“We are in this together.” These words are resounding throughout Colorado Springs this month in honor of mental health awareness. Kaiser Permanente is working closely with patients and the community to break the silence about depression, with the national initiative #FindYourWords. Stop by Cottonwood Center for the Arts to see the beautiful mural designed by Mike Fudge displaying an essential reminder to all that no one is ever alone in their struggle with depression and that, indeed, “We are in this together.”
About one in five adults experience a mental health condition every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders, to name a few. Sometimes the best place to “find your words,” and open up an honest and compassionate dialogue is with a close friend or family member, or even with your doctor.
Jena Reichelt, MD, is a family medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente’s Parkside Medical Offices and she works closely with her patients who are experiencing depression or anxiety. She screens patients annually with a depression and anxiety questionnaire, and presents a variety of solutions to restore mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
She pointed out the following common signs and symptoms of depression for individuals and families to be aware of:
- Feeling sad, blue, tearful, hopeless, guilty, anxious or irritable
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Fatigue and low energy
- Problems concentrating, focusing, making decisions or remembering
- Loss of pleasure in activities you usually enjoy
- Feeling life isn’t worth living or having thoughts of death or suicide
“Once a patient is diagnosed with depression or anxiety, they will have a follow-up phone visit with a nurse to can check symptoms and see how the patient is responding to medication, if prescribed,” said Reichelt. “This can continue for several months and I also routinely check in with those patients pretty closely either every two weeks or every month.” In addition, Reichelt refers patients to therapists to learn biofeedback techniques or cognitive behavioral therapy; or even suggests at-home guided meditation programs to help minimize depression symptoms.
“One of our goals is to reduce the stigma of mental health issues,” said Reichelt. “Depression can be very isolating for people, and I think it’s important to come to together to reduce the incidence of depression and suicide in the community.” She shared that a community is only as strong as its weakest person, so it is imperative for everyone to come together as a whole and support each other. Additional resources for individuals or families experiencing depression can be found at FindYourWords.org.
Reichelt became involved with family medicine because she loves to build a relationship with each and every patient. She sees a range of patients, from children, to pregnant woman to seniors entering hospice care. “I like the variety and challenges that my profession presents, and that I never quite know what my day will look like,” she said. “I also really like spending time to get to know my patients, because I believe that they are much more than the disease they come in with.”
A Pueblo native, Reichelt relocated to Colorado Springs three years ago and has been with Kaiser Permanente for about 2.5 years. “I really like how Kaiser Permanente integrates as much care as possible to make it seamless for both the physician and the patient,” she said. “I also love their focus on prevention, and their efforts to try to keep someone from getting a disease that will impact them later in life.” She also works with medical students at the Colorado Springs branch of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. “Imparting knowledge on the medical students I work with brings me a lot of joy, and it’s an honor and privilege to watch students’ progress from their first year to the time they graduate.”
In addition to forging meaningful patient relationships and assisting students locally, Reichelt is a Board Member for the Pikes Peak Children’s Museum, which is currently in the process of raising funds and public awareness to make the museum a reality. On her free time, she can be found with her three young kids and husband hiking and exploring this beautiful state.
Jena Reichelt, MD is currently accepting new patients.
- Jena Reichelt, MD, is located at 215 S. Parkside Dr., Colorado Springs and with the state’s largest physician group—the Colorado Permanente Medical Group—which serves the 680,000 members of Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. To learn more about how Kaiser Permanente can help your family thrive, visit kp.org or call 1-888-681-7878. For mental health resources, visit FindYourWords.org.