take on Work-Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance was introduced in the 1970’s as baby boomers struggled to balance their careers, families, friends and hobbies with staying healthy. The idea is to ‘balance’ your work with your private life. Work-life balance means focusing on your job when at work and making time outside of work to enjoy family and friends, as well as engage in other activities you enjoy.

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Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019

Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019


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Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Taking medicine is part of a daily routine for many people. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)medications treat disease and improve health in many ways. Lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing pain—these are just some of the helpful effects. Along with the benefits of feeling better and getting well, medicines also pose the risk of unwanted side effects or unexpected adverse events.

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Food for Thought — May 2019

Food for Thought — May 2019


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Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Our brains never rest. They hold down a highly specialized 24/7 job. As one of our largest and most complex organs, the brain contains more than 100 billion nerves that communicate through synapses, or connections, to control thinking, breathing, memory, sleep, hearing, digestion, feelings, heart rate, and so much more. Think of your brain as your body’s command center; it controls everything! Weighing just 3 pounds, the brain has a hefty job.

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Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019

Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019


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How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Almost two-thirds of all Americans say that the daily news causes them stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey. Feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, irritable and worn out are some of the symptoms of “headline stress disorder,” a phrase coined by psychologist Steven Stosny.

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Managing Your Weight — January 2019

Managing Your Weight — January 2019


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For a Healthy Body and Mind

Carrying excess weight takes a toll on every part of the body. It affects walking, breathing, sleeping and mood, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Being overweight can also increase the risk of developing serious medical conditions. The risk might rise from the stress the heart and joints suffer from carrying extra pounds. Or it may be due to complex changes in hormones and metabolism (how the body uses calories and fat).

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Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

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Taking These (and Supplements) Safely

Over-the-counter medications (OTC) are easy to find at the store. They offer relief from common health problems like stuffy noses, seasonal allergies and achy muscles. They also can help prevent problems like constipation and nausea. You may feel empowered to solve a health issue without having to see your primary care provider for advice or a prescription.
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Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

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With Approaches That Benefit Your Health

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 percent of adults use healthcare approaches developed outside of mainstream western medicine. These approaches are called complementary and alternative —terms that are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that they are different.

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Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

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Essential Nutrients that Work Hand-in-Hand

No matter our age, our bodies need calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as other important functions. However, without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t be absorbed by the body. What happens then? The body draws from calcium stored in the bones, which weakens them and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones become fragile, brittle and prone to breaks. Maintaining calcium and vitamin D levels in a healthy range over your lifetime can help prevent the risks of weak bones, teeth and other potential issues.

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Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

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Can They Be Prevented or Reversed?

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. One in two adults has a chronic disease and one in four has two or more, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

When it comes to our health, there are things we can’t control and those that we can try to influence. We can’t change our genetic makeup, gender, race or age—some of the factors that can make us more likely to develop a chronic medical condition. However, many health conditions are caused by lifestyle factors that we do have some ability to manage—our diet, exercise, stress management, weight and smoking habits.

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Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

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How to Enjoy It While Staying Safe

Picnics, roasting marshmallows, swimming, camping, fishing—you name it—these are the treasures of summer. With longer days and schools closed, summer often means vacation time. But even if your summer doesn’t include a vacation, you’ve likely shed some layers and are spending more time outdoors. Being outside is a great way to reboot and revive the mind. To make the most of this more relaxed season, remember to take a few precautions to keep you and your family safe.

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Working Smart — June 2018

Working Smart — June 2018

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Finding Your Way to Workplace Wellness

Fulltime workers spend, on average, more than one-third of their day, five days per week at their place of work. We rely heavily on the fruits of our labor: skills, confidence, camaraderie, and most importantly, an income. Since our work life is so important to our livelihood, it makes sense to work smart. Workplace health and wellness includes activities and policies designed to promote the well-being of employees, support health behavior in the workplace, and decrease the risks of injuries. Employees can experience greater job satisfaction by making some key adjustments in the workplace.

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The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

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How to Improve Your Resiliency

Your mental health and wellness affects practically every aspect of your life—how you think, feel and act at home and work, with family, friends, colleagues and the general public. People who are emotionally healthy tend to go about their day with a sense of purpose. They engage in enjoyable activities and balance them with their work and family life. They have fulfilling relationships and have a positive outlook.

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Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

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And What to Do When Your PCP Isn’t Available

Your primary care provider (PCP) is that professional you see every year or so for preventive screening or more often if you are managing ongoing health concerns. S/he’s also the one you call when you get sick or develop concerning new symptoms. But, what if your PCP isn’t available? Your options depend upon the circumstances.

Wait, Back Up!

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