Working From Home

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Making the Switch

As those with the ability to work from home have probably learned, it’s a lot different than going into the office. Although production and availability can increase, separating work from home can get more complicated. If you don’t use available resources early, it can only get worse. Those working from home for the first time have probably noticed how much verbal communication plays a role in the office and how productivity works throughout the week. Asking a question by peeping your head over the cubicle or walking down the hall is no longer that simple. It can be if you stay up to date on communication software and available technology your employers employ. But just having them downloaded to your computer and phone doesn’t solve all communication problems. Doing a quick Google search about the program can give you articles, tutorials, and videos to help improve your work-flow ability. Transitioning to working from home can be difficult and takes time to understand your schedule while managing all the other distractions around you at home.

Physical Health

Now more than ever it is essential to listen to your body and keep up with or even start those healthy routines. Just because you’re in the comfort of your home doesn’t make anything simpler, it can sometimes make things more complicated. All those times you walk around to ask questions, pick a paper up off the printer, grab a snack from the kitchen or get up to move in general you’re not doing anymore while being stuck behind that screen. It’s easy to get busy so don’t forget to move around throughout the day. Adding some sunshine will even help boost your mood and productivity. Taking some time at your desk to stretch and re-group in between meetings or projects can help create a transition too.

Mental Health

Monitoring your mental health during this time is just as important as physical health. Everyone has had to make drastic changes to their everyday life and its crucial to recognize those and work through the struggles that can arise. For those prone to anxiety and depression it’s important to recognize your feelings and work through them in ways that have worked in the past, such as reading, staying connected or even remote therapy.1 Being aware of your mood and behavior throughout this time will be valuable to your working from home experience. Always be mindful and reach out to the appropriate people if necessary.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Create a designated workspace to ensure the separation of work and home.
  2. Avoid being stuck in the same chair all day. Take the dogs for a walk, check the mail, or take a call outside, just try your best not to get cabin fever.
  3. Overcommunicate with everyone and never feel like you’re asking a ‘dumb’ question.
  4. Create a routine for before, during, and after work to hold yourself accountable.
  5. Block off time to handle things that may be distracting to you and/or your work (i.e. kids and homework schedules, etc.)
  6. Take advantage of this time at home. This may be the only time you get to work from home so throw that load of laundry in at lunch. Eat lunch with your quarantine crew while you have the chance.

Do what’s best for you!

If you have a chronic condition, these changes may be having a bigger impact on you and staying healthy is more important than ever. While the transition from the office to home may seem simple, you need to establish a routine to ensure you’re effectively managing your health. If you have any questions related to your condition management or medications, call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742. Tria Health is a no cost benefit provided through select health plans.

Sources:

  1. https://www.fastcompany.com/90479504/how-to-maintain-your-mental-health-while-working-from-home

Mental Health and Chronic Condition Management

Sad man sitting in a corner
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According to a recent study published in Psychological Medicine, mental health disorders affect 44 million American adults. This includes a variety of conditions, including depression and anxiety. It is critical for organizations to provide support for mental health, not only for the overall well-being of their employees but also to help manage their overall health care cost.

Employers Should Invest in Mental Health Because They Bear 50% of the Cost

Including mental health services in a comprehensive benefits package is a smart decision for all employers. By investing early, employers can attract new talent and offset some additional costs that are associated with unmanaged mental health. Almost 43% of persons with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home and social activities.1 A 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, estimates depression costs the U.S. economy $210 billion annually; employers bear 50% of that cost.

Patients with Chronic Conditions and Depression are 2x Less Adherent

Chronic conditions can be a lot to manage at an individual level. It’s not surprising that a percentage of those who are diagnosed with a chronic condition also experience some form of depression or anxiety. Studies show that people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than people without diabetes.2 This connection is significant when it comes to adherence.  Results from 47 independent samples showed that depression was significantly associated with non-adherence to the diabetes regimen. In addition, the estimated odds of a depressed patient being non-adherent are 1.76 times the odds of a non-depressed patient, across 31 studies and 18,245 participants.3

Provide a Path to Care – Connect Employees to Providers

Employers can make accessing a mental or behavioral healthcare provider easier by offering a program that helps connect employees with providers who are in-network, vetted for quality of services and accepting new patients.4 They can also provide assistance by making sure employees know what programs and benefits are available. It’s one thing to offer mental health services to employees, but it’s equally important that everyone is familiar with and know how to access them.

