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The Negative Stigma Associated with Mental Health Issues

The Negative Stigma Associated  with Mental Health IssuesDr. Jessica Peterson, psychiatrist, treats adults to geriatrics, and her experience includes substance abuse rehabilitation; behavioral, depressive and psychotic disorder treatment, consultative therapy, emergency visits, and general psychiatry. Dr. Peterson is the Medical Director of the Leesburg Regional Medical Center (LRMC) Senior Behavioral Health Center.

We caught up with Dr. Peterson to find out more about mental health issues and the stigma that unfortunately often coincides with the disorders and treatment.

Q: When anxiety and depressive disorders are left untreated, what kind of long-term damage or implications can arise?
A: Failure to treat depression and anxiety can result in a variety of negative outcomes, ranging from feeling “run down” and “overwhelmed” to having great difficulty functioning in all aspects of everyday life. Depression and anxiety can cause permanent changes in our body’s chemistry, which can make it both mentally and physically impossible to complete even the simplest tasks. Concentration and motivation are two of the biggest areas impacted by depression and anxiety, which can cause us to withdraw from our work and social lives. This creates a “vicious cycle”, which can lead to worsening mood and greater difficulty fulfilling responsibilities. This combination can make it very difficult to experience joy and pleasure in life.

Q: When should a person seek help?
A: The sooner, the better. I recommend asking for help if you start to feel unable to function like you used to. This can mean something different for everyone. If you are feeling “down”, “drained”, and not like yourself, it’s a good idea to at least be screened for depression and anxiety. There are many treatment options out there, and the sooner you start asking about them, the sooner you can gain access. I am a firm believer that “everyone can benefit from therapy”; so there really is no better time to seek help than NOW.

Q: How can we as a society learn to overcome the negative stigma that is often associated with mental health issues?
A: I believe the negative stigma that exists around mental health stems from a lack of understanding and a fear of being perceived a certain way. Education is key to fight this negative stigma, and this can be accomplished by both clinicians and patients. Keeping an open dialogue regarding mental health is crucial, and these conversations should be had in a setting that is easy to access, and keeps these issues at the forefront of society. By working together to shed light on the prevalence of mental health issues and the importance of mental wellness, we can improve access to resources and help all individuals realize that they are not alone. We are all fighting our own demons, and to struggle at times is to be human.

About Dr. Jessica Peterson, DO
Dr. Jessica Peterson is a psychiatrist and is affiliated with Leesburg Regional Medical Center. Dr. Peterson was Chief Resident of Psychiatry at University Hospital and Medical Center, in Tamarac, FL, and she received her medical degree from Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Jessica Peterson, DO
Leesburg Regional Medical Center (LRMC) Senior Behavioral Health Center
700 N. Palmetto Street, 3rd floor
Leesburg, FL 34748
(352) 323-3270

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