Millennial Health

Managing Your Mental Health in the Midst of a Crisis

April 13, 2020 Dr. Dion Metzger Season 1 Episode 9
Millennial Health
Managing Your Mental Health in the Midst of a Crisis
Millennial Health
Managing Your Mental Health in the Midst of a Crisis
Apr 13, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Dr. Dion Metzger

On this episode, we speak to Atlanta based Psychiatrist and Media Personality, Dr. Dion Metzger about Managing Your Mental Health in the Midst of a Crisis. This applies not only to personal issues, but the loss of a loved one and even the effects of the novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19. We advocate for therapy and make the distinction among psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers providing therapy.

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode, we speak to Atlanta based Psychiatrist and Media Personality, Dr. Dion Metzger about Managing Your Mental Health in the Midst of a Crisis. This applies not only to personal issues, but the loss of a loved one and even the effects of the novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19. We advocate for therapy and make the distinction among psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers providing therapy.

spk_0:   0:03
Hey and a welcome to the millennial health podcast. I'm Dr J. Cherie Alan, a board certified family physician who's passionate about the health of my fellow millennials. I know we're booked and busy, but your first wealth is your health. So I'm taking some of my most important health messages and bringing them here to you on this podcast. My goal is to share some valuable information and draw awareness to some important health issues, but I encourage you to please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. So today we're joined by Atlanta based psychiatrist Dr Dion Metzger. Not only is she a physician but a professor and health media expert, as well as a wife and a mother, she's been featured on the doctor's, CNN's, Rachel and Network and in The New York Times. Her motto of Better mind Better Life encourages everyone to prioritize their mental health in life's balance. Doctor Mexica, thank you so much for joining us on the millennial health. Fat best.

spk_1:   1:16
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

spk_0:   1:19
Tell us a little about yourself and how became interested in mental health not only in the clinical setting but also in the public sphere. Um, you know, the thing with

spk_1:   1:30
mental health is well, I should say, originally started in high school, believe it or not, Like my senior year of high school, I took a psychology class and I was like whom? This is pretty interesting. And then I went on to major in psychology when I wasn't undergrad, and it just it just sparked my interest. And I thought, just the ability to learn about the brain and see how it affects behavior. I just was so fascinated by it. And then, you know, in medical school, we get to do every rotation during our third year when I got to psych, which was like, towards the end of my 30 I think I've done obi surgery and I had cycles tours and and I said, OK, I just had a lightbulb moment. I was like, Yeah, this is it. This is it. So it's just the ability to really help people. Mentally, I find that to be such a gift and in terms of seeing the before and after. So it's just something I wanted to be a part of, and what kind of got me more into the public eyes that I noticed that there was so much stigma, so many like misunderstandings about psychiatric treatment and just what people are supposed to be doing. And I felt like I had to, like, get on a platform so I could be able to talk to people about it and explain that you know what the symptoms are, because what happened was the stigma was preventing people from seeking treatment. And I know that was even more important or more of a stigma in in like in people of color. So that's where it used to. I decided to kind of just get on this platform first, normalizes symptoms and say, You know, we all have dealt with this at some point in our lives and also kind of release that stigma off of seeking treatment because as a result, people are just kind of robbing themselves of the good days of their lives by just, you know, not going to get help.

spk_0:   3:02
I think that was one of the more shocking things I learned in my first year of practice independently that just your day to day I'm down. I'm sad. I've had a rough patch How do I get through this? I was really shocked at the number of patients I saw with, you know, those issues and just not seeking the help that they needed because they don't have diagnoses or they're just not aware, You know, that those treatment options are out there and exists, even just if you're sad and it's just dragging you along and affecting your quality of life. Absolutely. Okay, so on a personal note on and I mentioned this to you a little earlier, But, you know, I recently dealt with the death of my grandmother, who is the matriarch of her family. And I told you before that you've offered me some of the best advice that I received during a really rough time. You said, And I quote, balance scientific reality without lessening the faith of family, you know, and thank you for that of expressing or genuinely from the bottom of my heart. That man is a must, but I think you know, we're in the midst of a pandemic, know. And even though it may not be a loss of a loved one, you know, many people are grieving and they are hurting, right now, how do you encourage others to balance this very tough reality that we're currently in the mid stuff with maintaining their face?

