When should you seek professional mental health support?
Does your mood feel off but you don’t know how to shake it? You’re not alone. Some people display feelings of hopelessness differently than others, making it harder to diagnose. If everything is starting to feel like more of an effort, that may be a subtle hint it’s time to seek mental health support from a professional.
Many people are unknowingly experiencing less obvious mental health symptoms like prolonged sadness, withdrawal and hopelessness. The hallmark signs usually include anger, pessimism and tearfulness. Experts say self-awareness is key to ending silent suffering and discovering the heart of the issue and how to move forward.
“Depression or other mental illnesses don’t always show up in traditional ways,” explains Na Kita Butler, nurse practitioner of psychiatric mental health at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in North Fond du Lac, Wis. “Removing the curtain and exposing mental health struggles can have positive benefits on physical and mental well-being. Many people may not realize what stress cues are happening within their bodies or the root cause. This can cause a delay in treatment and healing.”
Deciphering whether you’re experiencing a natural stress response or navigating a more serious mental health concern can be challenging. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the greatest chance of restoring quality of life is by detecting early warning signs and following up with a mental health professional swiftly.
Here are a few common signs to look out for when deciding if professional help is needed:
- Sleep or appetite changes: Overeating, undereating or feeling sleep deprived.
- Mood changes: Rapid or dramatic shifts in emotion or greater irritability.
- Withdrawal: Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed or withdrawing socially from friends and family.
- Illogical thinking: Unusual or exaggerated beliefs and difficulty perceiving reality.
- Changes in relationships: Difficulties with peer and co-worker relationships.
- Decline in productivity: Reduced performance in the workplace.
- Physical health changes: More aches and pains than usual.
“Remaining transparent with yourself, getting active in the gym, eating nutritious foods and staying socially connected with loved ones are good tips to start with,” says Butler. “Whether you share your struggles with a friend, hair stylist, or neighbor, dare to be vulnerable and ask for help, and if you’re struggling with feelings of sadness for more than two weeks, reach out to a specialist.”
About the Author
Amber Thompson is a marketing graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. In her free time, Amber enjoys passion-filled projects including blogging and photography. Amber loves spending her free time reading journalistic columns, listening to motivational podcasts and discovering creative recipes to get her young son to eat his vegetables.