For total health, patients must take care of mind, body and spirit
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)
- See more at nami.org or www.findyourwords.org
May is Mental Health Month
Written By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente
It’s common for patients to see their doctors for physical checkups, but too often people avoid seeking care for their mental wellness.
About 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health condition every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders, to name a few.
The Alliance defines mental illness as conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feelings or mood, which may affect the ability to relate to others and function each day.
“Everyone deals with tough times in life. And, even positive events and changes can create stress,” said Dr. Abbie Miller, a licensed clinical psychologist with Kaiser Permanente Northern Colorado. “Many people do not recognize when stress turns into a diagnosable mental health condition.”
May is Mental Health Month, a time when healthcare professionals remind folks about the importance of mental health and wellness. At Kaiser Permanente, May 1 also marked the beginning of a new behavioral health campaign, “Find Your Words,” aimed at fighting the stigma surrounding mental health. The goal is to help people in need find the resources to help them through tough times.
“The earlier you seek help, the better,” Miller said. “So, don’t hesitate. If you are not feeling like yourself and suspect that you might be dealing with a mental health issue, get scheduled to meet with a professional to have this evaluated.”
Some common warning signs that indicate mental or behavioral health issues could be at play include irritability, prolonged sadness, feeling overly critical of oneself, irrational fears, loss of interest in activities that used to be fun, changes in sleeping and/or eating habits and thoughts of suicide. These are just a few of the symptoms people might experience.
Miller recommends to take stock of how you’re feeling emotionally and what you’re doing to take care of yourself. Monthly assessments should include asking yourself important questions about behavioral health.
“Make a self-care plan where you list things you will do each week to feel good and decrease stress,” she said. “Note what barriers might come up when following through with this plan and problem-solve how to avoid them.”
Miller said anyone with symptoms that are interfering with day-to-day functioning should seek help immediately. And, we all need to keep in mind that mental health issues are legally recognized as medical conditions.
“It is no different than diabetes, high blood pressure or any other medical diagnosis. Remind yourself of this,” she said. “Do not equate your mental health issue with weakness. Instead, get education about what you are dealing with and the tools to help yourself feel better.”
Like many medical conditions, untreated mental health issues tend to worsen over time, Miller said. If symptoms are minor in the beginning, they could escalate to a dangerous level.
“Keep in mind that early intervention is key,” she said. “We have good treatment and with early intervention, we can get the symptoms under control before they get out of control.”
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