How to know if you have a mental illness?

7:46 AM, Oct 02, 2019
7:46 AM, Oct 02, 2019

If you are experiencing mental illness, you are far from alone, as one out of every five people in the United States deals with mental illness every year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In Montana, mental health issues are of particular concern — Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services reports that the state consistently has one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Unfortunately, many people try to deal with mental illness alone. In fact, a whopping 50% of people with a mental illness do not seek treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If left untreated, mental illness can lead to an increase in risky behaviors, poor physical and emotional health and, in the worst cases, death.

Along with a persistent stigma, lack of awareness is a major reason why people do not treat mental health issues. As such, it’s critical to know the signs.

Many behaviors are not necessarily related to mental illness when taken by themselves. However, when several behaviors are combined and assessed over time, it’s time to seek professional help. Here are symptoms that the National Mental Health Alliance says indicate you may need help for your mental health:

· Extreme mood swings

· Excessive fear or worrying

· Extreme feelings of guilt

· Changes in hunger patterns, such as loss of appetite

· Excessive and extended sadness or lows

· Problems learning and concentrating

· Confused thinking

· Avoidance of and withdrawal from friends and social activities

· Difficulty relating to or understanding other people

· Prolonged or strong feelings of anger and irritability, including an increase in violent behavior

· Changes in sleeping habits, such as significant tiredness, problems sleeping, and low energy

· Abuse of substances like drugs and alcohol

· Delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, or other difficulties perceiving reality

· Changes in sex drive

· Inability to perceive changes in your personality, behavior, or feelings

· Inability to cope with stress, handle daily problems, or carry out daily activities

· Intense fear of weight gain or change of appearance

· Ongoing aches, pains, and physical ailments that do not seem to have a cause, such as headaches and stomachaches

· Suicidal thinking

Mental health symptoms in children could also include changes in school performance, hyperactive behavior, frequent nightmares, and excessive anxiety or aggression.

Where to get help

If you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of a mental health condition, it is important to seek care from a licensed professional as soon as possible.

Those who have thoughts of suicide and are in immediate crisis should call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or text “MT” to 741741, or go to their nearest Emergency Room for help.

For people who need other immediate treatment, Providence St. Patrick Hospital offers short-term, urgent mental health care. For long-term mental health care, Providence provides crisis management and stabilization services like psychotherapy, medication management, outpatient psychiatry, referrals to specialists, and other referrals.

Another service is TelePsychiatry, where patients in rural areas can “visit” their primary care clinic and get treatment from mental health professionals online. Providence bridges the gap between patients and community-based mental health services that can help them, so care is accessible for more people.

To contact Providence’s urgent mental health clinic, call 406-327-3034. For more information about services available to you, visit the Providence St. Patrick Hospital website

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