7 Signs You May Need Mental Health Treatment and Where to Get It
It’s more normal than ever to openly discuss your mental health. But while you know it’s normal to feel a little off here and there, where is the line between needing to take a mental health day and seeking out treatment?
The best way to determine whether one needs mental health treatment is by talking to a professional. Mental health professionals can provide insight into the types of services one needs based on their symptoms. However, there are a few warning signs that can indicate if a person should consider seeking mental health diagnosis and treatment in the first place.
Here are the 7 signs you may need mental health treatment, and where to get it.
1. Excessive Paranoia or Anxiety
Everyone gets anxiety sometimes; it’s an emotion that keeps us away from troubling situations or behaviors. However, it’s when one experiences excessive anxiety for days or weeks that it can be considered a problem. Anxiety disorder is caused by various factors, including trauma, stress buildup, personality disorders, and family history.
Anxiety can also be a sign of other underlying mental health conditions that may worsen in the absence of appropriate intervention. Individuals should seek the help of mental health professionals whenever they experience prolonged anxiety that continues for days or weeks without a clear cause.
Excessive paranoia may also indicate an underlying mental health condition. Paranoia is when an individual believes that others are unfair, lying, or actively trying to harm them without any proof. Those who are paranoid are more likely to feel hostile toward those who surround them. Clinical paranoia may include cases in which individuals try to isolate themselves from their relatives whom they believe are trying to harm them.
The exact cause of paranoia is unknown. What is known is that paranoia can be a symptom of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. It is advised to see a doctor when the paranoid feelings become excessive and troubling.
2. Prolonged Sadness or Irritability
Prolonged sadness is generally indicated by feelings of impending doom. Other symptoms associated with excessive sadness include hopelessness, loss of appetite, low self-esteem, low energy, fatigue, sleep problems, and poor concentration. Prolonged sadness is one of the symptoms of depression or anxiety. Stressful or traumatic events can also cause excessive sadness that continues for weeks or even months.
Persistent or prolonged sadness is determined as depression when it does not disappear for more than two months in a single episode. However, excessive sadness may also be a symptom of a physical ailment such as chronic chest pain.
Sadness may also be accompanied by irritability, a feeling of agitation, or frustration. Symptoms of irritability include sweating, confusion, anger, racing heart, and fast breathing. Irritability is often considered a reaction to stressful situations or sadness. The most common mental health conditions associated with irritability include stress, anxiety, autism, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
There are also physical conditions such as sleep deprivation, ear infections, and low blood sugar which have also been associated with irritable feelings. Medical changes that cause hormonal imbalance such as menopause, diabetes, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) have also been associated with sadness and irritability.
It is crucial to seek medical help when one is experiencing symptoms of persistent sadness and irritability. Talking to a primary care physician or speaking directly to a mental health expert may assist in determining the causes of sadness and irritability. For instance, a proper diagnosis would indicate whether an individual’s sadness and irritability are symptoms of hormonal imbalance, physical injuries, or mental health conditions. Mental health experts can also advise on appropriate steps one should take to mitigate their symptoms.
3. Extreme Changes in Mood
Rapid mood swings refer to abrupt shifts in the mood or emotional state. When in reaction to stress or hormonal changes, these shifts are considered normal. However, unexplained extreme changes in the mood can signify the presence of a mental health disorder such as bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder, or borderline personality disorder.
If untreated, severe mood swings can interfere with daily operations and relationships. Low points of mood swings include feeling sad, hopeless, and worthless, loss of appetite, sleeping too much or having trouble falling asleep, having trouble concentrating, and suicidal ideation. High points of mood swings are characterized by talking more quickly than usual, feeling more energetic, engaging in risky behaviors, and feeling unusually powerful or important.
Mental health disorders are considered the main cause of mood swings. However, other issues such as hormonal imbalance, substance use disorders, and stressful life situations can lead to extreme changes in mood and emotions. The three mental health disorders that are strongly associated with extreme mood changes are borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.
Borderline personality disorder is primarily characterized by difficulties in controlling mood and emotions. Extreme changes in mood are easily triggered and can last for minutes or hours. Bipolar disorder is mainly characterized by manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes include intense euphoric feelings, irritability, grandiosity, high energy, and engaging in risky behavior. For instance, individuals experiencing mania may excessively shop or partake in dangerous and promiscuous behavior.
Depressive episodes include extreme sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in daily activities. Both depressive and manic episodes can last for weeks or months.
Cyclothymic disorder is similar to bipolar disorder but is instead characterized by hypomania (less severe form of mania) and mild depressive episodes.
It is appropriate to seek medical help when one experiences significant or extreme changes in mood, especially when there is no clear cause. Timely medical interventions may prevent mental health conditions from advancing. Moreover, seeking medical help at the earliest opportunity may lower the chances of a potential mental health crisis.
