National Caregivers Day

February 17th is National Caregivers Day!

SIMEDHealth Psychologist, Dr. Bensadon discusses the physical and emotional toll it takes to be a caregiver. 





What defines a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who provides direct care to someone else. Types of care vary and often depend on the health status, condition, and needs of the care recipient. The United States health care system is generally an acute and sub-acute model even though our aging society has led to significant increases in chronic, incurable conditions. As a result, many Americans must self-manage their chronic conditions and this generally requires efforts from both patients and informal, non-professional/unpaid caregivers, who are often family members. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):


What are the challenges a caregiver faces?

Caregivers often face the same challenges as those for whom they provide care. Caregiver burden is a well-established concept that encapsulates these challenges. It can be broken down into objective and subjective burden. Objective burden is a measure of the amount of duties and tasks required in the caregiving role, while subjective burden is the degree to which the caregiver feels and perceives their role as burdensome. In truth, people vary in what they consider burdensome. What one person perceives as a burden another may perceive as a privilege.   

Why is self-care important for a caregiver?

Caregiving can be rewarding but can also be draining. Caregivers often perform duties which are not acknowledged by others. This lack of recognition can result in caregivers feeling they are in a thankless position. Perceived lack of appreciation for one’s efforts can accelerate frustration, deplete energy, and lead to emotional exhaustion, a core component of burnout. No one is immune to burnout. This applies to professional caregivers (e.g., doctors, nurses) and non-professional caregivers (family, friends) alike. Self-care can help caregivers preserve themselves and buffer burnout. Ultimately this can help caregivers remain in the caregiver role longer, and with fewer negative consequences. Care recipients and caregivers each have needs. Balance is vital. Without it, it is not uncommon for caregiver health to deteriorate more rapidly than the health of their care recipients.  

How can a caregiver support their mental health?

Fortunately, many of the challenging psychosocial realities of caregiving are amenable to psychological intervention. Caregivers need and can benefit from support just like anyone else. A key challenge, however, is caregivers often focus more on care recipients’ needs  than their own, and as a result may have difficulty prioritizing or even acknowledging their own needs. Caregivers often feel they cannot afford (emotionally, financially) to take the time to focus on themselves, and if they do, they often feel guilty about doing so.

What are some resources available for caregivers?

The National Alliance for Caregiving

Caregiver Action Network

Family Caregiver Alliance

National Alliance on Mental Illness


To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bensadon, click here.








Minority Mental Health with Markus Dietrich, LMHC

July is observed as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and we discussed these struggles with SIMEDHealth Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Markus Dietrich.


“Approximately 18% of US adults have a mental health diagnosis in any given year, 4% of the affected people have a severe mental illness.” [1] Mental illness does not discriminate by race or gender, even though prevalence of certain diagnoses varies.

Racial and ethnic minority communities face unique struggles regarding mental health problems.



1. What are the challenges racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental health illnesses?

Mental health problems still carry a stigma for some. There is a higher stigma regarding mental health in some racial and ethnic groups, making it harder to recognize and identify mental health illnesses. Even when problems are identified, minority communities can be disproportionally affected by certain barriers. Among those are uninsured or under insured accessing services provided in medical settings, capacity issues, waiting lists in publicly funded agencies and a general distrust in healthcare systems. On the provider side a significant issue is a lack of diversity, with 81% of providers being Caucasian. This lack of diversity can manifest in lack of cultural competence and language barriers, making it potentially more difficult for some to find providers they can relate to.   


2. Why do some people resist getting help for mental health illnesses?

Mental health issues are still less understood and for some carry a stigma compared to physical illness. Thanks in part to the media, famous entertainers, and influencers have been forthcoming with their own mental health and substance abuse problems; drawing attention to the importance of mental health.  Mental illness is not always evident, making it difficult for people to recognize it. When a person is ready for help, it is important that access to treatment is easy and timely.


3. What can one do to help someone struggling with mental health?

Be a friend, listen with the intent to understand, and avoid being judgmental. Showing judgment while someone is expressing their emotions can prevent them in the future from confiding in you. Showing someone support can be simply being a good listener, validating their emotions and letting them know they’re not alone, or helping them find resources and solutions.  


4. What are things one can do to boost their mental health?

Even though one might not experience a mental illness like depression or an anxiety disorder, most of us can improve our mental health. Ways to boost your mental health include good self- care, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and seeking and maintaining healthy relationships.


5. Any additional comments?

Taking care of your health includes physical and mental health. If you’re struggling and need help, reach out to appropriate specialists. Thanks to the wide variety of treatment options available today, most mental illnesses are treatable.



[1] Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations, American Psychiatric Association, 2017

Geriatric Mental Health Awareness with Dr. Benjamin Bensadon

We are excited to sit down with new SIMEDHealth Psychologist Dr. Benjamin Bensadon to discuss the mental health of older adults. Dr. Bensadon can see patients in our Gainesville location.




