Take Heed of These Signs of Mental Health Issues
Good mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act and determines how we handle stress, relate to family and friends, and make life choices.
An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness every year.
As we advance in age, mental health issues could escalate, including changes in your way of thinking, your mood and behavior and the way you process information. Many factors contribute to declining mental health problems including biological factors, like heredity and chemical imbalances or trauma.
What are the Warning Signs of Deteriorating Mental Health?
As with any illness, early detection is vital. Experiencing one or more of the following behaviors or feelings can be detectable signs of pending mental health issues.
- Constantly low on energy
- Eating or sleeping too little or too much
- Shying away from people and activities
- Constantly feeling like nothing matters anymore
- Inability to take care of yourself or others and can’t perform simple daily tasks
- Suffering from unexplained aches and pains
- Constantly overcome with the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
- Suddenly confused, forgetful, angry, upset, worried, or scared but are not sure of the exact reason for these feelings
- Drinking, smoking or abusing drugs more than usual
- Constantly having negative thoughts and memories that you’re unable to forget
- Hearing voices and believing they’re real
- Ideation of harming yourself or others on a frequent basis
- Unusually high energy levels coupled with little or no sleep and no feelings of fatigue
How to Talk About Mental Health
If you aren’t sure how to bring up the topic of your mental health with family or friends, here are a few ways to get started:
- Ask to meet with a loved one in private and plan to spend a good amount of time explaining the situation.
- Start with a text if a face-to-face talk is too intimidating. It could be a simple message requesting a time to talk.
- Do research online for info that might help explain to others what you’re going through. Print it and bring it for the talk.
- Think about how your loved one could support you and ask for what you need.
- Take a free mental health screening at mhascreening.org and bring those results along as well.
While friends and family may be supportive as you are going through a difficult time, sometimes professional help is necessary and will lead to a resolution of the issues that are bothering you, as well as management of your symptoms as you heal. Also, if you don’t feel comfortable discussing your situation with members of your immediate family or close friends, a therapist offers a safe, nonjudgmental environment to work through the things that are bothering you. Many people find that working through the underlying causes of their depression and anxiety results in personal growth and a fresh appreciation of life. A therapist can also help you develop a game plan for talking with your family and friends about the ways that they can support you. Joining a support group and being with others who are experiencing the same issues that you are facing can also be very helpful.
If you are facing mental health challenges, it is important to realize that you are not alone. Mental health issues are a medical issue, not a sign of weakness. If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is help available. Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist or contact your Local MHA Affiliate, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Consult this helpful blog series for more information on common mental health conditions, warning signs and treatment options, and how to help yourself or a friend struggling with mental illness. Help is available!
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