Mental and emotional ups and downs can vary from person to person and even from one day to the next. That’s why it can be challenging to tell if you’re going through a temporary rough patch or something more significant that could indicate a need for professional help.
Whatever is troubling you, know that you don’t have to wait for your issues to worsen before reaching out for support. You can always benefit from talking to an experienced doctor or therapist about your mood, behavior, and feelings, especially when they are starting to affect your overall quality of life.
Mild vs. Severe Mental Health Symptoms
Mental health providers generally evaluate the severity of issues like anxiety and depression by asking questions about how long the symptoms have been happening, what triggers make them worse, and whether they impair your daily ability to function. For example, if you have an upcoming presentation at work, it makes sense that you’ll feel some stress and pressure to do well. But if you worry about it so excessively that you panic and call in sick to avoid attending the meeting, that could affect your career and livelihood.
It’s also crucial to factor in the context surrounding a mental health challenge. For instance, people who are sensitive to the Pacific Northwest’s fall and winter weather conditions may feel listless and unmotivated when it’s overcast and cold for several days in a row. In each case, it can be helpful to talk to a therapist and determine whether you are dealing with a temporary low mood or something more severe, like seasonal affective disorder.
Warning Signs of Mental Illness
The warning signs of mental illness can manifest in emotional, behavioral, and even physical symptoms like these:
- Erratic mood swings, including sadness, irritability, impulsiveness, and apathy
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
- Feeling fatigued no matter how much sleep you get
- Eating too much or too little
- Frequent headaches, stomachaches, or body aches
- Vertigo, lightheadedness, or dizziness
- Unpredictable panic attacks that include sweating, nausea, chest pains, crying, and trouble breathing
- Dissociation, or feelings of being disconnected from reality
When in Doubt, Seek Help
Sadly, many people who have lived with untreated mental health disorders for a long time begin to accept their symptoms as a normal part of life. Due to years of stigma and misunderstandings, others believe conditions like depression and PTSD are things they can push past by “toughing it out.” However, if you ignore these problems, they’ll only get worse in the long run, and can adversely affect your relationships, responsibilities, and overall health.
If you have any reason to worry that your mental health is suffering, don’t wait to ask for help. You can start the process by making a depression screening appointment with your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist. Be sure to choose a professional who is familiar with the cultural and social context that’s relevant to your experiences.
Everyone’s journey is different, but with someone to help you understand and validate your feelings, you can find an appropriate treatment plan that includes counseling and lifestyle changes. At Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, we offer outpatient mental health services at all our locations that allow you to receive discreet, expert care tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more.