Recognizing mental health issues
Taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health. However, while many people willingly make the trip to a doctor when experiencing a physical symptom, they are often embarrassed by issues with their mental health and will ignore symptoms or leave them untreated.
Getting over the stigma associated with mental illness is the first step toward treatment, recovery or learning to manage symptoms. Whether you suspect that you may suffer from a mental health issue or you see signs and symptoms in someone you love, it's important to confront the issue and take steps toward diagnosis and treatment.
Signs of Mental Health Issues
Mental illnesses have their own unique symptoms, but they can also have many symptoms and warning signs in common, such as:
- Change in mood. Conditions like depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are all characterized by mood changes. These changes may be subtle or severe, depending on the condition.
- Unusual behavior. Patients with conditions like Alzheimer's or dementia may exhibit odd behaviors like extreme absentmindedness, memory loss and confusion.
- Secretive behavior. Many mental illness sufferers attempt to cover up their condition through secretive behavior. For example, someone with an eating disorder may hide food, or a gambling addict may lie about their whereabouts if family members inquire.
Mental Health Services
For those who suffer from a diagnosed mental health illness, treatment options are available. Treatment generally starts with a doctor's visit, where he or she can work to diagnose the underlying cause of the symptoms and establish a treatment plan.
Depending on your diagnosis and the severity of your condition, treatment options may include any or all of the following:
- Mental health counseling. This should be provided by a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health counselor.
- Support groups. Support groups exist for many mental health issues and can play a critical role in treatment.
- Treatment facilities. Treatment facilities are often equipped to handle both the medical and the emotional sides of patient recovery, and they are generally staffed with both doctors and therapists.
From a financial perspective, most mental health care options are covered by insurance, which can help take the stress out of seeking treatment. Check with your insurance provider to find out what kind of mental health insurance coverage you have to help you pay for treatment.