Signs You Need Mental Healthcare

Friends, partners often are the first to notice you may have a problem

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Everyone occasionally feels blue, upset, worried or “off” emotionally.

Feeling in a funk for a couple of days does not necessarily mean that you need professional mental healthcare.

A chat with a friend, taking time to rest or indulging in a favorite hobby, like playing casino midas it, may restore your normal mood.

But just as physical healthcare providers check for vitals like breathing, pulse, temperature and blood pressure, a few mental health vital signs can indicate something serious is going wrong.

Jess Germano-Fokin, Ph.D., owner of Seasons of Change Wellness in Rochester, said that sometimes the friends or significant other notices before the patient does.

“They’re not presenting as they were before,” she said. “They’re isolating or sleeping more.”

Holing up to sleep or engage in activities that are mind-numbing or distracting can indicate an issue. While everyone needs some “me” time to rejuvenate, this goes beyond a typically helpful among of alone time.

Dropping typical self-care is only one sign. Someone who normally dresses nicely looks fresh out of bed, for example.

“They’re not grooming or washing clothes,” Germano-Fokin said. “You notice abnormalities from their regular, normal routine and behavior.”

Housekeeping and car care may drop off. Formerly enjoyable hobbies may be forgotten, especially if they involve other people.

People near the patient may also notice “vast changes in behavior out of that person’s character, she added.

The person’s mood may remain down. Most people suffering a significant loss need some time to grieve. Persistent down mood—especially for no apparent reason—can also indicate help is necessary. While many people have felt down about the changes occurring during the pandemic and have acted in ways they might not normally, employing a healthy coping mechanism can help mitigate that effect. For someone requiring professional care, that mental health first aid given by the experts offering Newmarket First aid and CPR training isn’t helping much anymore.

“The baseline would be feeling like the coping skills that we’re using are not sufficiently appropriate,” said Kelly Herron, a board certified OB-GYN and board certified internal medical physician certified in integrative and functional medicine. She operates Hygeia Life in Rochester. “You are feeling overwhelmed by depressed mood or mood changes in general.”

She also listed changes in appetite as a possible sign, such as eating too little or eating too much and changes in ability to focus and concentrate.

Another important mental health vital sign is excessive fear or worry. While current events certainly have challenged mental health for the past two years, if healthful coping mechanisms are not keeping anxiety under control, Herron said that outside help can make a difference.

Withdrawing from people, activities and places normally enjoyed represents another indicator that a person is in need of counseling services. As most regular activities have resumed, some people may wish that they could continue isolating at home. The levels at which people feel comfortable socializing and interacting varies. It should not curtail necessary interactions or harm healthy relationships. If mental health struggles interfere with tasks of daily living, such as shopping at the grocery store or maintaining desired relationships, such as meeting a friend for lunch, professional help is warranted. As has been previously stated, although this is one of the first signs of patients that require bipolar disorder treatment among other mental health conditions, it is not a sign exclusive to them. Seeing a professional is a great idea, and there’s no reason to worry something major is occurring necessarily.

“You deserve to have someone you can talk with who will listen to you, understand you and provide you with emotional support and offer specific strategies for coping and healing,” Herron said.

Gail Weiser, physician assistant and licensed clinical social worker in private mental health practice in Rochester, encourages people to engage in self-care.

“You know yourself best to know what makes you feel good,” Weiser said. “Going to the gym, take a bubble bath, talk with a friend. When these things no longer help, talk with your primary care provider, call a hotline or go to the ER if you are concerned about acute safety or the safety of others.”