Community Healthcare Network

What are antidepressants?

Antidepressants are a type of medication that can assist individuals with depression. These medicines are specifically designed to provide help and relief to those who are going through this mental health condition.

Will the medicine make me ignore or forget my problems?

Antidepressants don’t cause memory loss or make you forget your problems. However, depression can make you feel tired, lacking the energy to cope with your challenges. The main purpose is to improve your well-being, restoring your energy levels and enabling you to better address your problems. They help you feel better, giving you the necessary strength to handle the difficulties associated with depression.

Will antidepressants change my personality?

Antidepressants are helpful in making you feel more like your usual self. They won’t alter your personality. Occasionally, the pills can cause a decrease in interest or enjoyment in activities. If you experience this, it’s crucial to promptly communicate with your doctor. They can assist you by switching you to a different type of pills that may better suit your needs and address any concerns you may have.

Can I get addicted to antidepressants?

Antidepressants are not addictive, but your body can become accustomed to them over time. If you suddenly stop taking them, you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or dizziness. It’s important to have a conversation with your doctor before you stop taking your antidepressant medication. They can provide guidance and support to help you safely manage any potential withdrawal symptoms.

If I start to take antidepressants, will I have to take them for the rest of my life?

In general, most individuals only need to take antidepressants for a period of 6 to 9 months. Once you start feeling better, you should speak with your doctor to understand if it’s appropriate to stop taking the medication. However, it’s important to note that some people may require a longer duration of treatment beyond the 9-month timeframe. The decision to continue or discontinue the medicine should be made in consultation with your doctor, considering your specific situation and progress.

``I’m worried that taking antidepressants means I’m weak.``

Depression is an illness, similar to conditions like high blood sugar or high blood pressure. Just as it takes strength to address those health concerns, taking antidepressants when necessary is a sign of strength. It shows that you are actively taking care of yourself. By recognizing the need for antidepressants and seeking help, you are taking an important step towards managing your mental health and overall well-being. Remember, seeking support and treatment is a courageous act that demonstrates self-care.

Will antidepressants make me gain weight?

When it comes to weight changes and antidepressants, it can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience weight gain while taking antidepressants, while others may actually lose weight. If you have concerns about your weight and its connection to your medication, it’s important to have an open discussion with your doctor. They can provide guidance, address your worries, and explore potential strategies to manage any weight-related issues. Your doctor is the best resource to help you navigate this aspect of your treatment and ensure your overall well-being.


Will antidepressants ruin my sex life?

Some antidepressants can make it harder to feel turned on. However, it’s important to note that depression itself can also lead to a decreased desire for sex. Interestingly, many individuals discover that their sex lives actually improve when they start taking antidepressants. If you find that your medication is causing challenges with sexual function, it’s essential to have an open conversation with your doctor. They can provide guidance, explore potential solutions, and adjust your medication if necessary to ensure that your treatment does not negatively affect your sexual well-being.

Do antidepressants raise my risk of suicide?

For people younger than 25 years old, antidepressants may raise your risk of suicide. If you start to have thoughts about hurting yourself or ending your life, talk to your doctor right away.

``I tried one antidepressant and it didn’t work for me.``

It may take 4 to 6 weeks for an antidepressant to start working. Also, lots of people have to try different pills before they find one that works for them.

Learn more about antidepressants when you meet with our mental health professional.

By Wellness Team

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to the change in the seasons. Many people start to have symptoms of SAD in the late Fall when there is less sunlight and the days are shorter. Symptoms of SAD include low energy, changes in appetite (hunger), trouble sleeping, and loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy.

Try these tips to help ease SAD symptoms:

  • Stay Active. When it’s cold outside, it can be hard to get out and exercise. Look for enjoyable indoor activities that keep your body moving and release feel-good brain chemicals like dance, yoga, or swimming. Search YouTube for a free workout video that excites you. Set up an area in your home with floor space to exercise! Or, if you like exercising with other people, check out free classes at Community Healthcare Network! See our schedule here.
  • Make Social Plans. Fight the urge to hibernate this winter. Connecting with friends is a great way to boost your mood and keep you feeling motivated. Set up a weekly game-night, start a book club, or meet up for a warm cup of hot chocolate.
  • Try Light Therapy (also known as phototherapy). Light therapy affects brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, which ease the symptoms of SAD. During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off a bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Talk to your doctor if you think a light box might be a good option for you.


If you are feeling sad this winter, you are not alone. Luckily, before you know it winter will be over! If symptoms continue beyond the winter season, talk to your doctor about more treatment options.

By: Dr. Sharon Griffith, Director of Women’s Health Services

One of the factors that directly affects our mental health is a history of or ongoing individual trauma. Individual trauma results from “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

May is Mental Health Awareness month, and is therefore a good time to learn more about how a history of trauma or ongoing trauma can affect all our mental wellbeing and that of many persons we serve in our health centers across CHN.

