The national conversation surrounding depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders have helped fight the stigma of mental illness, but seniors can be hesitant to seek help. Despite progress being made, Medicare recipients can brush off symptoms of mental health issues. Unfortunately, symptoms can get worse and without a diagnosis from a physician, seniors can continue to suffer in silence. If you or a loved one are experiencing any signs of depression, talking to your doctor can be a great step toward feeling better.
The Signs of Depression
Many people wonder if they are simply having a bad week or if they should seek help to address mental health issues they may be experiencing. Some of the warning signs for mental health disorders can include:
- Noticeable and consistent changes in mood
- Lowered energy levels
- Changes in appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Obsessive or compulsive behavior
- Substance abuse
- Irritability, anger, or aggressive behavior
- Anti-social behavior
If you start to notice any of these changes, make an appointment with your physician to discuss your feelings. Mental health is as important as physical fitness. Don’t let negative feelings continue to affect your relationships, lifestyle, or activities.
How Medicare Can Help
If you have Medicare coverage, your Part B benefits include outpatient mental health services, including counseling with a physician, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, clinical nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant who accepts assignment. Outpatient mental health services will take place in a doctor’s office, hospital outpatient department, or community mental health center.
Outpatient mental health services covered by Medicare include:
- One depression screening each year at your physician’s office
- Individual and group therapy by licensed professionals available in your state
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Medication management
- Certain prescription drugs that are administered in a doctors office or hospital outpatient setting
- Yearly Wellness visit
If you have Original Medicare, you will likely pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount for the mental health service, and the Part B deductible applies. If your services take place in a hospital outpatient department, you may be responsible for a copayment or coinsurance. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are required to offer at least the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare, but many MA plans offer additional coverage. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, contact them directly for details regarding your costs.