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Paying attention to the signs of Mental Illness

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Mental illnesses are serious disorders which can affect your thinking, mood, and behaviour. There are many causes of mental disorders. Your genes and family history may play a role. Your life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, may also matter. Biological factors can also be part of the cause. Mental disorders are common, but treatments are available.

Mental and emotional health problems often arise when your nervous system has been compromised by overwhelming amounts of stress. The body’s natural and most efficient method of coping with stress and rebalancing the nervous system is via face-to-face social contact with a trusted person. This is why mental and emotional health is so closely linked with social health: helping yourself involves reaching out to others.

What are the symptoms of a mental illness? If a friend or loved one doesn’t seem themselves, how do you spot the difference between a bad mood and something more serious? Drinking too much, crying all the time or any other ongoing, significant change in a person’s behaviour, thoughts or feelings could be telltale signs of a mental illness. Often it’s not a single change, but a combination. The following signs are not to help you diagnose a mental health issue, but instead to reassure you that there might be good reason to seek more information about your concerns.

  • Feeling worried or anxious
  • Feeling depressed or unhappy
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Problems sleeping
  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Quiet or withdrawn behaviour
  • Substance abuse
  • Guilty or worthless feelings all the time
  • Changes in behaviour, thinking and feelings

 

IMPROVING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

First, try to recognise your emotions and understand why you are having them. Sorting out the causes of sadness, stress, and anxiety in your life can help you manage your emotional health.

Express your feelings in appropriate ways. If feelings of stress, sadness, or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these feelings inside and bottling them up can make you feel worse. It’s OK to let your loved ones know when something is bothering you. However, keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your feelings appropriately. At these times, ask someone outside the situation, such as your family doctor, a counsellor, or a religious advisor, for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.

Live a balanced life. Try not to obsess about the problems at work, school, or home that lead to negative feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be happy when you feel stressed, anxious, or upset. It’s important to deal with these negative feelings, but try to focus on the positive things in your life too. You may want to use a journal to keep track of things that make you feel happy or peaceful. Some research has shown that having a positive outlook can improve your quality of life and give your health a boost. You may also need to find ways to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Make time for things you enjoy.

Develop resilience. People with resilience are mentally tough and are able to cope with stress in a healthy way. Resilience can be learned and strengthened with different strategies. These include having social support, keeping a positive view of yourself, accepting change, and keeping things in perspective.

Calm your mind and body. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, listening to music, listening to guided imagery and yoga are useful ways to bring your emotions into balance. Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can take many forms. For example, you may do it by exercising, stretching, or breathing deeply. Ask your family doctor for advice about relaxation methods.

Take care of yourself. To have good emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and exercising to relieve pent-up tension. Avoid overeating and don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Using drugs or alcohol just causes other problems, such as family and health problems.

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