Tria Health and Mental Health

Many patients decide to take medications in order to effectively manage their mental health. There are a variety of mental health medications currently on the market, ranging from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to atypical antidepressants. Because there isn’t a test to measure to brain chemicals, it can be a trial and error process to identify the best treatment for a patient. If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for mental health, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Source:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db172.htm
  2. Diabetes Care. 2008 Dec; 31(12): 2398–2403. doi: 10.2337/dc08-1341
  3. J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Oct;26(10):1175-82. doi: 10.1007/s11606-011-1704-y. Epub 2011 May 1.
  4. https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/increasing-employee-access-to-mental-health-benefits?tag=00000151-16d0-def7-a1db-97f024be0000

Getting Through Winter: How to Survive SAD

Man walking in the snow
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With winter weather sweeping across the country, many individuals are experiencing winter-onset depression also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While the cause of SAD is not known, brain chemicals that affect your mood can change according to the amount of light you get each day.1 While some may be more susceptible to SAD than others, there are ways of preventing and managing SAD until you get through the season.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that happens during a change of seasons, usually occurring during autumn and winter months when there is less sunlight. Symptoms usually go away in late spring or early summer.1

How is SAD Treated?

There are four primary treatment methods for SAD: Light therapy, medications, psychotherapy, and mind-body connection techniques.2

  • Light Therapy: A method that mimics natural outdoor light using a special light box with the goal of changing the brain chemicals linked to mood. It typically takes a few days to a few weeks before becoming effective. Your doctor will be able to help determine if this is the best option for you and identify which product would be the most effective.
  • Medications: Individuals with depression are more susceptible to SAD, making antidepressant treatment a good option. 
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is another option to treat SAD. Therapy can help you learn coping mechanisms to manage your stress and changing your negative thoughts and behaviors.
  • Mind-Body Connection: This includes a variety of techniques such as meditation, guided imagery and music or art therapy.

How Can Tria Health Help?

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for SAD, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations and coordinate with your doctor(s).

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.drugs.com/cg/seasonal-affective-disorder.html
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20364722

Depression’s Impact on Patients with Chronic Disease

zhu liang_unsplash
Image Source: Zhu Liang/Unsplash

According to a RAND corporation study, people who are depressed are less likely to adhere to medications for their chronic health problems than people who are not depressed. Researchers found that patients with depression had 76% greater odds of being non-adherent with their medications compared to those without depression.1 This is a concern since not only do people with chronic illnesses routinely face higher death rates when they have poor medication adherence, the rate of depression itself has been increasing significantly over the years. In the U.S., depression increased from 6.6 percent to 7.3 percent from 2005 to 2015.2

What can Doctors and Providers do?

Dr. Walid F. Gellad, the study’s senior author and a natural scientist a RAND, recommended that “doctors and other providers should periodically ask patients with depression about medication adherence. Also, when treating a patient who is not taking their medication correctly, they should consider the possibility that depression is contributing to the problem.”

How can you help a Friend or Family Member with Depression?

It’s important to learn the symptoms of depression and that they can vary from person to person. You can find a list of symptoms and support recommendations provided by the mayo clinic here. Once you recognize it, the next steps are to:

  • Talk to the person
  • Explain that depression is a medical condition
  • Suggest seeking help from a professional
  • Offer to help prepare a list of questions to discuss in an initial appointment
  • Express your willingness to help

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time for help.

 

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

 

Sources:

  1. The Rand Corporation. (2011, May 10). Depression Associated with Lower Medication Adherence Among Patients with Chronic Disease [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.rand.org/news/press/2011/05/10.html
  2. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Depression is on the rise in the US, especially among young teens.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030134631.htm>.