So, let’s talk about Intimate Partner Violence as a source of traumaIntimate Partner Violence (IPV) is violence or aggression that occurs in a close relationship. The term IPV includes four main types of behaviors: physical violence; sexual violence; psychological aggression and stalking.

IPV is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that may include physical injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive isolation, stalking, deprivation, intimidation, and threats. This kind of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require intimacy. An “intimate partner” may be a current or former spouse, lover or dating partner.

IPV is very common. It affects millions of people in the US every year. Nearly 1 in every 4 adult women and 1 in 7 adult men report having experienced IPV. Imagine then, that in our CHN waiting rooms, one of every four women sitting there may have been a victim of IPV and one in every seven men there may have been a victim of IPV. Many of us might automatically think of IPV only as domestic abuse or violence, such as when an intimate partner is physically or verbally violent, or rape or sexual assault by a partner, spouse or date. But, as noted above, IPV can take many forms, so we must be vigilant and on the lookout for subtle signs or symptoms of IPV.

Let’s talk about physical violence. Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking or using another type of physical force. Some pregnant women experience physical violence for the first time during pregnancy or an increased frequency of violent acts while pregnant. Some women experience physical violence after disclosing a new pregnancy to a partner.

Here are some facts: women with unwanted pregnancies are 4 times more likely to experience physical violence by a partner or husband than women with intended pregnancies. Women presenting for a third or subsequent abortion were more than 2.5 times as likely as those seeking a first abortion to report a history of physical abuse by a male partner or a history of sexual abuse. Some women may be struck in the abdomen or threatened with harm to their abdomen during pregnancy. Adolescent mothers who experience physical partner abuse within three months after delivery were nearly twice as likely to have a repeat pregnancy within 24 months.

At pregnancy testing visits, ask patients if they can make decisions about their pregnancy and birth control without any threats or fear from a partner. Who makes these decisions in your relationship? Would you feel afraid to tell your partner the results? Would you feel pressured to have an abortion if you didn’t want to? Would you be afraid of violence or harm if you told your partner you wanted to have an abortion?


At a pregnancy test visit you might ask- Are you feeling pressured to be pregnant? If the test is positive, would you be happy with the result? Would you be pressured to continue the pregnancy if you didn’t want to?

There is a high correlation between STI/HIV infections and abusive relationships.

Questions we can ask at STI screening visits, might be: Do you feel pressure from your partner to not wear a condom? Are you afraid to ask your partner to wear a condom? Does he ever get mad at you for asking? Are you afraid of how your partner may react to the news of the positive STI?

As healthcare providers we have an essential role in violence and psychological trauma prevention by discussing healthy, consensual, and safe relationships with all patients and screening patients where they are in our safe centers. We have resources available to all staff and patients at CHN who may be victims may be or at risk of IPV.

Our social work colleagues, health educators and mental health providers are a great resource for answers and support for victims of IPV and IPV induced trauma.

Feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is the ancient Chinese practice of arranging your personal space in a way that promotes positive energy. The idea is that the placement of objects in your personal space can affect your mood and motivation, foster creativity, and calm the flow of energy. Feng shui can also be applied to your workspace. You may not be able to change everything in your workspace to reflect feng shui guidelines, but try to follow as many as you can listed below:

  1. Remove clutter. Organize unfinished projects or tasks in a folder, drawer, or cabinet. Store extra office supplies like pens and post-its in a drawer. Only keep things that you use every day out on your desk to help you focus on the task in front of you.
  2. Stay organized. Organize things by date, color, label, or another way that works for you! You can even use this technique with your files, bookshelves, or food pantry at home. Do your best to put things back in their assigned place after each time you use them.
  3. Position yourself with purpose. Sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat on the ground. Maintain good posture to exude confidence and create a positive space for you and others. Throughout the day, take small breaks from sitting to reduce stress and maintain focus.
  4. Keep it personal. So often we can become overwhelmed at work. Keep things that make you happy on or near your work space. Add artwork and personal items. Display a picture of your loved ones or a picture of the beach. Make sure the images are uplifting. Bonus points for images that support your career path in some way. Adding a personal touch helps you feel like what you’re working on has purpose! Rotate your items from time to time to spice things up.
  5. Simple is best. If you have nothing to put in a certain part of your desk, keep the space clear. Less clutter will help you concentrate and keep a clear mind.

Mindfulness is a tool that you can use to know about your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Practicing mindfulness can help you feel relaxed, creative, and focused. People talk about mindfulness and being more mindful, but what does it look like and how do you do it?

Mindfulness IS:

    • Being fully there and aware of what you are doing, thinking, and feeling.
    • Taking short pauses throughout your day when doing your daily motions. This will help you take a step back from what you are doing, to see the big picture and refocus.
    • Using all of your senses (hear, see, touch, smell, and taste) to enjoy and take in each moment.
    • Cleansing your mind and getting rid of the clutter.


