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October 23, 2014

Pitt Benefits

FitnessForLifeIs It Depression or Just the Blues?

Everyone gets the blues. It really isn’t a big deal to feel sad or lonely on occasion, or to want to be by yourself. And certainly feelings of grief affect everyone at some time. Lacking the energy to be active can happen to anyone as well.

But sometimes what people are quick to dismiss as merely “a case of the blues” can be a sign of something more serious.

Depression — which affects an estimated 18 million Americans each year, the majority of them women — can start out looking and feeling like the blues, but is a much more serious condition.

When people just have the blues, they can usually bounce back in a day or less and get on with their lives. But major depression is an illness that keeps people from bouncing back and overcoming feelings of sadness. Treatment with both medication and counseling has been shown to have the best outcome for recovery.

Women are more prone to depression, as are the elderly and anyone with a chronic physical or mental illness, including thyroid disease, headaches, chronic pain and stroke. Certain medications, including those prescribed for asthma, high blood pressure, arthritis, high cholesterol and heart problems, also can cause depression.

Having five or more of the following symptoms for most of the day, almost every day for two weeks or more, may be a sign that you have some kind of depression. At that point, it is important that you see your doctor about getting help so that you can start feeling better. There is no blood or diagnostic test for depression. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and will ask you about your medical history. A physical exam and other tests can help rule out other causes.

Here Are Some Signs Of Depression:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiety, and/or emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Crying spells
  • Excessive feelings of guilt or self-blame
  • Irritability
  • Significant weight loss
  • Inability to sleep, or excessive sleeping
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness
  • Decreased motivation
  • Decreased concentration
  • Decreased energy
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Health Coaching

UPMC Health Plan health coaches can provide support, guidance and resources that will lay the foundation for long-term success. If you have trouble coping with stress, anxiety or depression, call a coach for completely confidential one-on-one support over the phone.

Health coaching is FREE for University of Pittsburgh faculty and staff members who have University-sponsored UPMC Health Plan coverage – it’s also free for their covered spouses/partners and adult dependents. Call 1-866/778-6073 for more information. Hours of operation are 7 am-8 pm Monday-Friday, and 8 am-3 pm on Saturday.


Layout 1LifeSolutions provides a broad range of services to help all faculty, staff and their household members balance their work life and home life, including face-to-face or telephonic assessment and support for depression, anxiety and other behavioral health concerns. The services are provided at no cost to you. Call 1-866/647-3432 for more information and speak to a LifeSolutions care manager.

Beating the Blues

Have you ever thought you’d like to boost your mood, feel more confident or feel less stressed and anxious? By learning some very useful skills through Beating the Blues US, you can actually change the way you feel about — and react to — the things that you may now find overwhelming or stressful. This eight-week online self-help program is available to all faculty and staff and their household members over the age of 18.

For more information on enrolling in the Beating the Blues US program, all UPMC Health Plan members can call 1-855/770-8762.

If you are not a UPMC Health Plan member, please call LifeSolutions at 1-866/647-3432 and ask to be enrolled in the Beating the Blues US program.

Medical Insurance Coverage While Away from Home

Persons covered by a University of Pittsburgh medical plan are covered 100 percent for urgent medical care and emergency services when traveling outside of the UPMC Health Plan service area.

Through UPMC Health Plan, University of Pittsburgh travelers are automatically eligible for Assist America services. Assist America services include emergency medical services such as help with hospital admissions, referrals to qualified physicians, and emergency medical evacuation.

It also includes assistance with pre-trip preparation such as advisement on required immunizations and location of medical facilities at your destination.

If you are traveling to an area where there are health concerns, you should contact Assist America at 1-800-872-1414 prior to your departure.

For more information regarding Assist America and their services, please visit

Important Vendor Contact Information

Benefits Department

Office hours: 8 am-5 pm EST, 320 Craig Hall

412-624-8160 (Main Line) • 412-624-3485 (Fax)

Please visit our web site,, for FAQs, downloadable forms and other benefits information.


UPMC Health Plan

1-888-499-6885  •


United Concordia  1-877-215-3616  •


Davis Vision  1-800-999-5431  •


TIAA-CREF  1-800-682-9139 •

Vanguard  1-800-523-1188 •

Flexible Spending Accounts






412-624-8070  •

Faculty Records


UPMC HealthPlan