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Depression and Anxiety in Emergency Rooms


The next time you are in a hospital emergency room, ask any health worker there how many patients come in with mental health issues.  You might be surprised at the answer.

Patients with psychiatric disorders are likely to use the ER on multiple occasions and to have multiple hospitalizations. One in eight, or nearly 12 million ER visits in the U.S. in 2007 were due to mental in adults-mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance use problems. (Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law)

There are often two ways in which they may arrive:

Picked up by the local law enforcement- often handcuffed. Keep in mind that this person has not necessarily been arrested or charged with any crime. They are simply being transported for a medical evaluation. I have heard patients with trauma histories talk about how they are triggered to the point of hysteria by this practice, as some of them have been bound, assaulted, even tortured in the past.(Greg Smith, MD in  Kevin Not always in the patient’s best interest.

Brought in by a caring friend/family- “Sometimes, people we love don’t have the ability to call up a therapist and take charge of their own lives. Their illness is too intense; they can’t see the forest through the trees, and their depressive spiral might simply become too big to lift on their own.” Jessica Digiacinto, (World of Psychology)

Are there alternatives?  Good ones?

More and more, healthcare reform efforts are focused on bringing down the skyrocketing costs of emergency room care and keeping people who have been admitted once from coming back. The outpatient model is a viable way to lower costs while keeping ERs focused on physical emergencies.

For example, The Living Room, a program run by the Turning Point outpatient mental health center in Skokie, Ill., provides emergency treatment for emotional issues in a calm, home-like setting at which people may deal better with mental health emergencies in a supportive environment. Kristen Fischer (Health News)

Other such programs are surely on their way.

Admittedly, many face crises beyond their ability to cope.  For many others- those with at least a modicum of self-control, there exist yet other ways- just pick up your phone or turn on your computer:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273.8255

Talk with a trained professional

Online resources Get Help menu:

Find a list of hotlines

Access local agencies

Discover crisis intervention services

Enter zip code & state

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     This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. You need not go through this alone.  With our support, you can get through these times.

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I am the Founder and CEO of Counseling On Demand with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with over 25 years of experience in helping Individuals, Couples, Adolescents, and Families who struggle with a wide variety of Life's Challenges. I thus have developed an Array of Effective Counseling Tools and Evidenced-Based Interventions to help you towards Your Road to Better Mental Health and Wellness. You are Never Alone...I look forward to meeting with you or your family member soon!