Mindfulness is NOT:

    • Getting stressed or overwhelmed by what is going on around you or by things out of your control.
    • Letting your mind wander while you do a task (even while walking) or while listening to someone talk.
    • Clearing your mind or thinking of nothing.


Try these mindfulness exercises next time you:

  • Go to a park. Close your eyes. Notice the sounds around you. Are there children playing? Can you hear wind rustling through the trees? Are there footsteps walking past you? What do you smell? Is the air warm or cold? Is the air dry or moist?
  • Eat dinner. As you gather food on your fork, notice how much you are taking. Is your fork full, not full enough, or just right? Take a bite. Notice the taste of your food. Is it sweet? Is it salty? Is it full of flavor? What is the texture of your food? Creamy? Chewy? Crunchy? Notice how your jaw and mouth moves as you chew each bite.
  • Crawl into bed. Turn the lights off. Take slow deep breaths and listen to your breathing. Notice the air in your room. Do a full body scan. How do your feet feel? Are they warm, cold, achy? Notice how your legs feel. Notice how your knees and hips feel. Notice how your back feels. Is it comfortable? Is it sore? How do your arms and hands feel? How do your covers feel? Are they smooth? Are they silky? How does your head feel on your pillow? When you feel your mind start to wander, listen to your breathing again.

As we get older, this can lead to memory loss, trouble with problem-solving, and having trouble understanding. But don’t worry! There are many ways to keep your brain healthy as you age. Try these brain-boosting acts each day to keep your brain healthy and strong.

  1. Read. Try a book, magazine, newspaper or blog! Reading is one of the best things to do for your brain. You will learn new words and make your reading skills better. Try joining a book club to learn from others and meet new friends.
  2. Take a break from TV. Most American adults watch 35 hours of TV a week. That’s not good for your brain! Lower your TV time and do brain-boosting acts instead. Try a puzzle to make your problem-solving skills better
  3. Workout. It makes you better at learning and helps you focus. Working out also makes new brain cells which keeps your brain healthier for longer. The more you move the better! Workout 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes each day.
  4. Eat well. The food you eat has a strong impact on your brain and your mood. Eat fruits and veggies each day to support a healthy brain.
  5. Lower stress. Stress can make it hard to think clearly. Help your brain rest and recharge. Try simple breathing exercises and sleeping 7-8 hours each night.
  6. Branch out and learn something new each day. Spend time with people who have different interests and hobbies than you. Learn new ideas and talk about new topics. It can be a fun fact, a new recipe, or a new language. Learning can help you see things in new ways and keep your mind strong as you age!


To learn more about wellness, talk to the Wellness Department at Community Healthcare Network at (212) 432-8494 or [email protected].

Stephanie Rooker, Sound Healing Instructor

The Medicine of Breath

Breath is our first and most basic medicine. How can breath be medicine, you ask? Because breathing, all by itself, can ease symptoms of many health issues. It can help with anxiety, depression, insomnia (trouble sleeping), post-traumatic stress (PTS), and attention deficit disorder (ADD), among others. Your breath can relieve health problems because so many of them are worsened or even caused by stress. Ancient traditions of yoga and meditation as well as modern-day research agree that controlled breathing helps with stress. Your breath lets you change your stress level and improve your health!

How does it work?

Breathing can help to nourish and restore your whole body. The air you breathe in fuels your body. The air you breathe out let’s go of waste from your body. This is a huge help! Your breath also acts as the undercover conductor of how your body works.

Your lungs and heart work together to give your body oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. They must stay in sync. Our breath reacts to our hearts’ needs. For example, when you exercise or become excited or nervous, your heart rate goes up. You may notice that you start to breathe faster. But your breath doesn’t always have to follow your heart. When you control your breath, you can change the pace of your heart rate.

You can also change your entire nervous system with controlled breathing. It can help with your digestion, how you process food, your immune system, how you fight off germs, and your state of mind. When you slow down your breath and focus on taking long breaths out, you calm your nerves. It helps your body and mind to relax. When you take short, quick breaths and focus on breathing in, your body and mind get stirred up.

Try it out!

You can practice with a technique called “1:2 breathing.” You will breathe out for twice as long as you breathe in. If you breathe in for a count of 2, then you will breathe out for a count of 4. Repeat this 10 times. As you get used to counts of 2 for breathing in and 4 for breathing out, you may want to raise the counts to 3 and 6 or even 4 and 8. This all depends on how fast you are counting!

Luckily, you breathe all the time, so you can practice anytime and at any place. Even if you don’t measure your breaths in 1:2 counting, taking a few deep breaths in and a few slow, long breaths out can make a world of difference!