How to recognize when it is time to seek treatment for mental illness
Although both physical and mental illnesses are considered pathological, they are often very different. For starters, it is easy to recognize a physical illness such as a broken bone, intense chest pain signifying a heart attack or a cut that is bleeding. Many physical illnesses show visible signs. Mental illnesses, on the other hand, are diseases in the brain that are hidden, often causing a delay in seeking treatment.
Not only are mental conditions difficult to recognize, but a huge stigma often goes along with seeking help. To eliminate the stigma, improve understanding and encourage treatment, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sponsors September as National Recovery Month, so that individuals with mental illness will be less reluctant to seek help.
Mental illnesses, like physical illnesses, can be treated. Psychiatrists are specially trained medical doctors who prescribe medications and refer patients to therapy. Seeking help from a trained professional is confidential and always the right step.
Although a mental illness may be difficult to see on the outside, a series of questions to ask include:
- Has anything in your life dramatically changed in the last year or so?
- Have you noticed a change in your mood over time such that you are feeling sadder?
- Do you have so much energy that you cannot sit still?
- Are you having thoughts in your mind that you find disturbing and difficult to control?
- Are you having problems sleeping?
- Do you notice a change in your appetite?
- Do you no longer seek pleasure in the things you once enjoyed?
- Do you feel like you want to hurt yourself or someone else?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, seek help. Although professional help is the best resource, the stigma can deter people from seeking it. Talking these feelings out with friends or family, journaling, calling an anonymous mental health care line or even joining a support group may be alternative options. The important thing is to recognize these abnormal feelings and try to seek help in any way sooner rather than later, because serious problems can result from untreated mental illness.
If you or someone you know is battling an addiction, or a mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia or anxiety, Sovereign Health Group is a nationally known treatment group that can help find the road to recovery and a treatment for this disease. For more information, contact our 24/7 helpline at 888-530-4614.
By Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer