May 9, 2023

Arrow’s D&I Speaker Series: A Mental Health Awareness Conversation on Depression with Sandy McGatha and LaVerna Yarnell 

Category: D&I Series

Author: Michael Gutgsell

Sandy McGatha, a Clinical Social Worker with Arrow Senior Living, sat down with resident LaVerna Yarnell for a discussion on depression. Yarnell shared with transparency about the depression she experienced after health issues and the loss of her beloved husband of fifty-three years.  

Depression comes in a variety of degrees and can be chronic or triggered by situations or seasons. It can affect people in different ways, and not everyone who is depressed looks depressed. Depression is characterized by sadness, uncertainty, heaviness, grief, and lack of motivation. It is overwhelming and isolating to experience.  

But McGatha says it does not have to be a part of your normal life. “Don’t settle for depression,” she stressed.  

As with diabetes, there may not be a cure for depression, but there are treatments. McGatha and Yarnell discussed a variety of ways to stabilize your mood: Professional assistance through medication and therapy; exercise or sitting in the sun and being present in the moment. Focusing outward can help, too, through socialization or pets, as well as volunteering and helping other people. Find a purposeful activity to get you outside of your rut.   

While society has become generally more understanding about depression, there are still lingering misconceptions about it, such as it’s shameful to have it or to take medicine for it. Yarnell has heard people say things like: “Pull up your bootstraps and move on,” an attitude that isn’t effective when in the depths of depression and one that can make it difficult to talk about or seek help.  

The conversation was deeply personal and will likely resonate with anyone who has struggled with depression. If you are experiencing depression, McGatha encourages reaching out to a trusted friend, religious leader, general practitioner, or mental health professional for help.

Saint Charles, Missouri-based Arrow Senior Living manages a portfolio of communities that offer varying levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Each and every senior living community supports residents by focusing on dignity, respect, and quality of life. The programs and amenities offered are selected to provide only the highest standard of quality and comfort.

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