spk_1:   4:35
You know, it's very interesting because I was talking to a few patients who are dealing with different aspects of grief with the pandemic. I have somewhere just grieving their former life, like in terms of their social life and being able to go out and just go to the grocery store or go meet up with friends. But I also have people who had to cancel major events. I have two friends who had to cancel their weddings, and it was just and they asked me. They said, Is it okay for me to grieve my wedding? And I said, Absolutely, it would be abnormal for you not to grieve it. So I said, You know, with this, I want everybody to recognize it. Grief is normal. We're in a completely different stage of life that we weren't expecting to be in. And it means that we have to sacrifice a lot. So first step is recognizing the grief and not beating yourself up because people are like, well, say to me, Well isn't a big deal that I shouldn't be grieving this. I should just be happy I'm healthy. And I said No, not necessarily. Like if it's a lifestyle or an event that you should be totally it's okay to grieve it. It says it is a change and this is abrupt change that we've had to do in a matter of what, 23 weeks?

spk_0:   5:37
I think that's a huge one, you know, given people permission to feel their feelings, you know, and not be trapped in a all. But I'm still so much better off than X y z. You know, I don't think that prevents you from still being able to feel whatever it is that you feel

spk_1:   5:57
absolutely. And I see a lot of patients do that with me. They said, Well, I know people there are dying or people are really sick and they try to minimize their own symptoms and I said, Yeah, other people might be going through that, but that doesn't minimize what you're going through. So I try to really take the focus off of kind of comparing yourself to what other people are going through because we all have our own struggles and it doesn't make my struggle any less than yours. Based on what we're going through.

spk_0:   6:22
Sold, then how do you actually spoke to you? Another psychiatrist A few weeks back. And this is a really big once. I wanted your take on it. How do you encourage your patients toe pursued the help that they need, Whether that's therapy or medications Or how do you? What do you say to them that you know, How do you validate what they're going through and tell them it's okay to get help?

spk_1:   6:48
You know, one thing that I found has been really effective storytelling. So when I talked about and that's what I've been using my platform for because when I tell people stories about maybe, let's say postpartum depression and somebody will identify with anyone, like, Wait, I was going through that, too. So sometimes when people identify with a story or on anecdote something that you might do with a patient, I noticed that that helps people to kind of feel a little bit more, and I hate to use the word normal, but they make them feel like they're not an oddball and like they're dealing with something that other people are dealing with. And honestly, the seeing other people get treatment is what is what usually encourages somebody so often not get brand new patients. And they'll say, Well, you know, my best friend at work came in and and she started on an SS awry and it's changed her life, so I would just wanted if I needed one. So, you know, we really do influence on each other and with by having people around you who seek treatment that encourages us, but also just educating. Ah, lot of people don't seek shoot because they don't fully understand. They might not even know what they're going through A depressive episode.

spk_0:   7:49
And that's another thing we spoke about recently to with another therapy is in sharing our own stories. You mentioned in the very beginning that culturally you see some of this too, you know, especially in our communities of color. Yeah.

spk_1:   8:05
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And you and I are both West Indian, so you know what's even more serious? You know, it's like when I first said I was going to psychiatry is just like, Wait, Woods. Yeah. You're not gonna be a surgeon. You wanna work with mad people as like, See, this is this is why we have to work on you. Um, but yeah, it's just something with people of color, and it's just, I think, just generational. And but the one thing that I really like about our current generation is the millennials are speaking up about their symptoms, and they're using social media to talk about anxiety or talk about Oh CD or talk about really anything or dealing with substance abuse issues. And by using that platform of social media, people are once again learning about it. But they're also learning about the options for treatment. So I really have to give kudos to the millennials because I know a lot of times this generation gets a hard time. I want to give you guys a kudos because you guys are coming to the coming to treatment and you have no problems. You make your appointments. You're like I need to see a therapist. I am just so I'm just like it's so interesting because I have millennials. We're now convincing their parents yes to go because they're seeing how well their Children are doing and arguably, you know, a lot of time. Just genetic. A lot of time to suss that runs in families. And the parents are like, Oh, well, maybe I should go get looked at. Yeah. So what was it I start to give? I have to give a shout out to death.

spk_0:   9:26
I love that you did that that, you know, I am quite open with my friends, my family, everyone that I am actually in therapy. I ended up in there because I got really burned out in my first year of practice. You know, I think going from her absolutely the first year practice, you know, there's so many things I don't know about the clinical aspect of medicine As an attending physician, you know the demands of practice and productivity. And, you know, it's not residency. You have your friends to your left and your right, you know, it's you. The decisions are yours to be made, you know, dealing with administration. And it really I just wasn't I wasn't doing well and it made me sad because I was like, Is this what I spent my entire life and now working to get? Is this it like, is this really it? And I spoke to use someone who was in a similar position, and she actually said to me, Have you gone to therapy? And I just couldn't make the connection between, like, epic, annoying the living daylights out of me and me being a clock at night charting and

spk_1:   10:27
you're not a look Gotta love epic.

