Featuring Dr. Megan Conoley
Medical Director for Clinician Experience
USMD Las Colinas, Irving, TX
In 2016, Dr. Megan Conoley was working full time, caring for three small children and supporting her husband, who was changing careers. She was burnt out and frazzled. She was suffering with bouts of clinical depression.
She sought help through counseling and began taking medication. Those, she says, were life changing for her. Eventually, she made changes to her career and overall direction. “Life ebbs and flows,” she says. “I really love what I’m doing now.”
Because of her own experience, Dr. Conoley has great empathy for those who struggle to seek help for mental illness. She is passionate about removing the negative stigma that surrounds having healthy conversations with your clinician about mental health issues.
According to Dr. Conoley, taking care of your mental health is extremely important because your mental health affects every other part of your life, including your physical health. Specifically, people with mental health issues have higher risk for certain diseases and death. Statistics from the CDC confirm that in 2018, 55.7 million patient visits listed mental disorders as the primary diagnosis.
Because she comes from a family history of depression, Dr. Conoley learned early to recognize the telltale signs of depression. Those include:
- Feeling down more days than not
- Not wanting to do things you normally do
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Altered thinking patterns
So what should you do if you, a friend or family member is depressed? Dr. Conoley says first, you should understand this is a real thing. “It’s not something you can just pull yourself through,” she says, adding there are multiple ways to treat depression, including medications, counseling and therapy, plus there is evidence that exercise works well, too. “Those treatments have the most evidence of success,” Dr. Conoley says.
The symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feeling more on edge
- Difficulty letting go of worries
- Feeling like your mind is racing
- Feeling panicked
You should seek medical help if:
- These symptoms last more than a couple of weeks
- The symptoms are impacting your ability to function the way you want to
- Your anxious feelings are getting worse
Most importantly, Dr. Conoley says you should know you are not alone and there is hope. “Mental illness is a real health issue and not a reflection of weakness. This is a medical illness just like heart disease or diabetes,” she says. “Medical illnesses need medical attention.”