4. Dramatic Changes in Sleeping and Eating Patterns
Maternal & Child Nutrition found that in adolescents with moderate to severe depression, 46% reported sleeping less than 6 hours three times a week while also reporting eating less food than they did prior to their depression. The participants also expressed concerns about changes in their body weight and potential effects on their general health. This indicates mental health conditions such as depression may lead to unhealthy eating habits and irregular sleep patterns.
It is advisable for one to seek medical help whenever they experience dramatic changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Physicians can assist in identifying the potential factors associated with changes in sleeping and eating habits and rule out or prevent any underlying health concerns. If the cause is determined to be due to mental health issues, seeking timely medical interventions can help reduce the severity of these issues.
5. Struggle to Cope with Challenges of Day-to-Day Life
Struggling to cope with the challenges of daily life is a significant cause for mental health concern. Mental health disorders are diagnosed when symptoms distress an individual and impact their day to day living.
For example, depression symptoms include fatigue, hopelessness, and loss of interest/motivation. This can make it difficult for an individual to perform activities of daily living such as grooming, going to work or school, feeding themselves, maintaining personal relationships, etc. Anxiety disorder can leave a person so distraught that even completing minor tasks can be painstaking. ADHD can make executive functioning difficult for individuals who have it.
Although other factors can lead to loss of interest, the presence of mental health conditions is often determined by the fact that one cannot explain why one cannot cope with the daily challenges.
6. Delusions and Hallucinations
Delusions and hallucinations are clear and alarming signs of a mental health disorder. Delusions are strange thoughts and fixed false beliefs that disagree with reality. Individuals who are in a delusional state cannot walk away from their convictions. In most cases, delusional thoughts are often reinforced by misinterpretation of events. For instance, an individual may believe that the government is actively spying and following them due to an incorrect perception of their surroundings. Delusional thoughts are a major symptom of psychotic disorders and may occur alongside hallucinations.
Hallucinations are sensory experiences that appear real to the individual but are not based in reality. An example could be hearing sounds that aren’t there or feeling imaginary bugs crawling on the skin. Hallucinations are a common symptom of schizophrenia, with more than 70% of diagnosed individuals having experienced it. Other mental health disorders that are strongly associated with hallucinations include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, and migraines.
7. Social Withdrawal
Social withdrawal can be a sign of a major depressive and anxiety disorder. Examples of social withdrawal include avoiding family dinners without a credible excuse, declining lunch invitations from friends and coworkers, or failing to respond to emails and text messages from friends and coworkers. It is typically associated with a general feeling that spending time with others does not matter or is not worth the effort.
This is especially concerning considering the risks associated with this behavior. Social withdrawal and loneliness have been found to be twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity. As well as the previously mentioned mental health disorders, social isolation is also associated with poor sleep quality, cognitive decline, impaired immunity and executive function, poor cardiovascular health, and premature death. It is crucial to notice the signs and identify the causes of social withdrawal to prevent the worsening of one’s overall condition.
Where to Go
Fortunately, there are several options of where to go for mental health treatment. There are multiple types of mental health treatment that can cater to an individual’s needs at any stage of their condition.
Residential Treatment Care (RTC) is a type of mental health treatment program where clients will live in a licensed treatment facility for 24/7 structured care. In Residential Treatment, you’ll likely participate in group and individual therapy and meet with a doctor to regularly discuss your needs. Here at The Meadowglade, in Los Angeles County, we have a life-changing RTC program that includes a comprehensive assessment, group therapy sessions 5-6 days a week, individual therapy sessions 3 times a week, family therapy and multi-family therapy once a week, and discharge planning sessions.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) are often a step down from a residential program, with less intensity in care and requires less time commitment. It allows individuals to still get intensive care while integrating back into their daily lives. PHP programs are typically five days a week with a minimum of 20 hours. Like RTC, clients will still participate in group, individual, and family therapy, and meet with a doctor or psychiatrist.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are another step down, as it has even less intensity in care and requires less time commitment than PHP. IOP programs typically run 3-5 days per week, with a minimum of 6 hours per week of core clinical planning. For example, your schedule could include individual therapy once a week, family therapy and multi-family group therapy once a week, and the coordination of one psychiatric assessment with weekly follow ups.
If you’re local to Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Outpatient Center (LAOP) has an amazing IOP and PHP program in Culver City.
Individual Therapy is a good choice for those who don’t need as much structure and intensity in care that programs would provide. This allows individuals to work on their mental health at their own pace and on their own schedule, with no weekly time commitment requirements. Octave offers not only individual therapy, but couples and family therapy as well as workshops. With locations in Los Angeles and all over California, you can easily link with a therapist either in-person or virtually.
If you’re looking into treatment options for yourself or a loved one, the best place to start is with your primary doctor. As much as we hope this was helpful, the internet is not a place to self-diagnose. Of course, if you have any questions or would like to know more about our residential and outpatient treatment options, we’d love to help. Contact the admissions team at The Meadowglade today.