Q: How do I know if I should seek help for my mental health problems?
A: A good place to start might be by considering how the problems may be impacting different areas of your life. For example, are you worrying so much that your ability to focus and concentrate at work or at home is affected? Is your sleep affected either by sleeping much more than usual, or consistently having a hard time falling or staying asleep or feeling rested after a night of sleep? How about mood? Is it consistently different from usual?
Another area to explore is energy and interest in activities. Has this been affected? Have you had any thoughts of self-harm or suicide? These are some of the key areas to consider when deciding whether or not to seek further help. In addition to these significant areas, consider whether any changes noted have been occurring for a couple days, a couple weeks, or longer. Have the problems resolved or decreased, but the changes above still remain? Also, how are these areas impacting life at home and in relationships, work, or other areas that are a part of your life? Do others notice any changes in you?
Help is available and a good place to start can be with a primary care physician. Medical conditions can be addressed, and further help can be recommended or arranged if needed. This could be a referral for mental health counseling. Counseling is available in many places, including clinics, schools, and churches, and can be received whether or not a person has insurance. Another excellent resource is NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). When in doubt, talk it over with someone. Ask for help in addressing the problems or symptoms so things do not get worse. You’ll be glad you did!
By Lisa Bredael, mental health therapist, ThedaCare Behavioral Health.