As a company doctor, I often see employees suffering from anxiety and depression or those who simply feel frustrated or stressed by work.
Some need to see their GP for treatment or support. For others with mild symptoms, alternative approaches can help the progress back to normality.
I encourage patients who like exercise to increase their activity levels. Exercise is a stimulus for the mind and acts as a mental distraction. The other two areas I focus on are hobbies and humour.
If you are feeling down and disinterested, then pushing yourself to restart a hobby is a positive step.
For example, if you play a musical instrument, then dig out sheet music and sit down with the instrument and start to play.
To begin with, just spend 5-10 minutes, but do it each day. I hear patients say that they have lost the ability; however, the “trying” is the therapy.
As you start to recognise the songs, the spirits are lifted. The same applies to hobbies like model making, carpentry, pottery or any other practical hobby. Make the effort, no matter how hard, little by little.
Another treatment with no side effects is laughter. I recommend patients buy a comedy DVD or CD. Just as an ice breaker splits what would be considered impenetrable ice, so laughter can crack the barrier to recovery.
Listen or watch a good comedian. Once you start to “titter” and the tears run down your cheeks from laughing, you are on the road to recovery.
Being able to laugh is also a coping strategy. Here are some quotes taken from doctors notes.
The lesson here is not to look at what was intended, but simply to recognise that when writing we can unintentionally create something which can lift another’s mood.
- Bleeding started in the rectal area and continued all the way to Los Angeles.
- Discharge status: Alive but without permission.
- I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
- On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared.
- Patient arrived by avalanche.
- Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
- Patient was alert and unresponsive.
- Patient was released to outpatient department without dressing.
- Road Traffic Accident, back seat driver.
- She has had no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
- She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.
- The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
- The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1983.
- The patient left the hospital feeling much better except for the original complaints.
- The patient lives at home with his mother, father, and pet turtle, who is presently enrolled in day care three times a week.
- The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stockbroker instead.
- While in the emergency room, she was examined, X rated and sent home.
Dr Bill Freeland is medical director of medical services at International SOS/Abermed