Gerald P. Perman, MD, PA
2424 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Before You See a Psychiatrist
Life without stress does not exist. Feeling anxious or unhappy is part of being human and, if not excessive, is exceedingly normal. In fact, feeling anxious is the body's way of gearing up for an exciting or challenging event an upcoming test in school, going on a date, planning your wedding, or buying your first car or condo. And feeling unhappy or depressed is often an indicator that you have the capacity to form close attachments to other people in your life and that their loss affects you. But what are some of the things you can do to reduce unnecessary stress in your life?
1. Get enough sleep. We all pay homage to the idea that we require eight hours of sleep a night. It's true although most of us don't get it. Instead you may only be getting five to seven hours sleep with the result that you drag yourself through the day taking micro-naps when you can, not functioning at your best at work, and putting yourself at risk for auto accidents and health problems.
2. Limit your drinking. More than two drinks (yes, two) a few times a week puts you into a category of people who are at risk of developing problems due to their alcohol use. Whereas alcohol can relieve stress in the moment (it causes relaxation), several hours later you will be withdrawing from the alcohol causing disturbed sleep, anxiety, irritability and elevated blood pressure.
3. Exercise. One third of us are obese, one third pleasantly plump and one third svelte. If you are going to exercise, it should be scheduled into your life. If you wait for the mood to strike, forget it. If you schedule three sessions a week (walking, jogging, running, supervised lifting) you won't be asking yourself if you will work out and you won't have to feel guilty about not having worked out. Then begin to say goodbye to your elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, and lonely nights.
4. Enjoy hobbies. Whether its music, art, collecting stamps, playing chess, cooking, athletics engage your mind, your body, and your aesthetic sensibilities. You are guaranteed to feel better about yourself.
5. Socialize. Other people are the antidote to depression (though they can also be the cause). We are social beings and define and refine who we are through our relationships with other people. These include family members, friends, neighbors, sports teammates, church groups, classmates and work colleagues plan, organize and arrange picnics, movie dates, dinner parties.
If you have done one through five above, and are still struggling, then you may want to consider calling a psychiatrist.