Head checkups need to occur annually like physicals according to Bakersfield doctors

Doctors: Treat brain like other organs

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The next time you visit your doctor, you might want to ask to have your head checked out.

A recent study suggests everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get their annual physical.

Doctors said treat your brain just like any other organ. Which means have your mental health checked when you go in for your annual physical.

While you are getting your ear, heart, and lung checked, ask your doctor for a mental screening too.   Doctor Emmanuel Strategos is one doctor who currently does that during physical exams.

"Basically, we ask patients questions about their life situation, their job situation.," said Strategos.

Strategos said oftentimes, physical symptoms manifest from mental illness.  For example, fatigue.

"That's one that sometimes we can't find a physical reason for: fatigue. But when we ask questions about job situation their stress levels home situation we find things are going on affecting them mentally.  Which is subsequently affecting them physically."

If the doctor catches any red flags during the mental health screening, then he or she can refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist.  Mental Health America estimates 25 percent of American adults suffer from some form of mental illness every year, but many self medicate or cope with it for ten years before seeking treatment.

"Think about how easy it is to help somebody through giving them an antidepressant some counseling," said Doctor Jim Waterman.

County Mental Health Director Dr. Waterman said doing so can prevent depression, suicidal tendencies and substance abuse in the long run.

"Like any physical health condition, a mental health condition is more easily treated when you get it before it's really serious," added Waterman.

Many doctors already include a mental health screening, but if you notice your's hasn't, you can ask them to screen during your physical. 

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