When you’re in the forest, it’s hard to see the trees. Sometimes, our loved ones aren’t aware that their mental health has declined considerably, and they might not realize that they are in danger of hurting themselves or the people around them. In cases of an acute mental health crisis, patients must seek immediate care through an in-patient mental health hospital. But while the solution to a mental health problem is pretty clear, how do we know when to resort to admission? How should that decision be made, and who should be the one to make it?
Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems
Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia — we hear so much talk about mental health disorders these days that we think we can recognize it when we see it. But the truth is that in the course of daily life, it is easy to miss the warning signs. Not only are these indicators often buried in the complexity of an individual’s personality and circumstances, but they often appear gradually and tend to sneak in without much pomp.
Pay attention to the following red flags. Knowing when your loved ones are in serious mental distress and getting them immediate care will help avert a bigger crisis.
A Danger to Themselves or Others
Anyone who begins to harm themselves or those around them may exhibit mental distress symptoms. These self-harming behaviors could be as innocuous as pinching, slapping, and head banging or more alarming like cutting. If these behaviors extend beyond themselves and are inflicted on others, it clearly shows that this person needs help.
Suicidal Thoughts or Behaviors
If you’ve ever been privy to a loved one’s confession of suicidal thoughts, or if they in any way display self-harming behaviors that could potentially devolve into suicide, it’s time to sound the alarm and get them the help they need as soon as possible.
People dealing with mental health problems usually take themselves for granted. Mired in the darkness of a mental illness, self-care activities typically fall by the wayside, and daily activities that sustain life often grind to a halt. They stop eating, refuse to take medications, skip work or school, and often neglect to bathe or shower.
People who experience psychotic episodes tend to have difficulty telling the difference between what is real and imaginary. This can look like someone who hears sounds or sees people or objects that aren’t really there. Other times, it can manifest as paranoia or constant worrying about whether someone is trying to hurt them.
Another classic sign of a mental breakdown is insomnia. There is credible Harvard research showing that up to 80% of people with clinical depression, ADHD, or bipolar disorder struggle with sleep. Most cannot quiet their minds enough to rest, while others suffer from early morning awakenings. Many also report having recurring nightmares that disrupt the restorative function of sleep.
If you notice that a loved one’s moods have changed, are constantly changing, or do not change enough, it might be time to call in reinforcements. Most people who are eventually diagnosed with a mental disorder often experience these changes at the onset. Look for indicators like irritability, fraying relationships, and withdrawal from social situations.
Excessive and Irrational Fear
Panic attacks are a classic indicator of mental distress. This could result from struggling with debilitating fear, worry, or anxiety, all of which occur throughout daily life. However, if these things begin to hinder daily activities or decision-making, you should take them seriously as a call for help.
Physical Signs of Stress
When we struggle with something mentally, it can also physically show up in our bodies. Mental distress often manifests as muscle tension, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, constant fatigue, and worsening chronic medical conditions.
A Considerable Change in Behavior
Everyone has a special way of coping with different stressors in life. Some people go shopping, others enjoy a game, while a few might indulge in good food. These coping behaviors are healthy in moderation but become a problem when these behaviors become excessive and spiral out of control.
Struggling with Identity and Purpose
A clear sense of identity and purpose in life drives most people forward and helps them find healthy fulfillment in their daily activities. People who lack this sense of purpose may question their existence and self-worth. In turn, they deal with self-esteem issues, negative self-talk, and problems with body image.
Taking Steps Towards a Healthier Mind
Some struggling with mental illness can identify the problem and help themselves through therapy, support groups, education, and lifestyle changes. Nevertheless, it is not always that easy for everyone. Those who find themselves too deep in the debilitating darkness of a mental health crisis will need someone to pull them out to safety.
Suppose you see a loved one exhibiting most or all of these warning signs in the extreme. In that case, they could benefit from a mental health hospital. They can receive comprehensive medical care and professional help to help treat their mental health issues. Most hospitals can provide in-patient health treatment for a brief period – anywhere between several days to a few weeks. This may be a short-term solution, but it is a necessary first step toward better mental health, especially in emergencies.
Admitting your loved one to a mental health facility is a tough decision. While most people can and should make this choice themselves, state laws or mental capabilities can sometimes restrict the luxury of choosing. Either way, no matter how difficult, timely intervention may be exactly what saves our loved one’s life.
Let Us Help
Creekside Behavioral Health offers a range of inpatient and outpatient treatments for adolescents and adults. We are ready to listen and hear your story if you need to admit a loved one to a mental health hospital. Our professional staff is fully trained and prepared to offer mental health treatments so you or a loved one can have a happier, healthier life. Verify your insurance or contact us with any questions.
Help is available
Call us at 423-830-8114 for a free, confidential assessment.