Medicare covers screening for depression, once a year, at no cost. Medicare also covers various other types of mental health services. A person on Medicare may feel depressed, particularly during the pandemic, when they have been less willing or able to engage in the usual social activities or spending time with loved ones.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression comes with a set of symptoms, which include:
- Constant feelings of sadness or guilt
- A loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Weight changes (gains or losses)
- Sleep difficulties, such as sleeping too much or trouble getting enough sleep
- Constant feelings of fatigue
- Difficulties concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
If you are concerned that you may be depressed, your Medicare Part B coverage will allow you to undergo a depression screening, but only from your primary care provider, not at an emergency room, skilled nursing care center, or a hospital. Once screened, you may be treated and could owe the cost of the treatment provided or the deductible.
You may not want to take a prescribed medication for depression and would like to find other options to help you elevate your mood. You have the right to have this screening at no cost if covered by Medicare, but you may be interested in a more natural option to treat feelings of depression.
- Sleep, a Natural Mood Elevator: If you do not get enough sleep, it can trigger feelings of depression, but getting enough healthy sleep can be problematic. Some tips to help you sleep at night include taking a walk before bed, ensuring your bedroom is dark and reading rather than watching TV or using any digital device before bed.
- Take a Walk: Exercise is important, at any age. Taking a walk can help turn around a low emotional state, even just a short walk around the neighborhood.
- Nutrition: In some cases, feelings of depression are made worse by a poor diet. Rather than filling up on the sweet, salty, or fatty foods that attract you, improve your diet – your body, and your mood will thank you.
- Reduce Your Caffeine Consumption: If you are a tea or coffee drinker, or often drink caffeine sodas, or chocolate, cutting back can help you sleep better and feel less stressed. Cut back on caffeine each day to get it down to a reasonable level, and do not consume any caffeine drinks afternoon.
- Vitamin D: Our bodies need vitamin D, and if you are deficient, it can play a role in feelings of depression. If you are not getting out enough to absorb the sun’s rays, a vitamin D supplement may be helpful.
- Natural Remedies: Various types of herbal remedies are available to elevate your mood and may be worth trying. These remedies could interact with medications, so speak with your doctor.
- Call a Friend: During the pandemic, you could be missing your friends and family. Create a schedule to call or video call the people you love so you keep the relationship strong when you cannot meet in person.
- The Spirit: Your church, synagogue, mosque or other religious groups can be powerful support during dark times, and many religious centers provide personal counseling.
- Avoid Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages have the side effect of depressing your mood. If you rely on alcohol to self-medicate, cut back your consumption slowly to avoid the withdrawal symptoms, which can worsen feelings of depression. Alcohol can have a negative impact on your body systems and cutting back is advised if you tend to over-indulge.
When the Condition is Serious
If you have suicidal thoughts, schedule your free Medicare depression screening from your doctor.
Have Questions About Medicare and Your Mental Health Coverage?
If you have questions about your Medicare coverage and are interested in finding a more affordable plan, or a plan with more coverage, contact our friendly local agents for assistance.