May is Mental Health Awareness Month - How Your PCP Can Help You


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This past year has been a hard one. Not only did we deal with a global pandemic that brought change none of us have experienced before. We also dealt with a turbulent presidential election.


The pandemic not only changed the way we lived, our routines, and who we were able to see. It cost some their jobs and others have been given jobs they didn’t sign up for — hello homeschooling parents!


And although the election is over, it still feels like our brains are under constant attack when we turn on the TV, open our social media platforms, or even talk with others. There’s always new information, conflicting information, and disagreements of what’s going on in the world.


It’s exhausting. It’s overwhelming. It’s stressful. And sometimes it can cause emotional reactions that we don’t know how to deal with.


These emotions are not uncommon. But sometimes it’s hard to know if we should ask for help. Because we tend to minimize our emotions. We feel like we’re overreacting. And, let’s be honest, asking for help is hard.


But the truth is — you are not alone.

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According to the National Institute of Mental Illness, “Mental illnesses are common in the United States. Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.


And recently KFF has reported that 4 in 10 adults have experienced anxiety and/or depression due to COVID-19.


And just because so many of us are dealing with mental illness — it doesn’t diminish the pain. It is important to remember that living with mental illness (no matter how minor) should not be acceptable.


You are only given this one life — you deserve to be happy.


What Signs Should You Be Looking For?


There are many signs of mental illness. Some are small and others are big. All of us deal with emotions differently. Some people may feel angry all of the time, others sad, some eat, some may self medicate with drugs and alcohol, and others become indifferent.


Mentalhealth.gov has a list on their site of things to look for. The following are a few from their site —


  • Sleeping more or less than usual

  • Moodiness

  • Not enjoying activities or spending time with people that previously brought you joy

  • Drinking / Smoking / Using Drugs more than usual

  • Feeling like hurting yourself or others.

  • Having unexplained aches or pains

  • Unable to perform daily tasks

  • Feeling hopeless


If you notice changes in your behaviors and/or emotions then it’s best to seek help.

Even if it’s to gauge whether or not you need help.


Who Should You Talk To?

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Your primary care physician is a great place to start.


Many people do not realize that their primary care physician can help with mental health as well. But the truth is, primary care physicians are well equipped to address mental health issues.


In fact, stress and trauma can affect your physical health. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “Mental illnesses can complicate other medical conditions, making them more challenging and more expensive to manage. Together, this makes mental health an important issue for primary care physicians.”


Your primary care physician not only will listen to your concerns but can prescribe medications. They can connect you with resources that they feel will be beneficial to you.


If you have to pay a copay every time you talk to your doctor or do not have insurance, Direct Primary Care is a great way to receive both physical and mental health services at a low cost.


Why Direct Primary Care (DPC)?


Direct Primary Care is a relationship between the physician and the patient.


Direct Primary Care practices are what some refer to as “back to the basics” of medine. It is a physician that works for you. Someone who has your back and can help you with both mental and physical concerns.


It is also referred to as subscription medicine.


You pay a low monthly fee and have direct access to your primary care physician.


With the direct primary care model insurance is not accepted. That does not mean that you can’t have insurance — it actually pairs well with insurance plans. It just means that the DPC practice does not accept insurance for payment.


It is recommended that a catastrophic insurance plan is carried along with DPC as DPC does not cover incidents like a car accident.


Direct primary care doctors have a relationship with you — not your insurance provider.

They are someone that knows YOU and is there to support you directly.


It also means you have more access to your doctor. You can talk with them via office appointments, telehealth visits, a secure portal, or through phone calls.


Also, appointments are not rushed. In most DPC practices appointments are booked for an hour time slot. That way you have plenty of time to go over your mental and physical health with your physician.


They can help you manage stress, develop plans, help you stay on track, and talk with you if you are feeling emotionally fragile.


Having a direct primary care physician is like having a doctor in the family.



Dimensions Direct Primary Care



At Dimensions Direct Primary Care Dr. Sheila Chen is a board certified internist. She works with her patients to achieve optimal physical and mental wellness.


At Dimensions DPC subscription fees range from $20—$80 per person, per month. You can sign up at any time and there are no contracts committing you to a certain time frame.


With this subscription you receive access to her via office visits, a secure portal, and telephone calls.


If you are located in Virginia or Maryland and have more questions about Direct Primary Care contact Dimensions DPC today.


**If you or someone you love is in need of immediate help, please contact 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255***