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Mental and physical health outcomes often intertwined

When it comes to the leading causes of death for Americans, chronic diseases such as cancer, and heart and respiratory diseases come to mind. Annually though, one of the top-ten killers of Americans that remain treatable are mental health disorders. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, in 2012 alone, suicide was the eighth leading cause of death for Oklahomans, a total of 670 individuals.

“One in five adults in Oklahoma have a mental health problem. But both chronic diseases and mental health disorders are preventable, treatable and manageable,” explained Coordinator of CPN Behavioral Health Services Dr. Stumblingbear-Riddle. “Many chronic diseases and mental health disorders occur together. Also, many mental health disorders are also chronic disorders. To adequately manage both, you have to treat both.”

The intertwined nature of both kinds of diseases can manifest themselves in loved ones. Patients suffering from what are commonly thought of as physical ailments, such as diabetes or heart disease, consequently have higher rates of major depressive disorders. Conversely, mental health disorders like depression have been linked to heart disease, stroke and back pain.

Though sometimes explained away by the rigors of daily life, there are concrete signs indicating a mental health disorder that people can watch for.

“Classic signs of a depressive disorder include a depressed mood nearly every day, a loss of interest in usual activities and even drastic body weight changes of more than five percent,” explained Dr. Stumblingbear-Riddle. “Sleep disturbances, fatigue and feelings of worthlessness are also indicators. In men especially, irritability is a classic sign of depression.”

Both mental health disorders and chronic diseases can result from stressful life conditions, traumatic experience or the use of illegal drugs. Other common behaviors like inactivity and smoking are associated with both mental and physical health problems.

Family histories also serve as a risk factor of those diseases in future generations.

However, those genealogical ties can also make family members the first line of defense in recognizing the signs of a behavioral health disorders in loved ones.

If an individual has suspicions that they are seeing signs of a mental health disorder, it is best to consult with a professional.

According to Dr. Stumblingbear-Riddle, “Evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and culturally appropriate interventions are used to treat and manage mental health disorders often seen by tribal healthcare providers. We can help patients manage things like major depressive disorder, which is a very common mental health disorder.”

For members of a federally-recognized tribe in the jurisdiction of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, CPN’s Behavioral Health Department offers individual, couples, family and group therapy for those in need.

For those outside of the Tribe’s immediate jurisdiction, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services created the 2014 Oklahoma Tribal Behavioral Health Directory. The directory is available at http://www.ok.gov/odmhsas/Additional_Information/Tribal_State_Relations/Oklahoma_Tribal_Behavioral_Health_Resource_Guide.html.

For Tribal members living outside of Oklahoma, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, known as SAMHSA, has a similar online tool. SAMHSA’s Behavioral Help Treatment Locator, which searches for local treatment facilities according to a zip code search, can be found at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

This tool is also vital to finding assistance for those who are not members of federally recognized tribes.
If you or a loved one would like more information about CPN Health Services’ Behavioral Health Department, please call 405-214-5101 or visit http://www.potawatomi.org/services/health/clinics.