spk_0:   10:29
Gotta love it, right? So for those not medical, that's the electronic medical system that a lot of

spk_1:   10:35
it sze torture. No, no, I'm just getting know it is really torture,

spk_0:   10:39
But you know, she said to me, she said, Have you ever tried therapy? And I just didn't get it, you know, just like e m r. I don't know my stress therapy, but going to therapy was amazing. It helped me to do to really big things that I used to kind of promote to my friends and my family. One, it helped me to set boundaries. Oh, wow. Warrior, which was huge because as a new doc, I think I was working so hard to like prove myself and I can keep up with everyone, and I know everything. Everyone else I know that's not the reality, you know. And the thing

spk_1:   11:09
is with first year attendings. They know that you're green, you know, They know that you have all this energy, so they're gonna push you as much as they can. You know, that's really, really important is something I see with first year residents. Oh, I mean, I'm first year attending all the

spk_0:   11:24
time. Oh, yeah. So I missed that memo, so I needed therapy to help me set the boundaries. And the second thing it helped me to you was to reframe my experience. Why was I there? Why it? I pursued this career. Why did I say yes to this offer and work in this community? And I want very valid reasons for having done that. And it really helped me to go back to those basics. So I encourage people to go there. You would never I would never think that therapy would have helped me to do those two things. But it did. And I'm in such a better space mentally because of that, you

spk_1:   11:59
know, honestly think everybody can benefit from therapy. I mean, I'm I'm just gonna throw that out there, and I'm not biased or anything, because I'm a therapist, but I really do think everybody can benefit from just being heard, because there's also something therapeutic about just talking about something out loud and kind of just going through your stressors and going through your struggles and just saying it out loud to another person that's therapeutic alone before they even respond to you. So I always say that it's just just try it. I I have all the times I see people not like therapy is if the therapist is not a right fit, and that's a whole nother podcast that we could talk about that. But, um, you know, or if they there's just something that they're not ready to face. So if there's a history of trauma and we have that's part of the therapy and I'm not ready to face that just yet, then that's fine. You know, therapy is something that you will you do voluntarily. And when you're ready

spk_0:   12:50
just going on from what we're talking about now, how can we encourage our friends and family to really pursue this? Because this is a major one that I've seen a lot of us who have seen the light. You know, we had a preaching to the choir. What are some other strategies we could use to get our family members and our friends on board if we know they really need help?

spk_1:   13:14
Exactly what you just did, saying You're the pledge, the results that you got with therapy. Like I said, if they see you doing it, that's the best way that you can get them. To do it is by seeing, because they're seeing the results. It's almost like a weight loss program. So my joys a weight loss program, they lose £30. You lost a lot of weight. Maybe I should do that. You know, that was the same thing. It's just it's just kind of the same analogy that where people are, really if they see you making progress and they know that they were in a similar places, you they'd want to make the same progress. So exactly what you're talking about just being up front and transparent about going to therapy and then just using any kind of platform that you have, whether it's social media or, you know, there's so many days like mental health awareness day therapy, I don't know, you know, there's a day for every pancakes day. There's a danger boy, but you know, just anytime there's something going on this therapy related, just talk about it and just make it part of the conversation. So I think the combination of talking about your own personal stories in addition to just using any kind of opportunity to educate about therapy and the fact that it works and and even just don't stress out there because a lot of people were surprised to hear like the staffs in terms of how many people will experience a depressive episode, you know, within their lifetime the stance once again it it helps. People could just like Okay, I'm not one in a 1,000,001 in 100 that makes a difference or one in 10 you know? So it's doing exactly what you're doing. Just continuing Thio be transparent about your experience with therapy, but also just using opportunities to talk about the benefits and educate people about it.

spk_0:   14:46
Definitely leave even mentioned here. You know, according to the World Health Organization, depression is now the number one cause of disability worldwide. You know that if you think about it, right,

spk_1:   14:59
right, and that's so huge because and actually I've been one of those doctors who have had to place patients on disability due to depression, and what happens is, unfortunately, they initially viewed as a weakness. They're like, Man, I should be able to beat this I said, Would you say this? If you have diabetes, you're in family practice. Would you say this if you had a broken leg? Oh, I should have been able to overcome this, Actually even needed to cast. No, it's not like that. It's same thing. It's an illness and suddenly we're going through. It's what we get sick and we need to get better. Doesn't matter that is coming from the brain or coming from the leg or coming from your blood sugars. It's all the same thing, and we just need to get better. So that's another thing that I tend to do A lot in My sessions is really just talking about the impact of mental health symptoms and debunking the myth that people think that their lesser symptoms compared to physical health

spk_0:   15:50
yes, that's a big one. Big, big, big one. So going on to another topic of therapists. So you are a psychiatrist. Will did resident completed your residency training and now working as a psychiatrist, we mentioned a website that people could use to find mental health professionals. And one of the questions I got as a feedback was that the majority of mental health professionals you're finding worst social workers. And, um, my therapist is a social worker who I think is phenomenal and is trained well and does an incredible job. But there was some apprehension there. I wanted to know if you could address that for us, if you'd mind.

