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4 Signs It May Be Time To Seek Professional Mental Health Help

0 2 years ago

Stress, anxiety and feeling down are a part of everyday life, but if those emotions linger, it may be a sign of something more. While some negative feelings are to be expected with all that’s happening in the world, it’s important to distinguish between average mental strain and conditions that need professional treatment.

If you feel paralyzed by stress, can’t control your emotions, depression interferes with your ability to function or you notice these or similar symptoms in a loved one, it may be time to seek professional care. Learning to recognize the signs of a more serious condition may help you decide if it’s time to seek help.

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What Is Mental Health?

Mental health encompasses our emotions, thoughts and mental well-being. When someone has a mental health disorder, it can affect their thoughts and behavior, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While the terms are often mixed, “mental health and mental illness are not the same,” the CDC notes. “A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness.” Likewise, someone with a mental health disorder can experience “physical, mental and social well-being.” Mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and more.

Although there may be unwarranted stigma surrounding mental health issues, these conditions are more common than many believe; in 2019, 19% of U.S. adults met the criteria for mental health disorders, according to Mental Health America[1]. And more than half may be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point, notes the National Institutes of Health[2].

“Everyone has some level of anxiety, especially with the pandemic and with the way the world is right now,” says Manreet Kaur, a national certified counselor and clinical lead at Valley Youth House in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “It is important to know when to seek help.”

It can be difficult to tell whether your feelings are a typical response to the ups and downs of life or a more serious issue. Here are some of the key differences between manageable emotions and more serious mental health conditions.

4 Signs to Seek Professional Mental Help

1. Stress Is Too Much to Bear

Stress is a biological response to what your brain perceives as a threatening situation. Neurotransmitters within the brain activate the amygdala, which is responsible for the flight-or-fight response, notes Yale Medicine. Typical causes of stress include major life changes like a divorce or a medical diagnosis, work-related pressure or financial issues.

Stress is a part of life but prolonged periods of stress can lead to negative physical health effects such as a weakened immune system. “A person who is constantly stressed can suffer from consistent headaches, gastrointestinal issues and even muscle pain,” says Kaur. “Our bodies are usually first to tell us that something is wrong and we need to slow down to decrease our stress levels. It’s one of the reasons taking time to relax or meditate can be so helpful.”

If stress overtakes your life, or that of someone you know, it may make sense to see a psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed professional counselor, who could develop a treatment plan that works for your needs.

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