If you are unable to view this video, click here.

Quick Tips that Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

18.6% of Black adults, 16.3% of Latino adults, 13.9% of Asian adults, and 28.3% of American Indian and Alaskan Native adults are living with a mental health condition. LGBTQ+ individuals are two times more likely to have a mental health condition than straight and conforming adults. These communities not only struggle with access to resources but also struggle with the stigma that surrounds depression, anxiety, and other disorders. It's crucial that we help break that stigma, so here are five tips we discussed with Lady Lake psychologist Dr. Cathleen Civiello about what you can you to consciously and continuously improve on your mental health.

1) Write your stressful day down.

Sometimes the most significant stress relief is to get the stress out. Dr. Civiello suggests writing out your day in detail as opposed to ruminating about the experience and says it has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Whether it be handwriting or typing on the computer, even five minutes can make you feel better.

2) Go for a short walk.

Going outside, being exposed to sunlight and getting your mind off work or school for a couple of minutes can have a meaningful effect on your brain. When you're feeling sleepy, anxious, bored, or you want to be active, consider taking a ten-minute walk, and you may be surprised at how much it can affect your mood.

3) Keep an achievement and gratitude journal.

An achievement and gratitude journal is something that helps you reflect on your day and focus on the positive things you did. There are apps for your phone, specialized journals you can buy online, or you can just come up with prompts and questions yourself. Dr. Civiello says the important thing is to keep a positive mind frame.

4) Talk to someone you love.

When or if writing out your feelings doesn't make you feel better, talking to a family member, or close friend may. Call them on the phone or ask them to get coffee. Getting advice, encouragement, and support from someone you love and trust can be the thing you need to improve your day or week.

5) Get enough sleep.

Those with mental health problems are more inclined to have a sleep disorder or insomnia. Dr. Civiello talks about how sleep is essential for every aspect of life, but without quality sleep, our mental health can deteriorate rapidly. Make sure you are getting seven to eight hours a night, but if you're still waking up tired, it may be beneficial to make an appointment for a sleep study.


Living with a mental illness isn't easy, but you don't need to do it alone. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, or you want more advice for improving your mental health, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Civiello or one of our other psychologists.

We Need to Talk About Stress More Often

Stress is something we all experience throughout the course of our lives, but sometimes stress can get out of control and be an all-consuming feeling. As April is Stress Awareness Month, we talked to Dr. Bernie Marrero about what exactly stress is, and what we can do to help deal with it.

What does stress do to your brain?

Stress causes a fight or flight reactions which can cause an increase in heart rate, an increase of adrenaline, and heightened senses. After the stressful event is over, there is a release of a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol is a chemical that is responsible for many things throughout the body including calming the body down after a stressful event. The problem comes in when you are too stressed too often and your body creates too much cortisol. This overabundance of cortisol can wear down the brain’s ability to function at full capacity.

What are some manifestations of sleep that people don’t realize but should?

Sleep. Dr. Marrero stresses the significance of sleep and how much stress can change your sleep. He says, “Not being able to sleep at all or well, onset insomnia, racing thoughts before sleep, fitful sleep, and maintenance insomnia earlier than usual” can all be signs that your stress is much worse than you think. Along with that with the lack of good, quality sleep can make it harder to take on the day and feel motivated. All these feelings can, in turn, lead to more stress.

Stress is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” is this true?

It can be, Dr. Marrero says. Stress can affect every aspect of your body from your cardiovascular system to your immune system. This repeated or chronic stress can manifest into certain problems that can affect your overall quality of life. If you let stress get out of control, there is a risk of it becoming that silent killer.

Can anyone ever really run away from their stress?

There is no “running away” from stress, but there is a way to determine the good stress from the bad stress which can help you control it instead of running away. Good stress or Eustress, keeps us motivated, alert, and challenged. Dr. Marrero says,” Without it, we can’t succeed at big challenges, or move towards growing personally.” The opposite is distress, which bad stress. Distress is overwhelming and we view it as something we will never be able to get over. When we have distress, we view ourselves as small and incapable. Recognizing the differences in stress can help you deal with the stress at hand.

What are some ways to cope with chronic stress?

Dr. Marrero says, is to recognize how stress affects you. What are your triggers? When those are revealed, you can start moving towards coping with it. Coping methods include different types of strategies and distractions like slow diaphragmatic breathing and taking a walk around the block.  There are also counterproductive strategies that will only make your stress work like drinking alcohol and doing drugs.

How does Dr. Marrero treat patients with anxiety or chronic stress?

He says he works with the patient to recognize what is reality and what is perception during these moments of high stress. It is important to take the irrational beliefs and try to transform them into a true perception of reality. Stress is an emotional and physical reaction, creating ways to work through that emotional reaction can help cease that physical reaction.

If you feel like you have anxiety that you can’t control, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marrero today!