spk_1:   16:37
You know, the thing is, with that I've been to a social workers, a therapist myself, as a psychiatrist. So I definitely think that social workers are in that group that we of therapists we can consider. The only reason I would tell somebody to not maybe go to specifically to like a psychologist or psychiatrist for their therapy is if there's something more needed than just therapy. So with a psychologist, if you need to do additional testing like if you need to do a d H D testing when you need to do specific um, specific techniques that only a psychologist might be board certified and then I would say okay, but psychiatry with me. A lot of people like the option. Were they able to do therapy and medication management within the same place? So very commonly of somebody seeing a social worker for therapy and the social worker is like, Okay, they're not getting much better or they weaken. Get even better with the addition of medication, it's just been wonderful. Thio toe. Have them. They refer directly to me, but without going to a psychiatrist for everything's on one stop shop. And I also must say that there's just less of us doing therapy. Unfortunately, because the powers that be and insurance reimbursement so it's not as easy to find. It's not so much that people don't want to do it. It's just there's not as many psychiatrists who do therapy these days compared to the portion of social workers. But, yeah, I went to one, so that's a stamp of approval.

spk_0:   18:01
Thank you. He's also, I think, to in areas where I work. Actually, there are no psychiatrists in the area that I worked at all. We only have social workers available. So I took that into account, too, when I gave her an answer. So I'll ensure she listens after this one. But, you know, without their assistance, there really would be in need in a lot of these more rural areas of the country where I am currently practicing

spk_1:   18:29
and that, you know, that's the thing that's so funny, because with everything going on right now, we've been really kind of forced into telehealth. But that's really gonna be a big part of us. Expanding our service is and being able Thio have patients who are in these rural areas because the likelihood of a psychiatrist setting a private practice in the middle of this is not It's not great, right? So with the whole idea of virtual therapy, we're gonna be able to kind of cut down a lot of the barriers of distance and really help a lot of underserved people. And where does that? You know most people, when they need medication, they go there. But they also come to you. You're the first person that they will go see. They'll go to, like, family practice, internal medicine or they're over G y n. If they want a psychiatrist is just not as easy. So I do think with the way telehealth is moving and the extra like pushing speed we've gotten these past two weeks. I think it'll help Thio brought in our reach in terms of being able to help people across the country.

spk_0:   19:23
That is so true. You just mentioned with telemedicine being pushed forward in the past, TV's even adjust our clinic appointments. So chronic disease management follow are also becoming virtual visits. How cool our clinic over, like, the past week and 1/2 when I got back from New York after everything with my grandma. My visits are telemedicine visits to talk about diabetes and talk about high blood pressure. So busy? Yep, Absolutely. This really is kind of the wave of the future. But Dr Metzger, thank you so much for joining. Oh, the day and this is amazing. Do you have any final pearls that you would like to leave with our millennials? Tough time? Um, rough patch. But how could we keep pressing

spk_1:   20:14
through? You know, it's something my grandmother said it to me all the time. This too shall pass. But how about you get a therapist to help it pass a little bit quicker?

spk_0:   20:27
Oh, my gosh. That was a good one. Yeah, that's

spk_1:   20:30
it. That's it. That's I leave it right there, My

spk_0:   20:32
girl, My job. I sure would like to tell us your instagram handles over a lot of awesome stuff, I'm

spk_1:   20:41
sure. Yeah. Thank you. Um, my instagram handle on my twitter handle all the same thing is Dion Metzger M d d I o N m e t z e r m d and my website where just the things that I've done and shows up in on if you ever wanna see clips and I also block about a lot of stuff is Dion Metzger MD once again dot com. And we also have a book that I wrote with my colleague, who's also my good friend from medical school. And it's called the modern trophy wife. And it's about to just balance and how professional women we are now the new trophy wife because we're balancing motherhood, marriage, professional lives and how basically had to thrive at home but also thrive in the board room.

spk_0:   21:24
Well, thank you very much. Everyone check that out. Yes, thank you all so much for joining me today on another episode of the millennial Hope podcast. Remember, though my goal is to share some valuable information and draw awareness to some important health issues. I encourage you to please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. I hope this information was beneficial. And if so, please subscribe and share with your friends. If you have any questions or comments, also feel free to reach out on instagram at your faith. Doctor friend. Thank you all. Thank you.